By Erin Nowak
The Lenten season is a time to bring us closer to the Lord. Shouldn’t it also be a time to bring us closer as a family?
Research has shown that families that eat at least one meal together have lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse and higher grades and self-esteem for school aged children.
Cooking as a family also helps the younger children of a household with basic math skills such as fractions and science skills such as the conversion of water to steam. It allows for imagination and creativity as well as artistry in food preparation.
Eggplant Patrice is a simple meal that everyone in the family can help prepare. Even the littlest children will be able to push a button on an electric blender or make simple measurements for the seasoning. Older children can slice cheese and eggplant and boil water.
The preparation time for this recipe is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It may be prepared a day ahead of time or you may use the baking time as an opportunity to chat about what your children learned during the week, their goals, dreams and life ambitions, to plan family outings for the weekend or to talk about simple ways the family can help those suffering from lack of basic needs in Third World countries.
Eggplant Patrice may be served alone or with buttered pasta as shown in the picture. Support your local bakery and bring home fresh baked bread to complement the dinner.
– 1 medium eggplant
– 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes or 4 medium tomatoes
– 1 medium green pepper, sliced or chopped
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– ½ tsp salt
– ½ tsp pepper (preferably coarse ground black pepper)
– ½ tsp garlic powder
– ½ tsp sugar
– ¾ lb sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
Slice unpeeled eggplant into ¼ inch thick pieces; parboil until partly tender. Place eggplant slices in large casserole. Add diced tomatoes. Add mixture of chopped green pepper and onion. Sprinkle lightly with seasonings. Add layer of cheese. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 30 minutes.
Let us pray
Good Lord Jesus, help us to follow your vision to care for those suffering in the world. May we be guided by your light and bring food to the hungry and water to the thirsty. May we selflessly give of our sustenance. We pray as a family that all in the world will have clean drinking water and healthy food. Give us the strength to always choose vitamin-rich foods, and remind us often of our special role in bringing basic living needs to our brothers and sisters in the Third World. Amen.