My husband and I are snowbirds, living in Florida for the winter in a small but cozy "park model". Actually, it's a cute-as-a-button park model, but that's a different story.
Each year, we meet RVers who are assigned a spot near our unit. Early-on this winter, we met one of our neighbors, named Chuck. He's a sweet man in his 80s (hard of hearing) who's wife has Alzheimer's and thus, he said, he does all the cooking. So I figured
I'd pass along meals whenever I got a chance. First I sent over some meatloaf and, in return, Chuck baked us a tasty (albeit very rich) rum cake, which I imagine was a big hit in the '50s and '60s, but is too heavy for our tastes. We each had a bite, then
passed the rest around to neighbors.
Lesson now learned, when I next took Chuck some leftovers I begged him to simply enjoy the food and not bake anything because I'm on a diet (which is true... I'm always on a diet). So he brought us some books.
Last Tuesday, at the end of a short visit from my son and his family, we had a BBQ dinner and, as usual, there were some leftovers. So off I went to Chuck's RV with grilled chicken, potato salad, baked beans, and apple pie... figuring the worst that could
happen would be another batch of books which, in the overall scheme of things, is a good swap.
But today, not long after I'd shoved a batch of eggplant parmesan into the oven (using several leftovers in preparation for our return north), Chuck arrived at our door with news that he had a two-for-one coupon for Burger King and his wife had a "mean
hankering" for a Whopper; and he had another two-for-one at the Pizza Shack: would we please take the extra burger and pizza? (He went on to explain why he didn't want the second Whopper himself but DID want a pizza, but I'll spare you the details.)
With the smell of the eggplant parmesan now filling our home, I sighed.
Yes, I said, of course we'll take the extras. I figured we'd invite friends over for an Italian feast (and a Whopper). But it turns out our closest friends are away and the others too far to take advantage of the deal. So now I have one cold Whopper and
a cooling mushroom-olive-pepperoni pizza, and I'm wondering where the nearest food kitchen is.
Meanwhile, about the eggplant parmesan: I rarely make it, but I needed to use half a jar of Classico spaghetti sauce, some gluten free flour, and gluten free bread crumbs (actually, they're more like corn meal crumbs), and I happened to have some parmesan.
In order to make the dish, I did what I call "jazz cooking", which means I added what seemed needed to make it all work. I wish I could tell you what I did, but I didn't take notes as I went along. I know for sure that I added tomatoes, tomato paste,
garlic, red wine, oregano, basil, rosemary, and fennel to the sauce. I also added oregano, basil, tarragon, garlic salt, and "garlic and herbs" to the bread crumbs. And I added a touch of milk to the eggs.
I opted to skin and sweat the eggplant for 30 minutes, and grilled each slice after first dipping in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. The results were crispy and beautiful golden brown pieces which I then (tragically, but tasty anyway) covered
with parmesan and the tomato sauce. The results? Yummy.
So if you were at our place this evening, you'd have your choice of pizza, eggplant parmesan, or a Whopper. As I've said, when it rains, it pours.