24 eggplant

"Oh, certainly–certainly–just as you say," stammered unhappy Matthew, seizing the rake and making for the door. At the threshold he recollected that he had not paid for it and he turned miserably back. While Miss Harris was counting out his change he rallied his powers for a final desperate attempt. "Well now–if it isn’t too much trouble–I might as well–that is–I’d like to look at–at–some sugar." "White or brown?" queried Miss Harris patiently. "Oh–well now–brown," said Matthew feebly. "There’s a barrel of it over there," said Miss Harris, shaking her bangles at it. "It’s the only kind we have." "I’ll–I’ll take twenty pounds of it," said Matthew, with beads of perspiration standing on his forehead. Matthew had driven halfway home before he was his own man again. It had been a gruesome experience, but it served him right, he thought, for committing the heresy of going to a strange store. When he reached home he hid the rake in the tool house, but the sugar he carried in to Marilla.”—from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Two years ago when a local supermarket advertised eggplant 10 for $10, I had my own Marilla “brown sugar” experience.  I really love eggplant parmesan; I searched years to find an eggplant parmesan recipe that would rival The Olive Garden’s.  When I finally found the perfect recipe here, I tweaked it until I actually prefer it to the Olive Garden’s.

IMG_0590

As much as I love eggplant, I have a hard time swallowing the $2 or $3 per fruit it usually costs in our neck of the woods—especially in the middle of winter.  So when the 10 for $10 sale appeared, it was like I’d hit the mother lode.  At the time I was approaching 7 months pregnant, and a couple of months before I’d sworn I would never pick another strawberry after singlehandedly slicing and freezing 6 flats of the cursed berries.  I sent Cowboy to the store to pick up a few eggplants—I was thinking 4 or 5.  I would make one pan for dinner and freeze the other.

You guessed it—he came home with 10 eggplants.  I think the look on my face said it all—shock, disbelief, surprise, love, all mingled into one.   To be fair, the 6 or 7 pans of eggplant parmesan I froze were about the only meals I managed to store away to get us through the post-pregnancy months, and they served us well.  But 10 eggplants??? 

Fast forward to last week.  My mom and I step inside a local grower’s outlet in the Big City and I spy glossy, perfect eggplants for 69 cents apiece.  Six eggplants make their way into my basket.  Then I round the corner and spy a sign that proclaims an entire box of eggplant—24 in fact—can be had for $13.95. 

A myriad of thoughts float through my mind–$13.95 for 24 eggplant is an even better bargain than 69 cents apiece . . . one could make A LOT of eggplant parmesan with 24 eggplants . . .  I really love eggplant parmesan . . . . And the thoughts are accompanied by a vague mental image:

IMG_0607 This is currently the biggest eggplant in our garden—not a bloom in sight. 
It’s the end of August; it’s a no-brainer.  Ten minutes later I leave the store, the proud new owner of 24 eggplants.

Cowboy’s title of “Buyer of Eggplants in Excessive Quantities” now belongs to me.  This, and the fact that I spent the bulk of our remaining grocery money for the month on a box of eggplant spurred me on—I would not let a single eggplant hit the compost pile.

The Results:

IMG_0588 Working around tantrums, naps, a looming sewing deadline, and intermittent insanity, the box above has been transformed into:

IMG_0587 9 pans of Eggplant Parmesan and

IMG_0605 17.5 cups of blanched eggplant (method found here).  I ran out of bread crumbs or it would all be eggplant parmesan, but I’m hoping to slip these babies into stir-fries, soups, and casseroles when the rest of the crew isn’t looking.

I figure each pan of eggplant parmesan cost roughly $3.70.  Add a salad and pasta and bread if you like, and you’ve got a family-sized meal for around $10, or about the cost of a single serving at Olive Garden.

IMG_0600 

As you read this we’re on our way to pick peaches.  Bring it on.

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