I'm here in Berlin with very limited kitchen equipment, unpredictable food varieties, and no spices, so it's like I'm in college again, improvising, experimenting with simple combinations and base ingredients I'm not too familiar with. Eggplant, I repeat too often, can either be the best vegetable or the worst vegetable, depending on how it's prepared. I never cook eggplant because it's just so bad when it's bad. When Natalie was visiting during my first few weeks here, we tried making eggplant parmesan. We made the breadcrumbs with a mini-baguette, the sun, and the back of a spoon, and even so it turned out delicious, so I was inspired to try cooking the mysterious vegetable again.
First I diced up one small eggplant, salted it, and tossed it with olive oil. I roasted it in the oven just above 200 celsius until it was all brown and caramelized as shown. Meanwhile, I sauteed a finely diced small onion and a few cloves of garlic, roughly chopped and mashed with the side of the blade, in olive oil til they were translucent. I then threw in half a 500g jar of tomato puree, gave it a little rinse since I don't have a spatula and used the tomatoey water to deglaze the eggplant's roasting plate, then added that too. I cooked it at a very low temperature for an hour or two - I really wanted the eggplant to melt into the tomato sauce because it gets creamy, almost sticky. Then poured it over pasta. Would've been nice with cheese, but I consoled myself by noting what a nice treat it is to eat a satisfying vegan meal every now and then, especially here in Schweinland.
I'm a big fan of white bean soup with cabbage. Or with turnips. It's extra good with cured pig of any kind. Easy enough here, right?
So I soak little white beans, then add them with 3 chopped potatoes, 2 carrots, a chunk of magerer speck and some vegetable-broth-powder to a pot of water. It was Sunday evening, so I couldn't go out for the missing onions. I brought it to a boil, then turned the heat all the way to low and left it cooking overnight. The solid ceramic burners on my electric stove suck ass for sauteeing, but they're ideal for this sort of thing. A couple hours after I went to bed, I started smelling something I have no interest in eating: baked beans. The American/English kind, comes in a can with a chunk of pork fat, full of sweet yuckiness.
Apparently that flavor comes not only from the saucy ingredients, but also from the beans themselves. So in the morning I added some lovely chopped savoy cabbage and let that cook in for a while. Still gross. Then I took my remaining speck, cut it into slices (where it becomes familiar as bacon), fried it, and fried some onions in the fat. I left all that to mingle a while, then I took it downstairs to the compost bin and dumped it, assuming that if onions fried in bacon fat couldn't make soup good then nothing could.