Today is a bit different than most. Normally, I would wax poetic about a subject I’m feeling particularly passionate about, like the changing colours of the leaves outside, or the fact that I’ve had two awful colds blindside my household in one week, or that I have a month worth of magazine subscriptions piling up on my coffee table. You see, a lovely glimpse into my world. But no, today I will delve even deeper, telling you things I don’t normally talk about. Read: Not normally food related.
In one week, I’ve had the absolute honour to receive not one, not two, but three (!) Kreativ Blogger awards…Yay! Here they all are:
I was awarded the first by Janis of Bite Me New England, the second by Shelley of Experimental Culinary Pursuits and the third by Jenn of Sweet Water. So thank you to all three of you. I’m very surprised and flattered. It always feels nice to be recognized by your fellow community members.
Now on to the skeptic in me. I love that I’ve been given these awards, but I am not in love with the “chain letter” aspect of the rules. The rules are such:
*You must thank the person who has given you the award.
* Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
* Link to the person who has nominated you for the award.
* Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
* Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
* Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
* Leave a comment in the nominated blogs to let them know they have been nominated
That’s a whole lot of things you need to do to be able to accept this prestigious award, in my humble opinion. So after a little Googling into the origins of this award, I found these lovely articles:
In Search of Dutchland- Kreativ Blogger “Award”
Simon Food Favourites – Original Designer of the Kreativ Blogger Award
These two bloggers, who were also a little skeptical, spent some time digging into the origins. Turns out a very nice woman from Norway, Husfraus Memoarer, started it in May 2008. Not as a chain letter type award thingy, mind you, but as a true award, given to her sister and three friends for their inspiring creativity. Now Google translator works it’s magic in it’s own little ways, and I’m not so fluent in Norwegian, but it doesn’t look like there were any rules attached to this award when it first started.
I’m not a cynic, really! Okay, well maybe a little. I’m one of those people that never sent chain letters, ever. I’ve had a Hotmail address dating back to 1995! I was 12. I still never forwarded chain letters, even the ones that said I might die a horrible death a million times over or my crush would never go out with me if I didn’t pass it on. Hooey I say!
Anyway, I do want to forward the award on, although I won’t be sending to 7 people. I will send it to four people I truly admire and I’ll make no big stink if the recipients don’t wish to participate. Simply saying thank you is good enough for me! Okay and I’ll tell you a couple little tidbits about me too, if you insist!
1. I have scoliosis and have two 18″ stainless steel rods surgically fused to my spine. I had the surgery when I was 13, and it probably saved my life. I am somewhat limited in side to side bending and I can’t arch my back backwards, but I can touch my toes, so I can’t say I feel like I’m missing out too much. Besides, I carried my son to term and delivered him naturally, sans epidural, booyah! Nothing can stop me!
2. I’m afraid of closets at night. My husband is always leaving our son’s closet door open and when I go in there to deal with him in the dead of night, it freaks me right out! I don’t know why. What could be in there besides deadly spiders right?
3. I used to be very overweight. Like a lot. I was the fat, socially awkward girl in high school. Through the magic of Weight Watchers for the initial weight loss and the thorough embracing of eating local, seasonal food, I have now been a svelte and trim, healthy weight for going on 7 years. I’ll never look back.
Okay on to my recipients for this award:
Melody Fury from Bouchon For 2 – Amazing recipes, great food photography and always fun to read. Mel’s got it all!
Paula Jones from Bell’alimento – simply fabulous food that need not be complicated.
Ashley Rodriguez from Not Without Salt – Amazing photos, great recipes, and creative posts about family to break it all up.
Kamran Siddiqi from The Sophisticated Gourmet – He’s 17, his photos are amazing, need I say more?
I applaud you all in your efforts to carve out your own little niche in this overpopulated and sometimes unwelcome world of food blogging. Congratulations!
Now on to the food, shall we?
My Mother had a lot of signature dishes when we were growing up. Not to say we ate the same thing every night of the week, but there were repeats, as there is sure to be when the feeding of a family is involved. One of my favourites was Eggplant Parmesan. It could have been the sheer amount of cheese involved in this dish, or the comfort factor, or the intoxicating aroma permeating the house as it bakes in the oven. Whatever it is about this dish that everyone loves, my favourite is it’s adaptability. Any dish involving tomato sauce can be customized to so many varying degrees of tastes. I like my tomato sauce deep, robust and having a life all it’s own. It works very well in this dish, and all the flavours meld together beautifully. You could always use bottled sauce if you are in a hurry, but the next time you have some spare time, promise me you’ll make this sauce. You will not regret it.
6 Large vine ripened tomatoes (this time of year will, most likely, be greenhouse grown)
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
salt & pepper
2 large eggplants
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 can tomato paste (5.5oz)
1 tsp dried Greek Oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
Parmesan rind (optional)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup red wine
2 eggs, beaten well
1/4 cup milk or water
2 cups all purpose flour
salt & pepper
Canola or Grapeseed oil
400g mozzarella, grated
150g Parmesan, grated
1. Remove end from eggplant and slice into 1/4″ rounds. You can peel the eggplant if you want as well. Salt both sides liberally, lay on layers of paper towel or kitchen towels and cover with more layers. Weigh down with plates to remove excess water and let sit for 1 hour or more.
2. Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into quarters and toss in a bowl with 2 Tbsp of high heat oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 450°F for 15 minutes on bottom third of oven, broil for an additional 5 minutes at end. Remove from oven and set aside.
3. Heat oil and sauté onion and garlic in large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Dice up roasted tomatoes and add to pan (along with any juices that escaped while chopping). Sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Add in can of tomato paste, herbs and 1/2 cup water.
4. Add in Parmesan rind and 1/4 cup red wine, stir to combine and set to simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Remove towels from eggplant and brush away excess salt. You can blot away any additional moisture that is visible as well.
6. Make egg wash by mixing 2 eggs with water or milk in small bowl. Set near stove.
7. Fill another plate or bowl with flour mixed with salt and pepper. Set near stove alongside egg wash.
8. On other side of stove, set up a plate lined with paper towels to blot away excess oil from finished eggplant slices.
9. In large sauté pan on medium high, heat at least enough oil to cover bottom of pan 1/4 – 1/2″ deep.
10. Dredge eggplant slices in egg first, then flour, then lay in hot pan. Fry for a minute or so and then flip over. You want the slices to be nicely browned and crisp.
11. Remove from pan to paper towel lined plate, and blot dry. Continue with all remaining eggplant.
12. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking pan with eggplant. You will probably have enough to lay each eggplant edge over the last, and so on, somewhat like a deck of cards.
13. Pour half of tomato sauce over eggplant and top that with half the mozzarella and half the Parmesan. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce and cheese.
14. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until top is browned and bubbly.
I like to serve this by itself, as it is a bit of a heavy meal, but it would be especially delicious with a side of steamed or sautéed vegetables, or a light salad. If your feeling like really getting into the unhealthy side of this dish, serve it up with a big ol’ slab of crusty garlic bread, delicious!