Category Archives: Urban Homesteading

Eggplant Recipes: In Season NOW

Eggplants are peaking right now, in our garden and in the markets, so I wanted to share a round up of quality eggplant recipes to inspire you! Here’s a tip for picking a great eggplant at the farmer’s market or store: find one that is relatively heavy for its size. It will have less seeds and more delicious flesh. Papa Bird (our family’s resident farmer) says homegrown eggplants are ready to pick when you push in with your thumb and it leaves an imprint. He recently put up a shade barrier to protect our growing eggplant from the strong San Diego sun. For more tips on cooking eggplant, check out this post.

Eggplant Recipes: In Season NOW

EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM BABY BIRDS FARM

Some of my family’s favorite, “regular rotation” recipes highlight eggplant.

  1. Baba Ganoush: a garlicky dip, similar to hummus, and delicious with veggies to dip. Makes great baby food, too!

lamb, eggplant and pomegranate moussaka

  1. Pomegranate, Eggplant and Lamb Moussaka (above): a layered dish that is sweet and savory and spiced with cardamom and cinnamon.

EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Maria Nasir of foodaholic is a Pakistani home cook and caterer turned international food blogging star. She has lot’s of delicious eggplant recipes from around the world. But this kid-friendly appetizer caught my eye:

  1. Eggplant Roll Ups: kid-friendly but with a delicious vinaigrette to please picky foodie parents.

 nam prik noom thai green curry

Another international blogger I follow, Azlin Bloor of Lin’s food, recently shared the above treat featuring aubergine (eggplant with a British accent):

  1. Nam Prik Noom (Thai Green Chilli Sauce)

EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM FAMILY SPICE

Laura of Family Spice features eggplant in both Italian and Persian-inspired dishes.

roasted eggplant parm sandwich

  1. Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich from Laura of Family Spice (above): a nice, non-fried version of an eggplant parm.
  1. Pickled Eggplant and Vegetables with Pomegranate (torshi-yeh bademjan va anar): I have never even thought of using this combination of flavors and I am dying to try it.

Persian Eggplant Stew

  1. Persian Eggplant Stew (Khoreshteh Qiemeh Bademjoon) (pictured above).

EGGPLANT RECIPES FROM SIMMWORKS FAMILY BLOG

Danielle of Simmworks Family Blog makes a lot of delicious family meals that are often quick and easy for busy families – without sacrificing taste.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

  1. Baked Eggplant Parmesan: an easy family dinner that will please adults and kids.
  1. Eggplant French Bread Pizza: simple, with just a few ingredients and perfect for lunch.

For even more eggplant ideas:

10 Fantastic Eggplant Recipes from Simmworks Family Blog.

Mint Julep Kale Krunchies

Summer in San Diego means the Del Mar Racetrack is open and an abundance of mint in our garden. Both were the inspiration for “mint julep” kale krunchies, our latest variation on kale chips. Using the same technique and creamy cashew base as my Cilantro Lime Kale Chips, these kale crunchies are flavored with the summer drink ingredients. Yes, even a splash of bourbon.

Mint Julep Kale Krunchies

Mint Julep Kale Chips Recipe

  • 1 head of kale
  • 3/4 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for at least one hour, then drained
  • handful of fresh mint, washed
  • 1-2 tablespoons of agave or coconut nectar
  • 1 teaspoon of bourbon (optional but fun)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
  • a little water, if needed, to process in the blender

1. Wash the kale in cold water. Holding the end of the stem in one hand, firmly and quickly slide your other hand down the center rib. The leaves should tear off of the rib in one move. Dry the kale very well and rip any large pieces into smaller bits.

Or – Purchase a bag of kale pre-washed and cut. Just make sure to remove the thick center ribs as they do not dehydrate well. (Little Bird likes to help rip and sort the kale.)

2. Blend the rest of the ingredients in a small food processor, like a Magic Bullet, or blender. If the blender struggles, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, until it blends well. Blend at highest speed until smooth, scraping down the sides at least once. Keep in mind the more water you add, the longer the chips will take to dry out in the oven.

3. Preheat oven to 200° F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, massage the “sauce” into the kale. Then spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 45 minutes or so, checking and gently stirring the kale occasionally, until it is dried but not overly toasted.

For step by step photos of how to make kale chips, please see my previous recipes for Easy Homemade Kale Chips and Cilantro Lime Kale Chips.

Enjoying the Mint Julep Kale Crunchies with the eponymous drink is optional, but highly recommended!

Preview of Beet Pickled Eggs

Just a quick share of my husband’s pickled eggs and beets. He grew up with this Pennsylvania Dutch traditional snack. It is usually made with red beets, but since we had both golden beets and red in the garden, the last round he made a jar of both. I love how the colors turned out. We will share his recipe for pickled beets and eggs soon!

Beet Pickled Eggs

The Best Ever Strawberry Jam (Little Added Sugar and No Pectin)

I shared yesterday about our family trip to pick organic strawberries at Suzie’s Farm during their “Strawberry Jam.” Well, what better way to use up the strawberries we couldn’t eat fresh than making homemade strawberry jam?

the best strawberry jam - low sugar, no pectin

After we made it home, I sorted through our freshly picked strawberries. Most of them were still perfect and gorgeous, but I managed to set aside some that had the smallest of bruising for jam. Here is my trick for keeping strawberries fresh and pretty: I line a pyrex dish with a paper towel (or cloth kitchen towel) and spread them out in a single layer. I don’t wash them until just before eating.  These strawberries we picked were so fresh, it didn’t matter, but this can extend the life of store bought berries.

The rest of the berries went into jam! I didn’t have any pectin, and I was curious if all that sugar in most recipes served a vital purpose, so I picked the brain of my neighbor, our local grandma stand-in. I figured she would have pectin I could borrow, but she encouraged me to try without it. Then I found a recipe on Northwest Edible Life (the blog known for the hilarious “Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater.”) Erica makes the case for ditching pectin and uses much less sugar.

organic strawberry jam

Click here for detailed instructions on how to make preserves without pectin.

Here is what I ended up using in our strawberry jam:

  • 2 pounds chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

I ended up with a little over 3 cups of jam. I did not “can” them or seal them as I figured we would eat it quickly. (One week later, only about 1 cup is left.) And to be perfectly honest, I am still a little scared of my steam canner!

Any tips for getting started canning?

Strawberry Picking and Green Strawberry Pickles

Strawberry Picking

Last weekend we celebrated Papa Bird’s birthday with a fun family day at Suzie’s Farm. They held their annual “Strawberry Jam” last Saturday and we all had so much fun, picking strawberries and eating yummy food. Little Bird loved apple picking as a tot and felt right at home with the plants and chickens.

strawberry picking

We started off picking organic strawberries. Every plant was filled with the most perfectly beautiful, sweet and flavorful berries. (At home, Little Bird tends to pick all of our strawberries while they are still green and small.) I did get some temporary hives from stinging nettles, but they went away.

strawberry picking

Next I sampled strawberry chutney, drank a strawberry and basil kombucha, and made green strawberry pickles with Austin from the San Diego Fermenter’s Club. Little Bird loves them. They are mild, slightly crunchy and have a hint of strawberry flavor. You can find the recipe for Green Strawberry Pickles here.

green strawberry pickles

Green Strawberry Pickles Recipe

After all that hard work, I was ready for a grass fed burger made with strawberry jam, and a beet and quinoa salad from Green Truck. The cold and windy weather discouraged our plans for eating ice cream from our friends’ Calexico Creamery, but we took home a pint of (what else?) Fresa and a pint of Mexican Cocoa. Little Bird and I hid out from the wind in a teepee and she gathered twigs and sticks to build a play fire.

organic strawberry jam

Check back tomorrow and I will share the best recipe for strawberry jam! It has hardly any sugar in it and no pectin. The only other ingredient is a lemon…

–> Update: Strawberry Jam now posted HERE.