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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Empty nests, full tummys, and politics


Well, the nest is empty again. Our daughter is back at college and attending classes. My withdrawal symptoms are much better than last September (her freshman year), but I have still had some tough moments. After 18 years she was somewhat of a habit for me and I find I am not liking giving her up. I will survive, however, and she is absolutely blooming there. What has helped the most: just a few days before she left, she discovered a folder full of papers from last year that she thought were in storage at school. I read a couple of them at home and then finished the rest on the road (I wasn't driving :). It was such a blessing. She is really a talented writer and I can't wait to see how God uses her abilities. Knowing that she is growing there makes it easier for me here.

My husband planted a little garden this year (we don't have room for a big one as our sun shine is limited--due to lovely, large trees) and it has been a delight to have the fresh produce again. We have had gardens off and on throughout our marriage, the first being in a 2 1/2 ft by maybe 25 ft flower garden spot along a fence that ran along the property of our first home after we were married, an apartment! I was pretty impressed that my green-thumbed sweetheart thought to plant food there, but then, he is pretty impressive!

In this year's garden, he planted something brand new, eggplant! I was at first a bit disgruntled, as I haven't invested much of my eating life on that lovely edible, but then I made eggplant ratatouille pie! Oh my! That is a wonderful dish. I had never even heard of ratatouille until the delightful Dreamworks movie came out and, frankly, it didn't look too appetizing when the rat made it, but it is delicious.

The recipe came from a cookbook that I really enjoy using, written by David and Nikki Goldbeck. Mine is brown and the copyright is in the 1980's. My husband checked out my other cookbooks and found maybe 3 eggplant recipes tops, but the Goldbeck's have a whopping 28! I'm not saying I am interested in making last recipe listed under eggplant: yogurt, cold, but others look quite promising.

I tweaked the recipe for the pie a bit, to fit what I had on hand. It is made in layers like lasagna and in between the recipe calls for provolone cheese, with parmesean on top. I had a couple of packages of Tillamook shredded Italian blend and used one on the bottom (in a 9X13 baking dish) and more sprinkled on top. The eggplant, green peppers, and onions all came from our garden and the tomatoes from our neighbor's garden (ours are just now getting ripe). If you are aching to try it, I will give you my version here:

Tweaked Ratatouille Pie
Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit

a couple of eggplants, sliced paper thin (maybe cardboard thin)
some onions, chopped till you weep
a green pepper or so, cut up however you want
3 or 4 tomatoes, slice, diced...whatever
a couple of cloves of finely chopped garlic
2 tsp. basil (I use dried, if you want fresh you will have to figure out how to convert it, but you probably already know that)
2 tsp. oregano (see basil's parenthetical comment)
salt, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T wine vinegar
shredded Italian blend cheese (as much as you like)

Drizzle part of the oil over the bottom of a 9x13 glass casserole dish. Layer 1/2 of the veggies. Sprinkle with half of the oregano and basil and a little salt. Spread 1/2 of the cheese over that layer. Make a second layer with the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle with remaining oregano, basil, salt and this time, the garlic. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and the wine vinegar. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, spread remaining cheese over the top, put back in oven for another 10, or until the cheese is nicely browned.

I served this with some pickled onions and cukes, using my mom's easy recipe:

Place sliced onions and cucumbers (as many as you want) in a glass bowl, cover with a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and a wee bit of sugar, let sit for a few hours or overnight, eat it up!

This has been a tough election year (did you realize that?) and I have been struggling with what to do come election day. I was excited when I heard about Sarah Palin, and then very concerned for the family when the news about her daughter came out. Dan Phillips has a couple of interesting posts, one with serious advice to Sarah (August 30th) and another with more thoughts and links to others in the sphere (September 1st), and then this morning Evers Ding has posted his perspective on the whole thing and I really appreciate his wisdom.

While reading Evers' post, it occurred to me that there is a parallel between Sarah and Deborah in the Old Testament, then when I read Dan's second post this morning I saw that he quoted Doug Wilson waxing eloquent on that very thing:

"But as a biblical absolutist, and not a simple traditionalist, I also want to make room for the occasional Deborah. Life is funny, and you should remember that in the Bible Deborah was the dame who upstaged a fellow named Barak. Kinda spooky when you thing about it."

Deborah had to take a leading roll because Barak would not take the victory that God had given him. I agree there is a touch of irony with the name, Barak, surfacing in each, but the situation with Barak Obama is not the same as that of the OT Barak. Obama is absolutely willing to take a leading roll, but the problem is the direction he wants to lead. I believe the men who better parallel the OT Barak in our day are those solid, qualified, conservative men out there who did not run for office, leaving us with few choices.

And yet...there were some good men running for office; so perhaps the blame lies in the laps of the voters. I would have expected after the last election, which depleted the Republican's congressmen population, that the conservatives would have rallied; because that didn't happen, many are now teetering between apathy and panic.

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