Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cats, Bags, and Vegetarian NoNoodle Lasagne

Well, it's done.  Cat's out of the bag.  Everyone knows; I told my boss, and then I made it facebook-official.  It's just easier that way; though I've read a lot of posts lately about how ecstatic facebook posts are less-than-welcome news for my fellow ALI community members, I weighed the options, and decided to go for it.  And then, I was doing a training for about 100 students this afternoon, and one of them asked me about a course I regularly teach in the spring, so I told them, too.  What the hell, I thought.  When I think about what I've done, it's a little scary ... if things don't work out now, there are a lot of people who know, and would have to be told otherwise.  But there would be a lot of people who'd know anyway, if they saw me on the street.

My boss was spectacularly supportive, said that she saw my name on her calendar, and was hoping that was what I was coming to see her about.  Told me that we'd figure out a way to help me take the time I needed, even if we needed to hire an extra hand for some of the work that I could parcel out (me: um, with a 96 million dollar budget gap for the year? really?).  I have a long list of things that need to get done in the spring: there are lots of moving parts, some of which could be done by someone else, all of which need some sort of central brain for coordination.  But it's good that she thinks this is possible, and she even said I should entertain the idea of spending as much time at home over the summer as possible.  She wants me to talk with her boss (which I'd planned to do anyway, since he's the one with decision-making power over the unit), but said I should ask for what I need.  A flexible work schedule for five months would be a dream.  Of course, she's a faculty member, so she can imagine things like that.

Then again, what she didn't say to me today, and what I happen to know from a "grapevine" conversation I had yesterday, is that she's leaving in January.  Leaving her position, and leaving the country for an exchange.  Which is lovely for her, but also means that I'm talking with a lame-duck boss, and that I'll be greeting the new person who starts in that position with a half-assed presence in my office.  Nothing like making a great first impression.

But I can't worry about that now.  Right now, I've got a bean doing some serious back flips in utero.  And plenty of work to keep me busy as the semester starts, and a husband who is out of town for the week, and an almost-four-year old who has been mischievous as all get-out lately and a huge pain to get out the door by 7:15am, and laundry to do, and dinner to cook, and cupcakes to make for the two new neighbors on our block.

Technically, I made this dish last week, but it's an opportune moment to share it with you, because it uses more eggplant (4 pounds of which arrived this week in our CSA share), and you could use homemade tomato sauce if you're drowning in tomatoes and are so inclined, and it's one of those things you can throw together when you have about a billion other things to worry about, and it doesn't heat up your kitchen if you're still in the middle of summer, like we are here.  I was anti-crock pot for a long time, until I discovered that you could do things with it other than what my mother did with it when I was growing up--things that didn't involve meat that came out like shoe leather.  Things with ... horrors ... VEGETABLES.


No-Noodle Vegetable Lasagna
adapted from Stephanie O'Dea's Year of Slow Cooking

1 26 oz jar tomato sauce 
1 small container of ricotta cheese (I recycled the plastic already. 10 oz? 12 oz?) 
12 slices of mozzarella cheese 
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1 c. shredded parmesan
1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4" thick
3 zucchini, sliced 1/4" thick
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
bag of baby spinach 
2 T. warm water

In the bottom of your crockpot, pour about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce. Layer squash and eggplant to cover the bottom. Smear about a third of your ricotta cheese on top. Add a handful of baby spinach and mushrooms, and a few slices of mozzarella cheese. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Continue layering the ingredients until your crockpot is full, and you have run out of ingredients. Top with the end of the pasta sauce and the shredded cheese. Eat any remaining ingredients.  Put 2 tablespoons of warm water into the empty pasta sauce jar, cover, and shake. Pour the remaining sauce on top of everything.
Cover your crockpot and cook on low for 5-8 hours. I usually leave it on for 6, but then it stays on the warm setting for the rest of the day.
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  1. Justine that is great news! I am so happy to hear that your boss was so supportive about your pregnancy, we need more people like that in the working world! Good luck with your boss's boss, I hope it goes as well!

    I am making this recipe tonight for myself as D is on his diet and cannot eat! As I have said I love eggplants and this looks so yummy. There is an Italian simpler version of this called Eggplant parmigiana which I make often enough but tonight I want to try yours!! Looks so yummy!!

  2. So good to hear that the telling went so well at work. I wouldnt worry aboutthe new boss starting in January. You might end up being their angel who comes in periodically to fix things, rather than the person who isn't around all the time. It'll be fine, and you'll have your new little baby, so...

    And you shouldn't feel bad about facebook. You have to tell people! individual notes would take a really long time, and probably be kinda weird...

  3. I love me some meat, and some noodles, but that looks absolutely delicious!!!

    Also, it's terrific news your boss took it so well. The last girl at my office...well, let's just say her maternity leave didn't go over so well with the Boss!

  4. You know, you might get more sympathy from a new boss if they tend to lean that way with preggo women. Doesn't hurt to hope and Oh My God that lasagna looks delicious.

  5. I love the way you weave your poss and recipes together.

    Congrats on letting the cat out of the bag. I know it's not easy.

  6. So good to hear the meeting with the boss and letting the cat out of the bag went well. I sure hope the new boss is just as supportive for you. And I agree with all the others that your lasagna looks divine. YUM!

  7. I used your eggplant lasagna recipe over the weekend and it was sooo good. I love new recipes for the crock pot that don't involve stew or beef (yuck for me, yum for the husband).

    Congrats on sharing the news at work. I hope everything continues to go smoothly on that front...

  8. So glad you liked it, Mare! We must have husbands made from the same mold. :)


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