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.


Dad said...

I am genuinely glad to hear your Mum (Mom) is doing ok.

It's also heartening to read that she is obviously in a positive mind-set and looking to the future by ordering lilies for planting in the spring.

$200 worth at that!

Go Mom!!

(no relation)

Anonymous said...

Looks delicious ... Laila .. http://limeandlemon.wordpress.com/

Kristin said...

"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."

Mercedes- just keep picturing those positive future moments...they will come...glad your both doing well :o)


Swati said...

You will be in our prayers throughout, but do take care of yourself as well. It is all too easy to neglect your own self.

I hope you don't mind - I have linked to your last post from my post today - http://hellonetbaby.blogspot.com/2009/02/crickweb-free-teaching-resource.html

Y said...

They sound absolutely delicious. I thought the first picture was of pears at first. But eggplant is even better!

claudia said...

Mmmmm, we love eggplant. I already make a canned version (italian style) and I will send you a picture and an easy tasty recipe soon (where?). I will definitely try this as soon as eggplant is in season (and if I am lucky from my own first time produce)
the recipe is printed and in my wish book!

Passionate Eater said...

As for your "thanks for OUR generosity," I just wanted to say is that it is YOU who are generous. Thank you for sharing your recipes, and for your stories of your mother. I am glad to hear that she is in good spirits.

Sophia from Kitchen Caravan said...

Hi Mercedes, I had not read your blog in a few weeks and just saw your post about your mother. I am so sorry about what you are going through. Your support and care is worth more than any treatment, and I know you two will get through this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recipe. Is it easy to find the baby eggplant? I love Makdous..especially with Labne!

Mark Scarbrough said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. We just had a blot of sadness in our family--and it feels as if I've lost my balance when I walk, as if I'm somehow on the sides of my feet all day. I hope you recover--and hope that comfort foods like this eggplant/olive oil fantasia help bring your heart back to a place of rest.

Lisa Johnson said...

I'm sending good thoughts your way and wishing the best for you and your mom. : )

Susan said...

Positive thoughts.

Would love to try the recipe, thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

My mom is also undergoing cancer treatment - stage 3 breast cancer.
The greatest gift that has come out of this experience is my mom's incredible and infectious good spirits about her prognosis and her fight. She, too, loves to sit in an Hermes scarf and enjoy the sunshine - I wish the very best for you and your mother. With your support, she will make it through with flying colors!

Anonymous said...

i saw these baby eggplants at the local turkish grocers and thought of you! Mercedes, i hope that all the strength that is humanly possible is with you. be gentle to yourself too!

take care.. su

Shirley Sunman said...

what a wonderful blog - you have such a great way with words - thinking of you and your mother.

Rose said...

I love your blog so much that I save it in my RSS reader as a treat -- and I've been so busy that I haven't looked in weeks. I'm very sorry to hear about your mother's cancer, but happy to hear about her spirit and optimism.

Your love for her shines through your words -- it always has, when you write about her and food, but it particularly does now. As someone said above, please do take care of yourself; you'll need to be strong as you can to help her as much as you want to.

Anonymous said...

I just bought baby eggplant and I am planning on making them this week. I will let you know! I love your website, and you inspire me.please keep on writing and sharing recipes..

Marria said...

I'm so glad to see you do a post on makdous! I've always wanted to try to make these. My dad tells me that it's critical to get the tenderness correct when boiling them in order to get the right consistency. Now I just need to find out where I can buy these eggplants from.. let me know if you have any ideas for where to look.

Rumela said...

These eggplant looks truly succulent. I would like to have some of these. Thanks for the recipe. I an going to try it next weekend when my grand mother will be at home. i know my grand mother will like eating this...as long as he can use his fingers. thank you for shearing your post.

fatisrecipes said...

Oh wow... My grandma's Syrian makdous seems a lot harder than yours although it's such a simplified recipe.
Sorry to note, but I thought the makdouses in the picture looked peeled which shocked me.. ;)