All about Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce
and later on, This, That, and the Other, or Wooden Ships...
When I first looked though the cookbook, "Plenty," by Yotam Ottolenghi, I flipped through the pages, flagging recipes that appealed to me and that I thought I would like to try to make. The one that sang out to me most was the recipe for Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce. I have finally made it, and can tell you that this dish is delicious and worth making for yourself.
I don't know what your tastes in food are, but I happen to love eggplant. I can remember how thrilled I was when I made baba ganoush for the first time. Making it fresh and from scratch was so much better that the store bought products in plastic containers.
What jumped out to me about this recipe for eggplant with buttermilk sauce, were those beautiful little red jewels that bedecked the buttermilk sauce atop the roasted eggplant. Pomegranate seeds of course, which add a lovely contrasting crunch to the softness of the caramelized eggplant.
What I want to stress to you most is that you must not leave out the final step of sprinkling za'atar on top of the finished dish. I am not familiar with za'atar at all, and bought some fresh from my food coop, just for this dish. The za'atar takes the dish from being a hit that brings the runner to third base, to a knock-out home run, straight out of the ball park. Buy some. Use it on this recipe for eggplant with buttermilk sauce. Your tastebuds will thank you.
I hope you will try this recipe for Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce found at the end of this post, and Enjoy!
This, That, and the Other, or Wooden Ships...
There is something to be said for giving up my addictions to certain apps on my iPhone, namely, #1) MSNBC, and then, to lesser degrees, Twitter, Facebook (FB), and Instagram (or as I fondly think of it, Insta). Of these apps, I like Insta best, because I think it is often artistically interesting. People put up photos. The photos are statements in themselves. We see through the poster's lens. We see what their visual eye has seen. No text, or very little. These photos are expressions of individual souls. They connect us to one another. And if you believe in Buddhist philosophy, you will know that we all are really interconnected.
When not in its purist form of expression, the downside of FB and Insta is that they have become places where we all promote and sell ourselves. We pimp our lives. This is the underbelly our capitalist society, the result of our population having fewer ways to make a living.
As to my addiction with MSNBC and twitter, well, I just have one big meatball of a word for you, "Trump." Substitute in the "GOP," if you want. Use a couple of words if you like, "Mitch McConnell," the "Trump Presidency." I realize that I engage in magical thinking when monitoring MSNBC as much as I can. I believe that if I constantly monitor the news, the news being a Trumpian shit show every day, that I can control my life and that of my fellow citizens, and planet. Save us all. Not going to happen. Not that way. Not by passively watching the same set of stories and panels of pundits discussing those stories, over and over again.
As to FB, in its Camelot beginnings, it was a place to exchange ideas and philosophical thoughts. Those days are long gone, and young people have abandoned the site to boomers, their grandparents, and other miscellaneous senior citizens.
However, I do find special interest groups on FB somewhat useful. I belong to a closed list that gives medical updates on the latest happenings in the treatment of lymphoma and leukemia, and support to those like myself, who share that disease. I get political information, that in the most recent past, helped make possible the blue wave that won the democrats a majority in the House of Representatives. And let's face it, women, the Virginia Woolf group is a great place for support, information, debate, and fun.
I find that I am not tuning in to MSNBC so much anymore, and I am not scrolling through the other apps ad nauseam. In truth, they seldom feed my soul.
I do listen to podcasts (check out Person Place Thing with Randy Cohen). But best of all, I am more often listening to music, again. I am a big believer in connecting with what brings joy to my life, and the songs on my iTunes library do that.
I know, I know, the young people listen to Spotify. And I do check it out once in awhile. But I love my Itunes. Steve Jobs' original concept was for Itunes to be like a personal jukebox. Biographies about Jobs say that at the time he said something like, imagine what it would be like to have all your favorite music in one place on your phone.
The latest game that I like to play, is making playlists with the songs on my phone. I put the songs on shuffle, and when I especially like one of the songs that comes up in rotation, I will "heart" it, and then save it to a playlist.
I have started naming the playlists by date, so for example, today's would be 02/01/2019. My lists become a sort of weather vane of how I am feeling that day. And it is fun to play them back, at a time that is further away from the day of creation. I can revisit moods and feelings.
Lists can be tweaked, so there is a theme, and one song segues nicely into the next. One is not listening to shuffled music, where a song may be a hit or a miss.
I realize that this is no new invention at all. You Spotify people have your own Spotify pages, with shared playlists. What I like, is that this is just for myself. I am the opposite of social media in this private practice.
Music has never quite been the same for me, after all the changes it went through, from vinyl to 8 tracks to cds, the original iPod before the iPhone, and now to Spotify. I loved my vinyl record collection, which was started when I was a teenager.
I would buy a record each week with money that I received as my allowance from my parents. Artists were monitored for their newest releases. Friends were always discussing who was coming out with what, and which album they would buy next. You had to go to a friend's house to listen to an album that you did not yet own. Or you could actually go to a record store, and listen to an album while wearing headphones in a booth in the back of the store.
Later, WNEW came to the forefront of radio of that era, and songs could be heard over the airwaves. At first there were actually no commercials. What a blessing. And each disc jockey had a distinct style of talking about the music of the day.
In my first apartment on Jane Street, in the village, my vinyl records were arranged in alphabetical order. Or maybe in groups of alphabetical orders. Favorites first. Lesser liked albums in the next sequence. A few jazz records at the very end, followed by even fewer classical records.
There were collections of the entire works of my favorite individual artists, like Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Odetta, Dave Van Ronk, or Paul Simon. All senses were involved when taking an LP out from its cover, to play on a turntable. I would not only listen to the music, but would have the visual of the album cover to look at, and there used to be album notes on the back covers, or booklets of notes inside. One could learn the name of every musician that played behind the lead singer. The violinist David Lindley, drummer Russ Kunkel, and bass player Danny Kortchmer, were just as important as the singer, Jackson Brown. Information like that is not readily available anymore.
There was one Bob Dylan album where notes, or a story, or a poem was written in Dylan's own crazy scrawl all over the back of the album cover. There were mysteries to unfold. Why was Paul not wearing shoes on the Abbie Road album cover. If you played a certain song backward, did you really hear, "Paul is dead"?
Right now I am listening to one of my favorite songs, "Wooden Ships," on a Cosby, Stills & Nash album. On the cover, the three are sitting on a couch on the outside porch of a cabin. As I listen, I find myself living within the song. I am in post-apocalyptic America, or anywhere really. It is as if I can feel myself stealthily walking through a steamy jungle, watching out for poisonous snakes and pushing back tree branches, so I may move forward, as I look for food, water, or shelter. And I come across a stranger. Friend or foe?
"If you smile at me, I will understand, 'Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language."
With this Trump Presidency, we are not very far away from the apocalyptic vision that is sung about, in "Wooden Ships." Let's watch MSNBC less. Let's stop being passive. Let's stop mourning and feeling helpless and depressed. Let us engage with this world, and see what we each can do to make change for the better, right now. Amen.
Laura Nyro, "Save the Country."
I can see by your coat my friend you're from the other side
There's just one thing I've got to
know, can you tell me please, who won
Say can I have some of your purple berries
Yes, I've been eating them for six or seven weeks now,
Haven't got sick once
Probably keep us both alive
Wooden ships on the water very free and easy
You know the way it's supposed to be
Silver people on the shoreline, let us be
Talking about very free and easy
Horror grips us as we watch you die
All we can do is echo your anguished cries
Stare as all human feelings die
We are leaving, you don't need us
Go take a sister, then, by the hand
Lead her away from this foreign land
Far away, where we might laugh again
We are leaving, you don't need us
And it's a fair wind blowing warm out of the south over my shoulder
Guess I'll set a course and go
Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce
A rustic, yet elegant, preparation of eggplant.
- 2 large and long eggplants
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1-½ tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
- Maldon sea salt and black pepper
- 1 Pomegranate
- 1 tsp za'atar
- 9 tbsp buttermilk
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 1-½ tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don't eat it). Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.
Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil - keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.
While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.
To make the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.
To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Sprinkle za'atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thyme Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.