Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

It is the middle of November, and we have been blasted by a northeaster, and are up to our armpits in snow over ice over snow over ice. The van is parked in the driveway, and will probably stay there until March, but this is ok, since we can't get it to start anyway, and haven't a clue why. The 4-wheel drive vehicle has also been ill, and was started by some special starter fluid that friend Art brought over. So we got down to the general store for cat food and sugar. On the way back from town, we passed a house that had a dead deer hanging from a tree in the front yard. Today, you see, is the first day of deer hunting season, and we hate it. The weather doesn't help the animals either.

My mother has been sick all week with some kind of evil cold that simply won't go away, and she is barking like a seal. I hope that she gets well soon, as she is an impossible patient. She keeps getting up to do stuff and getting dizzy. I tell her that she is dizzy anyway.

We are better off than so many; we have heat and power, and finally we have transportation too. This place is so gorgeous, and so deadly. Makes you wonder why beauty is so often lethal.

We had to knock the ice off the satellite dish last night, and my wobbly Mom on a stepladder with a broom in her hand in the middle of an ice/snow storm is one scary sight. So, once again, we have TV. We also have phone, or you wouldn't be reading this. During our trip downtown, we drove through scenes from The Nutcracker Suite. Arches of snow and ice-laden trees above the road... unfortunately many of them have been broken in half by the weight of the ice, including on in our driveway. Not broken yet, just bent to the ground, but it doesn't look promising for that poor little hardwood.

But we are home, and warm, and very glad to be that way.

We have a dear friend from Long Island, who has kindly provided us with some of her favorite recipes, any or all of which can be used as part of a Holiday Feast.

There are all too few special friends in one's life, but Lee is one of ours, and we count ourselves fortunate to know her.

So, Lee, as promised, here are the recipes that you were kind enough to share. I hope that they will remind everyone of the days when home for the holidays was the usual place to be. It certainly is the place where I want to be just now.


    Hi.... Gosh I miss you two...

    Now.... I want Victoria to know that I am so honored to be part of her column. One of my favorite things is Eggplant Parmigianna.

    But let me tell you about a

    Macaroni Pie

    Macaroni Pie that I grew up with. It is a favorite still today. My grandma used to save bits of boxes of macaroni and spaghetti and when she got about a pound or so, she would cook it up ... starting with the thickest ones first down to the thinnest last so they would all cook al dente at the same time.

    A little overcooked did not hurt either. She would then drain the mixed pasta and put it back in the pot. Then she would add salt and pepper ... a little heavy on the pepper, 6 beaten eggs (do not let the pasta be so hot that it would scramble the eggs), and lots of grated Romano cheese ... at least 1/2 cup or more until it tasted like it should. We did not worry about raw eggs at that time. It should be blended together very well.

    Then she would put olive oil in a cast iron skillet ... and when the oil was heated she would put all the pasta in the pan til it filled almost to the top. You would hear it sizzle and the smell while cooking made your mouth water. She would constantly shake the pan in a quick jerk so that the pasta would not stick ... and you could see it turn. She'd cook it on medium heat til the bottom was nicely browned, but not burnt and then... she did her magic trick... she would put a round platter over the pan and with one quick turn of the wrist transfer the spaghetti pie to the platter and just as quickly put it back into the pan uncooked side down.

    Now... she kept it on the stove til she knew the insides were well done and bonded together with the eggs so that it would slice nicely. But I have heard that this was a good time to put it in a hot oven to finish cooking til the bottom was nicely browned also. By brown I mean a nice golden brown ... not burnt looking brown. I would eat this hot, cold, warm, any way it was!

    As for the

    Eggplant Parmigianna

    eggplant ... I do peel them, but do not salt them and let them drain the way some people do. I have never found it to be bitter. Peel, slice about 1/2 inch or so, then dredge in flour, beaten egg, and seasoned bread crumbs. Fry them quickly just til done. Set them aside on open paper bags on a cookie sheet to drain. Finish all the eggplant like that.

    Make a marinara sauce (or buy a large jar of Classico or Progresso, add a little more oregano). Then add a layer of sauce, a layer of eggplant slices ... grated or sliced mozzarella on each eggplant slice; then sauce on top of those and then some grated romano sprinkled over ... and repeat this process til all the eggplant is used up. I like to end with the mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350-375 for about 30 minutes or til the cheese is melted and top is nicely browned. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before slicing so it does not run all over the plate.

    Lately, I have been making a quickie recipe. I slice the eggplant rather thick, place the slices on an olive oiled cookie sheet, spray a little oil over each slice and bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven and lower the heat to 350. Meanwhile, get a glass oblong baking dish and put a layer of sauce down, then a layer of eggplant, then some more sauce , then mozzarella ... and make layered stacks like that. Bake the mixture for 20 minutes at 350. Add good crusty Italian bread or foccaccia, and a green salad to make a yummy dinner.

    Another of my very favorite things is

    Asparagus Quiche

    Asparagus Quiche. I buy ready-made 9-inch pie crust. Prebake it for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Steam some asparagus spears that have been sliced into inch and a half pieces. Layer the asparagus on the bottom of the pie crust. Combine 1 cup of grated Swiss cheese with 1 tablespoon of flour and sprinkle that over the asparagus. In a medium bowl, beat together 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of half and half, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of grated Romano or parmesan cheese. Pour that over the ingredients in the pie shell and bake in preheated 350 degree oven 35 to 40 minutes or til a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. PS... I like a little more Swiss in it too. Enjoy.

    Love to you both,

Love to you, Lee, and thanks!

Vicky and Mom