Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Curried Eggplant Soup

Last night was such a rough night. Old Guy Neighbor's dog is dying. And as much as I joke about Old Guy Neighbor, and as much as he drives me INSANE sometimes, I still dig him. So I feel for him.

What's so difficult about the situation is that he's had his dog for 15 1/2 years, so he just DOESN'T want to part with him. So for the past few days, he's been talking constantly about how he's not going to have him put to sleep. And I understand. I went with our family dog, Lucy, a few years ago to have her put to sleep, and it seriously was THE most horrible experience I've ever had. The whole idea of "playing God" and making that decision to end a life is so horribly conflicted to me. I'm torn in about 23 different directions on the topic of euthanasia and pets. So I feel for him. I really do. And I know he doesn't want to have him put to sleep because, really, he just doesn't want to part with him EVER. EVER EVER.

But Old Guy Neighbor's dog is in REALLY bad shape: Abscessed eye. Bleeding from the nose frequently. Can barely get up or down the stairs. Eyes so riddled with cataracts that he looks like an extra in a zombie movie. And apparently these past couple days: seizures. So, despite my complications on the subjects of euthanasia, I can understand wanting to stop this poor dog from having to suffer anymore.

Last night he finally came to that conclusion as well. But the problem is that Old Guy Neighbor does not have family, and most of his friends have passed. He also doesn't have a phone. So last night, I spent much of the night jotting down phone numbers that he was shouting at me from his window, phone numbers that he'd scrawled down mostly illegibly and couldn't make out. Calling wrong numbers, accidental fax numbers, getting nameless voicemails, trying to get ahold of one of two folks that stop in to check on him a few times a year so that they can come over today and help him get his dog to the vet to be put to sleep. And last night he had reached that point where he'd suddenly realized that his dog really NEEDS to be put to sleep, as in, he can't BEAR to be around this poor dog anymore because he's just in SUCH bad shape. So he's frantic, coming to the window every five minutes to check on whether I got ahold of anyone, whether anyone's called back. And there's nothing I can do because most vet-places are closed anyways, and Old Guy Neighbor has problems walking, so there's no way he and I can get his dog down the steps and into my car to run him up anywhere. And my heart's just breaking, because each time he comes out, he's vascillating between waxing nostalgic about his dog--telling me stories about when he first got him, what a fat little thing he was--and making statements to convince himself that it's a GOOD thing that his dog is passing on--telling me how nice it'll be that he won't have to rush home from the market anymore to check up on him and stuff. And even moreso than the nostalgia, it's THESE statements that just make me want to cry my eyes out because THESE are the statements which reveal how much his dog means to him. They're the statements that he needs to feed himself so that he can try to make sense out of it and make himself feel better. And that sucks.

And it sucks when I think about how he's gonna be sitting up there in his room with NO one now. Before he at least had the companionship of his dog. His dog was sort of like his wife. Old Guy Neighbor was constantly chiding him and hollering, but you KNOW he'd jump in front of a speeding car to save that dog. I mean, Old Guy Neighbor has told me on numerous occasions that he has the ashes from two previous dogs, and he'll retrieve the ashes of his current dog as well, and when Old Guy Neighbor dies, he's having them all buried with him... Because, as he says time and time again, "They're the only ones who stick with you through thick and thin, rich and poor, and don't ask for ANYthing from you."

Terrible. And bearing witness to his loneliness just floors me. It's just terrible to see someone who has NO one on a daily basis. And now the one little thing they DID have, which kept them going every day and which gave them someone to talk to, is gonna be gone.

And it's rough because it calls up all my memories of putting our dog Lucy to sleep, of looking her IN THE EYES as her life blinked out of them. It was seriously the most terrifying experience I've ever had. And it makes me sad because it just tears me apart that such a level of loneliness can exist in the world. And it's hard because all night I'm getting a play-by-play of how his dog is dying--how he just had a seizure, how there's blood all over the bed--AND THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO. And I can't even be a good support system because I just cannot even HANDLE hearing that. I cannot handle being in the middle of it all. I cannot handle the visceral nature of KNOWING that this dog is dying right across from me, of hearing him talking to him through the half-open window, of hearing barks in the night and not knowing if it's his dog in his last moments. I mean, it was just too palpable. In the air. In the sounds of the evening. I finally had to go inside because I needed to escape it.

Seriously: a rough night.

Sorry to yammer on about it, but I think I just needed to speak it out. Especially amongst people who will understand.


Boobs! Penis! Tits! Titties! Orange oily feces!

That's a little bit better.

On a happier furry-critter note: I see the stray I built the shelter for frequently nowadays. She makes my heart thrum somedays because she is just the epitome of spring. She also makes me wish that I could let my cats roam around outdoors (moreso than just on our roof), chase squirrels up trees, and roll around in the grass. But in the middle of the city, I fear for their safety. So they're resigned to the roof.

The other day, I came home to find OK (my nickname for the stray--stands for "Outside Kitty") stretched out in the grass, basking in the sunshine. For a minute I thought she was dead, she was that sound asleep. And normally she's skittish, but this time I was able to snap a few pictures. Cute, ain't she?

And on the food front (which is what this blog is all about, right? RIGHT?!?!), I seriously made the BEST soup EVER this weekend. Honest to god.

It's one of the best soups I've ever made. And it's also one of the best soups I've ever TASTED.

Let us just say that SusanV is a goddess of all things souply.

This soup has sexy velveteen roasted eggplant in it. It's FIERY with curry, and yet perky and sweet with apple and agave nectar. And it's just got this buttery, decadent sensuality to it that... sweet jesus... I'm getting tingly just thinking about it. You will be in awe of the fact that this thing is fat-free. Seriously. 'Cause it's got it going ON in the way of richness.

Only recommendation: I'd aim for the low-end of the curry-powder measurements. Because I only used 1.5 T. of curry powder, and my lips have been on fire for DAYS.

Nonetheless: I highly highly recommend. And bless you, SusanV, for sharing this recipe with the rest of the world.


  • 1 large eggplant (or 2 smaller ones)

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced

  • 1/2 c. diced tomatoes (drained canned tomatoes or fresh)

  • 1 1/2 to 2 T. best-quality curry powder

  • 1 pinch cayenne (or more, to taste)

  • 1 T. soy sauce

  • 2 t. agave nectar (or other sweetener)

  • 1 15-oz. can great northern beans, rinsed and drained

  • 4 c. vegetable broth, divided

  • 1/2 c. soy milk or other non-dairy milk

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 6 T. soy yogurt (optional)

  • Parsley or cilantro, chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 400F. Peel the eggplant and slice it 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices on a sprayed baking sheet and cover with foil. Roast until eggplant is very tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and allow to cool. Put half of the slices into the food processor. Chop the other half coarsely and put them in a large pot. Add 3 cups of the vegetable broth and bring to a low simmer.

Spray a non-stick skillet with canola oil and get it hot. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the diced apple and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato, curry powder, cayenne, soy sauce, and agave nectar and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved 1 cup of broth and cook another minute. Pour this mixture into the food processor with the eggplant.

Add the beans to the food processor and puree until it forms a thick paste. Scrape the paste into the pot with the broth and eggplant, stir well, and add the non-dairy milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and more curry powder if necessary). Turn down to very low and barely simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve hot or chilled, stirring in one tablespoon of soy yogurt into each bowl (if desired) and sprinkling with parsley or cilantro.

(Recipe from FatFree Vegan)

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