Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Got Screwed by Verizon Wireless

Over the weekend my 3 year old cell phone died while I was texting in the rain, taking with it all my stored contacts.
As if this was not bad enough, today I opened this box that I thought contained my new phone. Lo and behold, it's empty!
Verizon sent me a receipt along with instructions on how to activate my new phone.
Thanks, Verizon. You made my day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Love Lisbon!

We've been in Portugal for a few days and I am struck by how warm the people are here. It's beautiful. Every man we see is fawning over his woman; public displays of affection are the norm. How wonderful and liberating it must be to exist in a culture that is so open with affection and holds women in such esteem.
In my observation the people here go out of their way to connect with you, no matter what language you speak or from where you come. It's possible to get by with hand gestures and facial expressions. There is such depth in the eyes I have seen here. It's pain and warmth and passion.
As usual, we sought out advice on where to eat from the locals. We were not disappointed. And my lips are sealed!

See more pics of our trip here: http://flickr.com/photos/21569696@N07/2879951293/in/set-72157607436858738/

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ziti with Shrimp and Roasted Eggplant Sauce

Summer is winding down. How do I know this? Aside from the crisp air and changing angle of the sun, the bags of produce given to me by friends is a dead giveaway.
Since we are going to Portugal next week, using and/or preserving all these beautiful fruits and veggies has been a priority. Yesterday the mood struck and I started roasting peppers and eggplants.
As the smells permeated the air, I was reminded of a roasted eggplant pasta sauce I used to make. Somehow, this versatile recipe fell from my rotation. I think the last time I had made it was back in 2000, when I last grew my own eggplant. Well, suffice it to say it's back!
This sauce is very easy and makes your whole house smell intoxicatingly delicious. The recipe makes plenty - you could easily give a quart away or stash the rest in the freezer.
Last night I served this with some shrimp I simply broiled with lemon zest, garlic and parsley. The sauce would go just as well with chicken or even some goat cheese instead of the shrimp.

Roasted Eggplant Sauce

3 medium eggplants

-Stab each eggplant several times with a knife; drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and roast at 400 on a foil-lined sheet pan for about 45 minutes or until tender. When cool enough to touch, scoop flesh from eggplants with a spoon and set aside. Discard skin.

olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 head garlic, minced (or to taste)
1 large tomato, blanched, peeled, and chunked
1 medium zucchini, grated
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1/2 to 3/4 c. dry white wine
water - approx. 1 c.
fresh flat leaf parsley

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and zucchini, saute over medium-high heat until somewhat softened but not browned. Add garlic, saute a couple minutes more. Add red pepper flakes, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Add reserved eggplant and cook for a couple minutes. You will notice the mixture beginning to stick to the pan and brown. As soon as this happens, deglaze the pan with the wine. Cook for several minutes until you no longer smell alcohol. Add the water and cook for another 20 minutes or so. Toward the end of cooking, add chunked tomato and a generous amout of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley. You should be able to tell when the sauce is ready because it will just smell so good. Adjust seasonings, and serve with pasta.

I added a squeeze of lemon juice at the end as well. I also mixed about a pound of broiled shrimp with the 1.5 lbs. of pasta I had cooked. It would be great with grilled chicken, and also some form of cheese if you are not serving with seafood.

I hope this recipe is clear enough; feel free to ask questions if some step is not. It's hard to quantify something that I usually improvise!
I'd love to hear stories from you if you try any variation of this basic recipe.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

You Talkin' to Me?

You Talkin' to Me?
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
I absolutely adore late summer. It's my favorite time of year, the time when everything comes to fruition.
This is the time of year when more than ever, so much is in season, coming forth from the fertile soil.
The students all come back to town, infusing the city with a new breath of life. The smell from area restaurants fills the air. Fairs and feasts celebrate the end of summertime, the fruits of the soil, and the beginning of a new time of toil and industry.

But the ocean still retains its warmth, soaked up over the summer's heat bearing down. The weather is still gorgeous-sunny-clear skies-perfect (well, ok, not every day is sunny, as I peer outside to the pouring rain). And the vegetables are more plentiful than ever.

Late August and September are times of harvest and homecoming.

Kenny, in his infinite generosity, has given me bags and bags of produce this past week!
One day there were tomatoes at my door; the next day there were carrots and peppers.
Some of the tomatoes got eaten fresh with just a drizzle of olive oil, some got stewed and subsequently frozen.
The carrots! Some were steamed and eaten for breakfast (we do that, deal with it). Some were grated and dressed very simply with olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper, and herbs a la David Lebovitz.

The Italian sweet peppers! Well, those were braised, with hot Italian sausages, potatoes, garlic, onions, and beer.

Cruelly, I treated them to the hot pot because one of them was giving me the business, as you can see. I've documented it photographically; I am thereby justified.