Eggplant Parmesan – to induce labor

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A quick update for those of you waiting for news – our daddy got back yesterday so for the last 24 hours we have again been in full “labor inducing” mode. I am probably making this sound a lot worse than it actually is, there is no real reason to have this baby out RIGHT NOW but I am getting a little edgy as my due date is only 5 days away and I feel as though we might miss. (Also the fact that I am 40 (!!!!!!!!!!!!) weeks pregnant and that’s 10 months for those of you who didn’t figure this out- might be adding to my misery and anxiety). If you missed my whiney post read it here.

A few days ago I messaged my yoga teacher, Karen (www.pregnantinoman.com) , who has a lot of expertise in the field of child birth and general health care (also she gives great advice!) and asked her what I can do to help move things along. She insisted that I make it to one more yoga class, give acupuncture a shot, have some “private” time with my husband and try a delicious Italian recipe that swears to bring about labor. I took her advice (on almost all of the above 🙂 ), yoga turned out to be extremely beneficial and actually helped relieve my muscles and calm me down emotionally.

Karen had also sent me a recipe of Eggplan Parmesan that is known to help women go into labor. For more than twenty years, women have gone to Scalini’s Italian restaurant in Cobb County, Georgia, with one thing on their minds: To go into labor. They always order the Eggplant Parmesan, which, so far, has helped encourage more than 300 babies to come into the world within 48 hours of their mom eating the meal.

I decided to give it a shot because it wouldn’t hurt to kill two birds with one stone; make a decent lunch and perhaps even help this baby get moving. So the recipe is below, most of the ingredients are easy to come by and the preparation of the dish could not be more elementary. I have even attached a few images for your entertainment 🙂

Eggplant Parmesan alla Scalini’s Ingredients:
3 medium size eggplants
1 cup of flour
6 eggs, beaten
4 cups fine Italian bread crumbs, seasoned
Olive oil for sautéing
8 cups of marinara sauce*
1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lbs of mozzarella cheese shredded
2 cups of ricotta cheese
Instructions:
After you wash the eggplant, slice them into 1/4 inch thick slices. You may choose to peel the eggplant before you slice it, however you may want to leave the skin on since the skin contains a lot of vitamins. Place the eggplant slices on a layer of paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt, then cover with another layer of paper towels and hold it down with something heavy. This will drain the excess moisture. Let them set for about an hour.

Working with one slice of eggplant at a time, dust with flour, then dip in beaten eggs, then coat well with bread crumbs. Saute’ in preheated olive oil on both sides until golden brown.
In baking dish, alternate layers of marinara sauce, eggplant slices, ricotta, parmesan, and romano cheeses, until you fill the baking dish about an 1/8 inch from the top. Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 25 minutes in 375 degree oven. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.
Scalini’s Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
8 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup onions chopped
1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1/8 cup of fresh chopped sweet basil
Pinch of thyme
Pinch of rosemary

I actually couldn’t find ricotta cheese and the supermarket and forgot to buy breadcrumbs- so that may be the reason of this not exactly “working” in my favor.

The eggplants being fried in olive oil

The Marinara Sauce. Chopped up onion, garlic, greens, tomatoes and herbs.

The post-oven dish looks something like this. Umm cheese

It's absolutely delicious! With so much cheese how can it not be?

So if you find youself in a situation similar to mine…or heck…if you just want to cook up some yummy Italian grub- give this a shot! It’s finger-licking-good! It promises results within 24 hrs and I am half way through that pie right now…let’s see if it can live up to it’s reputation!

Fingers crossed people.

Day 58/Days like these I want to be a vegetarian…

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Camel Burger at the Oman Diving Center.

Four years down the line and I am no longer surprised at the measures that my husband will go to try new things and spice up his nutritional intake. Hence, if there is a “camel burger” on the menu, he will order it immediately while I gag nearby. I will sit there with my club sandwich while he munches through his “delicacy” frequently blurting out random camel facts to annoy me. For example did you know that “The hump in particular is considered a delicacy and eaten on special occasions, including religious festivals.”?

I am a perfectly rational consumer; I always opt for the Caesar Salad, the sushi or the pizza. Alex on the other hand has eaten dog meat (Korean cuisine influences in Tashkent), dog soup, shark meat, horse meat, barbequed liver and other very questionable dishes. Every time he sees a turtle he asks me if I am willing to learn to make turtle soup. And I am not.

Growing up in Uzbekistan, one would it find it the social norm to have a plate full of salami, smoked turkey and horse tongue. Yes, Tongue. Put that on top of a piece of freshly baked bread, sprinkle some salt and you’ve got yourself an awesome afternoon snack. If you don’t throw up that is. Another frequent ingredient in Uzbek cuisine is the “fat from the ass of the sheep”, pardon my language here. When we first moved to Muscat, and were desperately nostalgic about the food back home, Alex set out to make Uzbek barbeque. In his quest for the right beef/lamp/charcoal/spices he realized the key ingredient is missing- fat! I lack terminology here, but there are fat-rump sheep that store a lot of delicious fat in the behinds. Because of the poor knowledge of cooking jargon and the limited knowledge of the English language from the side of supermarket employees- we approached the butchers’ asking for “the fat from the ass of the sheep”. The expressions on their faces were almost as priceless as actually finding what we needed!

In Oman, and I believe this is a Lebanese trend, minced meat is eaten raw. Combined with spices, salt and sandwiched into pita bread, it actually takes alright and does not have any of that “uncooked” meat smell. It took me over 5 years to gather up the courage to try this dish. I have since been very loyal to “cooked” minced meat, like in spaghetti bolognaise for example.

These extremes do gross me out and I wanted to convert to vegetarianism on several occasions and give up meat and chicken all together (not the seafood- I am concerned- not crazy!), but have always failed because I would still cook for him. What kind of a vegetarian would I be if I still stood there savoring the smell of a nice juicy steak that I am cooking for Alex. Not a very dedicated one, that’s for sure. It is a life style that is very hard to pull off alone. Back in school I and Cynthia saw an advertisement that melted our hearts and converted us for a full day to salad and rice:

Unfortunately nuggets just tasted too damn good. We have not looked back since.

Day 44. Steak Fridays.

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Bikers are energetic beings. Their meals have to be rich in Vitamin A,B,C,D,E which are all found in red meat and poultry. Folic acid is also a must, for all those scrapes and scratches to heal faster. I doubt there are any vegetarians amongst them. They require a lot of nutrition, but no nonsense such as soups or broths.
The truth about a biker’s nutrition plan:

• It’s not morning unless there is coffee

• It’s not coffee if it has milk in it. It is a Starbucks lie.

• If it’s not fried- then it’s not cooked.

• If it’s not beer, then it is not a beverage.

• Meat always wins over chicken.

• Chicken is hardly a dish on its own.

• It is possible to have 16 oz steak, with chicken as a side dish (and fries).

• Broccoli, spinach and cabbage- these are not food. They are garden weeds.

• The redder the better.

• The portion is only big enough when the plate can no longer be seen.

• Ribs and chops are “teasers”, bring on the whole shoulder.

• Sushi <—-where is the meat in that?

• Garden green salads <—-where is the meat in that?

• Seafood- not red, not fried, not lean- not a dinner option.

• A side dish cannot be boiled, grilled or slow cooked. It must be fried, or it will be thrown.

• It is not curry unless you cry when you eat it.

• It is not pasta unless its topped with bacon/cream/mince meat/all of the above.

• A bar of chocolate is not dessert, but a kg of chocolate is.

Day 43. Lebanese food Thursdays

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As far as family traditions go, we don’t have many. Except for weekends. There is a tucked-away, secluded little Lebanese Restaurant in Oman called “Shams” (sun). The cafe is always full of Lebanese families, hyper active spoiled children, elder men playing table (shish besh), and a younger crowd smoking sheesha. The place is not classy, do not expect a silk napkin to be placed on your lap. In fact, don’t expect your order to be on time, or for the waiter to remember not to add sugar to your fresh pineapple juice. Go there merely to eat, to experience the cuisine and turn off ignore every urge to scream when a fly lands on your spoon.My dad has a soft spot for this place; it’s his man-cave if you will. Hence we end up there once or twice a week. We usually end up there on Fridays when they serve a wide variety of local finger-licking seafood. If you are ever in Oman, have the fish- all the fish. Try all it has to offer. You will never taste anything like it, anywhere else. The place is also a favorite of Alex’s because I refuse to fry ocean fish at home. It stinks. And the stink clings on with a vicious strength to every curtain and piece of furniture in the house. It’s just so much easier to go out and have fried fish. As for Lebanese food, that is available in Shams every other day of the week. From pastries to grilled chicken- it is the best Lebanese food in town. The picture is a little blurry, I didn’t have my good camera with me and I was too hungry to zoom in properly:

The 3 day Detox plan that took a week.

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Day 38.I was on a crazy mission to Detox. From what exactly? I don’t know. I am not McDonald’s obsessed; I don’t eat a lot of chocolate or meat. But I just wanted to…feel fresh from the inside. Does that make sense? I think it’s the 48 degree heat that was getting to me. I tore out pages from magazines suggesting a healthier life style, I googled healthy meal plans. I  even bought Kellogg’s extra-fibre-extra-cruchy-sugarless-tasteless cornflakes to begin my day. I stuffed the refrigerator with veggies and fruits to survive on during the lunch time, and dug out that long forgotten box of camomile tea I had. The rules were simple- no alcohol, no sugar, no coffee, no bread, no fried foods, no junk food… you see where I am going with this? It was actually a lot easier than I thought, I drank tons of water during the day, I had juice when I was feeling hungry and salad at regular meals. Of course, combined with the gym factor- I immediately felt- sick. My body did not appreciate the health crash course- it gave me everything from muscle spasms to splitting migraines, but I stayed on track. It is actually quite easy to stick to the plan and munch on carrots instead of Tortilla chips and drink warm water instead of Fanta. But just for 3 days…tops.

Day 36. I love my genes…

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ProCook books. Who needs them when you have genes like mine? The women in my family are astonishing cooks, everyone who has ever tasted anything my mom or grandma has cooked- positively agree that the dishes are incomparable and the flavors are indescribable. It just feels great to whip up a fresh, homemade meal regardless of whether it takes 15 minutes or 1 hour and 15 minutes. I overcame my “kitchen phobia” when I was about 17. Cynthia and I were roommates then, we lived alone and frankly one of us had to cook to survive. Cynthia decided to be on the receiving end of this deal, I experimented with my grilling/frying/sautéing skills- and she was brave enough to try whatever I had to offer. On it went from traditional Russian borsh to good old pizzas, Christmas Turkeys and every appetizer that a university student could afford. I frequently hosted house parties, Christmases and birthdays. I loved being in the kitchen. I loved the stress, the time constrains and the experiments. It was exciting. And oh boy, it was so useful when I got married. To this day, we hardly eat out. Our breakfasts consist of pastries, cornflakes and coffee. Lunch is prepared the day before, everything from Spaghetti Bolognaise to Chinese Chicken Corn Soup.

Dinner is where I get to experiment, so what if I just got out of a 9 hour work shift- all the tension and the problems of the day melt away on the stove…

I never try the food while I am cooking, literally I never taste for salt, pepper or other spices. I just drop whatever I instinctively feel like, and my intuition has not failed me once.

“That’s why I don’t wear a chef’s coat. I don’t even wear an apron. At home, I wipe my hands on my coat, I burn my fingers, and it doesn’t look perfect. But it is my food. It’s the real deal….I’m happy that way.” Rachel Ray