Sautéed Eggplant with Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette, Feta and Herbs

It’s hard to believe we’re in the first week of November and still getting summer vegetables in our box. Peppers and eggplants for Thanksgiving anyone? I made a lovely beef stew over the weekend with my accumulated hoard of eggplants and peppers. Just had some for lunch today. Delicious. The long, slow cooking renders the vegetables into pockets of succulence floating around in a rich broth. Even my husband, the “I don’t eat eggplant” guy, will eat this without complaint.

I hereby offer my last suggestions for 2010 for these two end-of-the-season crops. And an intriguing recipe for collard greens. Collards and peanuts just seem to have a natural affinity.

Flamingo Pink Borscht

Finally, Marcia, intrepid MB photographer, helped me remember that I’ve been neglecting the beets. I tend to just roast them whole and unpeeled whenever I have the oven going, and then keep the roasted beets in the refrigerator to add to whatever appeals. But she mentioned beet soup, and that reminded me how much I like borscht.

I’m also a huge fan of Jane and Michael Stern. Do you know them? This couple from New Haven, Connecticut travels the United States eating in the most interesting places and they’ve been doing it for decades. Way before that Guy guy was torturing diners, drive-ins and dives, the Sterns were sitting down at booths in the most out-of-the way spots eating the local specialties. They really celebrated the cuisine of America and wrote a number of books. You can find them on the web at

Anyway, this recipe is from their 1986 book, “Real American Food” and comes from the tradition of New York dairy restaurants. (You do know what a dairy restaurant is, don’t you?)

Spicy Orange-Scented Collard Greens

If you need still another idea for collard greens, I found my ancient (1998) Flying Biscuit cookbook. I was actually looking for the cookbook from Agnes & Muriel’s which has Glen Powell’s yummy healthy collard recipe – cooked with lemon and sesame seed. I couldn’t find that one, but I did find this recipe from April Moon. Just a bit of restaurant history – back at that time, Lynne Sawicki, now proprietress of Sawicki’s Meat Seafood and More in Decatur, was cooking along with April at the Flying Biscuit back in the mid 90s when this book was being written. And do you know the easy way to peel fresh ginger? Just use a teaspoon to scrape off the peel. No need for a paring knife.

Vegetable Mafé

Finally I offer this recipe for an African-inspired stew. It was wonderful, even better the next day as most stews are. I still have a few hot peppers which are basically just drying out in the refrigerator, so I used them in place of the serranos this recipe calls for. The cabbage was the quarter head still in the vegetable crisper. No butternut squash still in your pantry? Just add more rutabagas or sweet potatoes. And maybe you’re one of those brilliant souls who took Suzanne’s suggestion and canned your own tomatoes this summer when they were in such abundance. The perfect accompaniment? MB cornbread or corn muffins.

Adapted from a recipe in “The Cornbread Gospels” by Crescent Dragonwagon (Workman, $14.95).