Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kermit and Painted Serpents

So, it's been six months since I posted anything! I've been busy in the garden.

Tonight I made a Thai dish from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid. The recipe called for the little green "Kermit" Thai eggplants that I've finally started harvesting. It also featured duck and green curry paste. I love eggplant and duck and coconut curries. The dish was a hit.

"Kermit" came from Upstarts Organic Seedlings, a local grower of organic vegetable and herb starts. There are a number of named varieties of Thai eggplants available, "Kermit", an F-1 hybrid, being one of them. Check out Evergreen Seeds for a great selection of Asian eggplant, including six varieties of Thai round green eggplant. A lot of people seem to use the name Kermit synonymously for all varieties of Thai eggplant, even the little Thai pea eggplants which are quite bitter. The pea eggplants are also often confusingly called bitterballs which are an African eggplant. I had read that the Kermit type eggplants are enjoyed both cooked and raw so I sliced off a bit of one and tasted it raw - surprisingly good - and not bitter. Next year I may order some seeds for a non-hybrid variety and see how that does.
My first "Painted Serpent" cucumber was used to make a spicy cucumber salad from the aforementioned book to accompany the curry. Another hit. I know, my first cucumber at the end of September? Well, I didn't get around to putting the seed in the ground until July 7 and the seed pack says 70 days to maturity - not a bad performance for a procrastinator. The plants were covered with male blossoms weeks ago, at least 2 weeks before the female blossoms started to appear. Painted Serpent is an heirloom Armenian type of cucumber, long and thin, slightly fuzzy, two-tone striped and sweet and crisp. The cucumber I picked came in at 13 ounces and the seeds were still not fully formed. The cucumbers shown below are about half that size and less.
Now that summer has finally come to the northern edge of California's central coast I'm finally harvesting the vegetables that gardeners in warmer climes have been enjoying for months now. The eggplant I knew would be late - it always has been for me. The cucumber - well, I would have been eating them all summer if I had gotten around to planting them before July! I've come to the conclusion that I won't be harvesting any significant amount of tomatoes until September. Oh well, they have been so fantastically good that it makes them worth waiting for - even those "Aunt Ruby's German Green" that turned out to be something more orange-pink and incredibly delicious.