03 February 2009


Oh my.

If I didn't know what to say before, I certainly don't know how to respond to your overwhelming generosity. I do know I will return to your messages again and again, and if I ever worry about feeling alone, so many supportive notes from total strangers will help with that. Thank you.

As for my mom, she is doing amazing well considering the circumstances. Her hospital room looks more like a florist workshop and, the most important part, she remains in good spirits. I brought her gardening catalogues one day and while I was out she ordered $200 worth of hostas for the spring planting. I can picture it already- me in the back yard digging holes, my mother in her lawn chair with her Hermes scarf around her head.

Right now, I migrate between the hospital, work, my mom's house, and home, a suitcase in my trunk and ready to sleep wherever I land. I have no appetite but usually nibble whatever I'm feeding mom or takeout sushi.

In my fridge one evening, behind the spoiled milk, was a batch of makdous (Lebanese preserved eggplant) that I made before Christmas. Makdous are small eggplants which are cooked, then stuffed with a walnut-chile mixture, and then stored in olive oil. They aren't the prettiest thing to look at but they're spicy and crunchy and very good eaten out of the jar with oil dripping down your chin. It was a reminder that I should share the recipe with you here, as a meager thanks for the support you all have sent my way.

Stuffed Preserved Eggplant (Batinjan Makdous)

8 small baby eggplants
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 small cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dry chili flakes (like Aleppo pepper)
1-2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

1. Prepare a pot of boiling water. Slit the eggplants lengthwise, beginning from the bottom of the eggplant, but do not cut all the way through. Poach eggplants in boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and pat dry.
2. Combine the walnuts, sea salt, chili flakes, and garlic and pound the mixture in a mortar and pestle until combined but still coarse. Alternately, you could give the mixture a pulse or two in the food processor.
3. Stuff about a tablespoon of the walnut mixture in the middle of each eggplant, using up all the filling.
4. Tightly pack the eggplants stem up in a glass jar and pour the olive oil over to cover.
5. Refrigerate at least five-seven days before serving to allow flavor to develop. Let come to room temperature before serving. Will keep at least one month in the refrigerator.