Racing Mind; Random Thoughts – Thai Basil Eggplant

I generally have at least one main idea in my little brain when I sit down to write.  Not the case today.  My mind is racing.  Can’t seem to distill it down for the life of me.  So I guess I’ll just go with it and declare this “Random Thought Thursday”.  It is Thursday, isn’t it?  I may have to double check that.

First up, my area of concentration in my book club this week.  This was such an eye opener.  The category was waste.  There were a lot of suggestions in the book on how to address this topic.  The actual 7 habits were 1) gardening 2) composting 3) conserving energy & water 4) recycling 5) driving only 1 car 6) shopping thrift & 2nd hand 7) buying only local.  Jen Hatmaker adopted ALL of these habits for a whole month. Since reading the book 7 the first time through I had already started gardening and composting (a tad),  I also try to be pretty on the ball with recycling.  The one car idea is just laughable in this circus called my life.  Maybe in another season, another space, and another time.  So I decided to really hone in on just waste in general.  Thinking about avoiding the waste beforehand.  My target?  Paper towels, sanitizing wipes, napkins, & plastic!

Three pretty unassuming characters to some, but absolute monsters to me.  I use paper towels like they are going out of style.  I rip and wipe without a second thought for the tree who sacrificed for me.  Wipes (baby or sanitizing) are like my weapon of choice.  I confess, the napkins was me stacking the deck.  I knew I could do a good job at this one. And plastic?  Well, that one just crept in there and I thought it would be a good idea to educate the kiddos more on how MUCH of it we use and how we can be more mindful in that arena.

So last Friday morning I took the paper towel holder off the counter.  Hid it completely so as to not succumb to temptation.  I took an old towel, cut it into 8ths, and voila . . . . my paper towel replacement plan.  Sanitizing wipes – out of sight as well.  Baby wipes – well, I limped along on that one.  After all, I DO still have a baby to vouch for me.  I am not kidding when I tell you that I had paper towel withdrawals.  It literally took me 3 days to stop the paper towel grabbing reflex.  By Day 4 I had finally gotten over the gross factor and felt somewhat confident that I could keep my little realm just as clean using rags and washing them as I could with my arsenal of paper towels.

Napkins were easy.  I simply decided to use cloth napkins instead of paper.  I told you, I was sandbagging on that one.

For the plastic deal, I kicked things off by watching a little TedTalk with the kids about where a lot of our plastic ends up – The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Then we set up bins for each member of the family. (True confession, I actually reached for a paper towel and a wipe to clean up my bin.  How sick and twisted is that?)  Hubs and I shared a bin, Big Little One and Medium Little One each had their own.  The point was this – if you use plastic at any point in the week, no matter where you are or what you are doing, you have to hold onto that plastic and bring it home to your bin.  That way, we could all get a visual reality check on how much plastic we are actually using.  I’m happy to report that my girls were really on this, AND, not huge plastic abusers in the grand scheme of things.  I, on the other hand, have a glaring issue with plastic vessels intended for the transport of caffeinated beverages.

So tonight wraps up the week on waste.  The paper towel, wipe and napkin experiment was habit changing.  I’m so glad I did it.  Next week I will return things to their proper counter top space and see how well I can cope with the temptation. The deal with plastics is a biggie.  But I’m honestly not sure where to go with it from here.  I’m contemplating buying in bulk for a week to see what that looks like and what kind of a difference it would make.  The truth is, there is just SO MUCH packaging for most non-produce purchases.  I guess I’ll just continue to chew on that one and see what changes I can make baby step by baby step.

I had so many other thoughts on my mind that I wanted to share.  Like how my girls placed 5th in water polo junior Olympics.  Like how we’re back at it again for the next 4 days with Big Little One’s Co-Ed polo team.  Like how much fun a good old fashioned scavenger hunt can be.  Like how frustrating is when people don’t practice full disclosure. Like how I just need to finish seasons 7 & 8 of 24 so that I can reclaim my life and maybe read a book again.  But all of that would take way too long, so I’ guess I’ll just cut straight to the recipe for Thai Basil Eggplant.  Oh, and if you hear a dinging noise in the background, that’s the Hubs texting me the score at the end of each quarter of the water polo game happening right now.

OK, so Eggplant.  I love it, but I usually tend more in the direction of Italian when preparing it.  Honestly, I have a fear of Asian cooking.  I think I avoid it because I don’t think I will pull it off well.  But when I saw this recipe, I was hopeful and thought I had a decent chance at success.

I started by slicing the eggplant into slabs and then into slices about 3/4″ wide.

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I heated some vegetable oil in a large pan and added the eggplant slices.  I added a little bit of water and then covered the eggplant and turned the heat down to medium to let things cook.  I checked about every 5 minutes to make sure things weren’t sticking or burning.  Total time, it took about 20 – 25 minutes for the eggplant to cook all the way through.

I thinly sliced green, red and yellow bell peppers and one white onion.

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I heated more oil in a large skillet and sautéed the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes and then added in some minced garlic.

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For the sauce, I whisked together some hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water, chili sauce & cornstarch.  I added the onion and pepper mixture to the eggplant.  I poured the sauce over and cooked over medium heat until the sauce coated all of the veggies.  I transferred everything to a platter of brown rice and garnished with fresh sliced basil.

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I think I could get used to this cooking Asian thing if it works out this well each time.

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