Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fried Eggplant (Parmigiana)

For those of you wondering, "What do I do with all this eggplant?!" here is your answer:


Eggplant Parmigiana
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Steps: 

1) layer breaded, fried eggplant in a casserole dish
2) cover with spaghetti sauce
3) top with mozzazrella and parmesan cheese
4) bake at 350-450 until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. 

Easy, right?  Well, as long as you have breaded, fried eggplant at hand.  There are as many ways to bread and fry an eggplant as there are people that cook them. Here is mine:


1) Peel eggplant (I had 3)




2) Slice into 1/2 inch rounds


3) Salt both sides of slices


4) Arrange the slices vertically in a colander or strainer.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.  This step pulls bitter liquid out of the eggplant.  You can skip it if your eggplant is young, tender, and sweet.  I never check my eggplant before cooking, so I just always do this.

           A                              B                              C
5) Prepare your breading concoctions:

A--dredging flour:  whisk together


1/2 c allpurpose flour,


1 t. salt,


a few shakes of pepper

B--Egg:

beat together 4 eggs in a bowl (no photo)

C--Bread crumb coating: whisk together


1 1/2 c bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes,


1/8 c (2 T) oregano,


1/8 c (2 T) parsley,


1/8 c (2 T) granulated garlic 
(in future I may put the garlic in the flour instead)


6) heat frying oil over medium-high until a pinch of flour sizzles 
(I used cubes of beef tallow)


7) prepare draining rack--a cooling rack with paper towels underneath


8) pick up your colander/strainer of slices and check for brown drips underneath--the salt is working!


9) rinse off eggplant slices


10) arrange slices on a paper towel


11) cover with another towel and press to absorb excess water/liquid


12) allow "helpful" preschooler to drop half of the slices on the floor


13) repeat steps 9-11.  If you repeat step 12, turn on a video for the preschooler and repeat steps 9-11 again.

14) coat and fry each slice:
*tip: use a separate fork for for each step to avoid building up caked breading*


A--dredge both sides in flour mixture.  Tap off excess


B--dip both sides in egg.  make sure it is well coated


let excess drip off


C--coat both sides in bread crumb mixture


tap off excess


D--gently slip the slice into the oil.  using tongs or another fork to push it off helps avoid rubbing off the breading.

E--flip each slice once

I found the amount of time it took to do A-C was about the right amount of time to fry on one side.  So each time I added one, I would flip one and take one out.  Adjust the burner temperature if they are cooking too quickly or slowly.  At this point I am not worried about whether they are cooked all the way through. They finish cooking when they are made into parmigiana.


F--Put each fried slice on the draining rack.


15)  Step back and admire your ability to gauge how much breading material will be needed with minimal waste!


16) also admire the play of sunlight through the haze of grease smoke in your home


17) give in to the impulse to eat these delicious little nuggets of goodness straight-up instead of saving them to make parmigiana later.



I freeze the slices and pull them out as needed.  I can do enough for the whole family or just a few slices for my own lunch.


































































Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ostentation

I did something last Sunday that I planned never to do.  I wore my tie skirt to church.  I have had this skirt for about 9 years, but I have never worn it to church.  I love it.  It is fun, it is funky, and I made it myself from old neckties.  But I don't wear it to church.  I never thought about it very hard, but it just never felt like it was appropriate.  I finally figured out why.



On Saturday I went to my sister's house.  She watched my kids while I went to the temple and I watched her kids while she went to stake conference.  I decided to wear my tie skirt because in going to the temple, I would only wear it in and out and during the actual worship time I would be wearing different clothing.  But that evening, when I was supposed to be going home, it snowed, and I decided to stay the night for safety.  The next morning we rushed out best to get home for church, but were running late.  I got the kids and the baby dressed and decided that since I was already wearing a nice skirt, I would just go to church without taking time to change myself (we were already late).  It was then that I realized what I knew in the back of my mind all along--that skirt is a little too fabulous for church.  And what I mean by that is that in addition to being wonderful, it is unusual enough to be very showy.  It is distracting.  And for me, that makes me uncomfortable at church.  I don't want to be the cause of distraction from the worship that should be the focus of the meeting.  The adults could hold it together, and though they may have been distracted by it, they hid it well and waited until after the meetings to ask me about it or admire it openly.  The kids, not so much.  Sr. Primary (8-11 year olds) was a mess during singing time (which I am in charge of).  Several of the kids could not concentrate on the songs as they stared open-mouthed at my skirt and kept repeating the same questions, ones I'd already answered, over and over again--"Is that made out of ties?"  "Did you make that yourself?"  "Are those real ties?"  "Where did you get those ties?"

And that is the problem.  Although in and of itself it is a perfectly harmless piece of clothing, it is even neat and comely, some of my "best" clothes, and therefore in an absolute sense, it fills what I see as appropriate for church, it is highly unusual and serves no functional purpose for me in its uniqueness.  I make that qualification because there are some culturally unusual articles of clothing that may be important in their functionality for the individual wearing them.  In those cases, the functionality can trump the unconventionality and it becomes appropriate for church.  (In my opinion, women wearing pants, men wearing lava-lavas, and partially exposed breastfeeding at church all fall into this category--it is not inappropriate, just culturally unusual enough to be distracting, and therefore something to weigh carefully in your reason for doing it.)  My tie skirt serves no functional purpose for me, and is highly unusual.  Knowing this, and still choosing to wear it qualifies as ostentation for me.  Knowingly and gratuitously doing something likely to draw attention.  That is absolutely fine in many circumstances, but in my understanding, it doesn't belong at church, where the focus should be on no individual, but on the reverent worship that happens there.

Monday, March 25, 2013

DONE

The baby threw up at the dinner table.  I asked the older 3 (8, 6, and 4) to look after things while I rinsed her off in the bathtub.  I am gone no more than 5 minutes--it was a quick rinse and there was not much mess.  I come down to find all 3 older children have their bowls full of food thrown against the wall and covering the floor.  They try to blame the 2 year old, who is the only one sitting with his bowl intact, still eating, on the other side of the table.  I don't think so.

They clean up the floor then get sent away.  I am too mad not to do something unwarrented to them if I have to continue to look at them.  The baby only wants me to stand up and hold her.  I don't think she's sick, I think she coughed herself a little throw up, but she doesn't want to eat, she doesn't want milk, and she doesn't want me to sit down.  She gets to cry on the floor.  The 2 year old, too distracted to eat anymore, tries to follow the big kids upstairs, but the gate is shut.  Unfortunately, a piece that secures it in place went missing earlier today and when he climbs on it, it falls over on top of him.  He cries.  I comfort him and chastise him--he knows better than to climb on it.  Then I still don't let him upstairs.  He gets to cry on the floor.  

Eventually the big kids take the fallen down gate as justification to come downstairs and report it to me.  I send them back up and don't care when the 2 year old follows them.  The baby doesn't want to be comforted, she just wants to cry.  So she goes to her room, too.  Then I hear reports that the 4 year old has the missing piece from the gate (that I have been looking for and have already interrogated the children for) and is hitting people with it.  He gets scolded and I get the piece.  Everyone is sent to their rooms.  There is crying.  I sit.  I blog.  I pretend I am not alone.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What is a Lie?


I straight up lied to my son last night.  Sigh.  I don't like to do that.  Sometimes need for sleep leads to desperation.  I'm all for playing pretend, but I don't like lying.

This is the thing.  My little man is the fiercest fighter in the world.  He will never turn his back on danger.  Dragons? No problem.  Bad guys?  Taken care of.  Wild amimals and monsters?  So easy.  Supervillains?  Bring 'em on.  But there is one thing he is deathly afraid of:  Bugs.  He always has been and I don't know why.  I can think of no negative bug experience in his past, but every flying insect is greeted with, "Bee!" and crying and running away.  Every creeping insect is hailed, "Spider!" and I am ordered to smash them on sight.  I remember him having terrifying dreams of spiders crawling on him when he was really little, and of imagining spiders in every shadow, but I had largely forgotten about it.

For the last little while R has been getting up in the early/very early morning and coming to my room.  Typically I just let him in and snuggle til morning.  Last night, however, I was up past midnight working on a project.  I heard little feet upstairs after I knew all the kids were asleep.  I finished my project then went up to bed and R was standing in the middle of the hall.  When he saw me, he started crying.  He said he was scared, but I brought him back to bed anyway (I still had things to clean up downstairs).  He clung to my neck and said he was scared, scared, scared.  I tried to get out of him what he was scared of--the dark isn't enough for me.  Finally he explained that there are bugs waiting in the shadows to come get him.  He went on and on about how he is terrified of the bugs.  I first tried the never-successful scheme of telling him there were no bugs.  As expected, it did nothing to assuage is fears.  So I tried to expand upon his imagination to get rid of the problem.  I asked him if he wanted me to shine a special laser into all the corners that would kill all the bugs.  He said yes, so I went to get the flashlight that can have a red glowing handle.  I really hoped that all he would be able to see in the mostly-dark was a red glow.  I went all along the baseboards and shined the red light everywhere.  Then I said, "There.  No more bugs!"  He smiled and laughed.  And when I tried to leave he complained, "No!  The bugs will get me!"  "But I just killed all the bugs!"  "No!  The bugs are real!"  "This is a real laser."  "That is a flashlight."  Shoot.  Caught.  Maybe it was the jzuuuurrrrrr sounds I made with my mouth while I shined it around.

Well, what do I do for a kid with a tenuous grasp on reality--the bugs are real, but the powers to defeat them are not.  I tried to talk with him through what could defeat them.  Finally he said we needed a shoe to stomp them.  Awesome.  I can let the kid sleep with a shoe and go to bed myself.  So I went to get one of Kevin's shoes and ended up with a pair of his slippers that he never uses.  I brought them to Rhys and asked if he wanted them on the floor by the bed or on the bed with him.  "You hold them."  "No, I am going to my own bed." and he cried and fussed--he needed me there to used the shoe to stomp the bugs while he slept.  Then came the big, big lie.  I don't count the laser as a lie.  That was a pretend.  But this time I made up a great big fib about those slippers.  "Rhys, these are magic slippers.  Santa Claus gave them to Daddy and he put magic inside.  They stomp bugs all by themselves when you are asleep."  Rhys brightened all up, "Really?  They are real magic?"  Big lie #2: "Yes.  They are real magic."  He giggled and was very excited.  I was excited, too, to leave him.  But I was ahead of myself.  He loved his magic slippers, and he still didn't want me to leave.

I laid down and cuddled him for a while, then woke up cold and stiff with no blanket on at 7:20 am.  I gently slid my arms out from around the sleeping him and as soon as I stood he sat up and started to cry.  I thought I was through with this when he graduated from his crib.  I finally said, "Do you want to sleep in Willow's bed?" "Yes."  So Willow got a surprise visitor to cuddle with her for the rest of the morning while I hurried downstairs to hide the evidence of the previous nights workshop before kids got up.  Then I turned up the heater in my room to thaw out before climbing in my own bed and praying the kids would let me sleep for a couple of hours.

I thought that would be the end of things, until I found Willow bringing this strange pair of Daddy's slippers that had mysteriously found their way into her room downstairs to put them away.  I then had to explain to her and Delilah, who was helping them clean their room, what they were doing there.  Agh!  Multiplication of lies!  As I tucked Rhys in, I made sure that he was content with the slippers on his bed with him, and Willow asked, "Are they really real magic?" and I said, "Yes!  They are really real."  "And they only work when we are asleep?" "Yep."  "I don't know about this," half smiling, half unsure.  Willow is one smart cookie.  I sat down by her and she asked me, "is this really real magic?"  "Yes."  "Really?"  I leaned down and whispered in her ear, "What do you think?"  We had a conversation of whispers and meaningful looks, concluding with, "Rhysie needs to believe it so he can sleep tonight.  OK?"  "OK."  I said good night again as I left the room and she said again from her bed, "I don't know about this."

What have I done?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Empowering Mary: A Paradigm Shift on the Nativity Story

I've always felt at least a little uncomfortable with the common modern renditions of the conditions of Christ's birth:  Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem, poor and alone.  They reach the one inn in town, Mary obviously ready to pop, if not already in labor, only to find it crowded and run by a grumpy and inhospitable innkeeper who gruffly forces them to leave.  In despair and urgency, they take refuge in a stable among the animals and filth. Alone and in the most squalid of circumstances imaginable, the Christ child is born and laid in the manger where the cows and goats continue to nibble the hay out from under his head.

The entire basis for this account is these 4 verses from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2--


 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Jud疆a, unto the city of David, which is calledaBethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 To be taxed with Mary his aespoused wife, being great with child.
 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
 And she brought forth her afirstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the binn.

When you read what is there, there really is so little that is concretely declared about the circumstances.  I have no problem with people inventing details to flesh out a story that is so important to so many.  The problem I have is with those invented details being perpetuated and taught as truth down the generations.

It started with the innkeeper.  Even as a child, I was uncomfortable with the birth story having an invented villain.  No where in the Bible does it mention an innkeeper, and yet he consistently makes an appearance, turning the holy couple away out of selfishness and greed.  My first childish thoughts were, "That is so unfair. No one knows that he was mean or selfish.  Maybe he was nice.  He even let them stay in his stable.  What, should he have kicked out someone who was already there?  He did the best he could."  It wasn't until later that I realized--there may never even have been an innkeeper at all.  And I think that's the point.  I can invent details that please myself, but I do not claim that is actually how things were, any more than the "traditional" details.

Some other thoughts are on the accomodations available to Mary and Joseph.  The Joseph Smith Translation of the bible renders the word as "inns" rather than "inn," and some research into the original Greek (on the internet--don't judge) points out that the word translated as "inn" in this circumstance is not the same as that meaning a public house for travelers, but rather a guestroom in a private residence.  This makes sense.  Bethlehem is Joseph's hometown.  It seems only natural that he would have family to stay with.  But, being a time when everyone came home, the houses were probably crowded.

Since having my own babies, I have connected more with Mary in this story.  The more I thought about her, the more I felt offended on her behalf even more than on the innkeeper's.  Why should she be depicted as the simpering, wimpering, powerless victim?  I personally think God would have picked a Mother for the Christ with a little more gumption than that.  Having traveled to a different state in order to have a natural home birth, in the basement of a friend's house where the rest of the family who owned the house went about their business upstairs, I know what it is like to have a baby far from home, in a busy house that doesn't belong to you.  And let me tell you, there could be plenty of "room" to live and eat and sleep at night and still "no room" to have a baby.  And at this point my imagination started to run.  I can only imagine Mary, coming on to her time, looking around that crowded house and thinking, "No. Way."  OK.  Say she is demure and kindhearted.  She won't kick anyone else out of the house just for her, but still.  She goes to Joseph.

Mary: There's no room here.  I can't have my baby here.
Joseph: There's no where else to go.  The city is full.
Mary: I don't know.  Not here.
Joseph:  Mary, there is no where else.
Mary:  There has to be.  Somewhere.  I can't be here with all these people.
Joseph: Where, Mary?  Where?  The entire city is full.
Mary:  I will find a place!
Joseph:  Where are you going to go?  The barn?
Mary: Yes!

Her nesting instincts kick in and she starts cleaning.

OK, that's the funny way it goes in my mind.  Truthfully, there were probably many female relatives and a midwife or two there to anticipate her need for solitude, and clean for her.  Nowhere says that Jesus was born on the first night they arrived.  They had time to prepare for this journey.  They would have planned time to prepare the circumstances for his birth.

Again, I emphasize that I am not claiming this is what happened.  I am only saying that this narrative fits with the facts as laid out in the scriptures as well as any other does, and it feels a lot more respectful of the Holy Mother as a women and a powerful daughter of God.

And who ever thought I would be writing a feminist Christmas blog?

Make a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our Halloween

Today:  Mom!  You spend so much time looking at your computer and your iPod, we don't have any time left to do things like look at clouds!

I was secretly thrilled at my 5-year-old daughter's rebuke.  What does this have to do with Halloween?  Well, I'll tell you.

First, unrelated to Halloween, I have been growing increasingly frustrated with my children's fixation on screen-delivered entertainment.  I know that they are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves with other things when they can just stop thinking about the TV/computer/iPod for 2 minutes together, they just can't seem to get that far without weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I also realized that in order to enact this, I must set a better example.  I use my screen time for more than just consumption, though--communication, financial organizing, trip planning, research, etc., but they can't tell the difference.  All they know is mom is looking at a screen and telling me not to.  And the truth is I also watch videos and play games, too.  So I asked the kids to remind me to spend less time on the computer, even as I encourage them to do other things.  

Now, the Halloween connection.  

I have had a long and troubled history with Halloween.  for the first, oh, 9 years or so, we celebrated it without a second thought.  And then abruptly, my family stopped celebrating it.  It was a slightly traumatic experience to begin with, but I came to embrace the reasoning--why should I celebrate witches and monsters and frightening experiences?  There is nothing in that worthy of celebration.  In fact, it is exactly not what I ever want to celebrate.  Even digging deeper to the roots of the celebration didn't help.  I don't need to worry about warding off spirits roaming the earth or anything like that.  So no Halloween for me.  But I surely did miss dressing up.

This was the status quo until I got married.  Then I had another's opinion to balance with, and slowly, a growing family to teach, and things weren't so simple any more.  Through many years of discussion and pondering with my patient husband, my narrow minded and somewhat self-righteous opinions began to soften.  Not that my initial declaration wavered -I will not celebrate scary, creepy, or evil.  And I will not celebrate pagan holidays.  But that doesn't have to be what Halloween is.  And that concludes the long path of Halloween self-discovery and brings me to my opinion today, which I know you are dying to hear:

Yes, the deep roots may be in the Pagan celebration of Samhain, but Halloween--All Hallows Eve--is a Christian holiday.  I will not argue that All Saints, or All Hallows day was not placed on November 1st specifically because it was already a celebrated time by the people who converted from Paganism to Christianity.  Obviously it was.  But so what?  The date of Christmas was chosen the same way.  Does that make Christmas a less Christian holiday?  What of the traditions surrounding the holiday pre-dating the Christian conversion?  As long as they are in and of themselves innocuous and free from deference to other gods or dark powers, how is there any harm?  Like a Christmas tree or a Yule log--we can make those things whatever we want.

With these decisions, Kevin and I have tried to carve out for our selves our own Halloween traditions.  Yes, we will dress up ourselves and our children, but never as anything creepy, scary, or remotely evil.  We will trade candy with our friends and neighbors, but I will never instruct my children to say, "Trick-or-Treat."  Even if everyone else in the world argues with me, I know that that is play-acting at extortion, and that's not OK with me.  And if we are celebrating it as a Christian holiday--All Hallows Eve, then we will spend the evening and the day in celebration of our beloved and righteous dead.  (As LDS, we know that all of us are Saints, so it's really easy to find ones that we know to celebrate.)  

So, this October 31st, we sat around, ate candy, and read from my grandmother's journal.  I read to my 5 year old daughter my grandmother's memories of her first year in school.  About how her father had a honey house, and her cousin was so disappointed when he discovered it wasn't actually made out of honey.  And I read to her how one of Grandma Elaine's favorite things to do was lay on the grass and watch the clouds.  And I was struck by the fun she had in her childhood without electronics.  I pointed this out to my children, and encouraged them to find fun things to do outside of the house and lighted screens.  

So when Willow brought up her intense new-found desire to watch the clouds, I made it happen--even though it had been raining all day.  She got on a coat and took a tarp to the back yard to keep the wet of the grass off her.  

Because of Halloween, I remembered to take the time to introduce my children to my grandmother--to learn of my grandmother myself--someone I never had the opportunity to know before she passed way, and someone that I come to love more and more the more I learn about her.  And I love my mother all the more, knowing how much she loved her mother, and remembering the stories she has passed on to us about her. I love Halloween.

And here are some pictures, because I know you want to see them:

We gave out saran-wrapped brownies at our ward trunk-or-treat (at which I tell my kids to say, "treat-or-treat" because that's really all there is to it.  Just give us candy.  We know you will.  Tricking is not an option.)

The kids getting candy.  It was inside because of the rain.  What a sugar frenzy!

The kids and Aunt Delilah (a friend aunt), who recently moved in with us.

The kids and I were fairies and painted up our faces.  Here's me:

I didn't get a picture of Kevin, the poor huntsman who stumbled upon our fairy circle--but just know that he never escaped us.  :)

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Good Mom Lunch

For lunch, I fed my kids mostly carrots and broccoli.  You can see what is left of the large broccoli head Rhys was eating.  They each at most of their carrots, too.  I think a large part of the appeal was the size of the food--whole, long carrots were very exciting.  That and Ranch Dressing.  Thank you, Hidden Valley.