Hal and Mab had been so busy with their own part of the garden, hoeing and weeding their corn and beans, that they really did not know all the things Daddy Blake had planted. But when Uncle Pennywait showed them where, growing in a long row, were some big purple-colored things, that looked like small footballs amid the green leaves, Hal cried:
“Are those egg plants?”
“They are,” said his uncle.
“And do we eat them?” asked Mab.
“Surely; and very good they are, too!”
“What makes them call ’em egg plants?” Hal wanted to know. “Do they taste like eggs just like oyster plant tastes like stewed oysters?”
“And how do they cook ’em?” asked Mab.
“Well, you children certainly haven’t forgotten to ask questions since your Daddy began telling you things about the woods, fields, flowers and birds,” laughed Uncle Pennywait.
“Let me see, now. Well, to begin with, these are called egg plants because they are shaped like an egg you see, only much larger, of course,” and Uncle Pennywait held up one he had cut off the stem where it had been growing. “They taste a little like eggs because, when they are fried, some persons dip them in egg batter. But first they cut them in slices, after they are peeled, and soak them in salt water.”
“What for?” asked Hal.
“Oh, maybe to make them nice and crisp, or maybe to draw out a strong flavor they have; I really don’t know about that part of it. At any rate we’re going to have some fried egg plant for lunch, and I like it.”
So did Hal and Mab, when they had tasted it. They were beginning to find out that many things good to eat grew in their garden.
About a week after this some of Hal’s corn ears were large enough to pick and very delicious they were boiled, and eaten from the cob with salt and butter on. Mother Blake also cooked some of the lima beans Mab had planted when she made her garden, and the corn and beans, cooked together, made a dish called “succotash,” which name the Indians gave it many years ago.
“What does the name mean?” asked Hal.
“I can’t answer that, for I don’t know,” replied Daddy Blake.
“I know what it means,” said Uncle Pennywait.
“What?” asked Mab.
“It means fine, good, very good,” replied her uncle. “Or, if it doesn’t, it ought to. Those Indians knew what was good, all right! I’ll have some more, Mother Blake,” and he passed his dish the second time.
One day, when Hal and Mab had finished cutting down some weeds in their garden plots they saw their father carrying some long boards down to the lower end of the lot next door.
“Are you going to build a bridge, Daddy?” asked Hal, for there was a little brook not far away.
“No, I am going to make my celery grow white?” he answered.
“Make celery grow white?” exclaimed Mab. “I thought it grew white, or light green, all of itself.”