As I'm sure you've gathered, our abilities to finish these veggies on time has just continued to wane. We get home from work without a dinner plan, survey our refrigerator, see eggplant, carrots, some lettuce, radishes, possibly turnips or beets. Check the fruit bowl-- apples, potatoes, squash. Oftentimes when you are hungry and ready to eat this assortment just doesn't excite you. Then you make potstickers, or ravioli, or you sit around with your bag of stacy's pita chips and a chunk of cheddar or brie, and you call it dinner.

Well, Thursday, Alli went to a rehearsal dinner for our friend Jenn (who's getting married today!) and I decided to try and clean our refrigerator and call it a meal.

I started by using up the leftover lettuce and a couple sliced radishes:
Okay, that was a good start, despite some of that lettuce being over a week old, it was all still nice and crunchy. A few radishes gave it a nice kick.

Next, I tackled the eggplant. Yep, we're getting a touch tired of these, but we've learned a lot about how best to cook these guys. Sauteing: no. Grilling: yes. Well, Thursday I decided to put the oven at one temperature and use it for everything I could basically. So I prepared the eggplant the same as I would to grill-- salting to draw out liquid, sopping this up, liberally coating with olive oil, and lightly peppering. Then I stuck em in the oven at 400 deg F for about 25 minutes, turning once. They didn't crisp as nicely as they would on the grill (perhaps putting them closer to the broiler I could have accomplished this), but they retained all their moisture, so they were creamy and tasty. Alli had leftovers for lunch Friday and felt it was one of our better eggplant attempts. We still haven't made eggplant parmesan for not having any mozzarella around and wanting to avoid the grocery store, but if the eggplant in that dish comes out like this eggplant did, I'd be happy with it. This photo is sub-optimal, but here it is anyway:

Next, sweet potato. I've never been a big fan of sweet potatoes. I think it's because people ruin them with brown sugar, marshmallows, maple syrup, and various other sweeteners. I've made a profound discovery recently, anything I'm going to eat in much quantity at all, should not be sweet. Way back at the beginning of this you may recall our glazed turnips, for instance. They were good- for about 2 bites. New rule: vegetables shouldn't be sweet. I think the same is true for other food groups too. Take for instance, chinese take out. Sometimes you want the orange chicken or another of those that are slathered with some sweet sauce. You sample it perhaps at the mall food court and think mmm, I'll have that. There again, about 5 bites in, you could really use something salty and not sweet. Dessert is one thing, but main courses shouldn't be sweet. Well, not too sweet anyway. And here's the kicker with sweet potatoes-- they're already sweet!!!

So this time, all I did was wash the potato, poke some holes with a fork, and stick it in that 400 deg F oven for about 1 hr. Then I sliced it open, dropped in some butter, and gave it a light salting. And now I've decided sweet potatoes aren't so bad at all. I mean really, in a face-off with your run-of-the-mill potato, they have to win. You could pretty much take a sweet potato, bake it, and eat it with no doctoring and be happy. The Idaho variety would be bland and boring in comparison.
Finally, butternut squash. This is the first time in my life I've ever done anything with a butternut squash. So of course I set out to the internet in search of recipes. You probably won't be surprised at what I found. Brown sugar. Maple syrup. No, and no. On one of these recipe pages, in the comments, I found wisdom. Some guy ranting about how people ruin good food by coating it with sugar. His advice: follow the recipe given, which says simply to cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seedy bits and score the flesh, but now, instead of brown sugar, crush some walnuts and drop them in the cavity, topped with a pat of butter. Salt and pepper a little bit, and bake at 400 deg F for 1 hr, 15 mins.
Now doesn't that look tasty? It was. It was fantastic. I think the butter helped to get the oils out of the walnuts and to allow them to soak into the squash flesh, really flavoring it. And once again, the squash itself is quite sweet enough. I'm so glad I didn't ruin this with sugar.

Oh, I also boiled a couple ears of corn, but that's not even worth photographing. The fridge now has space for new veggies, and I'm full and satisfied. success.