Monday, July 18, 2011

Let the Smackdown Preparations Begin!

I don’t think I’ve ever written about how I adopted my online name. It hearkens back to making eggplant parmesan for friends one Sunday night in college. It’s a dish I learned to make in Colorado at the elbow of my buddy Derf, who had learned it at the elbows of Italian grandmas in his native Bronx, although he was Jewish.

My college friends were curious as I set about prep for our feast. I explained there was no set recipe, that I had picked up Derf’s techniques and preferred ingredients for making Italian red sauce by watching him make lasagna, eggplant parm, and other variations on the theme many times.

So you’re making “intuitive eggplant,” observed Laura, one of the friends I’d invited that evening.

Making sauce the way Derf taught me takes a good while, and Laura had to leave to host her show on our low-powered college radio station before dinner was ready to eat. As the rest of us finally sat down to the table, listening to her show, this Michael Franks song came across the airwaves. That evening remains a fond memory. And the song describes how I cook now even more than it did then.

When I settled on eggplant as the theme for this month’s revival of the Culinary Smackdown, it was intended partly tongue-in-cheek, but also invoked for me the idea of welcoming you to a contest that would be a something of a virtual dinner party. To those of you who are allergic to aubergine, or just plain don’t like it, I apologize. But you are welcome to participate in any way you choose, and I know there is plenty of creativity in this crowd.

After a rainy spring that has slowed the local growing season, I’ve had second thoughts about this ingredient too. Cindie and I went to three farmers markets Saturday. While the first (Lunken) actually had local corn (and a line for it - at $6/dozen!), I managed to find only these two small eggplants.

At our second stop (the Bellevue farmers market in the Party Source parking lot), I found only one.
Fortunately, I was able to pick up six from a local grower at Findlay Market. Squash were much more in abundance.
Which was just fine with Cindie, who wanted to make her squash casserole. And a satisfying dish it was!

Our plans are in place and I'll be back next weekend with Team Eggplant's entries. Meanwhile, Grumpy Granny - who helped kick-start this revival of the Culinary Smackdown - already has her first entry up, and she is sounding ready to throw down!

xoxo, eggy - and thanks to all of you who have given me this second nickname (because "Intuitive Eggplant" sounds a might pretentious, don't it?)


darkfoam said...

great looking squash casserole! can't wait to see what folks come up with. i love eggplant. i rarely get in the mood to cook though.

Dani said...

I loves me some eggplant! YUMMY

Buzz Kill said...

Doesn't everyone have a Derf from college (great name by the way)? I had a Coma in the room next door. Coma - for obvious reasons.

I have one eggplant in the garden that I hope will be ripe by the weekend. Otherwise I may go with cucumber because those we have a lot of.

Heff said...

Glad to see the Culinary Smackdown is back, and I've always been curious as to how you got your "name" !

Jenny said...

Love the back story. I think how blog names are created are fascinating and yours is a good one. I bought an eggplant over the weekend............. weeeeeee.

Aunty Belle said...

What a great backstory, Eggy!

ha...luv it. Ihas an eggplant grwoing in thegarden that I hope will be readyu to star in mah entry. Eggplant can take all the heat down thisaway.

Really happy ya revived the smackdown.

MakingSpace said...

Welcome back Smackdown!

Sharon Rudd said...

Foamy, hope you’ll be checking out the entries, even if you’re not inclined to cook.

Dani, thanks for stopping by! Any chance you’ll be joining in?

Buzz, I hope your eggplant ripens by the weekend, but feel free to contribute with whatever you’ve got. My friend got his nickname because Derf is Fred spelled backwards. P.S. Congrats on your haiku win!

Heff! Long time, no hear. You throwin’ down with us this weekend?

Boxer, you are a trooper and a dear friend to join in, being aubergine-allergic and all :)

Aunty, glad you got a kick out of my back story, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

MS! Is it too much to hope for that the Sweeties like eggplant enough for you to participate? Hope to see you ‘round the Smackdown in some fashion anyway!

Anonymous said...

Great story, Ms. Eggy! Can't wait to see what will be coming out of your kitchen. I'm doing part 2 tomorrow. Link will be up after that!


Anonymous said...

Great homage to both Derf and the eggplant!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Love your nickname and enjoyed reading about how you got your eggplant name. Makes perfect sense to me. My husband is the only member of his family to not like eggplant. His brother and father are always telling him to try their recipes and he'll be convinced he was wrong. So far no luck. Wish I could join up, but don't want to start a rebellion in my kitchen. But I'll be here quietly in the wings looking on.

Velva said...

I enjoy finding out about the history of blog names. Bloggers give a lot of thought to the name, and yours it is proof that it is a pretty good story.

My garden this year was a bust except for the eggplant-which seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. I have made trays of eggplant parmesan this season. I have no recipe. I make it different every time I make it. I am really going to enjoy stopping by to see the entries.

As always, awesome.


Molly said...

This is so fun!!! Thanks for bringing us in the loop!!

darkfoam said...

eggy, when are the entries due?

sparringK9 said...

eggy: my contribution to this go around will be the badge. i hate eggplant so im not cooking it. so there. ;-) I'll get it to you this weekend.

Sharon Rudd said...

Sam, the last thing I would want to inspire is an eggplant rebellion :) Hope you enjoy what everyone comes up with!

Velva, you’re a woman after my own heart when it comes to cooking eggplant – and many other dishes!

Molly! Thanks for stopping by! Hope “Team Caitlin” gets a kick out of the entries!

Foamy, I stopped by your place to answer your question, but I’ll answer it here too. The deadline is this Sunday (July 31).

Chick9! You are such a dear to contribute on the badge front – especially as busy as you are! Thanks!

And to Anon – Thanks, Dad! I’m always tickled when you comment :)

Meanwhile, we already have two more entries! You can find entry #2 from Grumpy Granny here: and it’s a beauty! The lovely Alessandra, who resides in New Zealand, has contributed an exotic recipe and some transporting photos here:

Thanks to all! I’ll have a Smackdown welcome post up Saturday while I head to the river to cook, then be back Sunday night with Team Eggplant’s dishes. Have fun!

moi said...

Very cool, how you chose your online name!

I'll eat eggplant made just about any way. Love it. And the color rocks.

I'm still hoping to have time to participate; if not, I'll definitely be 'round to check everyone out. Thanks for reviving this most awesome meme!