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Eggplant and Bulgur Salad

February 15, 2011

Eggplant Salad with Hummus

Recipe: Eggplant & Bulgur Salad

Total Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Whoever first said “The days are long but life is short” must have been talking about life with an infant.

It is noon right now and I have officially been up – “up” defined as being out of bed with my robe on – for six hours. That wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t been awake from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., then again from about 3 a.m. to 4:30, wrangling a baby. In the six hours I have been up, I’ve set the baby down for a total of about 23 minutes, and she cried for 19 of them. Don’t you dare suggest a sling – I have more than $200 worth of various baby carriers in my closet right now (plus 2 bouncy chairs), none of which baby O has deemed an acceptable substitute for mama’s arms. Her crib – the one I spent weeks finding the perfect organic sheets and mattress for, the one in the bedroom we re-painted and decorated after months of gathering adorable nursery items at flea markets and on on Etsy, the crib with four very soft and comfortable handmade blankets from my Mom and lovely morning light that gently falls across it – yep, she pretty much refuses to sleep there too. After battling with O for 2 hours today in an attempt to get her to nap, she made her feelings about the crib abundantly clear. And so the little darling is snoozing on my chest right now and I am slouched down just so on the couch so that I can balance my laptop on my knees and type. Yes indeed, the days can be long.

And yet, I can’t believe 3 months have already passed since my last blog post and since O was born. My little baby is growing in leaps and bounds, no longer the teeny, tiny little newborn I swear just came home from the hospital yesterday. There is no doubt that I underestimated how demanding such a small creature would be around the clock, but I also underestimated how much I would enjoy her company. She might not begin talking for another year, but everyday I feel like we are having conversations. She is joyful and funny, shy and pensive, sweet and charming. Some days she’s a snuggly bug and some days she’s a prickly pear. Either way,  I’m glad she’s here.

Miss O and Me

The first lesson motherhood taught me and one I must re-learn each day is patience. It began with pregnancy – you cannot predict how long it will take to get pregnant nor can you hurry along those 9 months or know exactly when the baby will finally make their entrance. Next, you soon find out that a breast feeding baby cannot be rushed; no matter how inconvenient or tedious for you, they will eat for as long and as often as they like. And losing patience with a crying baby gets you nowhere –  if bouncing up and down for hours on the green exercise ball that has become a permanent piece of furniture in our living room is what it takes to soothe the baby, then that’s what it takes.

You would think that all this newly acquired patience would seep into my cooking as well, and I would be making dishes like slow-cooked roasts, simmering soups and vegetables stewing all day in a Crock Pot. In the naive little day dreams I had before this child  made her entrance into the world, I thought so too. As it turns out, the second lesson motherhood taught me is that only two types of women can get dinner on the table with any regularity when they have a newborn: those with babies who nap (curse you!) and those who have a personal chef (double curses!)

I must confess that I do have a husband who has cooked dinner regularly since O was born (go ahead, you can curse me) so it’s not like we’re starving around here. But on the nights when he can’t, dinner time at our house lately has looked alike this Eggplant and Bulgur Salad.  Since I don’t own a freezer that could be stocked with frozen casseroles before the baby was born, I instead stocked my pantry with quick-cooking grains like bulgar, couscous and quinoa. A quick soak or boil in water and these grains are good to go. Just about anything can be added  to make a meal: chopped veggies, crumbles of cheese, canned artichokes, beans or olives, chicken. Dress with fresh herbs, olive oil and lemon; salt to taste. Done.

eggplant

For this particular salad, I kept it super simple by cooking the eggplant in the microwave. Yes, microwave. You can steam eggplant as well, and both methods cook the notoriously difficult vegetable quickly and without making it limp with oil. The bulgur soaks in hot water for 30 minutes, then is tossed with the eggplant, a simple dressing and some herbs and feta. Served with hummus and pita bread on the side, it’s a meal.

Yesterday Sorin came home from meeting friends for coffee and said there was a couple sitting at the next table with a newborn. The baby started crying its sweet, bird-like newborn cry, the same cry that during the middle of the night sounds less sweet and more like an ear-splitting screech, and it made him nostalgic for those first few weeks that were long and exhausting and yet passed all too quickly. It made me realize that although last night seemed endless and today has been frustrating, before I know it I will look back on this time with nostalgia, too.  At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself tonight when I’m up again at 3 a.m….

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Michelle Daml permalink
    February 15, 2011 5:46 pm

    As always you hit it right on the spot – and as a mother whose babies are 21 and 19….yes it will go fast and you will miss it. Your cooking techniques will change as your world changes around you. Enjoy!

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