News for the New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thinking about new things has got me thinking about news. (Get it? NEWS for the NEW year? Haha? Ok, so not so funny.) It occurred to me that I should create a page to list all my posts that have been featured in the news and various other media, complete with linky goodness. And there it is, up there at the top. See? Tab on the right. 

Also, if you are on my blogpage instead of using a feeder you will see that I have made some minor tweaks to the blog appearance.

Still not sure about this whole random font changing when I make posts and new pages, though. Sorry. Maybe I'll learn to fix that eventually... ?

Have fun and stay safe tonight!


Snow and Ice? Power Outtages? No problem!

Predictions of another potential Christmas-time snow storm brings forth recollections of other storms *ahemBlizzard09ahem*. I remember, in particular, one lovely ice storm that led to a 3-day power outage in a rather drafty townhouse apartment. Not only were we out of power… we were also out of water, because our apartments sat below street level and needed an electric pump to move water up to the city pipes.

Despite this, we (and our friend who had gotten iced in with us) stayed toasty warm and happy using what I call “Grandma’s Energy Efficiency”… which is really just common sense from the olden days. Stuff like...

Pick a room and stay there!

Pick one location and focus on making it as comfortable as possible, then don’t leave. Focusing your efforts on conserving heat in one room is easier than trying to do it across the entire house. Then you want to stay put because going in and out lets the warmth you’ve saved out and lets the cold in. Also, if everyone is staying together in one space, that’s more body heat to warm up the room.

Control the Drafts

the buddies playing rummy during an ice-pocalypse
Stuff draft dodgers, towels, sheets, blankets, or whatever you have along the bottoms and sides of doors and around windows. If you aren’t going to open them for a while, you can even tape across the seams – this is survival! Hang blankets over the doors and windows using nails or a staple gun (we used a staple gun). We also hung blankets from the ceiling to create extra doors to restrict airflow leading into our warm room – for example, one blocked off the hallway and another was hung to block off the stairs.

Burn, baby, burn!

 Use the fireplace and burn candles in your “warm room” to build up heat.  

Have a Lock-In 

Unless you absolutely must, DON’T open the door! Do whatever you have to do that will allow you to leave it closed! Or else – there goes your heat. And it may not be easy to get back.

Sit Tight

And then… after this is all done… sit back and relax. The hubby and I actually enjoy being snowed in, even without electricity, because it can be the epitome of downtime. Play some cards with your roommates, take a snuggly nap, or read a book by candlelight. Preferably while wearing a knit hat and thick socks!

That being said... I hope you are safe and warm, home off the roads, with all the electricity you need this Christmas!

(PS - If anyone can break the magic secret of why Blogger's posting software is so mysterious with formatting and fonts and weird disconnect between editing screen and preview screen, Santa will bring you extra presents.)


Why Every Day is the End of the World… and the Beginning

Are you are surprised that you are breathing and checking email today?

Yesterday was the end of the Baktun, the Mayan long count calendar. For some reason modern people think this means it was going to be the end of the world? It was just the end of a unit of time. As in, December 31st is the end of our Gregorian Calendar, not the end of the world, and the calendar starts over on January 1. Same exact thing with the Mayan long count calendar. So basically… 12/21/2012 is one of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties ever… for the Mayans.

Photo from my backyard telescope: lunar eclipse, 2010 winter solstice
 December 21st is nothing to sniff at, because it does happen to be the winter solstice (for the Northern hemisphere), the shortest day of the year.  If you feel connected to earth cycles this would be important to you on any year. Aside from that any significance (for me) quickly fades.

Why? Because:

Every day is a present to be unwrapped. It’s a clean slate. This isn’t hokey New Agey feel good mumbo jumbo. This is true. If you haven’t lived it yet, the new day can be anything. You can make it the end of something – the end of anything you want. The last day you smoked a cigarette. The last day you went with or without a cold beer. The last day of your old job. The last day of living in your hometown. The last day you could see the world as a cold, mean place. It can be the beginning of whatever you like. The first day of the rest of your life – the first day of finding a new job. The first day of learning to like Brussels sprouts. The first day you were happy and comfortable in the company of strangers. The first day you stood up for what you believed in. The first day you recognized your body as precious and complete. The first day of whatever you wanted. Your first day down the path to be the next President of the United States.

Tray of bubbly from our 2010 winter solstice celebration
 Every day is equally likely to have some horrible tragedy – equally likely that you’ll be murdered for no good reason, equally likely you’ll be hit by an asteroid from space, equally likely you’ll contract cancer. But it is also equally likely you’ll buy your first jackpot-winning lottery ticket, be gifted with a random act of kindness, come up with the next great invention, taste or see or do something incredible, or learn something about yourself that will make you stronger for the rest of your life.  It doesn’t matter where this day falls on the calendar. It doesn’t matter what the statistics are. It doesn’t matter what your track record is. Any day – any day – could be anything.

I think one of the reasons that people feel New Year’s Day is so great is that they feel it is a clean slate, that they can start over, that anything can happen. Well, I will let you in on this – there is nothing magical about New Year’s Day, or New Year’s Resolutions, or the year ticking up to another number.

Every day is a New Day.
Every day is time for a New Resolution.
Every day you make or break your future.
Every day your fate is up for grabs against the forces of nature.
Every day.

Even on a so-called apocalypse day.


EcoHoma Gifting 2012

You might remember this post from last year in which I am thinking a bit too hard about what it means to give gifts and what is and is not an appropriate way to go about it, unnecessarily strategizing and maybe sounding just a tad irritated.

Well, I'm not doing that sort of heavy analysis over gifting anymore. When it comes down to it, I really am just trying to think about what a person would most appreciate, which I can afford, which they may not get otherwise. 

This year, it just so happened that several of the gifts still were win-win on the eco-ethics, sustainability front. Yay! And I got to do some early gifting, so it's ok to share some of them here. This year, I leaned way towards the handmade and food side. I figured anyone can go to the store and get what they like, so making something myself seems more special and more personal. I even opted, purposefully, to hand write everything. Because we seem overwhelmed with professional computer-made products these days. Handwriting almost feels cozy and fun to me since I now see it less frequently. 

1. Home made tea blends (using unbleached coffee filters and garden herbs)

2. Jars of flower seed (collected from my garden, with planting instructions)

3. Magnet boards (made from old cookie sheets and leftover paint - I was excited - I got this one to come out kind of speckled looking!)

4. Handmade floral sachets (using flower petals collected during the growing season and pretty fabric scraps)

5. Re-used neat cloth sacks from other purchases for gift bags (here: bags from flour and rice)

6. Bottles of Oklahoma Wine - No pic for this one, but when buying for others I always choose Sparks' Deep Fork Red, because I have never met anyone who didn't like it! Well. No one who likes alcoholic beverages, that is (my only friend who does not like Deep Fork Red simply does not like alcohol) . This wine has now been an official hit at two holiday potluck dinners and one game of Dirty Santa.


Confessions of a Grinch - the Battle Plan

Notice a difference in my December postings? There's a reason for that, and it's time I came clean.

Hi. I’m a Grinch.

I know, no one likes a Grinch (not even Grinches), but I’m being honest here.

I didn’t used to be this way. But lately, every year, I have become just a little bit more… and then a little bit more… well, Grinchy. Until this year I began to get my Grinch on in early October. That’s when I knew it was time to make a battle plan. So far the Battle Plan has been doing a passable job. I feel less stressed about the holidays now than I did a month ago (thank goodness!) This is the battle plan:

1.       Try new ways of thinking

 One of the first things I noticed is that if I make a negative comment about the holidays, even a positive-minded person will respond with their own negative comment! We’ll have a supportive, sympathetic, mini-gripe fest. In the end this is not helpful to me. I don’t want to re-enforce my negative thoughts! I have enough of them without trading them around like baseball cards. Besides, I feel guilty for giving them my crappy baseball card. So the first order of business became: Quit complaining!

The second order of business became seeking patience and gratitude… which is easier said than done when it comes to emotional responses and perceived-to-be-stressful situations.
File:Giant Wild Goose Pagoda - Laughing Buddha.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
So that led me to utilize some of my Paperback Swap credits to get books on meditation and anxiety reduction. I go through them slowly, doing every exercise on the way, whether or not I think it will work, and whether or not I’ve tried it before.  Because hey – you never know – this part of the battle plan is about the trying. One of the exercises even helped me refine my anti-Grinch battle plan.

I also found a free lunch-time class on meditation at the Downtown Library, graciously offered by Wayne McEvilly. I am trying out the tools he taught us on using mantras.

My husband casually reminded me a few weeks ago about the studies that suggest smiling makes you happy, even if you weren’t already. Something about smiling triggering your brain to make the happies. Well. I have tried – when no one is looking, say, in the car for example, just smiling for no reason at all. Like a crazy person. I keep practicing it. (Don’t tell my husband; he might think I pay attention to him!)

2.       Remember my yoga

One of the reasons for my Grinching is that I hold a long to-do list in my head at all times. If not careful, I lose track of my linear perception of time. I feel that everything on my to-do list has to be done NOW, that all the parties and events are happening tomorrow. In short, my brain will condense all the activity over the three-month holiday marathon into one finite perpetual moment. I forget to Be Present.  I forget to Be Now.

So I am making a more concerted effort to be fully in the moment – to remember that all I have to do right now – is what I am doing right now. And all I have to worry about right now – is what I am doing right now. Now. Now. Now. Be present now.

3.       If I don’t have to… I don’t have to!

I’m usually a “Git ‘er done” kind of gal, but in honor of the holidays I’ve given myself Permission to Slack. I’ve bowed down from most of my usual holiday cooking and I’ve pushed several tasks and decisions off until January. So if it doesn’t need to be done right away… it’s not gonna. Less to worry about. If I earn some free time through this process, I spend it on Yours Truly, lazily and selfishly.

4.       Loads of extra exercise

Extra exercise not only reduces my concerns about becoming less healthy as a result of holiday temptations, it also naturally increases mood and energy levels.

...from my former life as a yoga teacher
I have been taking an exercise class almost every day. My goal is 5 days a week. I’ve also hit 6 days some weeks. I’m going to have to be gracious on other weeks and accept less-strenuous alternatives or breaks as the holidays make more time demands. During Thanksgiving, for example, I had to count walks around the neighborhood as my daily exercise.

I’m taking classes from three different exercise businesses – a yoga studio, a dance studio, and a pilates studio. The constant changes in how I move my body on a daily basis is helping minimize muscle fatigue and it’s keeping me interested and motivated. 

I’m going to be honest here – I can’t afford to live like this. I calculated that, full price, taking so many classes from so many facilities would cost me something like $3000 a year to maintain. I am doing it now through a combination of regular cash, trade, and Living Social vouchers. But I like it so much I think I’ll treat myself like this every November and December.  I feel like this is helping me behave like a sane person more than any of my other devised Grinch medicines.


Handmade Goodies this Weekend!

If you aren't one of those early-shoppers (and even if you are!) you may want to consider stopping by Deluxe Indie Craft Bazaar this weekend!  It's really amazing - stuffed with unique, quality handmade items from artisans all over the state. One year I bought nearly ALL of my Christmas gifts here - they have things for all budgets.

Shopping at Deluxe supports Okie economy and Okie artists... AND makes you one of the coolest gifters around. ;-)

For more info, visit:


Yummy Beet & Wine Vegetable Soup

One of my favorite things about the cold seasons is soup. Soup everyday! I love soup. I am indiscriminate.

“But, Alien Mind Girl, it is 70 degrees in Oklahoma!” you might say. This may be true, but it is still November, and November means I get to make soup. I made a soup last week that I was especially pleased with. There aren’t any pictures because… well, we ate it all. It might sound weird, but just trust me, k? We ate it. All.  And because the soup was wine-red, it looked so pretty and colorful dished up with a plate of greens and basil-and-cheese-sprinkled toast.

Beet & Wine Vegetable Soup
2 cups of chicken stock
½ - ¾ cup of red cooking wine
6 cloves of minced garlic
Half an onion, chopped
A cup and a half of beets, boiled and diced
A cup and a half of cabbage, diced or shredded fine
1-2 cups of fresh kale, chopped
Sprig of dill

Basically… throw it all in the pot together, and add water to cover, bring to a boil, then simmer it for as long as you can stand, stirring occasionally and checking the water level. By the time I had finished cooking it, the beets had mostly dissolved into the broth along with some of the onions. When you’ve decided it’s done cooking, find the sprig of dill and pull it out to discard. Then it is ready to eat!

I really enjoyed it. Super healthy, and I thought it tasted decadent with the rich broth, hint of wine, and garlicky-sweet flavor.


7 Ways to Get to Know Your Community


            1. Don’t get there in a hurry
My number one tip is to take your time getting from point A to point B, and above all, avoid the interstate if you can. Drive city streets for longer treks, walk or bike for shorter ones. This way you not only know what is at point A and point B, but you also know everything between. You know the businesses and neighborhoods, the bus stops, the events, and how the area changes over time. You see when new restaurants and shops open, when it’s bike night at the bar, when buildings are being renovated, when homes are for sale. If it’s a route you take often you grow accustomed to the place. You KNOW that street, you know that man that sits at a certain bus stop and the dog that barks from a certain yard. You know the quickest way to trip chain if you want to pick up pizza on the way home and you know exactly when the church opens its pumpkin patch sale. If you were on the highway or the expressway, you’d miss it all. 

2. Read signs
This seems like common sense, but how many people do it? Stop and read the posters and the fliers. Stop and read the historical placards. Read the event postings on the marquis and bulletin boards. Skim the business cards.  Read the cornerstones on old buildings. If it’s there and the building isn’t on fire, read it. It only takes a second or two.
3. Make it a point to do something different
Change up the routine once in a while (or a lot); try a different coffee shop, café, or route home.
4. Go Local (AKA, Make the box store your second option rather than your first)
When I was growing up, our first option was always the major chain retailers and restaurants. We only went to other businesses or local establishments if what we wanted was unavailable in the box stores. It was, in fact, harder to shop local because our house was surrounded by box stores.  I also lived for a couple of years in a small town where options were really limited… it was often Walmart or nothing.  I would never want to shop that way again. Sometimes I still do it when they have the products I need, but more and more often now I leave in frustration when the gigantic box store does not, in fact, have what I want. My success is better if I know the exact spiffy small business that caters to me, rather than just hitting the one giant business that tries to have a little bit for everyone. Plus, I get the fun of treasure hunting for the exact perfect place for curry, or the perfect cup of joe, the perfect pair of wooly socks, and once I’ve found the place, that’s it. The search is over, and it’s as easy to find and get to as the box store ever was. And I learned so much more about my town along the way.

5. Browse local publications
You know those free community publications that are often in racks in the businesses you pass? You don’t have to read the whole thing to get a feel for what’s happening in the community – even a quick flip through to skim the headlines and bold font could be beneficial.
6. Hook up with people of similar interests
This is another that should have been obvious, but wasn’t for me. I stumbled upon it on accident. Obviously if you know someone who knows someone who knows what’s going on, and people know that it’s an interest of yours, the information is likely to reach you. And then you will hear about art openings that don’t have a budget for advertisements, small performances by artists without a PR team, sports events that aren’t big enough to make it into the news… And I mean social networking in person. Not just Facebook! Still not my strength, but I know how to do it. This is easiest with interests that I’m most passionate about.

7. Sign up for newsletters
If I am very busy, I don’t even read the newsletters that are in my inbox. I just delete them. But if I have free time I’d like to fill or if I’m looking for some specific information, I’ll open them and scan what they send me.


Bicycle Success! (The saga of how I finally overcame my fear of bike riding)

You may or may not remember this post, wherein I mention my adventures in learning to ride a bicycle. (Yes, you heard me correctly. Learning. At thirty.) Well, I did not update you for a very good reason. Jenny (my bicycle) and I had a disagreement. A rather embarassing one.

The first summer I had her (summer 2011), I spent a lot of time *not* riding her because it was too hot. And then I got tired of this, and felt like it would ALWAYS be too hot. You remember that summer, don't you? Yeah. Too hot. For months. So I decide to slowly acclimate myself to the heat. Spending longer and longer periods outdoors. And then I thought, today is the day. Today is the day I will ride my bicycle in the heat. I will be careful. I will bring water. If I start to feel tired, or thirsty, or bad, I will stop. I will stay close to home so I can go inside quickly. Well.

Jenny and I headed out. It was a hundred and some odd degrees, like every other day that summer. I paid close attention to how I was feeling. After 15-20 minutes, my legs started to feel a little fatigued so I turned around. And then I started to feel a little more icky. And I considered my options, which were to continue the short distance to the house, or stop under a tree, which was a refreshing 100 some odd minus half a degree thanks to the shade. Home was close. I went home. By the time I got home I already had heat exhaustion. No matter that I cooled off super quickly, made sure I rehydrated fairly quickly. And so I wound up in the emergency room a few hours later.

This was not Jenny's fault, really, but I held it against her. Stupid bicycle sent me to the ER! Irrational thinking. But I had to be angry at something other than just myself I suppose.

So Jenny gathered dust, and the longer she did, all my intimidation at riding bicycles came back. And then some. I glared at her in the garage the rest of the summer, through the fall, through the winter and spring, and through half the next summer. Knowing that I would have to get over it. And then the perfect thing happened.

Photo from http://www.okcbicyclist.com/


Wow, if I could ride a bike, I could go to the botanical gardens at lunch. But I don't know those bikes. They look scary. OMG, no hand brakes! I'll die! But the thought put them on my radar.

And then Spokies had a series of free tours. That meant I could try out their bikes for free, with a big group of people (which for some reason made me feel safer - they would navigate for me and all the cars would see us for sure), and get to do one of my favorite things: listen to history stories. Plus. Free helmet. I'd been putting off buying a helmet. I think the helmet was the kicker, because I know if I ride bikes I will need one and I know they aren't cheap. The helmet decided me.

So I made a date with a buddy. We signed up. I couldn't back out because... my buddy was my ride my home that night! And right after I got on the bike for the first tour I would have quit if I didn't need that ride home. I was suddenly very terrified. Of being on a strange bicycle, on a busy street, of being on a bicycle at all, IN TRAFFIC even. By the time we got to the first stop on the tour, my arms hurt from gripping the handlebars so hard. But I was ok. And the start-and-stop design of the tour helped give me a break and calm me down. The stories distracted me from being scared. By the time we had to ride again I was usually ready.  I wasn't a great bike rider, but I made it through to the end of the tour. And then I made it through to the end of the NEXT tour, too. There were several moments on these tours when I was absolutely terrified for one reason or another. Because we were riding down a busy street. Because someone else was riding really close to me, or trying to talk to me. A drunk even touched my bicycle while I was trying to ride! Because the sun was in my eyes, or it was getting dark, or I had to ride over a railroad track. I didn't even know there were so many things to be scared of while I was on a bike! But I did them.

And after my second tour I went home and looked at Jenny, and she suddenly seemed so easy! If I can ride a one-speed bike down Reno, with no hand brakes, with people distracting me, in the dark, then I can ride sweet 7-speed Jenny on a designated bicycle route. Piece of cake!

Monday I rode her to the dentist and back. My first full commute that replaced a drive I would have made in my car. And the first time I touched Jenny in over a year. Also, the first time I felt pretty confident while riding her. Once again, I'm not up to driving her to work and back... realistically, I am physically not there right now. But I'm not scared of her anymore.

Hooray for Spokies!

Bicycle success!


CSA and Cooking Beets and Zucchini Bread

This will be my last CSA recipe installment. I saved my favorites for last. I hope you enjoyed them!

On one fine zucchini-acquiring Saturday, I thought I'd treat myself and try this recipe for chocolate zucchini bread from the Prairie Homestead. And, my friends, it was one of the tastiest things I put in my mouth all month.  If you love chocolate, if you love bread, if you ever have a zucchini, YOU MUST TRY THIS! Go to the link. Then make this bread. Just do it.

Picture from Prairie Homestead

Beets are one of the vegetables that the CSA has taught me to love. During my first CSA, the uber-drought year, beets were one of the few crops that defied the drought and flourished. So despite having never touched a beet before, I had beets every week, for many weeks in a row. I tried very hard to like them alone; I simply don't. But, like tomatoes, while I don't eat them individually, I love to cook with them! They lend everything I put them into a natural sweetness and a pretty red color.

What follows is my favorite beet recipe. It is delicious, easy to cook, and filling. I love this one so much, I would say that 90% of my beets go into this. I have gleefully stored packs of chopped beets in the freezer, just so that I can whip out this spicy-cozy recipe on an icy winter day. It even made my hubby's list of favorite dishes.

Red Flannel Hash - One of our favorites!
Red Flannel Hash – adapted from Vegetarian Meatand Potatoes Cookbook
4 small red beets (or more to taste - I sometimes do 5 or 6)
3 medium size potatoes
1 large red onion
1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)

Cook the beets in boiling salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool. Skin, peel and chop. Set aside.
Peel and dice the potatoes. Steam over boiling water about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Brown the beef and drain.
Add onion, cover and cook, strirring a few times until softened, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and beets. Increase heat to medium high and cook, stirring frequently, until potatoes are lightly browned. Add soy sauce, salt, and cayenne and cook until flavors are blended, about 5 mintues.


CSA and Cooking Cucumbers

Cucumbers are another of those that are best raw... especially Berry Creek cucumbers, and especially the delicious variety they had that was called a lemon cucumber. Whenever we made dishes like these we used the Armenian cucumbers they gave us. I started cooking them for two reasons. First, cooking them used up more cucumbers than we could eat raw, and made those cucumbers last longer in the fridge. Second, I discovered this year that I am allergic to cucumbers in raw form but not in cooked form. So I have been a devourer of cucumber soup, which is extra good with a thick slice of buttered and toasted bread.

Sad to say I saved these recipes without citing the sources... 
Picnic on the Patio: Cucumber Soup with Buttered Wheat Toast
Cucumber Soup
2 cucumbers (or 1 giant one! Our usual)
2 tablespoons diced onion (optional)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 cups chicken broth
salt to taste
1/8 tablespoon dried tarragon
½ cup sour cream

Peel, seed, and chop 2 cucumbers.
Cook onions in margarine until soft. Add cucumbers and vinegar. Pour in broth. Salt to taste. Let simmer for 20 minutes or until cucumbers are soft.
Put soup in blender and puree.
Pour puree in a bowl, and whisk in sour cream.

I like this eaten cold AND hot, but usually eat it hot... It is especially delicious paired with a thick slice of herbed bread. Says me.

Cucumber Salad
2 cucumbers (or 1 giant one)  peeled and thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ cup water
½ cup vinegar
2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp season salt

Mix cucumbers and onion in one bowl. In a second bowl mix water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Pour the wet mixture over the cucumbers and onion. Chill for at least an hour before serving.


CSA and Cooking Peaches

Of course the healthiest (and often most delicious) way to eat a peach is raw, but through my CSA I learned about peach varieties. Some varieties really ought to be cooked! Berry Creek has two varieties that I know of... one soft, ultra juicy, and very sweet, the other pale and crunchy. The crunchy one is great for cooking; it keeps its shape and gets sweet without getting *too* sweet. Here are the recipes we used most often for this particular peach.
From AllRecipes.com

Stuffed Peaches – shared by a coworker
Cut the peaches in half and deseed
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
Bake up to 30 minutes at 350 degrees
Let cool
Put a dollop of cheesecake filling in each
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and/or crushed graham crackers

Tipsy Peaches from AllRecipes.Com

Grandma's Peach Cobbler - This recipe is ubiquitous, apparently... but I did try a few recipes for cobbler and this was the only one I was any good at!


CSA and Cooking Eggplant

I learned that, generally speaking, my CSA eggplant would absorb the flavors of whatever I cooked it with, similar to tofu or potatoes. I couldn't see what the fuss was over until I tried to stir-fry it and eat it alone - then I tasted the bitterness and understood. But I also learned that if you plan to eat it without cooking it into a dish, you can slice it thinly, salt it, and set it aside for 15 minutes first. The salt will draw out some of the juices in the eggplant and it will taste less bitter. Another lesson is that the raw eggplant doesn't keep long (a few days), so it has to be one of my first meals of the week.

These are our two favorite eggplant recipes.

Baked Eggplant Pasta – adapted from VegetarianMeat and Potatoes Cookbook
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium size onion
1 medium size eggplant
4 garlic cloves, minced
one 28-can crushed tomatoes
about a half cup of extra tomatoes of choice: chopped fresh tomatoes, or more canned tomatoes or tomato sauce
½ cup red cooking wine
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 1 ½ teaspoons dried
salt and pepper
2 cups of rotini
½ cup
2 cups of any type of cheese (or more to taste)

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook, stirring a few times until softened, about five minutes. Add the eggplant and garlic, cover and cook, stirring a few times, for five minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, parsley, basil and salt and pepper to taste and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bake pasta in another pot until just al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta with the sauce and 1 cup of cheese. Spoon into a large baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until hot and lightly browned on top, 30-40 minutes.

Eggplant Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Tomato
For the crust I use Jay's Signature Pizza Crust recipe. I often will substitute or cut the white flour with whole wheat flour. 
For the toppings, I use this recipe from Pioneer Woman.