The Reluctant Cook

photo of eggplant dishI hate cooking.

No, that’s not true.

I hate cooking dinner.

No, that’s not true either. Sometimes I love cooking dinner.

I love/hate cooking? I hate/love cooking? What is the truth about me and cooking?

This is it: I hate having to cook.

Making plättar (Swedish pancakes) for breakfast is great fun. I think of my beloved Farmor (father’s mother) the whole time.

Baking chocolate chip cookies also holds my interest. I remember my first solo attempt at age ten – I melted the butter instead of creaming it – and laugh.

Making lacto-fermented sauerkraut is a thrill. Harnessing those miraculous micro-beasties (lactobacilli) to create the best cabbage dish in the whole world is an amazing stretch back through thousands of years of human food prep.

Obviously, I’m a writer! I like my food to have stories.

And when I cook to entertain myself, I love it. When I cook merely to feed myself and my family (and I’m tired after a long day or there’s just nothing good in the fridge or I’d rather be writing) . . . not so much.

I do cook, of course. Not only do I cook, but I give it some real commitment. My mother believed (and believes) that good health rests on good food, and so do I. That’s motivation for cooking on days when I just don’t want to. And I have help. My husband shares the cooking load. In fact, here in the aftermath of my two-year, torn-hip, broken-foot, broken-toe saga, he does more than half. That helps! A lot!

But I enter the kitchen frequently enough. Three meals a day, seven days a week, give us twenty-one opportunities to mess with food. And just a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a way of cooking eggplant that produces an eggplant so mouthwatering that I must share it with you.

It’s so simple that I’m surely not the first to stumble upon it. It’s so easy that real cooks will laugh at me. But it’s so delicious that I want everyone who hasn’t stumbled upon it themselves to taste it. So here’s the “recipe.”

photos of steps in making recipeIngredients

1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
5 plump garlic cloves
2 leeks
6 narrow eggplants

(I know. The veg photo shows ingredients for a half recipe. Sorry about that! Not enough eggplants on hand the day I took the pic! The rest do depict the full recipe.)


Wash the leeks thoroughly. Cut off the green tops and either discard them or save them for another dish. Cut off and discard the root end. Slice the stalks very thinly.

Peel the garlic cloves and mince them or smush them through a garlic press.

Wash the eggplants and slice them thinly. Discard the stem ends.

Pour the olive oil and then the soy sauce into a largish pot. Heat on medium on the stovetop.

Add the garlic and leeks to the oil and sauté, stirring occasionally.

When the leeks are slightly soft (a couple minutes), add the eggplant and sauté. Add more olive oil (it’s good for you!) if the pot bottom gets dry.

Keep stirring and cooking until the eggplant is thoroughly soft and mushy.

It looks like a brown and gooshy mass. It tastes like seconds, thirds, and fourths!

Serve and enjoy!


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