Saturday, September 16, 2006

Eggplant Casserole in the Kitchen

Gina just got back from her vacation and during it, she visited some friends and came back loaded down with eggplants. She called me and asked if I knew any recipes other than fried eggplant which she's already done twice and "I've still got all these eggplants staring at me"?

When in doubt, casserole. The cheese in this recipe can be doubled if you're attempting to persaude a finiky child (or adult) to try it.

You need the following:

3 Eggplants
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 roma tomatoes
4 zucchini
2 garlic cloves minced
some fresh parsley to season to taste with
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (1 cup if you're doubling)
salt & pepper for seasoning

Cut the top off the eggplant and discard. Slice or cube the eggplant. It's much easier to slice it but some times I prefer to cube it. You can leave the skins on if you slice. Lightly brush the eggplants cubes or slices with the olive oil. If you don't have a kitchen brush, you can use a paper towel for this step. Now you can broil the eggplant, you can grill it or you can use a skillet to brown them. If using a skillet, use your largest one.

If you have a kitchen grill, that's probably your easiest avenue. If you're using the stovetop, you can use the same skillet (without cleaning) to prepare the zucchini. Transfer to the eggplant, as it browns, to a platter or plate.

Cut off both ends of the zucchini and then slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. If you're using the same skillet, you don't need to brush the zucchinni with olive oil but if you're using a grill or roasting, brush the zucchini with olive oil first. (If you're grilling or broiling either or both zucchini and eggplant, remember you want the pieces soft and brown.) Transfer to a platter or plate.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and allow the eggplant and zucchini to cool.

Lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil.

Slice the three roma tomatoes.

Begin layering in this order, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, parsley, a dash of pepper and/or salt, a sprinkling of cheese. Repeat layers ending with cheese on top.

Cover the dish. If you don't have a glass cover that came with the dish, you can cover it with aluminum foil. Bake the dish for thirty minutes. Remove the cover and turn the oven to 400 degrees to bake for ten more minutes which will allow it to brown. The dish is now hot so allow it to sit for ten or so minutes before serving.

Brandy wrote with a question that applies to the last step. She said she didn't have a place to set things after they come out of the oven. You can buy things to set hot dishes on but you can also use a cold stove stop burner. You want a cold one, one that's not been used to cook something, due to the fact that if you set a dish on a hot or warm burner, you may end up cooking the dish more.

Now if you've made this recipe in the hopes that a child (or adult) would eat it and they are vegetable resistant, you can set some grated cheese on the table and encourage them to top their portion with some.

Thanks to Gina for calling because I was really unable to come up with a recipe today. The spinach issue (fresh spinach has been pulled from many areas due to an e-coli virus) had me leery about the recipe I had planned (which didn't involve spinach but did involve some uncooked vegetables). Remember to wash your vegetables and fruits before eating them raw and to wash them before cooking. (The FDA is advising that washing spinach will not help with the e-coli. Cooking might, but my recommendation is get rid of it. I love spinach but I have two friends who have been sick all week. I will eat spinach again. Hopefully in a week or two. But right now, my advice is get rid of it.) (Supposedly, this warning applies only to raw spinach. And fresh at that. But one friend got sick from a Sunday pizza they ate. The spinach was cooked. So my advise is to wait on eating spinach until you hear from the FDA or some other source -- trusted source and there are probably more trusted sources than the FDA. I don't want to alarm anyone but I also don't want anyone to get sick because I didn't make the point strongly enough: The e-coli virus has apparently made spinach unsafe right now. Avoid it. The only exception I would make to that is if you grow your own. If so, you're lucky and continue eating it.)

Now I want to note something from a recent Media Matters report on Bully Boy's Friday press conference, "Softball in the Rose Garden: White House press corps failed to challenge Bush's non-answers at press conference:"

The first question of the September 15 press conference came from Associated Press White House correspondent Terence Hunt, who noted former Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent statement in a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." Hunt asked, "If a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of State feels this way, don't you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you're following a flawed strategy?" Following is Bush's response:
BUSH: If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that. It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective, Terry.
My job, and the job of people here in Washington, D.C., is to protect this country. We didn't ask for this war. You might remember the 2000 campaign. I don't remember spending much time talking about what it might be like to be a commander in chief in a different kind of war. But this enemy has struck us and they want to strike us again. And we will give our folks the tools necessary to protect the country; that's our job.
But who compared "the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists"? Powell simply stated that the administration's handling of the threat of terrorism -- and more recently its position on the treatment of detained terrorism suspects -- has tarnished the nation's image worldwide and led many across the globe to question the "moral basis" for these policies. Nowhere in Powell's letter or in the question was there a suggestion that the "behavior of the United States" is on par with the "action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children."
Following this answer, Hunt asked, "Can I follow up?" To which Bush answered, "No, you can't," before moving on to Reuters reporter Steve Holland. None of the subsequent questioners pointed out that Bush had answered a different question than the one Hunt asked.

Kat's noting another item from the same Media Matters' report so please visit her site today.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" about Friday's events in Iraq and I'm rushing to get this up because I know C.I.'s waiting on me to post this morning:

Friday, September 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq and among the dead are US troops; the count of discovered corpses in Baghdad continue to rise, meanwhile the latest US 'answer' is "Castle!"; war resister Darrell Anderson prepares to return to the United States; and Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.
Starting with the violence (stick around for the 'answer'),
CBS and AP report that five US troops died on Thursday ("making it a particularly bloody day for U.S. forces" -- well not to the New York Times) and that a marine has died today in al Anbar province. al Anbar? For those who missed it, Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported Monday that that Marine Col Pete Devlin's assesment "that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents." Today Will Dunham (Reuters) reports: "U.S. commanders in Iraq have demoted their long effort to subdue insurgents in Anbar province . . . 'Baghdad is our main effort right now,' Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the top U.S. operational commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters in a briefing from Iraq."
Staying with the violence.
A senior Interior Ministry official
remarks to Reuters, on the continued discovery of corpses, "Forty bodies, 60 bodies -- it's become a daily routine." Friday started with Rebecca Santana (AP) noting the discovery of 30 corpses in Baghdad. AFP gives the announced figures for the last three days as 64 (Wednesday), 20 (Thursday) and 51 (last 24 hours). In addition to those corpses which were discovered in Baghdad, Reuters reports that in Mussayab a corpse "with a missing head" was discovered.
Reuters reports one person was shot dead and five others wounded in Baghdad. AP reports the incident: "In central Baghdad, a gunman opened fire from the top of an abandoned building in a Sunni Arab neighborhood, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding five others, said police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali."
Reuters reports a car bomb in Mosul that left nine wounded, while, in Mussayab, a roadside bomb "late on Thursday" left three police officers wounded.
In addition,
Al Jazeera reports that a US soldier is missing after Thursday's car bombing in Baghdad that left two troops dead on Thursday and 25 others wounded. AP raises the wounded from that bombing to 30 and notes the missing soldier "has been reported as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown".
AFP reminds: "The United Nations has also warned that Iraq could slide into civil war as the daily bloodshed shows no signs of abating despire political efforts for national reconciliation." CBS and AP report that John Bolton told the UN Security Council yesterday "that Iraq's sectarian killings and kidnappings had increased in the last three months, along with a rise in the numbef of displaced people."
So where does it stand? Even John Bolton's sounding alarms, US troops are pulling out of al Anabar,
Reuters reports that the 147,000 American troops in Iraq are "the most since January," and the violence and chaos continue.
But don't fret 'a new plan' finally emerges as the 'answer.'
It's being called trenches which is really implying something it's not. When people think of trenches, they tend to think of trench warfare. What's being described is more along the lines of a mote --
AFP reports that Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf described it this way, "We will surround the city with trenches. The entry to the captial will be permitted through 28 roads, as against 21 at the moment, but at the same time we will seal off dozens of other minor roads with access to Baghdad."
Quote: "We will surround the city with trenches." That's the 'new plan.' Baghdad goes from capital to castle. But not overnight.
Al Jazeera notes "an operation of this scale would take months to complete."
In the real world,
Cal Perry (CNN) takes a look at the wounded US troops ("more than 20,000" have been "wounded in Iraq") at the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.
In peace news,
Courage to Resist has reported that war resister Darrell Anderson will return to the United States (from Canada): "Support is mounting for Darrell and his courageous stand. Two events are planned in conjunction with his return to the U.S. In Fort Erie on Saturday, Septemeber 30 at Noon there will be a rally in Lions Sugar Bowl and then supporters, including Iraq war veterans and military family members, will accompany Darrell as he crosses the border back into the U.S. over Peace Bridge."
Other peace actions are going on and will be going on including a three-day event in NYC that begins this evening at 7:00 pm, continues Saturday at 7:00 pm and concludes on Sunday at 3:00 pm. What is it? The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC, or who will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.
In Washington, DC,
Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public. Today's events have focused on Electoral Reform and include an 8:00 pm (EST) showing of the film Stealing America, Vote by Vote." Among those speaking today were Bob Firtakis. Saturday is peace day and will include Kevin Zeese, Nadine Bloch, Allison Hantschel. CODEPINK's Gael Muphy will report on the visit to Jordan at the start of last month to meet with Iraqis as well as the trip to Lebanon. And war resister Ricky Clousing will discuss the court-martial he's facing. (This may be the first major discussion he's given publicly on the topic since August 11th.)
And on Sunday,
Camp Democracy will host a number of events and the theme will be Impeachment Day. Among those participating: Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, David Green, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth De La Vega, Dave Lindorff, David Swanson, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony St. Martin, Cindy Bogard, Mubarak Awad, Susan Crane, Frank Anderson. The camp has daily activities and admission is free. A complete schedule can be found here. Free and open to the public with daily activites.
Finally, in Australia,
ABC reports that Brendan Nelson (Defence Minister) will be expanding their role in Iraq when "Italian forces withdraw at the end of next month." Reuters notes this will be 20 troops added to "the extra 38 troops announced on Sept. 4". The 58 need to be weighed next to the intent, as Dan Box (The Australian) reported earlier this week, the Australian government wants to up the army from 2,600 to 30,000 ("its biggest intake since the Vietnam war")