Eggplant Lasagna.

I just went back and reread my last post.  God, what a wreck.  I've done some breathing in a paper bag, had some drinks with my two best friends and totally gotten over it.  Totally gotten over myself.
Moving on - it's August and it feels like I should be doing one of those list thingy's that bloggers seem to do. So this is it,  an update on everything I'm watching, listening to, reading, shovelling down my throat and randomly doing.
Right now I'm watching The Hour and just finished Sherlock: Season 2 (and have very low expectations for the American cover starting in the fall... just sayin').  I'm not watching a whole lot else on television - which is fine by me.
My ipod playlist has been pretty stagnant lately.  I've been totally jazzed though with this tune.  It's beautiful and the Deftones cover is so different but equally beautiful.  Listened to this one recently on the headphones and was reminded how gorgeous the writing and the arrangement is.  Lush.  I've been craving some New Order but so far haven't succumbed.
My summer reading has been a mixed bag. I read The Vegetarian Myth, followed by 'Folks, This Ain't Normal'.  Next was this wonderful lighthearted mystery and I've just started 'Real Food'.  Not exactly a Light and fluffy reading summer but it was broken up a bit with the mystery novel and to be honest the Salatin, although intensely interesting and thought provoking, wasn't heavy at all.
D and I took a walk and found this rad shop.  I sat on a couch that seriously hugged and kissed my ass - it was a beautiful experience.  We took some pictures of the graffiti art that was inspiring.

I've been tripping on the pulled pork sandwich at The House and the wings at Morgan's are complex.  Complex.

Since eggplant has been available in my food box I've been putting it in everything.  I made a stew, ratatouille, pizza and now this lasagna.  I decided to use roasted eggplant in place of the noodles and honestly you don't miss the pasta at all.  Kid #1 didn't even realize that it didn't have the noodles.  As I suspected, this lasagna got better the next day.  I would highly recommend making it the day before you need it and then heating it up.  We loved how this turned out.  So much so that it's gone on our 'make again' list.  Right up there with sweet and sour meatballs and shepherd's pie.  You won't be disappointed.

Eggplant Lasagna (an adaptation of the one I usually make with noodles)
serves 6 - 8

1 lg eggplant, partially skinned and sliced long and thin (about 1/4 inch)
1 lg pattypan squash (could use more or substitute with zucchini), also sliced thin
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch or two of salt
1/2 - 3/4 cup leeks, sliced thin
1 lb sausage (I used hot italian sausage for this one), casings removed so it looks like mince
1 bunch of chard or kale, chopped
2 veggie boullion cubes
1/2 cup mixed herbs, chopped
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp salt
400 ml crushed tomatoes (could get away with using a little more)
1 lg tub ricotta
1 egg
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled (could use something else here)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet or two with parchment or a non-stick silicone thing.
In a large bowl toss the eggplant and pattypan sliced with the olive oil and the salt.  Place each slice on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.  The veggies should be soft and possibly browned but not black.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat a little oil over medium heat.  Add in the sliced leeks and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add in the sausage mince and cook until the sausage is almost entirely browned.  Throw in half of the chopped greens (kale or chard) and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add in the boullion cubes, mixed herbs, honey, Worcestershire sauce and salt.  Mix well.  Add in the crushed tomatoes and turn the heat down to med/low.  Make sure that the sauce can simmer still.  Simmer for about 15 minutes (enough time to let things cook down a little).  Check the taste after 15 minutes not before.
In a large bowl mix the ricotta, egg, goat cheese, parmesan and salt.  Mix well.  Set aside.
Get a 9x13 baking dish (or a lasagna dish if you have one) and line the bottom with 1 layer of the eggplant and pattypan.  Layer that with some of the meat sauce.  Then dabs of the ricotta mixture.  Lastly, a good sprinkling of some mozzarella.
Continue this layering until everything is used up.  I got 3 layers with mine.
Sprinkle the last bit of mozzarella on top of everything and add a little more grated parmesan if it strikes your fancy.
Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes or until everything is bubbling and the cheese is beginning to turn golden brown.
Cool for a good 15 - 20 minutes before serving (although about 30 minutes would be perfect).

Cauliflower, Bacon and Mushroom Hash.... and Terror.

I'm was not sure what to even call this post.  My fingers are shaking on the keyboard... I'm scared.  Terrified really.  I did not expect to have this reaction at all and the whole things is completely freaking me out.
Let me back up here and explain.
A few weeks ago (maybe, I'm guessing) I read a post here about how to increase your blog traffic and so I did one of the things mentioned and just started adding it to my routine of 'once-I-post-something-new-I-also-update-here' kind of things.  Then about a week ago (again, I'm guessing... not even sure when but definitely 'more recently') this awesome lady left a comment on one of my posts saying how awesome the blog is (Thanks!) and how the recipes are rad (I'm blushing) and that I should join this new canadian recipe site thing.  So I thanked her and then joined the thing.  Maybe she's a scout for the new website, whatever, I didn't care I just joined... whatever, right.
Except now, over the past week or so (I'm sure about this one) my daily hits have been going up and up.  That's a good thing right?  When it goes up from 30 hits per day to 45 then it's cool.  Then it starts going to to 60 hits per day and I'm feeling a little antsy.  And then it's 75 hits.  Today I have reached almost 200 hits and it's on 4:33 in the afternoon.
My first reaction is absolute and complete terror.  TERROR.  What the hell do I do now.  I'm not a professional.  I take weird shots of my kids squishing each others heads.  I use terms like glop, squidge and goop in my recipes.  What if I mess up a recipe - wait!  Does this mean that I have to measure more carefully?  I can't guess the amount.  Oh God, are people actually going to try making some of this stuff.
These tomatoes have nothing to do with the recipe or the post generally.  They're just beautiful and I got them at the market today. 
Now the really funny part is that if most bloggers were getting 200 hits a day they would probably quit and commit blogger suicide.  They would be devastated.  Why even bother.  But I never expected to have anyone but friends and family really into my site.  Never mind that I put my stuff on pinterest and tasteologie and whatever that other one is... I never expected anybody would really check it.  So, despite what my facebook friends list reads, I don't have 200 close friends and family to keep my daily hits up there.  I'm actually getting checked out... kinda like a 'getting checked out' thing... and now I feel like I'm kinda obligated to keep up appearances... to give a crap,comb my hair and wear mascara.  Maybe try wearing heels.  It's freaking me out.
I gotta get my mind around this one.  I can completely understand why people look to sabotage their own success - it's just as terrifying as failing.  Realistically though, I'm sure that tomorrow I'll have like 2 hits.  It's probably just today... right?
Just to test the waters, I'm putting this lame-ass recipe out there.  It's so dumb because it just happened.  D called and said that things with the kids were running late so could I have some food ready for 5:20 'cause we have a soccer game at 6.  At 4:45 I started this and finished by 5:10.  Done.

Cauliflower, Bacon and Mushroom Kitchen Sink Hash
serves 3

2 cups cauliflower, broken up into florets
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
2 slices of bacon (mine are from the farm and they're pretty big), diced
2 tbsp (maybe 3) oil or lard

Heat a heavy bottomed pot or caste iron something or other over medium heat.
Once hot add in the oil and the cauliflower.  Cook for about 4 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium/low.  Add in the mushrooms and the diced bacon.
Cook together for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is browned but kinda tender.

Easy Orzo, Sausage and Veggie Casserole

I have written and subsequently deleted the beginning of this post three times now.  I get a thought and start to type it out and then when I see it in front of me it just looks stupid.  Delete.
I get another thought and once that one is starring back at me I realize that it's just one sentence and I've pretty much exhausted my point.  Delete.
Another thought starts.  I type for a bit and then I get distracted and it's gone... really gone.... Delete.
Jeez.  It happens sometimes I guess.
I've had what feels like 'all-kids-all-the-time' for the last while.  My head feels to full and muddled sometimes to make sense of things.  I hope that you all know I love my kids.  Fiercely.  But I'm not beyond wanting myself in there too.  I'm definitely not beyond feeling a bit resentful sometimes that it can't be about them AND me simultaneously (I've learned after almost 12 years that it just can't and I need to stop fighting it).  And I'm absolutely not beyond longing for those days when I was me.  Just me.  Not somebody's Mom.  Not somebody's wife.  Not somebody's entertainment.  Not somebody's voice teacher.  Just me... Wanda.
It's intensely selfish, I know.  And probably one of the most ludicrous and unrealistic things anybody could wish for because we are always defined by something that involves a label.  But there it is.  I wish I could just have a 'Wanda' label - which would mean nothing to anybody but me.  Even now as I'm writing my finger is hovering over the delete button.
Am I crazy?  Probably a little.  Too much time on my hands is the most likely culprit.  I remember when I was a teenager dreaming of riding away from life on a horse (I don't have a particular love of horses so I don't know exactly why the horse was involved) and I think it's the first thing that drew me to biking.  Driving never enticed me.  Although it's fast, the enclosed space really mucks the whole thing up in my mind.  I want to be out there in the world running away from it or running to it - not sure which - with the wind blowing and the sound track playing.  There is obviously no one with me.  It's this deep feeling of freedom in my chest - that's the best way I can find to describe it.  I still get the mental picture when I'm running or biking sometimes.
So I think that's why I struggle with these multiple labels.  It's like my backpack is full and I'm being slowed down on my ride or something.  It doesn't mean that I don't like people or need to be alone all the time... it's probably not even rational.  It's just one of those things that is.  It's one thing that is 'Wanda' and not any other label.

Summer is meant for things like this.  Contemplation.  Meditation.  Whatever you want to call it.  Existential pondering.  It's what makes me feel alive.  Longing and wonder.  Recipes like this one are so easy and quick that it gives me all the time I need to go out back, lie in the grass watching the clouds roll by and wonder about it all... while my kids shoot nerf bullets over my head.
Three paragraphs ago I was on the verge of deleting this whole post again but now that I look at it, although it's rambling and a little narcissistic, I kinda like it.  The moral of this post is:  1.  Make this dish and you might just have a wonderful afternoon of stream of conscious existential thought.  2.  Don't press Delete.

Orzo, Sausage and Veggie Casserole adapted from Family Bites
serves 6 - 8

1 3/4 cups orzo
1 veggie bouillion cube
pinch of salt
pinch of saffron
3 1/4 cups water
1 small onion (could use leek here too), sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 lb sausage (I used honey and garlic but italian or spanish would work well here too), casings removed
4 med sized leaves of kale (could use chard, mustard greens or spinach), chopped
1 cup corn (I used the kernels off of one cob)
1/4 cup finely minced herbs (use some kind of combination) or 2 lg tbsp of green seasoning
pinch of pepper sauce or cayenne
1/2 cup cream

In a medium sized pot bring the water to a boil and then add in the boullion cube, salt and saffron.  Add the orzo and simmer for about 6- 7 minutes.  Drain if there is still too much water and set aside - I didn't drain mine as it had absorbed most of the liquid.
Heat a heavy bottomed dutch oven to medium heat and add in about 2 tbsp of oil.  Add the onion and zucchini and cook together for about 3 - 4 minutes.  Add in the sausage, breaking it up with your fingers so it's like mince.  Cook together stirring as needed for another 5 minutes or so - until the sausage is no longer pink.  Add in the kale and the corn and cook just until the kale has withered.  Add back the orzo and turn the heat down to low.
Add the herbs and the pepper sauce.  Mix well.
Add in the cream.  Cover and remove from heat.  Check the taste and adjust if necessary.
Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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