I love my fans and followers! You all give me such great ideas and inspiration! While I have over 30 cookbooks and spend hours on end scanning online sites for a delicious dish, I love, love, love when people send me their recipes to try out!
The first person to send me a recipe since I started this blog is Penny Rutledge. Penny’s awesome daughter is Molly (the one with the super cute daughter holding the persimmon in the Persimmon Cake Recipe).
Not everyone you meet as an expat becomes an instant friend. You’ll meet a lot of people in this great big world. Some are crazy and you run! Others…..
Others potentially reach what I affectionally call The Bridget-Level Friend.
First I’ll explain to you why I call it The Bridget-Level Friend.
When I moved to Nuremberg, Germany with two of my 3 little ones (the youngest never lived in Germany… don’t remind her), I arrived on Wednesday January 2, 2008. Three days later, on Friday I went to an English-speaking Mommy and Me program.
There were quite a few English speaking kids and moms, but at the end of the program only one approached me and asked me where I was from.
I told her Toledo, Ohio…
She then asked me, but where are you from? (as someone who doesn’t have blond hair and blue eyes, I get this second question a lot. I know what they’re asking. Sometimes I play stupid and say, Sylvania other times….)
I told her I was Lebanese, and she (Bridget) was like Hey! I’m part Lebanese too! Well from that moment me and Bridget hit it off.
For me, I truly valued the fact that she approached the new girl and made an effort to get to know me. I had only been in Germany for a few days, but those first days as an expat in a new country, on a new continent with 2 kids and a hardworking husband can be so lonely when you are well… alone. When I met Bridget for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime I knew I had a
friend a best friend in my new country.
Over the next 20 months, Bridget and I became very close friends. She was my go to for advice. Smart, accomplished, well-spoken and quite stylish! She was the friend I would go to vent out my frustrations as an expat or concerns about motherhood. She always had a way to help, whether it was a kind word, a cup of tea, or taking a day off of work to take me sightseeing in Wurzburg (the city she lived in before she moved to Nuremberg).
Bridget, epitomized everything someone would ever want in a friend. Even though I moved back to the USA, even though I haven’t seen her in 6 years, even though we don’t talk every week, not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. One thing I know for sure is the next time I see her, our friendship will pick up exactly where it left off.
This is why I call the best friendships, The Bridget-Level Friend. Since I’ve met Bridget, only a very few people I have come across as an expat have reached that level. They know who they are. I’ve told them the importance of reaching this milestone.
Molly is a Bridget-Level Friend because over the past 2 1/2 years in China and more specifically in the last 24 months in which we’ve become remarkably close, I made who makes me feel at home here. Molly is hilarious, accomplished and super smart. Not to mention her Chinese is awesome and I use her as my translator all the time. Hanging out with her so often has introduced words like HORRENDOUS (stress the second R!) to my vernacular and even though she works full time she always has time for our friendship. She’s so cool!
The joys of expat life. All your friends leave or you leave. Neighbours for life just doesn’t happen in our circles.
Molly left today. She’s off to her next post, but this doesn’t mean our friendship is over. Not by a long shot…
Can someone hand me a tissue please!?
Ok, back to the origins of the recipe…
I met Molly’s mom, Mrs. Rutledge (sorry I can’t call her Penny. My mom would kill me for addressing her by her first name) last summer when she was here visiting her daughter, son-in-law and 3 super grandkids. She was just the sweetest person ever just like Molly… As they say, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.
After Molly told her mom about my blog, she’s become one of most dedicated fans, sending me messages and comments regularly. She even sent me her award-winning recipe for Mexican Eggplant. Seriously! She won a contest with this one and she so kindly sent it to me to share with you.
A few years after Molly was born, back in 19…. Well I can’t tell you what year because Molly will kill me lol… Mrs. Rutledge took part in a contest and the Grand Prize was a…. MICROWAVE!
Eggplants aren’t a very popular vegetable. You either love it or you hate it, and most hate it. So for her to submit an eggplant recipe was pretty bold IMHO. And she won! She beat out all of the other contestants… with an eggplant recipe! According to the judge,
If some one could make eggplant taste good…then they deserve to win!
Mrs. Rutledge has made changes over the years to it depending on what she has in the refrigerator. No matter what though, eggplants are still the star of the dish. In fact, after all these years, only one person tried it didn’t and still didn’t like eggplants! If you ask me that person is crazy!
This recipe was simple and super delicious. Paired with a colorful salad, it makes a delicious vegetarian dinner. Or if you really want to impress your friends, take it to the next neighborhood potluck!
(I made a slight modification using fresh tomatoes and green chilies but you could use canned)