Crispy semolina-pine nut crusted mushrooms and eggplant
For the longest time we’ve talked about riding our bikes up the towpath to the next town to get breakfast. It’s been an adventure we would go on, someday. Well, today was that day. And a beautiful day it is, too. Seventy degrees, crisp, autumnal, sunny. In fact it was so chilly in the shade on the way out that Isaac said his legs were turning into icicles, so he pedaled extra hard to get into the sunshine. David and Malcolm rode on ahead, and I went at an Isaac’s pace. When I told him that he uses as much energy talking as pedaling, he was silent for a few moments, but when he’s silent he’s thoughtful, and then he has to talk about all of his thoughts. Why do flies like poop? Why do airplanes fly so high in the sky? Can you imagine how happy Clio will be when we get home? She’s going to lick us all over and tell us that we’re excellent. On the way out, this part of the path was all covered in shadows, and he was cold, but now it’s mostly sunny, and he’s warm. Did I recognize how much it had changed? He’s almost certainly beaten his record for farthest ever biking, but it felt like it only took a second. Didn’t it feel like it only took a second? Yes, yes it did. This whole summer felt like it only took a second. This morning we rode over dried leaves, and golden leaves fell in lazy circles all around us, spiraling around Isaac’s bright yellow helmet. A few weeks ago this path was teeming with flowers–honey suckle and wild rose–and it smelled almost unbearably sweet. Now it smelled sharp, like pine and lemon, like the tough green walnuts all over the ground. It’s only August but this morning felt like autumn, and I wondered as I always do how I can feel so much anticipation and regret all at the same time. I thought about Isaac talking and talking, and about how I know
that when he’s anxious he talks more and more and his voice gets higher. And how I know
that when Malcolm’s anxious he gets very quiet, and stares around with his big beautiful eyes, taking everything in. I thought about the fact that Malcolm knows why I never put anything in my right pocket, and it feels so strange that he knows something about me from my history, from before he was born. Isaac said he’s afraid of heights, and I thought about how he hasn’t ever really been anywhere very high. To him the view from David’s shoulders is dizzying. I feel like we should take him places, we should travel. But it’s nice for now that a trip four miles up the tow path is a momentous exploit.
Semolina and pine nut coated mushrooms and eggplant
This sauce was made by speedily combining goat cheese, milk, and pesto. And the eggplant and mushrooms were made by marinating them in olive oil, balsamic, and herbs, and then coating them with egg, and then coating them with a mixture of semolina flour and pine nuts. Deeeeelicious. I roasted them, and they got nice and crispy, but still tender inside. Even the boys liked them. We ate it as a meal with potatoes and chard, but I suppose it would make a good appetizer as well.
Here’s Sir Lord Comic with Dr. Feelgood, because we’ve been listening to it a lot lately.
THE EGGPLANT & MUSHROOMS
3 skinny eggplants
10 oz baby bella or white mushrooms
2 T balsamic
4 T olive oil
1 egg beaten
1 cup semolina flour
1/3 cup pine nuts
herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano)
Olive oil for the sheets.
Peel four long slices of skin, lengthwise, and then cut the top and bottom off the eggplant. Cut the eggplant in thirds lengthwise and then in thirds again. If the eggplant is very long cut it in half across. You’re trying to make batons about 3 inches long and 1/4 – 1/3 inch wide.
Put the slices in a shallow dish and shake some salt over them. Leave them for at least 1/2 hour, and then try to blot up the eggplant juices that the salt has brought out.
Wipe the mushrooms, and put them in a roasting pan or dish that just fits them.
Put half the olive oil and cup balsamic over the eggplant, and add half the herbs. Pour the rest over the mushrooms. (Use more or less oil & vinegar depending on the size of your eggplant and your amount of mushrooms) Turn them from time to time, to be sure that every surface gets a chance to soak up the marinade. Leave for at least 1/2 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425. Put a thin layer of oil on a baking sheet.
Beat an egg in a small bowl. Combine semolina flour, pine nuts, herbs, and pepper in a food processor, and process briefly. You want to have some texture, and not grind the pine nuts to powder. Pour about 1/2 the egg over the eggplant, and turn each piece to be sure it’s coated. Pour 1/2 the flour/nut mixture over, and, again, turn each piece to be sure it’s coated. Place the eggplant in a single layer on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the mushrooms
Bake for about 1/2 hour, turning the slices every once in a while, until they are browned and crispy.
GOAT CHEESE PESTO SAUCE
1/3 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup milk
2 or 3 T pesto
drizzle honey (optional)
Combine everything in a bowl and beat till smooth. Add more or less pest or milk to make it as thin and flavorful as you like it. Depending on the sweetness of your pesto, you might like a drizzle of honey to balance the tartness of your goat cheese.
Oh my! You just wrote a wonderful children’s book! The little girl in me feels like she is with you on the towpath.
Autumn is indeed falling. You capture the Summer to Fall transitional emotions very well.
The elderberry bush at Yan Jing’s Meadow is heavily laden with her summer fruits. I put some in my morning veggie soup. Come up and get elderberries for The Ordinary. And a bonus for your boys, big and small: hundreds of cream colored caterpillars with silky hairs are emerging from from a spiral tent-like structure on one of the branchs. Malcom’s eyes will widen and Isaac might comment on the abundance of caterpiller poop.
I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten elderberries! Can you eat them raw? Are they tart? We’ll have to come by! The caterpillars sound fascinating, too…I’m sure the boys will love to see them. Maybe one day next week?
This morning the elderberry bush (Sambucus Nigra) is teaming with life. There was quite a bustle in the bush as I approached. Several birds fled. One Catbird stood her branch, staring defiantly back at me. An immature bird gazed at me curiously.
Fall Webworm is the name of the caterpillar, who will become a white moth with a fuzzy head, if the birds don’t get them first.
The berry tastes a bit tart. Most recommend cooking them. The stems are slightly toxic, so they must be removed. There are many recipes: pies, syrup, jelly, cordials, herbal medicine and tinture. A simple recipe is to put them in vodka for a few months, then add sugar to make a cordial. There is evidence that the berries can prevent flu, cold, boost immune system, anti inflammatory, helps treat rheumatism, acne, hay fever….gee the list goes on.
Come on up next week. I’ll ask the birds to save some berries for us.
So…why don’t you ever put anything in your right pocket?
Hello, TFD!! Sorry not to answer sooner, I’ve been at my stupid job all day.
I used to always carry a small wooden ganesh in my pocket. I don’t any more, but I still never put anything in there, out of habit or respect!