(I’m not) M.I.A. / Low Carb Eggplant Parmesan

I didn’t want whatever strange demographic that actually reads my posts to think I’d disappeared. Let’s just say that I had a family emergency that when I feel up to writing about it, there will undoubtedly be several posts that dance around that topic if not completely become immersed in it… But I have certainly entered a new phase in life. I no longer have either of my biological parents existing on the same plane with me anymore. Like I mentioned above, I don’t even know how I’m feeling about it currently, much less what I really intend to do to jumpstart healing, if that is indeed, a thing.

A great deal of time has been spent attempting to “recharge my batteries.” Considering I no longer smoke cigarettes, taking ‘breaks’ has been a very grey area in life. I could go outside and stand around, stalling for five minutes (that’s what you do when you’re smoking, if you weren’t aware)… or I could use that five minutes to be productive, even if that means cleaning out junk emails, or finding  Pinspiration. But while those are generally how I would “break,” I’ve found that those types of things aren’t really helping me find my way back to living differently/with the absence of Dad. In the hour or two that Sam spends napping away, I’ve been able to utilize those minutes to work on this blog, or care for seedlings, or do some crocheting, and now we have a kitten – so that’s kitty playtime, too… I know it seems a little silly to express how I spend hobby time or my extra time – but in the wake of the current situation, the “me” time is the only quiet time that I have to reacquaint myself with… myself.  And I can’t stress to you how important a little bit of alone time is not just for your psyche, but for your body as well. Your mind and body are interlinked. Ask people who are depressed how they ache everywhere… Ask folks who become depressed after a debilitating accident. Fact is, if we don’t spend a little bit of time catering to ourselves, we become husks.

This week, the most productive thing I worked on was a recipe for a no-carb dinner. We’re kind of gravitating towards that to assist in the body part of body and mind in this house for right now. Sam wouldn’t touch the ‘pasta,’ but hoovered up the other part.

 

Low Carb Eggplant Parmagiana

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash (3 or so lbs)

2 Medium Eggplants

1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large (28 or 32oz) can Tomato Puree

1 16oz can of diced Italian Style Tomatoes

1 small (6 oz) can Tomato Paste

Olive Oil (spray and regular liquid if possible)

Freshly Ground Pepper

Salt

Parmesan, Ground – Liberal amount (about 4 oz?)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. While oven warms, get out a saucepan for the red gravy. This is a throwtogether version that usually will taste homemade. You can even cook this a little longer, begin a couple hours before you begin if you’d like to let the flavors simmer for awhile. Put a splash of olive oil into the saucepan on a low to medium heat. Add the minced garlic and half the Italian seasoning. Let cook until garlic is golden brown. Add the tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and paste. Mix gently, cover, and continue simmering, stirring occasionally.

When oven is ready, prep a baking sheet by either brushing or spraying olive oil. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. if you wish, brush this with oil as well – if not, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on inside of both halves. Put in oven and cook for 45min-1hr (ovens vary). You will know it’s done when the outside is slightly mushy (stick a fork into it) instead of the precooked hard as a rock. When the spaghetti squash is done, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

We added about a pound of ground pork to the red gravy, which is completely optional. If you were to make it from frozen pork, I’d suggest beginning to fry the pork at this point, in a covered skillet. When the pork is finished frying. you can add the red gravy to the skillet and leave it on low. If pork is fresh, this step should take under 20 minutes.

Slice eggplant in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Set out on greased baking sheet, and brush tops with oil, and use salt and pepper to taste. Put in oven (still at 375) and after about 12 minutes, flip pieces over, brush tops again with oil and add salt/pepper, cook for another 12-15 minutes. When the eggplant has reached the desired consistency, remove from oven. 

We used two separate pasta bowls: one for the spaghetti squash and one for the eggplant and gravy.  Fork the spaghetti squash out after it has cooled (if you don’t let it cool down, it WILL burn your hand) and if you wish to add the two together I would advise possibly using a 9×13 baking dish– in the second pasta bowl, we layered with a layer of meat sauce, then eggplant, then more sauce, then a layer of the grated parmesan. We continued doing this until we ran out of eggplant. (I think there were three large layers) on the top layer, sprinkle the rest of the Italian seasoning over the final parmesan.

20160510_183434

Our 2 year old son devoured the eggplant, but didn’t want to touch the spaghetti squash. It doesn’t really have the same flavor as pasta, but it has the same texture and works well with any sauces. Please, if you try it, let me know how it worked for you! It quickly became a family favorite with us.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to be more like myself the next time I post. Cheers.

Advertisements

Water and its Omnipresence in My Life

Image

Started this blog back up with the intention to update on a fairly regular basis. Then life happened, again. My husband and I (vainly) thought that we would have a lapse of some free time. As with most of our plans as married homeowner parents, this too, was quashed. I would like you all to consider the position of a stay at home parent for a moment.

Some–But not all–of your own life gets thrown to the backburner. Those books you intend on burning through at the rate that you did in high school or college? The videogame that’s next in your favorite series that’s coming out? Maybe later. Simple things that you used to be able to get done easily, without hassle–those are now time stealers. Doing makeup or hair–this is something that is considered a luxury now. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means complaining. It’s just very different than the “adulting” you do prior to homeowning… or being married… or having children. And it’s nothing like you expect.

Once upon a time when I was attending college, there were Buddhist monks that came in to do sand art on the ground. I don’t remember if they were also giving speeches–I only remember coming from a class to the main building and catching them sweeping up the art. The work, which seemed to be a mandala the size of a large living room, was half swept up in chaos, the colors mixed to all resemble brownish normal sand–while the untouched half maintained its beauty and all its striking color–that is, until the monk swept it up. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “WHY?? It was so pretty, I didn’t even get over there in time to try and take a photo!! Now it’s gone!”

Except that WAS the point. The artwork was gorgeous, but only left for just a short time and then erased. It was a lesson in permanence. I don’t know how many other students were affected quite like I was by this concept, but it stands as one of the memories I have to refer back to on a fairly regular basis that fits to my ever-changing core of values and identity.

 

The concept of permanence is something that a great percentage of our current society truly have issues wrapping their heads around. A growing trend of youngsters and even a fair amount of adults my age are growing up far too entitled. I see people throwing away instead of trying to fix–just to buy new. But… what if you couldn’t buy new any more. I feel like there aren’t many who are teaching their kids to understand that concept.

At our home we noticed a strange smell coming from the basement a couple weeks ago. Michael asked me if it was gas, and I said it smelled like standing water. Michael did some more research. It turned out that a large pile of clothing had been sneakily soaking up an incredible amount of water. As it goes, we pulled some away and continued to the room behind the wall that the clothes were up against–where we located several of my (cardboard) boxes from the move out of my parents’ house that were now waterlogged. A few even had mildew creeping up their sides. This was something that we found a couple weeks ago, but may very well have begun a couple months ago.

This awkward dread set in when I spotted a box that hasn’t been opened in over ten years with Jim & Karen wedding album–Nat baby pictures scrawled in Sharpie over the packing tape. I realized it was akin to the same feeling I had when I saw the monk sweeping up the sand. I took a deep breath and looked around for more potential sadness-bringers. We had to have our toddler have his own “Spring break at Grandma’s” because we were unaware of the extent and the cause of the damage. In the following four days and four nights we learned our own lesson of permanence during our first year of being homeowners. God is good, and thankfully there wasn’t too much damage to photos. Those are memories that I can’t create ever again–and they are something with a lot of potential to be completely destroyed. I was lucky. But we lost quite a few clothes that had bled color onto others and the stains were too stubborn. We lost some videogame-oriented paraphernalia. The verdict is still out on the electronics that were waterlogged and we are drying those along with the basement. Below is our waterlogged clothing. 😦

20160405_141243

We found out by following the water trail that a drain in the basement was filling up (underneath all the clothes, of course). That drain was fine, but the water was coming from a broken pipe in our northern wall. We are lucky it wasn’t foundation cracks. We’re also lucky to be friends with a plumber. (It’sa me!)

If there is anything I can tell you about water damage, it’s that you’ll never be as prepared for it as you might think. But I can lead you through steps you might need to take. It might be just common sense, but it might help someone out there.

  1. Clean up as much of the affected area as you can. This is how you will find the source of your water penetration. WHERE is it coming from?20160405_134212
  2. After locating the source, you will need to fix the problem. This will likely include cleaning mildew and/or mold. IF YOU ARE CLEANING THIS YOURSELF, I cannot stress enough that you must wear APPROPRIATE ATTIRE– This includes proper mask safety, putting gloves on, and wearing eye protection. Mold and mildew are fungi. That means spores. That means breathing can bring it into your lungs. That’s disgusting. PLEASE TAKE CARE WITH THIS STEP.  We used Dr. Bronner’s Hemp Tea Tree Oil Castille Soap (an antifungal that isn’t dangerous like bleach) with Hot water and a large gong brush to scrub everywhere. It made a WORLD of difference. I’m really sorry for all the caps. It was terrifying and exciting all at once. After the scrub dried, we sprayed with a mixture of water/vinegar (40/60) and added several drops of tea tree oil (anti-fungal) and a little peppermint oil (anti-spider). This is to cut back any further growth of mold and/or mildew. We also kept a dehumidifier running downstairs, which is a must for this, as it is a basement and is normally damp.20160406_204312
  3. Due to the nature of this type of circumstance, like us, you may have to cut into a wall. Prepare yourself for strange purchases, because you may end up having to redo a section of–or an entire–wall. In the case of foundation cracks, there’s a whole different approach to solving the problem. This all costs money. You may not be able to be fully prepared, but you can at least get an idea of what you’re up against. The picture below shows the “bandaged” pipe, it will be fixed completely tonight. This is before we scrubbed the area, but you can see the exposed concrete from cutting into the wall. One step closer to annihilating all the paneling, muahahaha!20160406_204319-1
  4. Try to stay calm and sane.

I sincerely hope that this doesn’t happen to you, but from what I understand, it will likely happen at some point in your basement. I’ve decided to bolster against it by getting rid of unnecessary items. I’m looking at this entire event as a more personal and larger scale version of the monk’s sand mandala–This basement, while permanent to us (as our memories should be) could, at any time, turn into utter chaos. There’s a limit to the amount of preparedness one can activate in their life. I see this as an opportunity to weed out the things I really don’t need (as much as I want to hold on to things like my Elvira turned Cruella DeVille wig) and focus on the important ones that I really think are super important.

Screenshot_2016-04-12-13-04-11-1

(Like my adorable baby photos, obv)

Avocado Egg Salad

This is the first post in almost three years.

I’ve had a baby. I’ve moved into a house. I haven’t murdered my husband. Things are looking up.

I have a close and old friend, Megan S. She’s an entrepreneur of sorts–began her own photography business, and while she started later than me in school, she graduated earlier than I did, ha. She also got married and had a baby before me. She did a lot of things before I did, so I like to ask her opinions on a lot of life decisions. She’s good people.

Megan got to visit my house for the first time when my son was here–and our two boys got to play with one another. There was a moment where we looked over at them and I said to her, “Did you ever imagine 5 years ago that you’d be here, with me, watching our sons play together?” We laughed. This was a strange and surreal moment.

One of the finer honors of aging is reconnecting with people, when you remember who you once were while celebrating who you’ve become.

We did a little of that yesterday, and made some food. I’ve had some of the best philosophical discussions whilst preparing a meal.

With that in mind, I invite you to try out my first “recipe.” This is by no means light.

 

Avocado Egg Salad (serves approx. 6)

2 ripe avocados

6 hardboiled eggs, peeled and diced

4 Tbsp Mayonnaise (I use mayonesa con limon)

1/2 small red onion, minced

1/2 small lime (squeezed for juice)

1/2 tsp hot hungarian paprika

1 1/2 tsp coriander cumin (regular cumin would probably do just as well)

2 tsp Goya Adobo Lemon Pepper seasoning

 

Get a large mixing bowl, add and combine ingredients. This is a rough example, we tasted and didn’t exactly measure anything too precisely while making it. I added the lime juice because I like the tang that it gives–just like with the mayo. I would add fresh cilantro if I had some, but alas… maybe next time. Serve on toast or lettuce.

 

Thanks!