By: The Tammy Half of Lydia Dare
As you may or may not know, I live in a house over-run by members of the male species. I have a husband, sons, and the sons’ friends at any hour of the day or night. I even got a couple of girl dogs, just so that I could balance some of the estrogen and testosterone. It didn’t work, because both those dogs hate me and wouldn’t take a dog treat from me if I wrapped it in bacon. But they love the boys.
I used to be a believer that gender played some part in food consumption. Well, not in amounts, but in the way it’s consumed. Then I had my second child. And my two boys are as different as night and day. My youngest is six and he only eats peanut butter and jelly. And broccoli. Yes, broccoli. Odd, isn’t it? My oldest is fifteen and he eats everything that won’t eat him first. With him, the only thing you have to worry about when it comes to feeding him is how to keep yourself out of his way. The boy could take an arm off and you wouldn’t even see it coming.
Thanksgiving at our house is usually a free-for-all. My sister and I go to our parents’ house and the food is set up buffet style. I do some cooking, my mom does the ham and turkey, and my sister is a whiz at deviled eggs, which I have never, ever been able to make worth a darn. Even the dogs won’t eat them. But there’s an annual tradition that’s a little odd, which I started a few years ago. I don’t eat meat so my staple at Thanksgiving is eggplant parmesan. I know, there goes that odd thing again…
It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to make it and then hide it, because it just happens to be my sister’s favorite food on earth. MY eggplant parmesan, that is. She swears she can’t make it, although it’s fairly simple. So, every Thanksgiving, she calls me a few days before to remind me to buy the eggplant. And I always tell her I’m not bringing it, that the stores are out of eggplant. They’re not. But I kind of like the game we’ve set up. On Thanksgiving day, it’s the very first thing she looks for, then she sulks when she can’t find it, then she starts to search the house until she does. It’s kind of like an Easter egg hunt, only at the wrong time of year and with the wrong participants. Even my boys get into the act and send her to misleading places where they “think they saw it.”
My eggplant is nothing fancy, and is just an adaptation from the Moosewood Cookbook, the fattening one before they came out with the low-cal version. If you like veggies, I highly recommend it. So, in honor of Thanksgiving, and in hopes that my sister will read this blog and at least try to make her own damn eggplant parmesan, I’ll share it with you. (I kind of hope hers sucks, because I’d miss the game we play if she did come up with a decent version of her own.)
My six-year-old will be eating peanut butter and jelly, and my sister will be dodging my oldest lest he take off an arm. But you, you could be having eggplant parmesan right beside your turkey. (Lucky you!)
2-3 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into one inch layers
½ cup of milk
Italian bread crumbs
Cheeses of your choice (I like mixing cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan) (And I like LOTS of cheese.)
Rice to serve it over
Once you’ve salted your eggplants and left them to sit on paper towels for a few minutes (it makes them less bitter), rinse them well.
Beat the egg with the milk. Put it in a bowl right beside your bread crumbs. Dry your eggplant slices, dip them in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs, then drop them into a hot pan of oil. Brown them on both sides on a medium heat until they’re crispy on the outside. Drain them on paper towels.
Layer the eggplant slices in a large baking dish, alternating between eggplant, a layer of cheese, enough tomato sauce to cover the layer, and sprinkle the tomato sauce with some garlic powder. Repeat until your pan is full. Top with lots of parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly. Serve over rice. Hide well. Taunt your sister if she really likes this stuff. And your recipe is complete.
Do you have an odd recipe that has become a staple at family gatherings? If so, what is it?