September 30, 2010

Three Things Thursday: Sidelined

So I am sidelined from running.

My go to activity of choice.

I'm not sure for how long, I have a dr. appointment this afternoon.  But I am on day 7 with no run for me and the longest I've gone without running since I started running in December.  Boo.

Actually "boo" is really and understatement.  How I really feel is more like....

#$%@in' #$%@!!!!!!!!!!! 

Oh my #$%@ing foot.  I can't #$%@ing believe that I can't #$%@ing RUN.

I am going KRAZY and not in the Pitbull "Yo mama, she gets krazy" kind of way.

See, I have a couple races coming up.  Saturday, I am running (I hope) a 5k with a team of First Church Somerville runners in support of the Somerville Homeless Coalition. Every year the team runs it and this was going to be my first year. Last year I remember seeing the runners and thinking how I would love to do it, but I was no way in shape to run a 5k.  3.1 miles?  I didn't think I could handle it and I would completely embarrass myself. So I just donated to the team instead.  But this year I wanted to be apart of the team.  For the last 3 years running (heh) FCS brought in more $$ for the SHC than any other team.

Then there is the big race.  The Newport, RI half marathon on Oct. 17th. It isn't October yet, so I am putting this one out of my head thinking, hoping, praying, assuming I will be completely fine by then.  Yes. Of course I will.  I have to be. Sigh.

Frankly, I don't think I can write about any other alternative, because I don't want to start crying.  This is the race that my friend Sarah and I decided to sign up for and train for way back in July. The race will be our first face to face meeting after chatting and emailing back and forth for the last 10 months or so.

I read recently about how we often pour our hearts out to our running buddies because there is something about focusing on the road in front of you that makes it easier to open up your heart and just let it all go. I feel like that with my virtual running buddies too. Sure, there is a connection that we have all doing weight watchers, graduating from couch25k, or running in general, but it is more than just that. There is something about writing; writing out your thoughts and a willingness to share something that you may not share verbally with a friend over lunch. I feel like we are able to open up to one another so very easily.

As I was thinking about this post, I got a very lovely email/prayer from my frenpastor, Molly. Someone who I have no problem opening up my heart to, and treasure every time we talk, or email or as I read her blog. (Ironically, the last run before sidelining was a beautiful one from my work to downtown Boston through the parks in JP. I wanted to see how long it would take me to do a round trip to Dana-Farber to visit Molly during her treatments.)

In her email she wrote:  "And God heal her foot. But not before she has to learn some other new way to fly."

So, as grumpy and cranky it makes me that I am on the DL (TEMPORARY DL...hear that God?!) I will take the time to reflect and get some lessons on flying. 

I'm not done learning, but here are some things that have been running (heh.) through my head.  

1. Cherish runs. Past and future. Good ones and sucky ones. I wish we can all have "enough" yucky ones to really appreciate "enough" yummy ones. Gratitude. Yeah, I'll take that lesson.

2. There is more to life than just running.  Really? Oh my. Yes, it completes me, like that last puzzle piece, but wait, there are a whole heck of a lot of puzzle pieces in a 1000 piece puzzle than the one that completes it.  I guess you could also put the mama, spouse, christian, writer, cleanER eater, cook, musician, friend puzzle piece in there last and they would all complete the puzzle too. So maybe I have more puzzle pieces that can complete for a spell. I love the Ani Difranco song, 32 flavors and then some.  Totally my theme song.

BUT, I still do need to move. NEED to move. I used to swim, even was a lifeguard.  And I used to bike everywhere I went; no car for years.  Maybe I need to tap into those flavors.  Tri-anything? Tri-something?

3. Funkalicious. I do NOT want this to become a funk. I out-right stubbornly refuse.

Now if only I could tell my stomach to stop growling, my fingers to stop reaching for the carbs and the scale to stay put...

In the mean time, I will *try* to take this (however long this is) as a learning experience rather than something that is messing with my routine. Chalk it up to the price of being a runner and treat my mind and body like I would anyone that needs time to heal. Gently. Flexibly. Time to inspect and adapt.

And another case of the ironics...I *JUST* talked about change, transition, and transformation and how much I luuuuurrrve it. I don't know what stage I am in at this point and I don't think it really matters. What I do know is that I will keep on going, moving forward towards transformation. So no funks, just transition.

There. Three Things.

The truth is, this is probably just tendinitis in my foot from going to hard too fast with the Vibrams and running too many days in a row.

(Mer, don't roll your eyes at me! But yeah, feel free to give me a big 'ol "toldyaso" this weekend. :-/ )

Yes, the irony is that I started running in the VFF to prevent injury.  Anyway, if it is "just" tendinitis, I am *only* looking at 10-14 days rest according to my self-diagnosis via the interwebs. 10-14 days in the grand scheme ain't nothin'.  So I really should just suck it up be done with the dramatic vent.

Not quite the same lunch break sweat session as I would like, but I did work my fingers a bit with this here post. Oh shoot!  Tendinitis, stay away from my hands, you hear?!

What do you do when you are faced with a set back in your life, work, exercise program or food wise?  What did you do or wish you did?

September 21, 2010

Change, Transition and Transformation

In my FCS community, every few months we have new sermon series; a theme that links the messages and our discussion topics in our services. If you remember back in February I wrote about the Lenten theme: Simple Shifts which was one of the factors that spurred on my cleanER eating and writing this blog.  

For the next several weeks, we will be discussing Change, Transition and Transformation. As the liturgist this last Sunday, I got to share my own thoughts on change. 

So about change. Yeah, not a fan. I like my routines; my schedules; my same greek yogurt and granola breakfast every morning; my pew two rows up from the back and on left. Change is uncomfortable for me, not safe. And I don’t like to deal with it.

And transition. Well, as I am sure most moms can attest to, transition – that time between 8 and 10 centimeters is called the ring of fire for a reason! Yowser!

But transformation. Oh, how I LOVE, love, LOVE transformations. I love before and after stories. I love reading and hearing about how people reflect on their lives and take a before (good or bad, it is all relative)….and transform it into this beautiful after. Their own resurrection stories. 

For me, I love looking back at my journey and seeing these huge seismic shifts in my life. Moving from being hugely in debt to being debt free. How miserable I was in my job before my layoff and how happy I am (and my family is) after; How sluggish I was almost 70lbs heavier than I am today. How unhealthy I was 9 short months ago eating all processed franken food, chugging 6-8 diet sodas a day to actually learning to cook and eat real food from our CSA and our first ever garden; Life before finding FCS and life after.

So many transformations and hopefully even more to come.

Yet here is the thing. I couldn’t have all these transformations if it didn’t start with a change and transition first. That would be like reading the last chapter of a book, but never actually investing in the characters or the story. Where is the fun in that?! Not to mention, do you really just want to read Revelations. Shyeah, I didn’t think so!

You, me, this church community,(this blogosphere community) we are midst of change, ok many CHANGES, transitions and transformations. Yet we need them all as we build, with the help of God our beloved selves, and our beloved community.

September 20, 2010

Friday's Drawers (on Monday. Whoops)

I forgot to post our CSA pic on Friday.  Whoops.  

Here was our share this week, minus one apple and one red pepper that I couldn't help but chomp on before snapping a pic.  I swear I could eat their peppers like an apple.  So sweet 'n tasty!

Callaloo, potatoes, basil, salad mix, apples (yum!),
peppers (double yum!), carrots, garden maters.

September 16, 2010

Three Things Thursday: Good Reads

When I first made the switch to cleaner eating, I was a sponge searching for information and I did what a lot of people do...I read anything I could get my hands on. Anything to help the S in the ISFJ in me!

So I headed to the library started off with Pollan, worked my way over to Jillian, picked up some cookbooks, got some new cookbooks from my fam as prezzies, went online, found message boards anything and everything to find other people that had the same enthusiasm as my new found discovery of food.  Actual food!  So today I bring you Three Good Reads from my adventures in forsaking franken-food for real food.

1. The Omnivore's Dilemma, Young Reader's Edition. Michael Pollan is clearly the go-to it-boy when it comes to writing about, documenting and being a change agent for back to basics real food.  Between Food, Inc., In Defense of Food, and the quite funny, but oh so true, short and sweet Food Rules, you cannot go wrong with anything with Michael Pollan's name on it.  I particularly enjoyed the Young Reader's edition of the Ominvore's Dilemma.  It was basic enough for me to read after a crazy day at work, but not condescending in any way.  I loved the graphs, pictures and facts. They kept me engaged and stuck with me months after reading it. It took me time to watch Food Inc.  I wasn't sure I was ready to, and if you are like me in that respect, having a book that you can pick up and put down when you are ready to helped.   I bet after you read this, though, you will want to go out and see Food Inc. and devour all of Pollan's other books.

2. Master Your Metabolism. I am not a fan of diet books. I think they are a total waste of money and hype. And this one looks and is marketed right out there with all the diet books lined up at your local grocery store.  That said, it came recommended to me by a fellow WeWa kickass chica, I did pick it up (at the library!).

What I liked about this book was that I related to it instantly.  I lost all this weight (Like Jillian) eating franken food and was obsessed about "fat" in my diet - Fat makes you fat right?  Wrong.  And when it came to keeping it off, I had to either eat so little or workout like mad-woman to keep the pounds off.  And the minute I would stop eating Lean Cuisines, insta-gain. Like her, diet cokes were my beverage of choice.  4-8 a day. Yikes!  In the book she goes through her own transformation, shares a lot of the same ideas as Michael Pollan but relates it back to hormones and how your body processes food.

The organization of the book was a little all over the place. For example, I couldn't tell you what the 3 diet secrets are as advertised on the jacket cover. And I also am not a fan of....this worked for me so it must work for you too...mentality that was throughout the book. But in the end, I do think she has some good ideas, and she got me thinking not just about the food I make, but also what I make it in (i.e. plastics, teflon, cleaners, etc.)

3. More with Less. When it comes to food, I am very grateful for all that we have.  There is something about experiencing this gratitude and grace when I think about all the animals, people and plants that are involved in providing this food that I am about to put into my body.  When I look at it that way, I do want to do more with less.  I want to leave as little a mark as I possibly can.  I like this particular cookbook because it has recipes, but also stories, passages, feelings and memories about the recipes that people share.  I think I also like this book because every once in awhile I come across a recipe that I completely remember my mom making for us and it brings me to a whole new level of gratitude.

September 15, 2010


SCRUM Cartoon in English

In my days as a project manager, we started implementing a project management process called Scrum. Not an acronym, just a term taken from rugby that involved a team of bright people with lots of different ideas and personalities getting together and committing to developing quality work. In Scrum there are different characters, "pigs" and "chickens".

Wow. I am getting hungry already. I hope these are free-range.
So the “pigs” are committed, since they are the ones actually doing the work, while everyone else is a “chicken”—interested in the project but really indifferent because if the project fails they’re not the pigs—meaning they are the ones with their ham-hocks on the line.  The needs, desires, ideas and influences of the chickens are taken into account, but they are not allowed to disrupt or impede the project.
It got me thinking about the journey that I am on, that we are all on. Each one of us has our own thing --whether it is weight loss, cleaner eating, vegan eating, running, parenting, running while parenting, living with chronic conditions, or just plan surviving (and surviving well! Clean CT scans! yay!). Regardless of the journey, at some point, we made a commitment to go on it. Sure, it may have had some loopy turns, rest stops, or we forgot the GPS, but we still are committed to be on that PIG of a road. 

I've been very, very blessed to have a supportive community around me - in fact I truly believe you need a community to support you, to be involved - but in the end, it is ME that is making the commitment to actually change. I am the PIG here and my family, my friends, my community, my CHICKENS are involved, but they aren't the ones making the commitment to MY journey. 

Each week I try to commit to something small on my big journey. I like the Franklin Covey idea of at least one social, one mental, one spiritual and one physical activity.  I put these big rocks in first, because inevitably the rest of my time will get filled in by the little rocks all around them. Sometimes I do these big rock things without really planning too, but it sure does feel good when you commit to something and then actually follow through with it, doesn't it?
So here is my commitment for this week:
  1. Mental - Read something that is not on a screen, blackberry, the back of a cereal box, or can be found in the bathroom. 
  2. Spiritual - pray at least 5 minutes a day
  3. Physical - Log 24 running miles this week (Since when does THIS feel the easiest!)
  4. Social (oh this is the hardest!) - watch a movie with David on Friday with "Mama's favorite soda" and find and talk to a new person at coffee hour on Sunday.
What will you commit to this week? I'll be your Chicken, if you be mine.

September 10, 2010

Friday's Drawers - Clean and not so much

Celebration time again at the office! Today marks my 1 year anniversary at my awesome job. Whoohoo!  And with it comes a co-worker's birthday and a birthday bash in my lil' group.  So far this year we've had pumpkin whoopie pies, creme brûlée, blueberry coffee cake with greek yogurt, more whoopie pies, carrot cake and finally today....the creme de la creme...

 Food porn alert.  Chocolate Peanut Buttercup Cheesecake. O.M.G!
You won't gain weight by looking.  
Heh. Forgot to move the stapler. Such a bad food photographer.
Now this is not all outer aisle stuff (though everything was made from scratch) but it does look good, eh?  Credit goes to Denise on the WeWa boards for torturing us sharing with us a link to this unbelievable recipe. (yeah, I know the irony here....hey, this is what flex points are for!)

Here is where I got the recipe and it is C&P'd below. Now, this was WAY too much cheesecake batter for me since I couldn't find my spring form pan.

I used 2 round pans and a cupcake pan and they were all over flowing. So really, you could halve this recipe and do just fine. Or just make a lot of cheesecake.  I also didn't use as many reese's pieces in the layer and it was still PLENTY rich!

I would highly suggest that you enjoy this with a glass of organic milk!  And somewhere during the week, work in an extra 5 mile run to burn off the 500 calories in one of these bad boys!

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bottom Cheesecake
Brownie Crust
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (I used Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla)
2 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cheesecake Filling
2 lbs cream cheese, softened
5 eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural-style)
1/2 cups whipping cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
6 peanut butter cups, cut into quarters
(this made too much batter for me. Not sure how to cut down the portions. I was able to make an extra very slim 7″ cheesecake with the leftover batter. So less than half was left over…)

6 peanut butter cups, cut carefully in half
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter cups
(this makes a lot more than you’ll need for decorative purposes. I plan on using the extra to serve with the individual slices)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch springform pan with butter.
2. Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with spoon or wire whisk. Add eggs; stir until well blended. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; blend well. Spread in prepared pan.
3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brownie begins to pull away from side of pan. Meanwhile make cheesecake layer (see below).
4. Immediately after removing brownie from oven, sprinkle milk chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and peanut butter cups over brownie surface. Spoon cheesecake mixture over chips. Turn down oven 325°.

Cheesecake Filling
5. Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth.
6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
7. Add sugar, peanut butter and cream; mix until smooth.
8. Stir in vanilla.
9. Pour filling into prepared crust.
[I had extra batter that I put in a smaller springform pan at this point]
10. Double-wrap springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent water seeping in.
11. Place springform pan into a larger baking pan.
12. Pour hot water into the larger pan so that the water comes 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.
13. Bake at 325 degrees 1-1/2 hours, or until firm and lightly browned.
14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for one hour.
15. Run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan somewhat.
16. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before decorating. I tend to make cheesecakes a day ahead to let things set.

Cheesecake tip: to get the cake off the bottom of the springform pan, because most crusts have butter in them, you just need to heat up the bottom of the pan a bit and the cake should come off easily. I remove the sides, then hold the pan over a burner on my stove - set to LOW - for about 15 or so seconds. Whatever you can handle. Then run a long cake spatula under the cake and it should slip easily off the pan. Just be careful - the bottom of the cake is now very slippery.
17. Remove cake from pan and put on a pretty plate.
18. Bring whipping cream to boil in a small saucepan.
19. Remove from heat and add semi-sweet and peanut butter chips. Stir, stir, stir until melted and smooth.
20. Drizzle over cake and then add peanut butter cup halves around the edge of the cake.

OK, and just because I don't want to leave you with just this, I do have our farm share photo from this week. See...I still have SOME veggies in our lives.

September 09, 2010

Three Things Thursday: Food Confessions

As the product  mainline protestant household...ok, more than just that....a double pk (preacher's kid) from the UCC ('slpains a lot, eh?)....I never had to go to confessional like my catholic-raised spouse did.  Confession was like a herd, everyone does it at the same place, same time.  

At my current, most awesome-est welcoming community in Somerville, MA, we put a little spin on confession time and it is one of the things that I like the most about the service.  The liturgist shares a story based on the the theme for the day that leads up to the unison prayer of confession. We get to hear a little bit about the life of one of the people we smile at or talk to at coffee hour, a transparent moment that is moving and helpful and then we all together get to read words related to the theme of the day/service. I like that we are all in it together and that the words are there so I don't have to think about it and can just reflect.  If you think that people wouldn't share, we actually have enough people in rotation that we only get to go up there about once a year!

Since this is a food blog and not church, you don't get to hear my transgressions (unless you come to church on Sept 19th, when I am the liturgist of the day) but instead my three food confessions.

1. Tuesday Dinner. Or lack there of. Tuesday night, I had a fridge full of yummy CSA veggies and a freezer full of pre-made single serving dinners.  Yet, my dinner was 1 1/2 McDonalds 49-cent ice-cream cones (I finished Simon's) and two pieces of toast (the bread the kids left from their dinner).  See how I threw in the $.49 to make me feel better about being cheap. Yea, that didn't help the sluggish run on Tuesday night from lack of good food in my bod. 

2. I never used a grill ever in my life until yesterday.  Yup. 30-something, self-reliant, gender-studies major, feminist that always had her spouse use it and never actually ever fired up a grill until I finally made that grilled eggplant, tomato basil salsa recipe yesterday.  You would think my first time using the grill I would cook up some MEAT.  But it was tomatoes and eggplant for me.  How did this happen, I have no clue, but I can guarandamntee I will be like Dr. Huxtable using the grill in the middle of the freakin' winter!  

3. I cut my kids crusts off a little to close to the sandwich part just so I can get a little bit more of their pb&j.  I know. I know. Oh and I fail miserably at "you bite it, you write it" when it comes to their "crusts."

So here is my unison prayer of food confession:

Gracious and loving God of all things including food,  we open our fridges to you.  
We confess that there have been times that we avoid the veggies, turn our noses up after sniffing 3 day old ricotta that should have been eaten 2 days ago and head for the pantry for cookies instead.  
Sometimes we chose the golden arches instead of golden raisins. 
Forgive us for not always going organic, trying new things or new methods of preparing your food especially when all it takes is a twist of the nob and a push of a button. And forgive us when we suddenly remember while blogging that we forgot to shut off the propane tank and have to text our spouses so that they can do it for us.  
Help us see that our children need their sandwiches whole and that our bootays don't need the extra crust calories.  Heal us from the colds we inevitably catch when we hastily chose to what is left on their plates...ewwww...rather than give them a proper compost send off.
Make us willing to eat food.  Real food. With the occasional dollop of nutella. mmmm...nutella, written down of course. And help us create peace, justice and fabulous new recipes for us, our families and our friends. 

Anything you would like to confess?  I'd love to read your comments!  

September 03, 2010

Friday's Drawers - A Bit of Normalcy

With back to school this week, I feel like we Z's are finally able to get back into a normal daily routine.

Where normal is...

One wee Z looking for the measuring cup of milk I forgot to leave in the fridge for his cereal and trying to pour it himself; one mama Z dropping the container of said cereal on the floor, shattering it to pieces; me trying to sweep it up, while the other wee Z wanting the crust off her bagel (??) but really only eating the cream cheese anyway; then me trying to make up my salad for my lunch since I lied yesterday and even though I said we do assembly line salads, that didn't actually happen this week; then one mama Z rushing back over with some hair ties and attempts at keeping wee Zs hair out of her face while wee Z clings to daddy Z for dear life, then finishes just in time to give each Z five, yes it must be five, kisses (and one big one) before walking out the door to my ride as I realize I am leaving sans make-up and running gear.

Yep.  Back to normal!  Finally!!

And what better box to kick off our fall farm share than a "normal" share this week.  I say "normal" because I actually recognized everything in the box this week. Even the shallots! (Ok, the arugula took me a sec since they were still with their stems.)

A normal box: eggplant, kale, celery, corn, green peppers, watermelon (Yay!)
tomatoes, arugula, shallots
We already had some of the corn last night (so sweet!) and one of the tomatoes went into my salad for lunch today. (I snuck a bite when good. I love real food.)

The plan for this here box-o-goodness?

I am definitely going to re-attempt to make the grilled eggplant dish once there is no fear of me blowing up the house once the grill is fixed.

The kale will probably be for the lentil soup - I'm going to try it with regular lentils rather than red this time around.  If it is good, we have a new baby in our first church fam and I am guessing the parents would like a night or two off from cooking.

And I just saw this post by Teresa over at Farm Share Stories and I am thinking that corn is going to be some chowdah.  And what the heck is more normal in New England than chowder.

Happy Friday!

September 02, 2010

Three Things Thursday: BJ's Tips

Heh.  Made ya click. 

I admit it. Every week giggle at the "BJ requests?" text David sends before heading out to our favorite warehouse store. Why would I go to Costco when I can be a BJ club member?  *giggle*

Since I like to keep the dirty for the mind and out of the pantry, I like to stock up on clean eats. And if it's cheap, even better.  

So for my inaugural "Three Things Thursday" I bring you my Cleaner BJ's List:

1. Greek yogurt.
I love me some greek yogurt. Nothing packs the protein (14g! and 0 fat!) in for the morning than my 6 oz of Chobani!  Add a little ho-made granola and you have yourself an awesome start to the day.  Love this stuff.  Hate the price.  Usually it retails for about $1.39, but I won't buy it from the store unless it is a buck each.  Because....BJs sells a peach/blueberry/strawberry 12 pack for $11.99.  Now if they would only start carrying 12 packs of honey....
2. Salad. Salad. Salad.  
I eat at least one, usually two salads a day.  If it isn't from the garden or the CSA, then it is definitely Olivia's. A big tub of Olivia's Organic salad makes up about 8-10 containers for me.  I add in a hand full of cherry tomatoes, a few craisins and pre-measured itty-bitty glad container of dressing and I have stacks of salad-to-go for lunch and dinner.  The night of a BJs run, there is a little salad assembly line going on in my kitchen. Quick and easy.  I like easy. I think these are about $5.99/1lb box. (have to double check with the shopper....) So worth it. 

3. Coffee 
And lastly, I NEED coffee.  Cleaned up coffee is pretty easy.  Look for fair trade organic. We take turns buying this big 'ol 2.5 lbs bag of coffee for the office. I like the taste of the Earth's Pride Organic Sumatra.  Usually I get sick of the same kind of coffee over and over, but after going through 5 bags over the last 6 months or so, we still like it. 

If these BJ tips don't put a smile on your face, then get me something stronger than coffee and I'll dish then, go google Camille Crimson, (NSFW!) and she'll give you her own.  Um....not that I would know anything about that. 

September 01, 2010

Grilled Eggplant with Ricotta and Grilled Tomato-Basil Relish, or not.

I had every intention of making this mouth-watering educing recipe last night when BAM (not the grill exploding). The grill was leaking gas. 

Why?  Why grill gods?  You teamed up with the let's-mess-with-Christy's-plans gods again didn't you. I think you two need a break, or nap. Go talk to Angry Jeep for a bit and let me and my plans be. 

Since David really didn't want me to blow me or the house up (even though my stubbornness had us try the grill no less than 3 times before calling it a day) I had to improvise. 

Everything was already prepped for the grill, so it was either be cooked or be compost.  Ok, I wouldn't go that far.  

So I turned on the stove in the (uggghhh) 90 degree weather. 

And it was worth it. Yum! 

CSA Rosa Eggplant, perfect for the grill...or not grilled dish
Supposed to be char grilled.  But oh well.

Eggplant in pan. Not the grill. Argh.

Tomato Basil relish - doesn't look as appetizing in the pic.
(I wish I could take better food photos)

The Dish. Delish.
The next plan is to get the connector tube fixed. It really isn't worth blowing up everything just to grill some eggplant.Ya think? 

Good on the stove, but I bet even better on the grill.  Here is the real recipe.

Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Ricotta and Grilled Tomato-Basil Relish
Adapted from Bobby Flay, 2007

Ingredients for the grilled tomato-basil relish:
8 ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise 5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil plus fresh
leaves, for garnish

Ingredients for the eggplant:
8 slices (2 medium eggplants, ends trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices)
6 tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces ricotta 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions for the grilled tomato-basil relish:
Heat your grill to high.
Place the tomatoes in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place tomatoes on the grill and grill until charred on all sides, and just cooked through, about
10 minutes. Remove from the grill and coarsely chop.
Put the chopped tomatoes in a bowl, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, onion, vinegar and
basil and gently mix until combined. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Can be made 4 hours in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Directions for the eggplant:
Heat your grill to high.
Brush eggplant slices on both sides with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the slices
on the grill and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over and continue
grilling until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir together the ricotta and parsley in a medium bowl and
season with salt and pepper.
Place the grilled eggplant on a large platter and top each
slice with a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta and a heaping
tablespoon of the tomato relish.