Friday, August 30, 2013

Stuffed Eggplant

I haven't been posting many recipes lately.  To be honest my digestive system is all whacked and painful again.  So I'm just trying to figure that out and trying to get through all the veggies from my CSA box each week.  This usually leads to a vegetable juice type thing every morning and salads.  But yesterday I was tired.  I was tired of searching for the answer, tired of being sore, and I really wanted something a bit savory and yummy - but something that hopefully didn't make everything worse.

So reviewing my stash of vegetables I realized I needed to use up some of my eggplant.  So that led me to create the following stuffed eggplant recipe AND it was GOOD!  So here it is, sorry for the poor pictures.

This recipe could be tweaked to suit you and the veggies you have in your fridge so treat this as a guideline.  You could switch and make it Stuffed Zucchini, add sliced kale or other greens, or add a variety of other herbs.!

Christine's Stuffed Eggplant
  • Preheat your oven to 375.
  • Wash and cut the ends of your eggplant.  Cut in half and slit each half down the middle, not cutting through the skin.  Sprinkle cut sides with salt and set aside.
  • Gather the veggies you want to sauté for the stuffing.  In 1 Tablespoon coconut oil (use oil of your choice) I sautéed the following in order:
    1. 3 slices of onion, chopped
    2. 1 clove of garlic, minced
    3. 1/2 zucchini, chopped small
    4. 1 roasted poblano pepper, chopped
    5. 1/2 small spicy pepper (from my CSA - I don't know what kind it is!)
  • Check your eggplant. If the salt has brought out lots of nice moisture, soak it up with a paper towel.  I decided the eggplant needed a bit of preheating.  I suggest popping it in the oven for 10 minutes or in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  I used the microwave as I was ready for it.
  • At the end of the sauté I added salt, pepper, 5 leaves of chopped basil and stirred.
  • Sprinkle the vegetable sauté on top of the precooked eggplant.
  • Optional: I needed a treat so I sprinkled crumbled feta and chopped walnuts on top of the sautéed vegetables.  This was my main course and the eggplant does get pretty soft so the nuts added good texture.
  • Pop in the oven covered for 15 minutes.  Uncover and cook another 15 or so minutes until the top looks a little brown with the walnuts and everything is cooked nicely.

Yes, the plate is dirty because these were seconds for me - but really - it was just stuffed eggplant!

Today's Tip: Roasted Peppers:  Anytime I want a little extra flavor from my pepper I turn on a burner and roast it!  For something like this I left that yummy roasted skin on for flavor, but if I want to take the skin off after roasting them I drop them into a paper bag (no fingers - use your tongs) and close it up for about 15 minutes.  Tada!  They are cooled a bit and the skin comes right off when you rub it with a paper towel!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Morsels of Mindful Living

The Lolo Fire Monday 8/19 at about 2,000 acres.

Fire.. I've always respected fire.  If anything, the diligence my Grandma Graff always had making sure the camp fire was put out instilled that respect in me.  The first time I learned to fear fire though was back in 2002.  While hiking the John Muir Trail, Joe and I hiked through an area that had recently burned, but more importantly was still burning.  The account of this fire can be found on Day 13 of the hike.   But now that we live out West, every year we are humbled by the strength of fire.

We arrived back in Missoula to find the above fire, named the Lolo Creek Complex fire.  This picture is taken from near the end of our road of the Bitterroots.  The fire started during the weekend from a lightening strike, but took off on Monday and both Monday and Tuesday had periods where it was out of control and just running down the mountain.  As of Thursday, this fire is the #1 fire priority in the United States at this moment and it's reported to be over 9,500 acres.

We cannot open our windows as the smoke is so thick around our house and most of the time it's like we are in a fog bank.  Our view had not been as clear as the first picture since Monday night.  

Yet, we are lucky.  This particular fire won't reach us and we can stay in our home, while others are evacuated and wondering about their home.

I feel....
Sadness for those that have already lost their home.
Fear that someone on our hillside will inadvertently start a fire, or that lightening will strike closer in the upcoming storms.
A slight sinus headache from the smoke that has seeped in into the house.
Wonder at the strength of fire and the determination of the people who fight wild fires all summer long.

I smell... smoke.
In the house, it's a light smoky smell, almost a "thick" air smell.
Outside it's like you are standing right next to a big campfire.

I hear...
Fans, as we work to keep a closed up house bearable without air conditioning.
When the fans are off, I hear constant helicopters and low planes.  As of this morning there were 9 helicopters tending the fire.

Despite the thick air, I feel thankful for my breath.  My breath calms me as I watch the fire and it slows and allows me to sleep well even though the air is smoky.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Morsels of Mindful Living

Just a quick post today on an item that is helping me be mindful. 

This image has been making me very happy lately!  I got it off a facebook post and made it my computer background.  Then I started thinking, hmmm this is signed.   I hope Katie will forgive me for posting very beautiful illustration.  I googled, Katie Daisy.  If you enjoy this image, check out her Etsy site,  I love her illustrations and am just trying to decide which one to buy!

It's always good to surround ourselves with beautiful reminders of how we want to live our life, like mantras, and nothing could be more apropos for me right now than this lovely quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist Monk.

Smile. Breathe. And Go Slowly.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Morsels of Mindful Living

Joe and I sit next to each other on the concrete seating in Caras Park.  It's a Wednesday mid-day.  I've just finished an excellent Pilates class and Joe picked me up and we came downtown to this week's "Out to Lunch" event.  We had just grabbed two spots to sit and listen to The Clumsy Lovers play and I pause...

I feel ...

The warmth of the sun as it hits my head and the backs of my bare arms. 
The warmth of the concrete on which I just sat.
That my legs are slightly tired and wobbly from Pilates class.
That I'm hungry!

I smell...

The scents of the many food items for sale, including the wood fired pizza, not far from us, and the spicy scents from the many Asian food carts.
The river as it flows behind us.

I hear...

The instruments, especially the banjo and fiddle player as they move through the music. 
The melodic, friendly, and upbeat voice of the female singer.
The laughter of the children on the lawn between us and the band dancing to the music.
The conversation of the two friends behind us catching up.
A shout as a woman calls out to a group walking by and jumps up to hug people she hasn't seen in awhile.

I feel...  Very thankful. 

Thankful that Joe and I can both enjoy this venue and take time out on a Wednesday.
Thankful that we live here, in this town, with these amazing and talented people.

Every Wednesday from 11 AM to 2 PM Missoula has live music, food, and kids activities downtown.  Such a great town.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Raspberry Ice Cream

You'll be happy to know I do intend to keep mixing recipes in with the Morsels of Mindful posts.  We've been traveling and entertaining so it's hard to properly test recipes, but here is one I've been meaning to post for awhile.

We have raspberry bushes.  No seriously - a lot of raspberry bushes!

And these bushes are serious about producing raspberries, both red and golden.

So, Joe has been enjoying raspberries on his cereal every day.  I have almost 2 gallons of frozen raspberries.  I made a small batch of jam, raspberry crumble bars, and now raspberry ice cream.

I, of course, based my recipe on the Raspberry Ice Cream recipe from The Ultimate Ice Cream book with a few changes.  If you make ice cream and you watch my blog hopefully you already have the book!  It's my go to ice cream book.

Here is the recipe I used:

Put 3 egg yolks in the food processor.  Add 3/4 cup honey and 1/2 cup water to a pan and place over low heat until the honey dissolves.  Bring to a boil and stir for 3 minutes.  Slowly add the syrup to the food processor as it runs. 

Add 3/4 pound raspberries, 1/4 t. salt and 1 T. fresh lemon juice and process.

Strain the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds and add 1 cup cream and 1 cup half and half.  Stir and cool completely before putting it into your ice cream maker.  

This was easier than most ice creams, since I didn't have to make a custard on the stove top.  I just love making my own ice cream.  Recently I also made a Lavender Honey ice cream (using my own Lavender) and a Peanut Butter ice cream.

When I served this ice cream, I served it with chopped dark chocolate and peanuts as a topping for those that wished.

Yum.  Yum.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Morsels of Mindful Living

Morsels of Mindful Living will be an ongoing post on this blog.  To me, to be mindful is to be in the present with a  kind, open, curious, and non-judgmental attention.

I hope you enjoy these posts.

Driving up the hill toward town I go faster than normal, I'm late and I don't like being late.  Coming around a curve I quickly come upon a car going 30 in this 45 mph zone.  I step on the brakes and immediately turn to anger, then I pause... not immediately, but within a few thoughts before we reach the top of the hill, I pause...

I feel ...

My jaw is clenched, my neck is tense, my fingers tap impatiently on the steering wheel.
My foot is moving quickly between the brake and the gas, as if that will help move along the person in front of me.
My stomach is even tightening.

I take a deep breath.

I feel ...

The cool breeze as it enters the window from this much appreciated end of July cool spell.
My shoulders, stomach, and neck slowly relax.
My foot settles patiently on the floor.

I smell...

The moistness in the air from the recent rain, our first rain in almost a month and it's been raining since yesterday.  Lovely.
The rain has brought out the smell of the sage and lilies that I pass.  The smell moves through the window with the cool breeze.

I hear...
A dog bark.
The growl of a lawn mower.
My car quiet as I reach the top of the hill and the engine switches to full electric mode.

I feel...
Thankful to that car for being my much needed "mindful reminder" so when I do get to my appointment I'll be present and able to focus on the person I'm meeting.

Disclaimer: This picture was taken on our road, at a stop, with no other traffic.