blech (and eggplant parmesan comfort food)

I still don’t feel good.

In fact I feel worse than I did yesterday, when the nurse asked me to rate my pain from 1-10 and I said 4.

Today, I would have said 8. Maybe 9.

I wasn’t sure before, but now I know I have a sinus infection. I’ve felt like this once before. Exactly ten years ago. I was working as an intern at a big big giant newspaper in Las Vegas. One of the two big dailies. The morning paper. I was assigned to cover the  birth of the first baby of the new millenium at one of the local hospitals.

Driving there was torture. Something about the vibrations of the car made what I was already feeling multiply by 1000. I was utterly miserable, and I had to work until at least midnight. My teeth hurt, my ears ached, my throat was on fire, and my whole face felt like I’d been beating it against something hard and unforgiving. I had a fever, and basically I was as miserable as one girl can be.

I snapped a picture of the new baby at about three minutes after midnight, spent a minute interviewing the new grandparents, and then headed to the ER.

Remember Y2K? Apparently someone in charge in Las Vegas thought that the hospitals were going to be flooded. They made the brilliant decision to close the ERs. All of them. People had to come by ambulance if they needed emergency care.

I bet the paramedics loved that.

I know I did. For the first and only time I was able to see a doctor immediately. They must have been bored. I was prepared to beg them not to make me find an ambulance–but I was ushered in, given a bed, throat swabbed, ears, nose, and throat probed, and sent home with a prescription for pain killers and antibiotics in about 15 minutes flat.

Now here it is, ten years later. And this afternoon I had to drive my girl, who was in the first grade that first time, to play her clarinet at a basketball game at her high school. It’s a 20 minute drive. About halfway there I was in tears and Adrienne was beside herself.

I managed to get her to school, and then myself to a little store where I could get out and not be vibrated half to death for a few minutes before I attempted to get back home. My teeth were giving me the most problem. It felt like something was inside my jaws pushing on all of them with the pressure of a baby elephant trying to fell a tree. I bought a tube of Orajel, extra strength, and some sinus nasal spray, and some chocolate for fortification.

With a numb mouth, a burning nose, and a belly full of Hershey’s, I made it home. After dosing myself with Extra Strength Tylenol, antibiotics, and the kind of decongestant that makes you feel like a criminal to buy from behind the pharmacists counter, I fell asleep for two hours.

After my nap, I didn’t feel like death was an option anymore.

And I was actually hungry. For comfort food. So I whipped up some Eggplant Parmesan. This was my first attempt at A. baked Eggplant Parmesan vs. fried and B. gluten-free Eggplant Parmesan. This is a major feel-good-when-I’m-sick meal for me. I’d normally serve it with spaghetti. I’m out of the GF kind, and turns out I didn’t even need it. It was perfection all by itself.

I think it was even better than the regular way.

GF Baked Eggplant Parmesan

  • 2 eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 1/2 cup GF flour (I used the left over brown rice flour mix from yesterday’s muffins. Plain brown rice flour would work, or anything you have on hand.)
  • 1 1/2 cups GF tortilla chip crumbs (these came in a canister, like regular bread crumbs. GF bread crumbs would work too, but I didn’t have any. These were amazing in this dish.)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 big jar prepared spaghetti sauce (if you’re too sick and miserable to make your own. Make your own if you’re up to it.)
  • 8 oz shredded motzerella cheese
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • spices as desired

You’ll need two cookie sheets, a 9X13 pan.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the eggplant slices in the flour, knocking off the excess, and setting them aside on a plate for the moment.

Once you have the slices coated, put the crumbs in one bowl, the eggs in another. Dip each slice in the egg, and then dredge in the crumbs, and set on one of the cookie sheets. Continue until you have all the slices prepared and both cookie sheets filled.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the crumbs are lightly browned (just lightly) and when you poke them with a knife the vegetable underneath is nice and soft.

Layer some spaghetti sauce in the 9X13 pan, then add half the eggplant and half the cheese. Top with half of the rest of the sauce, and repeat layers, ending with sauce. Sprinkle the parmesan on top. Season as desired. Oregano is good. Some dried red pepper is good. Salt and pepper. You get the idea.

Slip it back in the oven, uncovered, and bake another 20 minutes until the cheese is melty.

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