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Posts Tagged ‘best eggplant recipes’

done

Valentine’s Day has already eluded me this month. For the first time since starting this blog I had no contribution. What a busy time these past few months have been. My beloved recipes and wonderful new pans from Santa have spent their time gathering dust in the cupboard. Mr. Rick, admittedly somewhat spoiled, has had a rare steady diet of take-out and hastily prepared meals. If a minute did come my way, I couldn’t seem to summon the energy to do much with it but take a deep breath and press forward. A friend told me recently “you need to slow down, girl”. Really? Believe me I would love nothing better than to hand the yoke to someone else and see the rows continue to form in the field. Unfortunately, most of my friends are involved in managing their own lives and don’t have a strong interest in taking on the responsibilities in mine as well. Shame that.

When a break shows up, I often turn on the television for a little diversion. Switching channels there is the political lunacy pervading the airways lately or an update on who’s been given the latest rose on The Bachelor. Sometimes while watching the news I feel like the Cheshire Cat peering down from a tree limb observing the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in full maniacal swing.

Since this is the month of l’amour, toujours, l’amour let’s pause for a moment to ponder The Bachelor as well as its female counterpart. What can it be, I can’t help asking, people find so riveting about these shows? Explain this phenomenon to me if you will. The few times I have tuned in, all the hoopla accompanying each episode’s conclusion continues to elude me. For the most part, once the cameras are turned off it doesn’t appear many of these couples continue forward together.Should they actually make it to the altar they don’t seem to last long after arriving there. Six couples remain intact after 30 seasons of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Not great odds to my mind. Poor odds aside, everyone seems to be lapping up each season like a litter of thirsty kittens hovering over a bowl of warm milk. Amazing.

Truly we humans are besotted by the idea of true love. Beloved fairy tales such as Snow White and Cinderella fuel the desire for finding Prince Charming in fledgling princesses before they even enter elementary school.  Even I (long past the princess phase) tuned in to watch the most recent version of Cinderella over the weekend only to find myself as captivated by the story line as when sporting Mary Jane’s.

Love, perhaps, is the last great embodiment of optimism. Statistics indicating the likelihood nearly half the couples coming together will not remain so, human beings continue to engage in the avid pursuit of the perfect mate. Once a desirable partner has been culled from the herd they stand before an officiate and exchange vows often including “til death do us part”.  Perhaps the vows should be amended to read “til do us part”?  All this effort is expended in the hope of sharing a life with one’s soul mate through the end of  time.

Yet, when you watch an affectionate elderly couple sitting comfortably side by side on a park bench exchanging a word or sharing a laugh it makes your heart hopeful. Living alone was perhaps not the original plan, though many do so successfully either by choice or happenstance. Those of us in the animal kingdom seem to be instinctively paired. Birds such as swans, turtle doves and the bald eagles choose one mate to create a nest with one other for life. A friend of mine had a lovebird by the name of Wilbur. Wilbur was a happy little soul who sang prettily from his cage each day to his lovely bride. Rarely did you see him without his mate at his side. They preened and groomed one another and occasionally produced an egg as a symbol of their union. One day the lady bird was found lying still on the floor of the cage with her faithful Wilbur standing at her side. Wilbur stopped singing, choosing instead to sit sadly on his perch. In an effort to console him a new mate was purchased and placed in the cage. Wilbur eventually began to sing again but never with the same exuberance. The mate, though accepted, was never given the attention the original female enjoyed nor did she ever produce an egg. Even birds can suffer a broken heart it would appear.

Often I ponder whether we are meant to be coupled as a means to perpetuate life, but are not naturally wired to be monogamous beings. This is a deep subject fraught with potholes so for today I will enjoy the lovely relationship I share and be happy to have it. No one can predict what is to come around the corner so it wise to enjoy fully day you find yourself in. Hope it’s a happy one.

This dish will definitely put a smile on your face. I will say if you’re looking for something to “throw together” this is not the recipe for you.  That being said, it makes a lot so I freeze what’s left over for another day when I don’t have the time to devote to it.

Rishta bi Betingan (Pasta and Eggplant)

2 eggplants sliced 1/2″ thick
Salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes with juice
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles with juice
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. rigitoni cooked and drained
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slice eggplant and place in large deep dish. Cover with water for 30 minutes turning once. (You may have to do this in batches). Rinse well in colander and pat dry.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil until hot in large skillet. Working in batches cook until deep golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook 6 mins. until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 min. until fragrant. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices to pan. Bring to boil. Add eggplant breaking up slightly as you stir it into sauce. Reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking for 10 mins.

Spray bottom of 9 x 13″ pan. Spread small amount on sauce on bottom. Top with one half of the rigitoni. Top with 2/3 of the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Top with another layer of noodles and finish with remaining sauce. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top. Seal tightly with tin foil.

Bake for 45 mins. or until bubbly. Yum.

Serves 6-8

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final
During my travels across the U.S. and Canada I have held down an interesting variety of jobs. Each of them has taught me new things about myself, and whether using my head or my elbows to get the job done all have brought me something new to learn.

While living in Washington state my ex and I lived in a motel room for nine months. The motel catered to construction workers and was set up for month-to-month visitors. The rooms were large and each equipped with a full-size refrigerator. I commandeered two two-burner hot plates from the manager and supplied my small kitchen with silverware, pots and pans and dishes purchased at the local thrift store. Shelves were constructed out of bricks and plywood to store my canned and dry goods. Most nights I was cooking on all burners and often managed to blow the fuses on our side of the building which resulted in an angry call from the front desk. The motel staff would often follow the smell to our room to grab a pot of beans or a bowl of soup, kind of like our extended family.

My husband went to work at the lumber mill so I was left to fend for myself during the day. Not being one to sit around, I jumped on an offer from the owner of the motel to fill an opening on their housekeeping staff. Although I have an extensive resume of unusual jobs, I’d never been a motel maid before. Cleaning is something I’ve done most of my life, so figured I could hold my own.

It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I never realized what a physically demanding job housekeeping was. Fifteen rooms for each housekeeper. The rooms all had one or two beds to be stripped and remade. In addition, bathrooms, dusting and vacuuming needed to be done. A real workout by the end of the day.

For me, the biggest challenge was knocking on the door. You never knew who was going to answer, of if they didn’t answer what you might find on the other side if you used your key.  More than one embarrassing moment comes to mind, but that’s another blog.

One week we had a rock band book five rooms for a week. Not a well-known name obviously, or they wouldn’t have been staying in our establishment. A rock band nonetheless. They arrived from their gigs deep in the dark of night and partied themselves senseless until around noon at which time they either passed out or went to sleep. All five rooms were assigned to me. In one of the rooms, the gathering spot from the looks of it, the toilet would sometimes be filled to the brim with floating beer bottles. Once there was even ice in there. Maybe they were using it for a cooler. Where they went to the bathroom, I have no idea, and didn’t want to know. One afternoon I lifted up the pillow to the chair to explore something drooling down one side. Beneath the pad I found an entire bowl of Fruit Loops floating in milk alongside several soggy slices of half eaten pepperoni pizza. All the ashtrays were left overflowing with the run over deposited in the nightstand drawers. Despite what messpots they could be, the guys themselves were gregarious and funny. As colorful a group as they were, I was not totally sad to see them move on. They did give me tickets to their last concert and left me new appreciation for how hard the housekeepers work in such places for not much compensation.

One night during our stay, after a particularly long day, I laid down for a nap. My husband was in the shower, and I left the screen door open to allow some fresh air in the room. I closed my eyes and was nearly asleep when I felt someone sit on the bed. Half awake it occurred to me that the shower was still running so I opened my eyes to find a complete stranger clad only in a towel lying on the bed next to me. A present, and it wasn’t even my birthday. At this particular moment my husband emerged from the bathroom with some obvious questions on his face. I jumped up and the man rolled over and began snoring. After being roughly woken up by my husband it was easy to see he’d been enjoying his day off with numerous cocktails. A slurred explanation was he must have mistaken our room for his. He acknowledged his room didn’t come with a woman in the bed, a perk he seemed to prefer over the miniature shampoos and conditioners.

Both times I’m been on cruise ships I’ve been impressed by their housekeeping crew. How they manage to make your hand towels into bunnies and turtles amazes me. Besides all the other work involved in cleaning a stateroom, you have to be a master at origami as well.

I did this for six months and have to say it was eye-opening for me, and certainly not dull. Now when I stay in a motel or hotel I always try to leave the room in good shape because I have an appreciation for the work they do. The quote above is one I use with the children in my life who fear hard work will do them in.

This casserole takes some work, I’m not going to lie. In the end it is absolutely worth it. Tess, something went haywire with my last post and I couldn’t retrieve your comment, but thank you for making it.

Eggplant Stew

1/4 cup plus extra virgin olive oil
2 eggplants
2 potatoes, sliced thin
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 red, orange, yellow bell pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 6 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground tumeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 cups cooked rice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice eggplant into 1/4″ rounds. Place rounds in colander and generously salt. Lay on paper towels for at least 1/2 hour. Rinse well with water and pat dry with paper towels.

Thinly slice potatoes.

Heat oil (about 1/8″ up the edge of the pan) over high heat. Working in batches cook the eggplant, draining on paper towels. Add oil as needed.

Spray 9 x 13″ casserole dish with cooking spray. Place cooked eggplant on bottom.

Add more oil to the pan and brown the potato slices until golden. Drain on paper towels. Layer on top of eggplant.

If needed add oil to pan. Over medium heat cook and turn peppers and onions until tender (about 8-10 mins.) Layer on top of potatoes.

Mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over all. Gently mix so not to break up the eggplant.

Bake in preheated oven for 50 mins. or until bubbly. Serve over rice.

Serves 6

Note: You can make the vegetables ahead of time and then pour the tomato sauce over just before baking.

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