Archives for posts with tag: vegetables

weston eggplant
Making Eggplant Croquettes with the NYT Food Page
by Robbi Nester

To make this dish, you have to plan ahead.
One day, two eggplants occupied the shelf
in my refrigerator. I baked them, purple
as a nimbus cloud about to split. They fell in
on themselves, all steam and soft white flesh.
Then I left them overnight to cool, bitter
black juice seeping into the bowl. The next
day, I slipped off their blackened jackets,
chopped the yielding shreds, grated in
four cloves of garlic with a microplane,
mixed in some green-gold olive oil
and salt. I wasn’t finished yet!

After another day of waiting, I spread
a sheet of parchment paper in a pan,
poured in the eggplant mixture, wedged
it in the freezer. Next afternoon, I cut it
into greyish squares smelling of sweet
garlic. Finally, it was time to cook!
I arranged three bowls of beaten egg,
flour, and seasoned panko, dredged
the squares of frozen eggplant,
heated the cast iron pan till waves
of heat shimmered like a spirit
over the oil, lowered the croquettes
into their sizzling bath. They hissed
and spit like cornered cats, and crisped
immediately, the insides creamy
on my tongue. Sometimes, cooking
is like a séance, calling forth from plain
ingredients what’s been there all along.

PHOTO: Eggplant by Edward Weston, silver gelatin print (1929).

egplant croquettes

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always enjoyed reading and writing about food and cooking as well as watching professional chefs cook and talk about food. During the pandemic, I stopped going to restaurants. The highlight of my week has become going to the grocery store, mostly very early in the morning, when the markets are virtually empty, and I feel as though I am walking through my own personal pantry. ¶ Before, I was a careless cook. Though I have always loved culinary variety and innovation and sought to learn something from making new dishes, the pandemic has slowed everything down considerably, allowed me to spend more time on each step of the preparation. Now I have time to prepare dishes that I would never consider making in the before-world, like the eggplant croquettes I have written about in this poem, which I first discovered in the pages of the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

PHOTO: Smoky Eggplant Croquettes (New York Times, All Rights Reserved).

NOTE: The New York Times recipe site is subscription only. A list of ingredients for Smoky Eggplant Croquettes is available at copymethat.com. But the directions are only available at the New York Times subscription site, or in the above poem.

nester2-copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry, a chapbook, and three collections of poems, the most recent is Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited three anthologies, the most recent is The Plague Papers, published as a special issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal, available to read at Poemeleon.me. Find more of her work at robbinester.net.

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How beautiful – 
     Red peppers
            After the autumn gale.
                                                   YOSA BUSON

PHOTO: Len McAlpine, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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THE GARDEN
By Shel Silverstein

Ol’ man Simon, planted a diamond,

Grew hisself a garden the likes of none.

Sprouts all growin’, comin’ up glowin’,

Fruit of jewels all shinin’ in the sun.

Colors of the rainbow,

See the sun and rain grow

Sapphires and rubieson ivory vines,

Grapes of jade, just

Ready for the squeezin’ into green jade wine.

Pure gold corn there,

Blowin’ in the warm air,

Ol’ crow nibblin’ on the amethyst seeds.

In between the diamonds, ol’ man Simon

Crawls about pullin’ out platinum weeds.

Pink pearl berries,

All you can carry,

Put ’em in a bushel and

Haul ’em into town.

Up in the tree there’s

Opal nuts and gold pears—
Hurry quick, grab a stick

And shake some down.

Take a silver tater,

Emerald tomater,

Fresh plump coral melons

Hangin’ in reach.

Ol’ man Simon,

Diggin’ in his diamonds,

Stops and rests and dreams about

One…real…peach.

Illustration:  Georgia Peaches, Vintage Fruit Crate Label Art postcard, available for just 88 cents at zazzle.com.

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A WARM SUMMER IN SAN FRANCISCO 
by Carolyn Miller

Although I watched and waited for it every day,

somehow I missed it, the moment when everything reached 

the peak of ripeness. It wasn’t at the solstice; that was only
the time of the longest light. It was sometime after that, when

the plants had absorbed all that sun, had taken it into themselves

for food and swelled to the height of fullness. It was in July,
in a dizzy blaze of heat and fog, when on some nights
it was too hot to sleep, and the restaurants set half their tables

on the sidewalks; outside the city, down the coast,
the Milky Way floated overhead, and shooting stars

fell from the sky over the ocean. One day the garden

was almost overwhelmed with fruition:
My sweet peas struggled out of the raised bed onto the mulch
of laurel leaves and bark and pods, their brilliantly colored

sunbonnets of rose and stippled pink, magenta and deep purple
pouring out a perfume that was almost oriental. Black-eyed Susans

stared from the flower borders, the orange cherry tomatoes

were sweet as candy, the corn fattened in its swaths of silk,

hummingbirds spiraled by in pairs, the bees gave up

and decided to live in the lavender. At the market,

surrounded by black plums and rosy plums and sugar prunes

and white-fleshed peaches and nectarines, perfumey melons
and mangos, purple figs in green plastic baskets,

clusters of tiny Champagne grapes and piles of red-black cherries

and apricots freckled and streaked with rose, I felt tears

come into my eyes, absurdly, because I knew

that summer had peaked and was already passing

away. I felt very close then to understanding 

the mystery; it seemed to me that I almost knew

what it meant to be alive, as if my life had swelled

to some high moment of response, as if I could

reach out and touch the season, as if I were inside

its body, surrounded by sweet pulp and juice,

shimmering veins and ripened skin.

“A Warm Summer in San Francisco” was first published in Light, Moving (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2009) and is featured in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology (June 2013).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn Miller is a poet and painter living in San Francisco. Light, Moving, her most recent book of poetry, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2009, and her first full-length collection, After Cocteau, was published by the same press in 2002. Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, and The Gettysburg Review, among other journals, and her awards include the James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry from Shenandoah, and the Rainmaker Award from Zone 3She is also the author of a number of cookbooks, including Savoring San Francisco.

PAINTING: “Farmers Market 3” (2005) watercolor on paper (20-75 x 14.25 inches) by Manfred Lindenberger (Foster White Gallery, Seattle, fosterwhite.com).