I thought I'd show you some pictures I took after work this week. "After work" is my favorite time, especially in summer when it's light 'til 9:00 and I can do a little weeding when I get home from the office. For me, weeding is a very pleasant activity because it always involves plenty of leisurely gazing into the distance and daydreaming about new improvements and additions. This week, for example, I was picturing a gazebo with a hammock in it, and an arch made of branches decorated with vines and dangling crystal prisms. I'm going to try to make that arch, I swear, but right now I'll just show you the pictures I promised, of actual things in my yard:
I'm really pleased with my caladiums these days. I'm just crazy about their different patterns and colors, and I like their colorful names too: Red Flash, Scarlet Beauty, Rosebud, Stardust, June Bride, White Queen, White Christmas. . . . In one of my pots, I often see a fine fat toad hanging out. (I'm sorry I couldn't get a picture.) The caladiums provide good shelter, I'm sure, being shaped like little umbrellas and quite waterproof.
When I was picking tomatoes on Monday I heard a rustling in the mulch. I looked down and there amid the shady miniature forest of tomato plants was a box turtle busily eating a fallen Sun Gold. He looked up at me with tomato on his face, and then he went back to his eating. He started working on a nearby Roma, but it was rather large and firm and he was having trouble getting a grip on it. He kept trying to bite it and it kept rolling away.
The turtle was so easy to understand, so sympathetic, so "human." I split open a soft, overripe Riesentraube and gave it to him, and he didn't even get scared. He simply started eating my small gift. And then he looked up at me again, wearing a little beard made of tomato guts.
Rob and I picked four lovely Ping Tung Long eggplants on Tuesday. I couldn't believe how shiny they were, and how purple, so I made Rob pose with them for a picture, so I'd have proof of their perfection.
"Look down at them," I said, "like you're admiring them."
"Oh, this is going to be so stupid," he said. But as you can see he did as I instructed.
We made a big vegan lasagna in order to use up the eggplant and some more of our tomatoes. It was so delicious, layered with ruffly, chewy whole-wheat noodles and a rich, oily, satisfying "cheese" concocted almost entirely from ground walnuts. It also included an entire jar of kalamata olives and allowed me to bust out my favorite Fiestaware baking dish, a big golden yellow one I got for my birthday. The lasagna made for a very festive meal. We had cabbage salad with it, and huge hot slices of buttered, toasted Cuban bread.
Vegan Walnut Lasagna
8 whole-wheat lasagna noodles
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oriental eggplants, chopped
1 3-oz package sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted and chopped
1 8-oz jar pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped
2-4 cups homemade marinara sauce
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 batch Walnut Cheese
1 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp water
½ tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp Italian herbs (oregano, parsley, etc.)
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Boil noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside on a cookie sheet. (Oil the cookie sheet to prevent sticking).
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is tender. Add eggplant and a little salt and cook. Set aside.
To make the Walnut Cheese, toast walnuts in a lightly oiled skillet on medium-low heat until golden brown. In a food processor or blender, grind the walnuts and mix with water, vinegar, herbs, and salt. You should end up with a smooth paste.
Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish and arrange a layer of noodles at the bottom. Spread a layer of cheese over the noodles and spoon on sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and the eggplant/onion mixture. Repeat until you reach the top. End with a layer of noodles. Pour marinara sauce over that last layer of noodles. Top the sauce with a sprinkling of Panko. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.