Monday, February 25, 2013

Eggplant & Heroes: Make 'Em Sweat

Last fall I posted Facebook photos of an eggplant dish I was making. Explained that I'd first peel, slice, and salt the eggplant to make it "sweat." Seriously. People had fun with that--someone even imagined a police-veggie interrogation scene. But it's true, I do salt the raw slices and let them sit for 30 min., allowing the juices to escape. Then rinse, blot dry. This step is said to take any bitterness away. And make them absorb less oil when baking or frying.  I'm a fan of "oven frying." And eggplant is wonderful for that.

Here's one of my favorite recipes: Oven Fried Eggplant

1/2 cup mayonnaise  (lately I use vegan)
1 Tbl. minced onion
12 slices  (or 1 lb.) eggplant, 1/2 inch thick
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
Cooking spray
Combine mayo and onion, stir well. 
Spread over both sides of eggplant slices
Combine bread crumbs, cheese, seasonings in shallow bowl
Dredge eggplant in crumb mixture
Place eggplant on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray
Bake:425 degrees 12 minutes, turn and bake approx 12 minutes more, until golden

The slices can be enjoyed as is with a marinara dip, as a side dish, or combined as part of another recipe. Below, you can see how I stacked them with polenta slices, fresh spinach, cheese, and a lovely pasta sauce.

And the finished product . . . yummy:

Wooden spoon hypothesis: To make things better, sometimes you have to make them sweat.

And that applies in fiction, too.  You've got to put those characters under pressure. Like in this scene from my upcoming release, RESCUE TEAM.  Our heroine, nurse director Kate Callison, cornered by the hospital attorney . . . 


“I’m not sure I understand what you’re suggesting,” Kate said, stomach churning. She leaned forward in her chair, staring across the desk at the youngest partner of the Lyon legal firm. “The police are trying to locate the mother of that baby. It’s only been one day. No one’s blaming the hospital.”

“Except for our self-appointed community health-care vigilante.” Barrett Lyon’s eyes, gray as his well-cut jacket, narrowed a fraction. “This person, Waiting for Care—”

“Compassion,” Kate corrected, suspecting the attractive attorney had none whatsoever.

 “ Waiting for Compassion. But the letters and online posts have only alluded to medical settings. No specific hospitals have been named.”

“Correct. And any number of Austin-area facilities could have discovered a newborn infant on a bathroom floor yesterday.” Despite the obvious barb, Barrett’s eyes softened. He sighed, splaying his hands on the desk. “Kate, I know this is last thing you need on your plate right now. 
Yes, it’s possible that the police will locate the mother who abandoned that baby and prosecute her. That would be good.”

Good? Kate tasted bile.

“But we have to be prepared if someone who may have standing in the case comes forward and accuses the hospital of wrongdoing. We need to look at the possibility of shared liability.  And at the chain of command within the emergency department.”

Kate swallowed. “Including me.”

Barrett was quiet for a moment. “Again, this is all necessary preparation. On the whole, designed to protect the hospital and the staff. I’m here for you, too, Kate.” He slid back his sleeve to check his watch. “It’s nearly lunchtime.” The gray eyes met hers and Barrett smiled, perfect teeth against a flawless tan. “We could discuss this further, say at the Shore View Grill?  Nice view. Been there yet?” 

“No,” Kate answered, uncomfortable on a whole new level. “I can’t leave. We’re short-staffed. I really should go check on things out there.”

“Of course.” Barrett stood. “I’ll be in touch . . ."

Kate opened her mouth, closed it. Pushed papers around on her desk until the hospital’s attorney was safely out the door. Then sat back down and propped her head in her hands. Lunch? The only thing on Kate’s menu today was a handful of antacids.

Yes, our heroine's up to her eyeballs in tragedy, legal pressure . . . . and more. You can bet she's sweating like salted eggplant. And, trust me, it will only get worse--before it gets better. My characters have to earn their happily-ever-after. 

So, it's a new week. What's cooking at your house? What are you reading? And fellow authors: Are you making your characters sweat?


Hutt-Write Voice said...

Rescue Team looks like another winner, and here I won't be reviewing for Tyndale any more, now that they've changed their international reviewers policies. But, no problem, I will be reading it at some point, maybe just not as hot of the press as with reviewing it.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

My eggplant for dinner tomorrow has a new destiny. :) Thanks, as usual, for the wonderful tips.

Michelle Prince Morgan said...

That looks yummy.