Monday, December 17, 2007

the small changes and the big bump(er)s

It's okay, I understand your confusion. You are standing on the street looking at our house (okay, our apartment) and you are just plain stumped. So let me explain.

Yes, that's the Toddles, washing windows. Someone, after all, needs to do it. And he seems to be having an absurd amount of fun, so I'm calling it Montessori-style education. Edu-tainment for the slacker, non-window washing mama? Edu-something, and I credit the ever-creative Zina with this one. So *that's* what you do with buckets once sandbox season is over! And rags - well, there's always rags around here. You might note, however, that while I provided the initial demonstration of rag and water-spritzing, that the adult begging the child not to soak the windows is not, in fact me. I happily demonstrated, collected happy child kudos, and left the ever-patient QG to the job.

And yes, that's my car with the bumper forlornly lying on the ground. Yes, and with the wires sticking out worryingly. Oh, and yes, the cute little PT Cruiser parked in front of it is also mine, courtesy of the nice folks at Enterprise and the rental coverage on our car insurance. Note also how nicely the street is plowed. Coincidence?

Oh, yes, silver linings abound. And it's awfully easy to see them from my nice, clean windows.

If you've been at our shabbat table any time in the past three weeks, you've probably eaten an adaptation of this. Here is our version of the recipe (minus zucchini/squash/peppers and simplified somewhat), with a very satisfied nod to Vanessa.

(Imperfected) Chickpea and Green Olive Tagine

2 cans chickpeas
2-3 onions, chopped small
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
olive oil as needed (about 1/4 cup)
1 large eggplant, diced (smaller is better, but I'm always in a hurry so mine are about 1 inch cubes)
1 big, big can of diced tomatoes or 4-5 medium tomatoes (corn allergic: watch out for ascorbic or citric acid! You're safer finding tinned tomatoes without those, or using a combination of tomato paste and fresh tomatoes)
2 cups green olives, or 1 can of the Beit Hashita pitted green Israeli olives (reserve a little of the liquid)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp paprika
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp salt
1/2 cup water (if reheating the next day for shabbat or as needed)

If you have one, this is a great time to use a wok or a good, big and deep nonstick sauteeing pan. If not, make it up - but you'll need extra oil if you don't have nonstick.

Saute onions and garlic until browning, then scrape to one side in the pan. Toss in eggplant, making sure that the eggplant is hitting the bottom of the pan and sauteeing nicely. The trick here is to only add as much eggplant as you have clear pan space for. Eggplant touching the base of the pan will get that nice seared surface, as opposed to simply steaming. If you are in a hurry, though, just chuck the eggplant in, stir a bit and move on. The dish will still be yummy and perfection is for people with extra time. Or patient children.

Add spices, and stir a bit. Then, dump in everything else. Cover and reduce the heat to low, let burble happily for about 15-20 minutes. The tomatoes (if you use fresh) will soften, the flavors will melt into each other. Stir occasionally to maintain culinary happiness and prevent burning. Stir more often if your pot isn't nonstick. Add water if the dish looks especially solid - you want a little soupiness.

Serve over rice.

Optional: in a hurry? measure your spices the night before.
want some pretty color? Toss a handful of chopped parsley, colorful bell pepper, scallion or avocado on top. Or, have prettily arranged any or all of these in bowls on the side, and let people decorate as it pleases them.

FYI: Harvard: a mom's review Heh.


Zina said...

Ah, street parking. ERGH! I am outraged on your behalf. That poor car bumper. That big, bad ole snow plow.

I am so glad the Toddles like the window washing. It is a joy to watch them, and to hear the 4 year old pride when the work is completed.

Yes, Montessori doesn't need the red rods, pink towers, and all the tweezers and such. I am so glad you are trying all this out.

mama o' the matrices said...

tweezers? Who said anything about tweezers?

ah, I see now - you are breaking me in slowly. Wise of you, dear one.

Vanessa said...

Looks great! Can't wait to try your version...