9.20.2016

Eggplant Tomato Pasta

I've been getting a lot of requests for our favorite freezer meals, so I started taking pictures while cooking them. Notice how minimalist the photos are? I'd like to say it's the new fad, but alas it's because I snapped these in between cooking large batches of food and fighting off my two boys who wanted to eat or play with the food amidst my photo session. Back to freezer meals... They save my life on a daily basis. Although they take a whole week of cooking and prep, that one week lasts me about 3-4 months, depending on how often I use them. Plus, I can use a lot of fresh summer produce to make meals that last until mid-winter.



One thing I love about the summer is fresh produce at the farmers' market. We go every Thursday, on my bike with kids in tow, and it feels almost surreal when I walk up to a vendor and say "the usual." This particular week one vendor had these beautiful eggplants and I knew I had to buy a few and make a freezer version of one of our favorite pasta dishes.
I have also become a convert to fresh herbs, so they go on everything. Whether you put the fresh basil in the pasta before the freezer or after, it doesn't matter. As long as you include it!

Eggplant Tomato Pasta

Adapted from Food Network
Makes 4 servings

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Coarse grained salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can peeled and crushed, or diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, optional
Salt and coarsely ground fresh black pepper
1/4 cup basil (about 10 leaves), torn
8 ounces bow tie pasta (farfalle), cooked al dente
Parmesan cheese for topping

Place eggplant in a colander and season generously with salt. Fill a 1-gallon plastic bag with water, seal tightly and place over eggplant to weigh down. Let stand for 40 minutes.

Rinse the salt off the eggplant, and pat dry. Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add eggplant and cook, stirring often, until golden brown on all sides, about 20 minutes.

Add garlic, tomatoes and their juice to the pan. Stir in the sugar and salt. Simmer until sauce has slightly thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes or longer depending on how juicy your tomatoes are. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the basil and cook 1 minute more. Serve over pasta.

To Freeze:
I usually make a triple batch and put the pasta in glass Pyrex containers. If you have the time and patience it's best to let the pasta cool on the counter, then in the fridge overnight. Wipe the extra condensation off the lids before transferring to the freezer. The lids on the Pyrex are plastic and I label the containers using a dry-erase marker. Discovering this was a game-changer for me :) These should last in the freezer for up to 3 months.

8.11.2016

Quebec City

Out trip to Quebec City was much easier than our trip to Montreal. We figured out a good traveling "rhythm" for our family; see sites during the morning, eat a big lunch, go back "home" and put the boys down for a nap, and then when they woke up we'd spend the rest of the afternoon at a playground/splash pad letting the boys get out their energy. It worked beautifully, and it was nice that the Airbnb house we stayed at had a park around the corner. I think next time we travel we will plan to stay in a house near a park so the kids have their time to play, scream, yell, and do whatever their hearts desire.


PLACES

Old Quebec City

We took a ferry over the river to the old city. Another simple activity that was a favorite for Sawyer. It was cheap and short, which made us happy!




The city was absolutely charming! It was like we were walking around in France.




After a very brief description of the Battle of Quebec and how the cannons were used, we headed off for crepes. But I guess that the brief description had a big impact on Sawyer's imagination because he spent the next 20 minutes reenacting the battle using sticks and rocks!

Sometimes traveling with little kids can be hard, like really hard. But moments like this we realize that little minds are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. Seeing those cannons, the wall, and hearing a simple story of how people fought here sparked an interest that probably wouldn't have happened with books or pictures alone.
The other experience that made the whole trip worth it was Sawyer being around so many French (and Spanish!) speakers and by the end of the trip he was fascinated with the languages. He would continually ask "How do you say ______ in French?" I was continually reminded of my favorite Mark Twain quote:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”




While the kids were playing in the fountains, the fountains turned off and Calvin crawled right to the middle and was looking at one of the spouts when they turned back on. Oh goodness, I felt guilty for getting so much pleasure from watching the whole ordeal. Sadly, he couldn't figure a way out and it was daddy to the rescue!


Parc de Chute Montmorency

We contrasted the old city of Quebec with hiking to the top of this beautiful waterfall. The climb up the stairs wasn't actually as bad as it looks. Sawyer walked the whole way by himself! And thank goodness because I was not in shape to carry him all the way to the top. 
 At the end we took a picture of him in front of the stairs and waterfall so he could remember how far he climbed. He was one proud, and very tired boy!







Seeing the waterfall and the river sparked another good discussion of how water from the waterfall flows to the river, and that water flows to the ocean. Sawyer talked about how he could ride in his kayak down the waterfall and river and go all the way to the sea! Well, at least he got the waterflow idea :) 

EAT

Probably my favorite thing about traveling is eating food. Because we travel fairly often and bring our kids with us they get the chance to try new foods, and can you guess the best part? There are no "safe" foods for them to fall back on, so they ate everything we gave them! Poutine, Proscuitto goat cheese sandwich, vegetable soup, etc.
But of course everyone's favorite place was Chocolate Favoris. If you ever visit Quebec City you must go there. Unless you don't like ice cream. And if that's the case, please get off my blog and go seriously ponder what brings you joy :)


At Chocolate Favoris you pick a basic ice cream flavor and then you can pick one of many chocolate shell flavors to dip your cone in. They had orange-chocolate, cookies and cream, salted caramel, vanilla maple, and many more! It would be a gross understatement to say that we "liked" it.




There were a lot of places we didn't see, we were only there for 3 days. Maybe someday we'll travel there again. We definitely recommend going, it was like going on a road trip to a European country.