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All aboard, we are back on our field trip of fruits and vegetables. As we progress down the lanes of the grocery store, one of the first stops is in the produce section. This week we have arrived at the letter E. The pickings are slim in the fruit category, but elderberry was the first to come to my mind. I remember when I was growing up and my Mom would talk about my grandmother making elderberry jelly and my grandfather making elderberry wine. I am not sure if we could even find elderberries in the produce section. They grew elderberries on their farm.
The one mistake you do not want to make is eating the purple berry that you see out in the countryside that starts out as a young, tender, delicacy for people who love cooked greens, called “poke” by many. As it grows into an adult plant, it can get very tall and have many shiny, purple berries. Do not eat them. I was always told they were poisonous. Elderberries are much smaller berries that grow in a cluster on a wooden stem.
The “E” vegetable was much easier to pick because it usually is in the produce section and is many times a staple in Italian or Greek cuisines. Also, vegans may use it as a meat substitute.
Just in case, you come into a supply of elderberries, save the following two recipes. I have some eggplant recipes as well. I think it is safe to say that many of you may not have tried eggplant. If not, eggplant is an elongated purple fruit type of vegetable, like a tomato. The fruit types are those that bloom and then produce fruit, but they are considered a vegetable.
Nora Sweat is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenews enterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
4 cups elderberries
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix cornstarch in a little bit of water and add to berries and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly until desired thickness. Add more cornstarch if not thick enough. Add lemon juice. Pour into bottom crust. Dot with butter. Put on top crust or make a lattice. Seal edges and cut vents for steam. Bake at 375 degrees until browned and berries are bubbling through holes in the crust, approximately 40 minutes.
Nora’s Note: It is a good idea to put a pan or foil under the pie as it bakes since it might bubble over.
3 1/2 lbs. fully ripe elderberries
3 1/2 c. juice
1/2 fresh lemon juice, strained
7 1/2 c. sugar
1 box powdered fruit pectin
Remove stems from elderberries, wash, and place in a large kettle with 1 cup water. Crush berries. Cover and simmer 25 minutes. Place in jelly bag and strain. Do no squeeze. Discard pulp.
Pour elderberry and lemon juice in large kettle. Add sugar and stir to mix. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin, bring to full rolling boil, and boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Ladle into sterilized hot jelly jars allowing 1/4" head space. Follow manufacturer's instructions for preparing 2 piece lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Start timing when water returns to a boil.
Easy Eggplant Casserole
1 small eggplant
1/2 lb. bulk sausage
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 c. cracker crumbs
Peel eggplant and cut into 1 inch cubes; cook in a small amount of boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Let cool slightly. Cook sausage and onion until onion is tender and sausage is brown. Combine eggplant, sausage mixture, egg and bread crumbs. Mix well and spoon into a greased 1 quart casserole. Combine butter and cracker crumbs; sprinkle over casserole. Bake at
350 degrees for 25 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.
2 small eggplants
1/2 c. fine dry bread crumbs
4 tablespoons freshly minced parsley
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. each celery seed, paprika (optional)
1/4 tsp. each garlic and onion powder
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, whole
3 tablespoons olive oil
Wash and slice eggplant and sprinkle generously with salt. Allow to sit out for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
Set out 2 shallow dishes or trays. Into the first tray, measure bread crumbs, parsley, celery seed, 1/2 of the cheese, paprika, garlic and onion powder (do not substitute garlic or onion salt).
In the second tray, beat the 2 eggs well with a fork. Add the chopped parsley and the other half of the cheese.
Heat a pan with 1/4 inch olive oil (does not need to be extra virgin for frying purposes). Add the garlic in whole pieces; as the oil toasts the garlic, mash it into the oil with the tines of a fork to flavor the oil; remove before browning. Meanwhile, dip the eggplant into the egg mixture, turn to coat both sides; dip and coat both sides in the bread crumb mixtures. Fry in hot olive oil over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes or until golden on both sides and eggplant is tender in center. If eggplant is later to be baked in a casserole, fry only until edges are browned as cooking will be finished in the oven.
Serve as is, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper, or bake in a casserole dish for 30 minutes at 375°F topped with grated Parmesan, mozzarella, and pasta sauce.