10 August 2009

Eggplants and other produce

Today we are going to pick and cook our first eggplants of the summer. We have plenty of tomatoes and even a zucchini to cook them with. And I'm going to make ricotta cheese, thanks to a recipe by David Lebovitz, published by Elise on Simply Recipes. All that should make a good gratin or casserole.

A long purple aubergine, splashed with muddy water

We planted a mixed packet of eggplant (aubergine) seeds in the spring, starting them in little pots. They all — about 20 of them — came up and have now started producing fruit. All the fruit looks the same except on one plant. The eggplants are long and purple, but that different plant is covered with little (for the moment) round, white eggplants, with just a slight purple tint on them.

The fruit of the eggplant

Our summertime routine has kicked in now. We don't have any visitors on the schedule until September. The regular routine means walking the dog twice a day, doing laundry, picking vegetables from the garden, and cooking and eating them. Taking a lot of pictures is always part of my daily routine. Walt is sawing wood for the winter. He cuts the grass whenever it needs it. I do a lot of cooking.

Tomatoes ready for the picking

Yesterday I again spent a few hours in the garden weeding — it seems impossible to keep up with the weeds. I watered everything thoroughly and that made it easier to pull the weeds out of the soil. I'm trying to make sure the corn, rhubarb, and collard greens are getting enough water. Then I spent a good hour just tying tomato plants and vines up to their stakes and poles, to try to get as many tomatoes as possible up off the ground. If the weather turns damp, tomatoes touching the ground will rot.

Tomatoes and a stray black-eyed Susan

It's a lot of dirty work, but I'm sure we will be glad we did it all when winter comes and we start enjoying the produce we will have processed. Not that we are not enjoying it now too. As I said yesterday, you can tell that the season is changing again, and that makes you want to get ready. Pretty soon it will be two months since the summer solstice.

I thought the corn had worms but they turned out
to be little pieces of the corn tassels stuck to the leaves.
(Click the pictures with your mouse to enlarge them.)

After all the watering and weeding I did yesterday, we of course had a couple of good rain showers late yesterday afternoon. The rain poured down for an hour or so in all, but the sun kept shining. It was warm and pleasant out on the front terrace.

Meanwhile, here's what the wine grapes are doing out in the vineyard.

All this is probably a little monotonous and boring, but that too is life in Saint-Aignan. It's not nearly as monotonous as it will be in November, December, and January, however. So we are trying to enjoy it to the maximum. Spending time outside is part of that enjoyment, even if it means doing manual labor and getting dirty.


  1. The never ending yardwork of summer. My summer project is digging up Large stumps with a pickaxe. You know what Southern summers are like, I had to change clothes twice because I was dripping with sweat, and this was before it even hit noon. I'm glad your having some quiet days, enjoy!

  2. It's not as monotonous and boring as all those hours spent in traffic jams going to and from work, surely. Sounds like heaven to me, gardening, cooking and doing housey stuff all day.
    Lovely photos.

  3. These late summer days aren't monotonous, just a little sad knowing that Fall is on us.
    Those round eggplants are really good. I got one last week from a farmer near here.

  4. i just wear a bathing suit whenever i do yard work....unless I have to be where there might be poison ivy or yellow jackets! I wish my maters looked as good as yours......

  5. My favorite photo today is the one with the ripe tomatoes on the vine- I bet they will be perfectly wonderful. Do you make BLT sandwiches ever?

    The eggplant look very good also. I don't think I've ever tasted a white one.

  6. mmmm BLT... lots of mayo... yumm!

    Great photos today, once again!

    Isn't there a big inside wallpaper job that you and Walt are going to tackle this year? I seem to recall one of you blogging about that. Will that be this winter, or am I totally making this up in my head?


  7. Beautiful photos, as always. My verification word is "tatortro", which is either a weird way to say "tomato" or too many potatoes!

  8. Kendall, I don't really envy you those Southern summers. It's hot enough here, and the temperature has rarely if ever been above 90 yet this summer.

    Jean, you are right about traffic. I'll take this life, thank you.

    Dedene, it will be interesting to see how big the round white eggplants get to be. How do we decide when to pick them, I wonder.

    Melinda, don't you have horseflies or mosquitoes up there in the mountains? Do your neighbors have their binoculars out?

    Evelyn, we do make BLTs. We've had them twice already. We can get thinly sliced poitrine fumée at the supermarket or chez Mme Doudouille, and that cooks up like bacon.

    Judy, don't even mention the wallpaper unsticking job. We've decided we have enough to do with the garden, processing the produce, sawing the firewood, and trimming the hedge. The wallpaper is looking prettier and prettier.

    Cheryl, too many potatoes, LOL! Good for French fries to go with the BLTs.

  9. If you weren't out in your garden working your fingers to the bone, I would be tempted to say that you're experiencing that wonderful thing the Italians call "dolce far niente."

    Me on the other hand, I'm cooped up in a campus office building here in Boston. "Il faut cultiver notre jardin," the philosopher wrote, and you seem to be following his advice literally and figuratively.

    I love these posts, Ken.

  10. The tomatoes are beautiful. They make my mouth water. BLTs--yum.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?