Frugal cooking: Making crispy eggplant and roasting peppers; also, fish

Even though it’s hot, I cooked today, meaning: baked.

You gotta do what you have to do.

It had been a while, making do on the stove, eating cereal, sandwiches, cold salads. It’s summer.

But at some point you do have to bite the bullet and turn on the oven and this morning was that time.

It all starts at Kroger. If you hit the reduced produce section at the right time, i.e. just as they stock it, it looks like this:

The cart is not my cart. It’s part of the reduced section, an overflow that would not fit on the regular shelves.

Anything in a red net bag is 99 cents. I bought a bag of red peppers and a bag of orange peppers. I got a bag of lemons, a bag of two eggplants, two trays of cherry tomatoes- one red and one orange- and regular tomatoes.

See? They look perfectly fine. Usually red peppers are $1 each or even more. In the bag they are 33 cents. I saved $12 on produce with what I got.

Anyway, if I buy the reduced produce I am essentially making a commitment to it, both as a promise not to waste food, not to deny someone else the opportunity to buy fresh produce for a good price, and also to financially shepherd my resources well. So that means use it/cook it/eat it in some way.

The produce is the first stop. Depending on what I can get, I make my menu from there. Sometimes soon I’ll get a shallow dish frozen pie crust and make a red pepper tartlet. For now, I roasted the peppers and I’ll use them in antipasto and in scrambled eggs.

I cut them up into strips, toss them with oil, salt, and pepper, and roast till soft and the edges are brown.

Since I got tomatoes and eggplants, I’d decided to bake the eggplants and use the crisp rounds in sandwiches. I’ll need cheese. I headed over to the reduced cheese section

Mozzarella and provolone are both great with eggplant. I went to the reduced cheese section and what did I find? Mozzarella and provolone. 50% off, down from $4 to $1.99. There’s enough to even make a casserole later if I want. Since I already cooked the eggplants, making a casserole would not take long, essentially I just need to heat it through and melt the cheese. I bought a tiny can of tomato sauce just in case I want to do that later in the week.

Here is how I bake eggplant. Cut into rounds. You can peel or not peel. I peel. Sometimes I peel each round after I slice them or sometimes I peel the whole eggplant first.

Dip rounds in egg scrambled with milk, and then bread crumbs. 2 eggs were enough with the two eggplants. Do not use a fork. Once you pierce the eggplant, whether frying or baking, it makes the eggplant round soggy as the oil or the egg-milk mixture seeps into the flesh. Use tongs or your fingers to dredge and turn over the rounds. You can add spices like oregano or salt-pepper to the bread crumb mixture, also Parmesan cheese too. Or you can sprinkle your preferred seasoning over the cookie sheet rounds.

I try to maximize space by filling the cookie sheet but also try to have the rounds not touch each other or overlap. It causes uneven cooking. As the baking process progresses, the eggplants shrink since the heat evaporates the water int he flesh. So if they are touching a little bit, that’s OK. They’ll each be an island unto themselves soon enough, lol.

Two smallish eggplants filled three cookie sheets (of varying size). Bake until crisp on one side then flip. Depending on your oven and the temperature you bake them at (I go 375) it might take 7-10 min on one side then 5-7 on the other.

Yum! Crispy eggplant! I pop two or three of these onto some crispy bread, a couple slices of tomato, and cheese and make a panini on the griddle. You can also use tomato sauce and make a sub sandwich. Or just eat them on the side as a vegetable. You can re-crisp them in the toaster oven, on a griddle, or bake or roast for a few minutes.

I drifted over to the fish section and got a stuffed crab for $1, a salmon filet for $2 (2 meals), and a tilapia filet for $1.35 (fish chowder, 3 meals). 3 proteins for $4.35 and will last for 6 meals.

Tomorrow I’ll reveal a cute, perfect, zen cabin in a bamboo garden I plan to vacation in next spring!

Best Sports Movies

I don’t like sports, and I rarely/barely played a sport. I was good at tennis, but never played on a team, just the community court after 5:00 when it was free. Also, I was center fielder on a field hockey team for one season, I was OK. That’s it. I don’t watch sports on TV or go to any sporting events.

When I was growing up, the Wide World of Sports on Saturdays was the sports show to watch. I think it was the ONLY sports show to watch, except for Monday Night Football. Remember, this was before cable.

The rotation on WWoS was indeed wide From gymnastics to figure skating to wrestling to swimming & diving to track & field to bowling. You heard me. Bowling. The IMDB summary of the show is:

ABC’s weekend extravaganzas about everything that can be called a sports event.

I also remember the Wide World of Sports intro with Jim McKay intoning “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”, and the agony was always shown a clip of a ski jumper crashing ignominiously. (Czech jumper Vinko Bogataj). As Jim McKay said, Vinko appeared on WWoS more than anyone else.

Amazingly, for the few times I actually watched a sporting event, I was lucky enough to see several thrilling and memorable moments live as they happened.

1976: Nadia Comeneci earned the first perfect ten in gymnastics history. It was great.
1980: The US Hockey team beat the Russian team. “Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!”
1984: Doug Flutie’s hail Mary pass to win Boston College over the Miami Hurricanes.
1974-1981: Bjorn Borg. Just any and all tennis with Bjorn Borg. He was an amazing athlete.

For all my sports-avoidance, it seems I’ve watched quite a few sports movies in life, lol. Cool Runnings was fun (Jamaican bobsled team with John Candy), and Bull Durham, (baseball with Kevin Costner) Tin Cup (golf, Costner again) and The Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio) were all pretty good.

I know a lot of people insist on putting Chariots of Fire (track) and Rudy (football) on their lists but I’ve tried several times and have never been able to get through either of them. I absolutely hated Field of Dreams. I hated it at the time and I hate it now. It’s a stupid, stupid movie. Obviously it is not on my list.

But some sports movies are great, just great. No other word for it. Here are some of those sports movies that I consider worth watching. Not all are feel good. (Moneyball). Not all of them have the team win at the end (Rocky anyone?). Hoop Dreams is a documentary. But all of them have something to say, especially the ones based on real events, which is to say, most of them.

Rocky (Boxing)
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect. With Sylvester Stallone. He also wrote the film.

Hoosiers (Basketball)
Based on a true story. A coach with a checkered past and a local drunk train a small town high school basketball team to become a top contender for the championship. With Gene Hackman.

The Blind Side (Football)
With Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. Based on a true story, The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

Remember the Titans (Football)
The true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit. With Denzel Washington.

Hoop Dreams (Basketball)
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

Moneyball  (Baseball)
Based on a true story and the book of the same name. Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players. With Brad Pitt.

The Sandlot  (Baseball)
In the summer of 1962, a new kid in town is taken under the wing of a young baseball prodigy and his rowdy team, resulting in many adventures. Inspired by a true story, albeit one that was in real life a bit darker- so the writer changed his own history by writing The Sandlot.

Eddie the Eagle (Ski Jumping)
The story of Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics. With Taron Egerton.

Splinters (Surfing)
Splinters is the first feature-length documentary film about the evolution of indigenous surfing in the developing nation of Papua New Guinea. In the 1980s an intrepid Australian pilot left behind a surfboard in the seaside village of Vanimo. Twenty years on, surfing is not only a pillar of village life but also a means to prestige. With no access to economic or educational advancement, let alone running water and power, village life is hermetic. A spot on the Papua New Guinea national surfing team is the way to see the wider world; the only way. Surfing. You can see this film for free at Snagfilms.com

We Are Marshall (Football)
When a plane crash claims the lives of members of the Marshall University football team and some of its fans, the team’s new coach and his surviving players try to keep the football program alive. Matthew McConaughey.

I’ll leave it to you to check imdb.com reviews (general movie reviews/expert movie reviews) or Common Sense Media (reviews from a parent and family perspective) or World Movie Reviews (reviews from a Christian perspective) to decide if the movies I’ve listed and recommended suit your preferences or match your family viewing habits.

There are a lot of movies out there that are good to watch with a thought provoking story to tell, even if you’re like me and don’t like sports!

Trip report: Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble

A couple of weeks ago I joined a day tour that was going by bus to 7 abandoned and rural eastern Georgia churches. We were told we would receive a short program at each of the 7 churches on the 120 mile trip, plus lunch, and all the photo ops we’d want.

mt zion preacher reenactor porch

It was all they had advertised, and more. The organizers, Lake Oconee Chamber of Commerce plus chamber organizations among 5 counties (that we’d travel through) set this new tour up so well I can’t say enough good. Here is their official website explaining the outing. They have by now added photos of the ramble.

Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble
The inaugural Historic Pews and Pulpits Ramble in rural east Georgia was huge success. The tour originated and terminated in Greensboro and featured seven Historic Rural Churches of Georgia. The 53-person group examined and photographed the exteriors and interiors of each rural church, while hosts at each location shared histories through lecture, song, and period costuming. Photos from the day are featured below. A second tour is being planned for the fall. For more information complete the contact form at the bottom of this page.

I loved it. It was so interesting to get a perspective of each of the congregations and their impact during their time. Some churches were organized in the late 1700s, and others in the 1800s. If you click on the links below, it will take you to a short write up from Historic Rural Churches of GA site on each church.

We visited

Wrightsboro Methodist in McDuffie County
Antioch Baptist in Taliaferro County
Locust Grove Catholic in Taliaferro County
Penfield Baptist of Greene County
Mt Zion Presbyterian of Hancock County
Powelton Methodist of Hancock County
Barnett Methodist of Hancock County

Here is a link to my Flickr album of all my pics of the churches. I wish I could insert a photo album or a slide show into a blog entry on WordPress, but I can’t figure out how to do that. If anyone knows, please let me know.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/esiena/albums/72157685144692155

The Chamber is already planning another Ramble for the fall. This summer one was sold out, 53 people plus several Chamber workers and a couple of the historians attended so I think the bus was at capacity at nearly 60. It only cost $45 which was a steal for a 7 hour tour, 7 programs (one at each church), plus lunch and snacks. The participants were given a charming booklet of all the churches’ blurbs, held together by a woven gold tassel. The edges of each page were even gilt! They also provided to us a gift bag of chamber materials, booklets, and golf balls. Wow.

booklet

The weather cooperated. It was overcast the first half, which was great both for summer temperatures and taking photos. The last church or two it started to get hot, which is an issue because of course none of the churches are air conditioned. But it was all good. The bus had AC 🙂

It was sad to see the state of decline of some of the churches, abandoned and neglected, their congregation having drifted away or died. Other churches, though abandoned, were carefully being restored by volunteers with a connection to the church, whether loving its history or having had family who grew up in it.

Overall though, the empty church buildings showed me that churches come and go. Some lucky ones lasted over a hundred years. Other churches died when the railroad went in another direction, or its people simply drifted away to Atlanta or other greener pastures.

The seven letters to 7 churches in Revelation show us that Jesus is intimately involved with his local congregations. Some congregations die because they deserve to, some die because they have gloriously served their eternal purpose. However the church triumphant is eternal. Every saved person who had attended one of these historic churches, whether it was 1793, 1899, or 1950, will be in heaven praising the Lamb who raised up his home church, in which he or she had served Him of the everlasting Gospel.

Lesley Stowe crackers, and other things

Summer is still good. I still love it. I don’t get bored. It’s endlessly interesting, wonderful, and relaxing.

It’s been one month, and I have another month to go. School begins again on July 31. However, I do have two days upcoming which are dedicated to professional development, two half-day educational classes on July 17 and July 18.

I’ve been reading and exulting in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I say exulting, because of the poetic language and the varied types of language, never mind the riveting story. All excited, I watched Ron Howard’s 2015 movie In the Heart of the Sea, based on the true events that inspired Moby Dick- the wreck of the whaleship Essex which was stove in by an angry sperm whale. Half the story is the sinking, the other half is the survival in open boat for 90 days in the middle of the Pacific. The movie is also riveting. Moby Dick is THE Great American Novel.

I also started The Son, by Philipp Meyer. It’s a television series now, or so I understand, but usually like the book better so I started there. As a McMurtry fan, and a fan of The American West in general, this one had me hooked at the opening line. It’s a spare retelling of a fictional son of a scion family who was kidnapped by Indians and raised among them in their culture. It’s early days but I like it a lot.

I also have been given a wonderful resource, the website of Dr Abner Chou of The Master’s University is a profoundly insightful lecturer and I am going through Job with him. Here is his Expositors Wiki, with the following lectures available:

  • 2 Samuel
  • Acts
  • Biblical Interpretations
  • Biblical Theology
  • Deuteronomy
  • Ephesians
  • Ezekiel
  • Greek Exegesis
  • Job
  • Minor Prophets
  • Zechariah
  • Biblical Theology of Vision
  • Job 2014
  • Gospel of Luke 2014
  • 2 Timothy/Pastoral Epistles
  • Hebrews
  • Advanced Hermeneutics

One thing I did which was to satisfy a goal on my list, was edit the 200 photos I took on my Church Pews & Pulpits Ramble, traveling over 120 miles in eastern rural Georgia to learn about the history of 7 historic and abandoned churches. It was great. I have tried to find a way to post multiple photos on Blogger, such as a slide show embedded within a post, but it’s not possible as far as I have seen. So I will post a review of the trip with a link to my Flickr folder with the photos, tomorrow.

A family at church has a large garden, so you know what that means. They share and I’m a happy recipient. This past Sunday I got an eggplant, two yellow squashes, and a green pepper. I made a saute: as depicted.

Saute onion, green pepper in salt and olive oil:

When the onions are golden and the peppers are soft, I added cubed eggplant, more salt and pepper, a bit more olive oil, and covered until eggplant were soft.

I use it as a sandwich filling, added to spaghetti or penne, or just as a warm salad on the side.

At Kroger grocery store I am always on the lookout for deals. There are a lot. One kind of deal is the WOO-HOO sticker. It alerts the shopper to an item that is about to expire or perhaps is being phased out. Usually, expired. I found these in an organic section the other day. I had never seen them before. I love crackers though so I took a chance. They are Lesley Stowe fig and kalamata olive cracker crisps. They were only 99 cents so, I figured it was worth a chance.

I LOVED them! Curious, I looked them up on Amazon in case I wanted to buy them in the future. I was astounded to learn they sell (depending on vendor) for between $10-30 per box! The next time I passed by Kroger, I bought three more boxes. If there are still more next time remaining on the shelf as there were yesterday, I’ll buy more. Look for the woohoo sticker. It appears on just about anything, from milk and yogurt to produce bags (like shredded lettuce or spinach) to boxed non-perishables.

Another deal is produce in a red net bag. Any item in the bag costs 99 cents. Yesterday I got three red peppers. Since red peppers are usually $1 for one, or more than $1, these at 33 cents per pepper were a good deal.

The peppers are fine, not wrinkled and no spots or mold. One time I saw the produce clerk loading up the spot where they put the bags, and I thanked her profusely for the ability to buy quality produce at a low price, She said “It helps us too. We hardly ever have to throw anything away.”

Another deal I’d gotten last week was three turnips. One, I simply peeled raw and cut up into matchsticks. I added matchstick carrots, and some lime juice and salt and made a salad out of it. The other two turnips, I peeled and cut into fries, tossed in oil, salt and pepper and baked. They got brown but didn’t get crunchy like potato fries do. But they were still very good. Sorry I don’t have an ‘after’ photo.

turnip fries

This weekend when I go shopping again I’ll buy some cans of black beans and make a red pepper, green pepper, cilantro and black bean salad with avocado. It’s filling, healthy and good.

This week I’ve enjoyed a visit from a returning college student who is attending The Master’s University in CA, and attended an ice cream social at another friend’s house. Just to prove I’m not a total recluse, lol.

Last night upon returning home I watched circling birds prepare to roost…enjoyed the cool night air and heard owls late in the wee hours…snuggled with my two cats, one at a time…watched cute clips on Youtube of babies escaping cribs or babies walking around with a bucket on their head, or kittens playing and so on.

I’m appreciative of everything the Lord has given me and grateful for everything He has not given me. Life is good.

Movie Review: Autistic Driving School

Autistic Driving School is a 2010 one-hour documentary on Netflix (and perhaps other places too) highlighting Julia Malkin’s founding of a UK driving school that caters to teaching autistic people how to drive. Malkin is autistic herself.

With a driving license comes freedom, something most people want. For autistic teens and young adults however, the challenges of learning to drive safely can seem insurmountable, especially if receiving an instructor with no knowledge of how to teach to their special needs. As was stated in the movie, Autistic people are literal, so there’s no saying ‘take the next left’ because they’re likely to wind up in someone’s garden. Some autistic people do not take instruction or correction well. While some can become excessively distracted, following anything and everything that interests them like a rabbit, others hardly notice anything around them, both of which are a problem when driving. The possibility of becoming overwhelmed and having a meltdown while driving is real. And more.

In comes Julia Malkin.

A woman with autism herself, Julia suffered through years of bullying in school, attempted suicide twice, one at age 16 and another at age 18, suffered through a nervous breakdown at 18, and lived as an adult by subsisting on dead end jobs…until….

Her diagnosis at age 40.

Since then, following her diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, Julia started up Excel Driver and Instructor Academy, which expanded rapidly and now helps people with autism learn to drive, provides education support and offers counselling, is still the only one of its kind in the UK.

She has achieved highest honors for her profession as the safest driver in England, earning an OBE, which is “The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry; rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the Civil Service.”

According to the information given at the link, Julia attained four degrees in six years at two separate universities between 2008 and 2015 and became a Doctor of Philosophy, and founded another course of training to train Driving Instructors to teach autistic clients. The UK National Autistic Society shortlisted her as one of three finalists for the National Autistic Society’s award for outstanding achievement by a professional with an autism spectrum disorder.

Wow.

If you listen to Julia on the documentary it’s obvious she is brilliant. She is articulate, passionate, and her powers of observation are astounding. At one point during the movie, she’d been asked to speak out loud what goes through her mind as she drives down the road…her observations of her surroundings combined with lightning fast sifting of that information was remarkable.

The documentary wasn’t about Julia directly though. With sensitivity and compassion, several youths were featured in their process of the two-pronged driving training they must go through to attain a license. There is the book test and the on the road test. Several candidates were followed. Each student spoke of the special challenges unique to autistic drivers, according to the student him or herself, or according to their parents. One young main has set a goal for himself to become a Military Transport driver, so of course passing his first license test was important. But a wrinkle to his story is that his doctor had recommended taking a certain prescription medication for his OCD, but if one is on or has ever taken such a drug, it would immediately disqualify him for ever entering the military in the UK. He had a dilemma. He decided to forego the medication, but the result was he’d have to work even harder to manage his condition while he was on the road.

A 22 year old mother had earned her licence a few years prior, but had lost her nerve to drive. Another, a set of twins, create crafts and wanted to found a business of traveling town to town to fairs and such, selling them.

They all wanted freedom and independence that a driving license would provide.

I found the documentary instructive and interesting. It was produced and edited in such a way that you pull for the students and cheer the inspiring story of Julia. With so little attention paid to adults with Autism, and with so few generally inspiring stories around, this was a documentary I’d recommend as a DON’T MISS!

This is part of the documentary, ‘Autistic Driving School’ which was broadcast on BBC3. It tells the story of Julia Malkin, the most qualified driving instructor in the UK. It shows her battle with autism and her mission of inclusion in education both inside and outside the driver training industry.

Deconstructing letters

In cleaning out my bookshelf I rediscovered an old project I’d done. It was from the 1999 Paper & Book Intensive, a long weekend of projects and instruction from Masters on all aspects of papermaking and book binding. It was held at the picturesque location of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts at Blue Hill, Maine.

I can’t believe it’s been almost 20 years. I just can’t believe it. /smh/ I’m getting old.

Anyway, the class was led by Suzanne Moore, called “Still Life with Letters.” The blurb had said, “This course will give students new possibilities for page, book, and cover design using letters as visual subject. Students will begin with traditional typographic and written letters, and by abstraction, invention, repetition, and manipulation create a series of unique designs appropriate for a variety of book applications. Unusual tools and a variety of coloring techniques will further expand the horizon.”

You know how, on the cooking shows, the chefs or contestants will sometimes “deconstruct meat loaf” and the dish they come up with has vestiges of traditional meat loaf but will be modern and updated? That was what we were supposed to do with letters. Deconstruct them, make them a design element, where you couldn’t necessarily see the letter it was, but you could tell it was a letter.

These aren’t spectacular but they are good for me at my skill level. It’s harder than one would think to deconstruct a letter but still keep vestiges of the letter. I think they are pretty. I should actually take them out of the envelope I’d made for them and use them in another project. That way I won’t forget them for another nearly 20 years!

Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble: My upcoming excursion

The Warren County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a historic church tour in eastern rural Georgia. I signed up with a friend and I’m so excited! Here is what it involves:

Georgia’s Classic South Region is hosting a historic church tour called the Historic Pews and Pulpits Ramble on June 16, 2017. The bus will depart from the Greensboro Home Depot at 9 a.m. and go through rural east Georgia. There will be seven stops along the way to tour historic churches tucked away but not forgotten. Not only will you get to go inside the churches and hear about their humble beginnings, you’ll be inspired by songs and words from some of the chancels and pulpits.

At each stop there will be a 30-minute presentation of the history of the church, the area, and some hymns. The Sacred Harp Singers of Atlanta will be part of the presentation at Wrightsboro Methodist Church!

Here are the 7 churches we will be visiting on the Heritage Tour:

Mount Zion Presbyterian Church, Sparta
Powelton Methodist Church Sparta
Antioch Baptist Church, Crawfordville
Wrightsboro Methodist Church, Thomson
Barnett Methodist Church, Norwood
Locust Grove Catholic Church, Crawfordville
Penfield Baptist Church, Union Point

Some of the churches are two hundred years old…the one with the towers was built by freed slaves…some are still in use, others in disrepair…it’s exciting and interesting. I’ve never been to this part of Georgia so it all will be new.

The tour goes from 9-3 on a Friday in mid-June. There will be lots and lots of photo opportunities the write-up says and I can see that this is true. I will need to bring lots of batteries for my camera!

I haven’t gone on a tour or excursion in almost ten years, so I’m very excited for this. Pray for good weather on June 16!

Information about Harp Singing, AKA Shape Note Singing, this historic form of singing hymns unique to the south (though it flowered briefly in New England prior to the Revolutionary War, it died out and was revived down south). Here are a few photos I took of a Harp Singing in Athens at the Botanical Gardens from 2007,

Yippee!