There is nothing quite like the exquisite flavor of a moment of solitude and peace, that golden moment when one reflects on life and refreshes their spirit; and when coupled with freshly prepared Eggplant Parmesan Stacks, it becomes a nourishing and comforting moment for the soul and the body.
I’m glad to say that it is not very often at all that my husband must travel for work; but occasionally, his job requires him to be a part of a special project that takes him out of town for just a couple of days.
My husband and I truly are one another’s best friend; and when we have to be apart for even a day or two, we get a little sappy, and miss one another’s company, camaraderie, and conversation so very much.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret: those moments that we are apart make us that much closer, and make each and every day that we do spend together taste that much richer and fulfilling.
Even a brief time apart creates a space that is then filled with bubbling gratitude for the life that we do have together, and for the blessings that our relationship brings to both of our lives. And that can be a beautiful thing!
So during my husband’s recent little two-day out-of-towner, I decided to make use of the quiet time that I would have, and take advantage of spending a little quality time with myself, listening to my own heart and my own soul whisper in the quiet peace of a golden evening in order to bring fresh perspective, which in turn enriches all of the areas of my life.
It was early afternoon on a Sunday, and with some of the odds and ends around the house completed, I still had several hours of free time before the darker hues of evening set in.
The air was crisp and clear, and the light had a warm, inviting, golden glow, which beckoned me out into it to walk, slowly, quietly, and deliberately, with my Creator, and just be present enough to allow my spirit to speak with Him and to hear His responses to me; to feel His presence around me, and to experience the coolness of the autumn breeze on my skin in all of its simplicity.
I felt alive, and grateful to be; I felt uplifted and free, sensitive to all of the various little sounds of birds chirping, parrots squwaking, leaves rustling as squirrels ran through them, and of the breeze flowing through arbor-like trees that had already begun to turn a golden-red hue against a clear blue sky.
It was simply divine.
A time of contemplation, of meditation, is a gift; it is a golden moment, as delicious as a crispy stack of freshly-fried, savory, and saucy Eggplant Parmesan, ever so comforting, sustaining, and nourishing to one’s soul.
It is a deeper sort of “food” for a human being, a food that fills a deeper desire and need, one that must be partaken of whenever it is possible to do so.
After spending as much time as I wanted sitting on a bench watching the sun slowly dip down and begin its descent to make way for the moon that would come much later, I felt a deep contentment wash over me, an inner joy; and in that silence, I could feel my connection to my hubby, even though he was away.
I knew that everything was exactly as it should be, and that I was not really alone.
There’s nothing quite as delicious as that golden moment when a soul fully connects to the truth and simplicity that is present in life. All one need do is become available to it, and to heed its call.
What a necessary thing it is to realize that being in the peace and quiet of physical “aloneness” is not such a terrible place to find one’s self, but rather it is a golden opportunity to hear one’s questions about life, feel one’s breath as it exits and enters, and to hear the Divine’s answers and revelations whispered on the breeze as it rustles through the yellow-red leaves.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• 1 medium-size eggplant, sliced into 12 slices about ¼ -½” thick
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• ¾ cup flour
• 3 eggs, whisked with a touch of water
• 1 ¼ cups panko bread crumbs
• ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
• Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
• Marinara sauce (you can use jarred, or try my simple homemade marinara)
• 2 cups grated or shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
• Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
-Place the eggplant circles onto a large baking sheet, or work surface, and liberally sprinkle some salt and black pepper, plus the Italian seasoning and the red pepper flakes evenly over the front and back of the circles; allow the eggplant to rest while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
-Set up your coating/dredging area by adding the flour to a large bowl, having your whisked eggs in large bowl next, and in a third bowl, combining the panko breadcrumbs and the parmesan.
-Preheat your oven to 350°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
-Take each eggplant slice and dip it into the flour, then the egg wash, and finally in the panko/parmesan mixture, pressing the slices to make sure that the coating sticks; place the slices onto another large baking sheet to hold while you repeat the process with the rest of the slices.
-Once your eggplant slices are coated, heat enough oil on the bottom of a large skillet to cover, or to come up about ½” or so (for shallow frying); once the oil is hot (keep the heat on medium-high or medium), begin adding in a batch of coated eggplant slices, and fry each for about 5 minutes on the first side, and about 3-4 minutes on the second side, or until a deep, golden-brown, and crisp.
-Place the fried slices onto the prepared, foil-lined baking sheet, or onto a rack over a baking sheet.
-Once all slices are fried, add a couple of spoonfuls of marinara sauce to each eggplant slice, then top with some of the shredded mozzarella cheese, and place into the oven just until the cheese is melted and bubbly about 5 minutes.
-To serve, place three slices of the eggplant parmesan slices onto a plate in a stack, then top with a little more marinara if desired, plus some fresh basil, and serve. (This can be served with pasta, or a green salad on the side.)