Of all my material possessions, the eggplant costume hanging in my closet gives me the most joy. My mom hand-sewed it for me for Halloween in 5th grade, and I have worn it for almost every costume-required occasion since then.
The typical exchange goes something like:
Other person, as he or she looks up and down from my leaf and stem head piece to the giant, shiny, maroon-y purple bulbous blob hanging over my shoulders and down to my knees all around me: “Wow, what a great costume!”
Other person: “What are you, a grape?”
Me: “No, try again.”
Other person: “Umm…a plum?”
Other person: “Hmm. Are you edible?”
Me: “I’m a vegetable, kind of. Actually a fruit.”
Other person, frustrated yet amused (this is clearly more interesting than the rest of the bad pun/current event-inspired costumes and ambiguous animal characters walking around): “Oh – an eggplant!”
Me: “Ding ding ding!”
It is a rare child who loves vegetables, and an even rarer child who wants to dress up as one. The eggplant followed several years of more recognizable objects – a troll (well, at least in 1992 trolls with gem belly buttons and neon hair were recognizable), a tiger cub, a yellow crayon, and a Hershey kiss. Luckily, my request for an eggplant costume didn’t stump my mom. She had the genius idea of taking the same pattern she used for the Hershey kiss the prior year, remaking it with different colors, and adding some ad-libbed fabric “leaves” to my hat.
Every year, I trick-or-treated with my two best friends. We gathered for an early pizza dinner and then went out to canvass the entire town for candy, with our parents trailing behind. Since all three of us took our costumes seriously, the best houses were the ones that oohed and aahed over our get-ups, asked what we were, and took a picture as if they were going to remember that moment and these three little girls forever. The mayor’s house was also a prime destination; even though he didn’t care too much about our costumes, he was famous for giving out as many king size candy bars as our small hands could grab out of the basket.
The final phase of the evening nearly always took place on my living room floor way past our bed time. After dumping out and sorting our candy by type, we negotiated with one another to optimize our individual candy mixes. No joke. One friend loved Reese’s Pieces and Cups, so I traded her my Reese’s for her 3 Musketeers bars and Kit Kats. Only one of us liked coconut, so all of the Almond Joys went her way. No one prized lollipops or candy corn.
Trading complete, the candy went into the cabinet, and we went to bed, dreaming about next year’s costume.
Eggplant and rainbow chard stir fry
- For stir fry
- 2 medium sized eggplants, chopped into 1 inch cubes
- 2 lbs rainbow chard, rinsed, with leaves removed from stems
- 3 portabello mushrooms, chopped into 2 inch pieces
- 2 large onions, choped
- 10 cloves of garlic, chopped
- For sauce
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
- Rice (I made 2 cups of dry long grain red rice, equivalent to about 4 cups of cooked rice)
1. Chop eggplant into 1 inch cubes and place in a colander. Heavily salt the eggplant and use your hands to mix, ensuring each piece is salted. Let sit for 45-60 minutes, until beads of water form on the surface of the eggplant. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. (See more detailed directions here.)
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roast eggplant pieces with a little bit of olive oil for about 30 minutes, using a spatula to mix around once or twice.
3. Begin cooking rice according to however you normally cook the type of rice you are using.
4. For the sauce, combine soy sauce, molasses, honey, and sesame oil over medium heat. Mince ginger and garlic and add to sauce. Cook over medium heat for about 10 min.
5. Saute onions and garlic until they are beginning to get soft but not yet translucent. Add mushrooms and chard to the pan and saute for a few minutes until soft. Add eggplant. Add 1/2 cup of sauce to the pan and toss vegetables to coat.
6. Serve stir fry with rice and extra sauce to taste.