Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gotta love the farmers market

Headed off to the Schenectady Green Market this morning. This is a farmer's market loaded with local produce right out of the field and off the truck. Goal today was eggplant parmesian. On the shopping list eggplant, tomatoes, lettuce and garlic.

My mom is known for her eggplant parm. She makes pans of it for our family reunion and freezes a couple in case she has company. Our friend Patty asked my mom for her eggplant recipe once. It went something like this: Do the eggplant, layer in a pan with sauce and cheese. Bake for 40 minutes.

My EP is nothing like hers. Sorry mom. This is a vegetarian version and could easily be vegan with fake cheese. No offense to my vegan friends but there's no way in hell I'm using fake cheese.

Making this is a project so you need to carve out some time. The recipe is simple, just like the ingrediants. It just takes time. Here's what you need:

2 large eggplants
14 large, ripe tomatoes
1 head of garlic
some basil (I used dried because I only had $14 with me at the market)
half an onion
shredded mozzarella cheese
olive oil
canola oil
12 oz can of tomato paste
bread crumbs
a couple of big pots
a 9x12 baking dish
a good bottle of italian wine
music- I have the the 7.2.10 Phish show from Charlotte on. They're cooking while I'm cooking.

Fresh local tomatoes are incredible this time of year, The heat and sun make them fat and juicy. Start by cutting an x in the bottom of your tomatoes. Throw them in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, then dunk them in a pot of ice water. When they cool down the skins will slide right off.

Fill the bottom of a large sauce pot- the bigger the better- with olive oil. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, the onion (also chopped), basil and tomato paste. Fry the paste for a few minutes, stirring so that it doesn't burn.

After you take the skins off the tomatoes hold them over the pot and squeeze in your hands crushing them into the pot. When they're all in set the burner to medium and bring to a boil, then turn it down and let it simmer for a couple of hours. Stir your sauce every fifteen minutes or so at least. You can't stir it too much.

You've got about an hour to kill here so do the dishes or take a nap.

Now it's time to "do the eggplant". Today I skinned them but you don't have to. Totally up to you. I figure I have a better chance of the 7 year old eating it if she desn't have to worry about skin. I also sliced in discs rather than the long way. Again, it's totally up to you. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Make sure you use all of the slices and the ends. The smaller pieces will come in handy in a few minutes.

Dredge the slices in flour and set them aside until they're all done.

Fill a pan with canola oil, heat it up, open your bottle of wine and reload the music. Frying the eggplant slices takes time and the wine and music will make it go faster. Use enough oil so that it comes up the sides of your eggplant but doesn't cover completely. The oil is hot enough when you drop some bread crumbs in and they sizzle. If the oil starts to smoke it's too hot. Dip your eggplant slices in scrambled egg then coat with bread crumbs and fry. A couple of minutes on one side and then flip. The eggplant slices should be golden and crispy. Drain them on a paper bag or a wire rack to get the extra oil off.

Once all of the eggplant is fried you're ready to build your parm. Start by coating the bottom of the pan with sauce. Add a layer of eggplant, more sauce and sprinkle some mozzarella on top. Another layer of eggplant, more suce, cheeze... you get the idea. The small pieces come in handy here. You can use them to fill in the gaps or you can do what I do. Dip them in the sauce and eat them. You've been cooking for far to long without a least a sample.

My eggplant parm has 3 layers of eggplant. When I get to the top I add more mozzarella and grate some romano on top. Then it goes into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. When it's done let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes before you cut in. This gives the smell time to move through your whole house so that the kids start asking when dinner is.

That's it. Simple but it takes about 4 hours start to finish. Let me know if you try it, like it or have a way to make it even better!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Phish ticket giveaway

This is the second year in a row that I'm riding 100 miles to raise money for MS research, and the second year that I'm giving away Phish tix to help!

I have a pair of inside seats, section 5, row J for the Phish show at SPAC on 6.19 and I'm giving them away to someone who makes a donation to support my ride. Here are the details:

Win my tix to Phish! On July 10th I'm riding my bike 100 miles to raise money for research for Multiple Sclerosis. To help raise money I'm giving away a pair of tix to the Saturday night Phish show at SPAC. This is the second year in a row I've done this and last year I raised $2700, partly due to generous Phish Heads!

Here's the scoop. Minimum donation of $25 gets you 1 entry. Every $25 after that gets you another entry!

Last year there were a few questions that I'll try to answer here:

- I am not scalping these tickets. I bought them directly from the promoter and paid extra service charges to make sure I would have inside seats.
- The tickets will be given away as long as I raise over $200 with them. I could sell them on stubhub or ebay for a lot more and donate the money.
- The money absolutely goes to MS research. You will make your donation online on the secure MS website and the money goes directly to the charity.
- Your donation is tax deductable. MS will email you a receipt.
- I'll drop the tix off if you live in the Albany area or meet you in the lot before the show if you're travelling.

Link to make a donation is


Friday, May 14, 2010

Learning about weather from a 12 year old.

I've never paid much attention to weather reports. Seriously, how often are they right? When I lived in Breckenridge the Denver TV stations were showing the entire state as clear with blue skies while it was dumping an inch an hour outside our window. And it's not like my wardrobe changes with the weather, so why pay attention?

Biking to work this Spring has changed all of that. April started off with a week of 80 degree temperatures and it looked like we were raging into Summer. Of course, we were skiing in VT that week. Since then the teps have bounced between freezing and hazy, hot and humid. Getting on the bike at 6:30 in the morning, I need to know what to wear.

So I've started checking the weather online in the mornings. Nothing in depth. I just search weather 12110 to check the temp and I'm off.

Yesterday morning had the Latham weather as 32 degrees and 100 percent humidity. When I told Jimmy (our too smart for his own good 12 year old) he asked "What's the dew point?" I looked at him like he was from Mars and asked him why that would matter. Apparently if the dew point and the temperature are the same we're going to get percipitation. His words.

So back to and guess what. The dew point was also 32 degrees. Precipitation looked imminent. And a 32 degree, wet bike ride can be a little rough. I did what every weather man should do before he (or she? are their weather women? why not?)and looked out the window. Blue sky. Little whispy white clouds. Precipitation?

32 and sunny I can handle I jumped on my bike, headed to work and promptly ran into a giant, thick, white wall of fog. The Mohawk River was invisible. Rexford Bridge? Erased. Normally the GE R&D facility glows like a small city but yesterday it was gone. My ride to work largely follows the Mohawk and it was completely covered in a fog bank.

It made the ride almost surreal. I couldn't see any of the checkpoints that I normally pass- bridge, GE hill, 4 entry points to GE including the circle,Knolls, the ball fields at Blatnick Park, the old train station in Latham. Visiblity was brutal.

The precipitation came in the form of the tiny ice crystals that were forming on my clothes. 32 degrees.

It turns out that fog is actually a form of precipitation.

Who knew? Apparently the 12 year olds.

I'm riding my bike 100 miles on July 11th to raise money for MS research. Having multiple sclerosis means that you may suddenly have blurry vision. Or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason. Or that you may not always be able to walk, let alone ride a bike. The symptoms of MS are different, and devastating, for everyone - the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.

Please support my ride by making a donation or joining my team!

Monday, May 3, 2010

100 miles... all over again

May is National Bike to Work Month. I was trying to figure out if I could do all of my commuting by bike this month but it doesn't seem possible. There is the logistical nightmare of getting clean clothes to the office as well as shuttling kids to soccer and basball games and practices. So my goal is to do 1/2 my commuting by bike- 1 way each day. I leave my car at work a few nights a week to make this work.

Commuting by bike is the best excercise for me. It's a 9.5 mile ride, mostly bike path, with 2 short but steep climbs. It takes around 34 minutes on most days. The bike path is loaded with wildlike. Last week I saw a heron perched on the side of the Mohawk searching for breakfast. Today there were yellow birds 9 (maybe goldfinches?) circling at the crest of the GE hill. Rabbits, squirrels, deer, turtles, gophers, geese and ducks all share my commute most mornings.

Best of all is that I get excercise without taking any time out of my day. It takes 25 minutes to drive to work, much of it sitting in a line of cars waiting to get to the Rexford bridge. On my bike I can buzz by the traffic, shoot across the bridge and be on the bike path in less than a third of the time it takes by car.

Cycling has become a big part of my life since I decided to ride 100 miles in the MS Follow the Foothills ride last summer. I'm doing it again this year, the ride is on July 10th. I hope you'll support me by making a donation or joining my team! Details are here: . I'm also using the Tour De Cure as a training ride this year, riding 50 or 62 miles on June 6th.

Let me know if you want to go for a ride!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

phish ticket giveaway

Quick update on my Phish ticket giveaway. So far we've raised $400 for MS research and there are 15 people in the drawing. My 100 mile ride is this Saturday, July 11th. I'm going to pick a winner on Sunday as soon as I can crawl out of bed!

Want to get in the drawing? Here's how it works:

-you log onto the MS website (link below) and make a minimum $25 donation to support my ride.
-in the box that says "recognition" either put your twitter ID (ex. @jimstagnitti) or put #phish after your name. That's how I know to put you in the drawing.

That's it!

Tickets are inside, lower level, section 7, row R.

Thanks for your support and GOOD LUCK!


Monday, July 6, 2009

counting the days

Just a few short days until the MS Follow the Foothills 100 mile ride. The heavy lifting part of my training is done, just a couple of short - 20-30 mile- rides early this week and then I'll let my legs recover the big ride!

Friday was my longest training ride to date- a 65 mile ride that started and ended at West Mountain. Here's a map of the ride:

The first 12 miles are basically up hill as I rode from West Mountain to Corinth and into the Adirondack Park. Click on the elevation button on the map and you'll get the idea. The ride took me around the long, northern finger of Great Sacandaga Lakeover the Batchellerville bridge and through the towns of Hadley and Lake Luzerne.

There's something about a steady rain that makes the Adirondack's feel more, well, Adirondacky. Friday did not dissappoint. As I crested the hill on West Mountain Rd heading toward the lake fog was rolling in between the mountains. A slight wind picked up and the sky darkened. All I could hope for was no lightening and luckily it held off. The rain, however, didn't. Fifteen miles in a steady drizzle/downpour. By the time I reached the little general store in Edinburg I was soaked and cold. Good time to stop for a couple of Gatorade's and a Powerbar.

As the rain let up and the sun started to peak through I was back on my bike heading up the North Shore Road. Great Sacandaga Lake is a huge, beautiful body of water that is all Adirondack's. Shoreline covered with towering pines and dotted with rustic camps.

Hard to believe that the big ride is here. I've been joking around that I have no idea if I'll be able to get out of bed on Sunday. Truth is that people with MS wake up that way every day. Not knowing if they'll be able to walk, play with their kids or dance their way through a Phish show. I glad that a few hours on my bike may help to find a cure someday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

good karma.. see Phish!

Here's the deal... You may or may not know that I'm riding 100 miles on July 11th to raise money for MS research. Help me out and you could win 2 tix to see Phish at SPAC on August 16th! Section 7, row R.

Here's how it works:

The link below will take you to my donation page on the MS website. Make a donation on-line for a minimum of $25.00. When it asks for your "recognition name" put in @ and your Twitter ID... for example, I'd put in @jimstagnitti.

If I raise at least $300 through Twitter, I'll do a random drawing to give away the tix. These things are selling on Stub Hub for $200+ a piece and you could win them by making a $25 donation! Good karma, good seats, gonna be a great show!

Win 2 tix to see Phish at SPAC!