Simple Breaded Eggplant

Eggplant seems to be prone to insults. Recipes often bury this beauty beneath heavy sauces and layers of cheese. And, this is one vegetable that rapidly disintegrates into tasteless mush when overcooked. 

This morning, hubby John presented me with a wonderful breakfast that is easy to make and delicious. The eggplant was breaded, sprayed with avocado oil, and grilled on the medium setting for roughly 30 minutes. Then to add flavor contrast, he topped each slice with a dusting of goat cheese, basil leaves, and oregano flower tops (another edible herb flower). On the side, he mixed Fagé 0% Greek yogurt and blueberries (sweeten to taste) for a lite and infinitely appealing meal.

A New Use For Basil Tops

Fridays are typically busy. It is our day to go to the farmer’s market and enjoy a day away from home. We, therefore, try to keep breakfast simple. This Friday I opted to make steel-cut oats seasoned with cinnamon and topped with blueberries.

As I sat down for breakfast, John came in from the garden with a handful of tops from our basil plants to add to the oatmeal. This is an ingredient I would never have thought to add to oatmeal, but the result was an amazing blend of flavors – tart, sweet, and a bit sassy. I almost felt like I cheated a bit with this breakfast – so delicious and yet so simple and healthy, packed with antioxidants and fiber.

IN MY BACKYARD (CREEPING CHARLIE)

I was out in the backyard observing some of the plants I have planted in the last two years. I noticed an evasive plant with a lot of scalloped leaves and pretty blue flowers. The plant seemed to attract bees and smells of strong mint.  When I pick it up, it comes up easily, as it is not a deeply rooted plant. It seems to always grow in clumps around the yard. Usually, this plant is found in the shady parts of the gardens around the base of other plants. It does pull up easily and with the regular pulling of weed plants around the flowerbed, it can be pulled up, but never goes away.  It comes back year after year. 

I looked up the plant in several plant guides and found it to have many names, and seems to be referred to as Ground Ivy most of the time. I kind of liked the one name, Creeping Charlie as this plant can quickly spread to take over any flower bed. Mowing does not stop it from continued growth. 

I like the plant as it is a wonderful green color with interesting leaves.  When it blooms with blue flowers, it is actually very attractive. I just pull some of it up when it starts becoming evasive. 

On the Scientific side of my research, I found this Ground Ivy ( Glechoma hederacea) has quite a history.  Historically, Ground Ivy was used as an herb, eaten in salads, and used to make medicines and tea. It was also used to flavor beer. The plant is very high in iron. Young leaves and sprouts are eaten like spinach. Tasting a leaf produces a very strong minty flavor. 

Although technically a weed, to me, Creeping Charlie is simply another interesting plant in the backyard.

IN MY BACKYARD (VIOLETS)

I will always wait for the blue violets to grow in my yard.  I do not have regular pruned grass; I just let it grow and mow it. In early spring, the wild violets congregate in my yard in various locations. Sometimes, they appear in one place in the front or backyard and sometimes in surprising places in the yard where I would not expect them. I like them; they would be unwelcome in a yard treated with chemicals. I just consider them to be gifts from nature.  

Science gives them the name, (Viola odorata). They grow in groups of heart-shaped leaves with beautiful blue flowers that just are so delicate. They continue to seed, low to the ground. What seems to be dead flowers really are the flowers reproducing seeds.  I noticed after mowing, they continue to grow.  The seed is spread so easily that they can get transported all over the yard. 

If you do not have a treated lawn with chemicals, an added feature of violets is that they are good for food presentations, and both leaves (heart-shaped), flowers, and stems are edible. I like to include the flowers on desserts or in salads to add that wild touch. This is also a plant you could pot grow, especially if you treat the yard with chemicals or have pets in the yard. 

I hope that your yard gives you a treat with these beautiful wildflowers.

Feeling Vulnerable

John found this lovely Butterweed plant in our side garden.  Tall, bright, and yellow, this small wildflower stood-out among peonies and daylilies struggling to bloom in an abnormally cold and gray spring.  I noticed the plant when a first single flower appeared at the top of the long stem, surrounded by several waiting blossoms.  I could almost feel the power in the plant’s sturdy stem.  On a damp and windy day, I snapped many images, trying to capture this wildflower as it danced in the wind. 

Spring has been difficult, with much more time spent at home in dismal and sometimes depressing weather.  We know we are among the vulnerable, seniors that are at a higher risk over our younger counterparts.  Our age can be a reminder of our vulnerability, the fact that time is sometimes unkind and limiting.  

Each day, I have visited this wildflower and am greeted by more flowers perched on top of a still wavering stem.  Somehow, this little plant makes me feel less alone, a companion plant for John and I.  This one is determined to survive.  So are we.

In my Backyard (Butterweed)

It still amazes me the number of plants that are in someone’s backyard. I had this one particular wildflower grow from a small plant to a foot tall in a few days.  I let it grow to see what it would look like through its stages of growth.  I was rewarded by my patience with a pretty cluster of flowers atop a very strong stem with kite-like leaves. It was very green and healthy-looking.  You might say the plant was, “Wild Strong!”  I encourage plants like this in my backyard.  I set up a mystery of search and learn using my skills of observation and research.  I find the plant in a book or on the internet and learn about its life cycle and how it fits in with other cycles. 

When my wife and I looked it up we found it to be classified as a Butterweed. You find this weed more to the South but seems to be evasive. Vacant farmlands are covered with fields of these yellow-colored flowers until the cycle of the plant is finished.  More than likely the plants get plowed under with the planting season. They always come back.

On the science side of terminology, the plant is named (Packera glabella), a name given by the followers of Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, who developed a classification system to name animals and plants.  So, the weed we know as Butterweed has a scientific name, and is more important than being just a weed. This weed is important to the South for providing food for crayfish; the flower feeds many pollinators that are attracted by its bright yellow flower. 

It is a happy reminder that when you want that perfect lawn, you are missing out on the beautiful weeds like Dandelion and Violet and many others that give beauty and natural life to our backyards. They can be tamed and sometimes used as an added floral to attract beautiful birds and helpful insects.

The Moonlit Rose

ROSE

Purity comes to nature

A wedding gown for a bride

Not yet tarnished by insect or mold

It faces the sun and cherishes the rain

It perfumes the air

Hoping to attract a pollinator

To pass on its seed.

It is called MOONSTONE a tea rose. It seems to glow with white pearly petals and that are pink edged.  It has many blossoms that are held by beautiful green veined leaves. I wandered out on a midsummer’s eve when the moon was high and bright.  I saw its blossoms turned toward the light, they seemed to glow in the night and toward the brightness of the moon’s light.

MEDITATION  

Sometimes we are attracted to beauty.  It is the clothing, the physical features, the way someone or something presents itself.  I think in nature everything can attract us.  Even the lowly fungus can have a beauty all its own.  To appreciate this earth one must consider the detail using all our senses, and develop them. The rose has thorns, soft colorful petals, water that drips from its green leaves in the morning dew. Most of all a perfume that you can never forget. It is something you can reflect upon.