Ask a Fool

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” This quote by Wayne Dyer perfectly describes my Sudoku prowess. After agonizing over one of the most difficult, I often walk away for a few minutes, come back, turn the puzzle upside down, and am able to finish it off.  It also describes my latest eggplant strategy.

Coming to the End of the Season

According to Roger Van Oech Renaissance kings turned to the fool when they needed inspriation to break from the traditional thinking of their advisors. The fool would take the problem or issue at hand and strip away the assumptions thereby making it appear anew or changing the way it looked. Van Oech’s example, if a man is sitting backwards on a horse, why do we assume that it’s the man who is backwards and not the horse? What would the fool say about autumn’s endless stream of eggplant into my home and my children who invoke their constitutional rights to stay away?

Hmmm. I so often treat the purplish meaty outcast as the focal point of our meal. What if that was to change? And what if, rather than baking it with sauces and cheese and traditional spices, it was altered and cooked alongside nuts and fruit? Stove top rather than oven?

Admittedly these concepts aren’t that foolish but they are a new way of working with eggplant and worthy of exploration. I turn to Mario Batali for Caponata.

Eggplant Caponata


  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 3 Tbs
  • 3 Tbs currants (I used organic raisins)
  • 1 Tbs hot chili flakes
  • 2 medium eggplant, cubed to yield 4 cups
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 sprigs mint, chopped


In a large  saute pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, raisins and chili flakes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.

Saute until the Onion is softened

Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.


Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or favorite bread or crackers.

The Perfect Snack

Up Close and Caponata

So where else might we look and find that our thinking is bound by tradition or habit? Are there other places in our lives where we might benefit by calling in the fool and throwing out our old thinking? I’m going to keep it in mind as I work and play this week.

Leave a comment


  1. Looks delicious! I like eggplant. Blessings to you…

  2. Eggplants are one my favourite vegetables. I particularly like them in an Indian way (Baba Ghanoush) or like they are served in Italy (sliced, grilled with herbs in olive oil). Your caponata looks absolutely delicious and I will try this different way to look at them. Thanks Tammy.

  3. Thank you for inspiring us with the eggplant and with other challenges we might be looking at today! 🙂
    p.s. confession . . .I’ve never had eggplant.

  4. You just managed to mix up some of my favorite things! I love Roger Van Oech and eggplant! What do the kids say about the eggplant?

    I’m currently reading Kitchen Literacy and even though I knew it was the case, I’m still amazed by how we are influenced (not for the better mind you) by the society we live in. Amazing!

    Trying to keep my mind open and remain functional, lol…..

  5. Oh, yum…and what a wonderful way to write about this whole issue. Interesting especially your observations on the fool: experiments have been done which show a clear relatonship between laughing and better problem solving. Must go and see if I can root the details out….brilliant post, Tammy.

  6. I love this metaphor. So…..did they eat it?

  7. Peggy

     /  October 24, 2011

    Tammy this recipe sounds great! I have to admit, the one eggplant that came in my weekly fruit/veggie box this season rotted because I pondered on what to do with it for too long. I so enjoyed the link back to the boys thoughts on eggplant!

  8. I’m with your kids. Eggplant is my least favorite veggie. No matter how it’s prepared. 😀

  9. Mmm, caponata is soo good. Eggplant was definitely something I had to learn to like. Fortunately, I had the desire, so I kept at it! Now, I adore the stuff. 🙂

  10. You got me at ‘eggplant’ already, but oh my does that recipe look delicious! I’ll definitely have to give it a try next year (this year they’ve pretty much turned sour from the cold by now over here…)

  11. Pack up all the eggplant you have and send it to me! I absolutely adore it, and my kids love my eggplant parmesan! The season for eggplant wasn’t so great around here, and while I’ve seen it in the gracery stores, it has come at too high a price for me to justify!

    I am serious. . .send it to me! I’ll pay the postage!


  12. This looks delicious Tammy! So, is Eggplant kasundi up next? I doubt you’ll find mustard kasundi where you oriental store maybe.

    Oh and your linked post is fantastic. They actually are sick of eggplant 🙂 I don’t like eggplants either except in few preparations.

  13. This is very different from my other eggplant recipes–and looks delicious! Since eggplant season is over for us now, I guess I need to save this for next year.

  14. Caponatas are terrific—infinitely variable, and delicious all ways. this recipe looks amazing—intrigued by the cocoa in it. I love these musings…you are changing the approach, so you might get different results (although I was in my early twenties before I embraced eggplant!)

  15. I also use cacao in my caponata – which adds such a great depth of flavour 🙂

  16. Cocoa and balsamic! That sounds incredible, and makes me forget I don’t love eggplant 😛

    Thanks for your support recently, Tammy. xo

  17. I like to think outside the box…when I think of it! 🙂
    Looking at things differently definitely beneifts us all, even if it only provides a means of relating to/sympathising with/understanding each other and our differences, and not necessarily cause us to change our perspective (though that’s awesome when it happens).
    I like having my mind changed. Many of us don’t. Instead we rail against it, or go int(Not saying I don’t fall prey to that, myself, but I’m growing 🙂 ) Anyway lots to think about (and ramble about 😉 ) I

  18. OOps I got cut off. 😦 ..Supposed to read:
    “Instead we rail against it, or go into defense mode, and come hell or high water, we’re going to prove we’re right!”

  19. Now that looks tasty… I need to go buy some eggplant!

  20. A refreshing twist! Looks so delicious. I need to give this recipe a try… Thanks!

  21. Lenna (veganlenna)

     /  October 29, 2011

    What an incredible recipe! Eggplant plus cocoa plus currants? Sounds like a great combination to me, I´ll try this! 🙂

  22. do you salt and rinse your eggplant first Tammy?

  23. Carol – blessings back to you!

    Isa – I like them every way but do let me know if you try this recipe.

    Debbie – Really? Where do you live? I may mail you some!

    Auburn – I want to read that book! Please blog about it.

    Kate – laughter improves everything! Foolish laughter? all the better.

    Eleanor – yes, it’s a hit. Not a favorite but it works.

    Peggy – thanks for reading both! Good to know you like eggplant too.

    Nancy – I did know that about you!!

    Camille – hmmm, stick-to-it-ness? Think it would work with okra?

    Estrella – are you telling me you didn’t freeze any this year?

    Pauline – unfortunately, this was the last of our season. Next year?

    Rukmini – Kasundi coming up. I may have to wait until it’s in season again.

    Inger – let me know when you do.

    Nancy V – yes, I think you could play with this one quite a bit for a different result every time.

    Tandy – you invented it!

    Hannah – I thought you might like those flavors. Hope you’re doing well.

    Strix – I like having my mind changed too!

    Erin – it is tasty.

    Lenna – write about it when you do.

  24. Looks delicious, Tammy…way to go on your creativity! I’ve mostly eaten eggplant with mince in moussaka (which I really enjoy)…time to broaden my horizons 🙂

  25. What a delicious sounding recipe, its been a while since I made caponata. I just read that that people made the best decisions when they contemplated the issues, went off and performed some mentally stimulating exercises and then made their choices, as opposed to immediately deciding. Not quite the same, but maybe an alternative to the fool, do something else to get you thinking.

    • Yes, that is different but taking a break is part of what makes it easier for me to complete a crossword!

  26. You are a terrific example of “lateral thinking”, Tammy. Sometimes it’s a gift when the box flips out of the brain and scatters on the floor!

    I’m a Sudoku fan, too, and I have that phenomenon happen frequently. I marvel how often I pick up the unfinished puzzle and immediately spot a breaking move.

    • ooooooooh! maybe we’ll get to visit this next year and we can have a sudoku fest! you know, the world champion is a wonderful woman named Tammy McLeod.


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