Grumpy Goes Greek (sort of)

Today was a contemplative day. Started off by sleeping till nearly 8 a.m., UNHEARD of! But it was delicious. Then, coffee, and G. and I went for a leisurely walk around the HARP River Walk in Pueblo, and stopped at our favorite coffee shop for breakfast. The nice thing about having a weekday off is smaller crowds–we actually got a table outside for breakfast!

Afterwards, it was home, where G. headed to the garage to do whatever it is she does in there, and I headed downstairs to work on our blessing ritual for the yard that we plan to do next week, on the Equinox.

We try to bless the yard, the land, the neighborhood maybe twice a year, but recently, other things have gotten in the way. It feels very important to do this, especially after the utter bounty we have received from our little plot of land this year. Tonight is the full moon, and we thought about doing it then, but I felt the Equinox was more appropriate, because where in this world is a place that could not use some balance?

I’ve slacked off on my shamanic practices for a while, and for some reason today all that desire, and all the power of them came back to me. I miss my teacher, I miss the work, I miss the deep sense of connection to the All that I get when I’m in the midst of these studies. Very briefly, it’s all about energy. Every being, every THING in the universe has its own energy. Nothing is ever destroyed, just transformed. So, I worked on writing the ritual I want to create next week, and was very happy with the result. I printed out a copy for G. to read and make any changes or additions.

Then, for some reason, I felt this almost overwhelming desire, need even, to cook something really, really good from all our garden gifts. Specifically, I noticed yesterday that we had a lot of eggplants that were ready to pick. The first thing that popped into mind was moussaka, that classic Greek dish of lamb, eggplant and tomatoes. But, it also has bechamel sauce, which I didn’t want to do, so after perusing a few cookbooks upstairs, I settled on the “make it up as you go along” route. I have to say, the end result was DAMN good. So good, in fact, that I have to write it here so I can recreate it if I need to. With the exception of the onion and the garlic, all the veggies came from the garden, but I’m going to try to put in the measurements for using store-bought things. Here you go!

Grumpy’s Slightly-Greek Pseudo-Moussaka

1 lb. ground buffalo (you can substitute hamburger, lamb, turkey, or leave the meat out all together)
1 slice of bacon
4 small to medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 med. onion, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, finely diced
Approx 3 C. of chopped, fresh tomatoes (mine was a combo of one large yellow tomato and halved cherry and yellow pear tomatoes)
2 medium sized banana peppers, diced
1 small red cherry pepper, diced
5 small, Japanese-type eggplant (these are long and slim–if you wanted to use “store-bought” eggplant, just use 1 small), sliced on the diagonal, unpeeled.
6 large chard leaves, cut into bite-sized pieces.
1/4 C rasins, soaked in a little water
Olive oil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
approx 1/2 tsp garlic powder
approx 1/2 tsp onion powder
approx 1/2 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
large pinch of cinnamon
approx 1/2 C parmesan cheese

In a large skillet (I use cast iron) heat a little oil on medium to medium-high heat and brown the meat. Drain if necessary, and reserve in a bowl. Wipe out the skillet, add a little more oil (maybe 2 Tbl.) and the bacon. When the bacon starts to be crispy, add the onion and garlic, stir to coat, and cook till the onion is translucent. Add the eggplant and peppers. Stir to coat. Remember that eggplant is like a sponge and will soak up all the oil you can give it. Just keep stirring and don’t let it stick.

Once the eggplant is soft, add the tomatoes and the rasins with the water they soaked in. All the juice will give you plenty of moisture. When all this has cooked together, add the chopped chard. The skillet will seem overflowing, but it will cook down.

When the chard has cooked into the mix a bit, sprinkle all the seasonings in. I mix them in a little bowl first. When the heat hits them, you will know it!

While this mixture simmers, grease a casserole dish. I used a rather deep souffle dish that worked really well. Place a good layer of the sliced potatoes on the bottom. Spoon half of the eggplant mixture on top, and sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes, and the remainder of the eggplant mix. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and place in a 350-degree oven.

Cook for approximately an hour, checking a couple of times. Using the back of a large spoon, press down on the mixture, and use the “juice” to baste the casserole. The will keep the cheese from getting totally dried out.

Let sit for 15 minutes or so and serve. Prepare to swoon with gustatory delight!!


PS – and after all that, I had an e-mail from my teacher today, wanting to have the next class in my “cycle”. I guess the Universe heard me…


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