Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tradition with a twist

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
3 eggs
½ cup of milk
Italian bread crumbs
Olive oil
Cheeses of your choice (I like mixing cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan) (And I like LOTS of cheese.)
Tomato sauce
Garlic Powder
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?


  1. Marquita ValentineNovember 6, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Tammy, you made me laugh as usual!

    The thing that I get the most requests for is deviled eggs...but I have to fix them two different ways for my DH's family. They like it with nasty-tail relish and I, of course, don't.

    So, I fix a big platter their nasty way and a small plate of my way. And what do my brothers-in-law reach for EGGS. Without relish. I mean Good Lord!- they have their won dang plate. Leave mine alone.

    I'm a picky (okay weird) eater as it is!

    I think I need to play your game.


  2. Hi Tammy! I'll have to try the egglant recipe.... I adore eggplant but have not been having luck cooking it lately. Thanks for sharing... :)

  3. I'd probably be the only one to eat it if I made it, which wouldn't be any hardship for me. Sounds fabulous!

  4. I'm still trying to get over a six year old who eats broccoli. WOW! I do love eggplant. I tried to make eggplant parmasan once. It wasn't so good. I think I should have used more cheese!

  5. The Annual Thanksgiving Eggplant Hunt! I love it! I can feel the glow of the good time from here.

    I don't have any weird Thanksgiving recipes, but we've become such a nation of non-cooks that a couple of Thanksgivings ago, I was able to blow everyone out of the water with homemade jellied cranberry sauce. I let it congeal it in a pretty little dome-shaped mold, unfolded it, and presented it on a cut glass plate.

    "You MADE it?"everyone exclaimed. "I thought it was canning that made it like that."

    Then they all became nostalgic over the fat round cylinder of jellied stuff and the little grooves around its middle left by the can.

  6. Loved your post. Brought back the memory of the time my son (he was 15 at the time) asked if he could bring home three friends from school for lunch. I UNDERSTAND when you say to watch your arms ... in thirty minutes they ate more than an hungry Army Platoon can put away in a week.
    I've never worked with eggplant but anything with that much cheese has to be good!

  7. Hmm, I've eaten eggplant in spaghetti, I think. Or maybe that was zucchini. :) Not sure. :)

    We're so boringly predictable, but we love it that way!

  8. I adore any kind of eggplant--it's always been one of my all-time favorite veggies. I grill it, stuff it, roast it, you name it, it can be done with eggplant. Marinated, grilled or roasted eggplant is a favorite base in my veggie sandwich. I grew up with eggplant parmigiana, caponata, Melanzane a Scapici (Pickled eggplant), Melanzane Fredde which is served like a bruschetta. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    We never really played hide and go seek with our food--something like that could lead to bodily injury in our family. The closest we ever got to that was when my grandmother used to make Struffoli and incredible dessert- they were kind of like Italian Honey balls. She's send us Struffoli with a box of oranges and grapefruits and lemons from her tree. My sister and I would grab the Struffli and it would be gone before my mom ever got home. She never knew it was in there.

  9. Really enjoying all the Thanksgiving posts. I can't imagine living in a houseful of hungry blokes - bet they eat you out of house and home!

  10. Hide the eggplant. I love it! Those fun, silly things are what make such wonderful memories.

    I don't think I've ever had eggplant, but this sounds yummy. I'll have to try it. I've seen some good recipes here. Problem is, I don't like to cook. I do enjoy it once I get into it, but I tend to procrastinate.

  11. Sounds like a yummy recipe, Tammy. And I love your tradition of hide the eggplant. :}

  12. I feel your pain sister. My four boys eat anything that's not nailed down. I buy 6 loaves of bread a week. Thanks for the recipe!