There has been an abundant supply of the general everyday kind of stuff going on around here. Let me catch you up.We are all adjusting to the new school routine this year. Pretty Girl is now taking the shuttle bus to and from school, so we are up earlier and she gets home later. She is finding the days long and hot and really long. We are proud of her for being so brave and responsible. Not doing the school run anymore myself has added invaluable time to my own day so I am very appreciative of her good attitude.Pretty Girl also provided us with a very exciting morning of school athletics by doing really well in all of her races. We were exceptionally proud of this little girl who spent many mornings of the holidays out on the road with her dad working her way up to a 5 km run. It was so gratifying to see all her hard work and dedication pay off with a great result on sports day. Man oh man did Dear Husband and I yell and shout and jump up and down on the side of the track for that child. (We are both sorry Pretty Girl. Kinda.)
Handsome turned four this past weekend and we had a wonderful birth
day week celebrating the life of this precious, affectionate and funny little boy. Yesterday I asked him how school was and he replied thus: “Well I burped and then Sebastian burped and then we both burped and it was so cool and awesome.” And that pretty much sums up living with this boy child at the moment.I have sadly been without help in my home for two weeks now.
Our beloved Betty who has walked into our house every morning for the past almost nine years (excitedly greeting Griffin the dog before the rest of us) has been off work taking care of her exceptionally ill daughter. Elmarie, has been going from doctor to hospital to clinic and back again having been diagnosed with TB. We were just devastated by the diagnosis. Elmarie is writing matric this year, and the late diagnosis means that her lungs have been quite badly damaged. We are trusting for a full recovery for her.
We have missed Betty terribly. It has felt rather like one leg of our family chair has fallen off and left us swaying back and forth trying to balance precariously on the other three. Thankfully though Elmarie is now getting the care she needs and is doing so much better. Betty’s own TB tests came back clear and she will be back at work full time next week. We are deeply relieved and thankful both for Betty’s health and her return.With Betty away, our house has been anything but quiet as we have been joined by Ivan, the Rastafarian painter.
“Ivan the Rasta” is calm and mellow and skinny and funny and we have never seen him without his woolly Rasta hat and paint splattered pants. He calls Handsome “Noeeeeey” and is crazy mad about the healing properties of peanut butter. It is hilarious to have a character like Ivan around the house, and we will miss his gentle nature when he finishes painting our house both inside and out. Ivan has transformed our little home into the cutest kid on the block, and most evenings Dear Husband and I can be found on our front lawn admiring our house. That we are this excited about paint is painfully sad.
Although my family has not been starving this past week, on some days the fact that I have still managed to get a meal on the table in time for dinner is really nothing short of a miracle. Tuna Salad? Dinner. Egg on toast? Dinner. Lots of fruit and other left over things found in the fridge at 7pm? Dinner. These melanzane parmigiana? Well these gorgeous bakes which take a little time to prepare, but are absolutely worth the effort were in fact last week’s dinner. There you have it folks, last week I was making flat breads to dip into the sauce of melanzane parmigiana and this week, eggs on toast IS dinner. Life is all about balance.
Now my dear Italians, please do settle down, I know that this not a traditional recipe for melanzane parmigiana, but it is how I make it, and it is rather delicious. (The tomato sauce will make far more than you need, but you can freeze what is left for next time.)
PS If you still have not yet entered the giveaway to win a two night stay for two this February at Quarters Hermanus, you still have a few days to get your name into the draw. Click here to enter.
- 3-4 medium aubergines
- olive oil for frying
- Tomato Sauce
- 30 ml olive oil
- 30 ml butter
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 leek, washed and sliced
- 2 stem celery, including leaves, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 4 cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 115 g tomato paste cup
- salt, pepper and sugar to taste
- handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
- White Sauce
- 65 ml butter
- 45 ml flour
- 500 ml milk, warm
- salt, pepper and nutmeg
- large handful mozzarella cheese, grated
- To assemble
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Remove the stalks from the aubergines, slice them up into 1 cm thick slices, and place in a roasting try. Sprinkle with salt and allow to stand for fifteen minutes.
- Drain, rinse well and pat dry.
- Heat a frying pan or griddle pan, add the oil and fry the aubergines on both sides until golden.
- Place on paper towel to remove excess oil.
- Heat the oil and the butter in a large saucepan.
- Add the onions, garlic, leek, celery and carrot and without colouring, fry until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste and bring to the boil.
- Correct the seasoning by adding salt, pepper and sugar if the tomatoes are a little tart.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and there is a good aroma coming off the pot.
- Using a liquidizer or a hand held blender, puree the sauce until smooth.
- Add the herbs if using and correct the seasoning.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour.
- Whisk in the milk and continue whisking till smooth and thick.
- Cook over low heat for a few minutes to cook out the flour.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese.
- Once the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- In a baking dish, put in a small layer of tomato sauce, then a thin scattering of Parmesan cheese, followed by a single layer of aubergines and then a layer of white sauce.
- Repeat these layers until you've used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan.
- Place the dish in a preheated oven at 180°C and bake for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly.