Wide Night Sky: Aubergine Casserole and Cesar Salad

This book almost ended up in my (very tiny) pile of did not finish – books. But just almost, then something happened… well, actually I’m pretty certain which scene was the turning point, beyond no return, you know. I’m so glad that I didn’t give up on this book, because I truly loved it at the end.

Matt Dean has written a story that resembles life in its glory and degradation. It’s a story of a family, its members finding their true selves. It is a story about being true to oneself no matter how it might hurt. I loved the Dean’s honest way of writing; ugly is ugly, no point in sugarcoating it. And in the other hand beautiful things are utterly glorious. And one can find happiness in the small details of life.

In the book cesar salad and eggplant parmesan casserole are prepared for dinner guest. The father, Leland Littlefield prepares them because his wife Anna Grace is working late. But due to some unexpected events, their guest leaves and Leland ends up eating the food with his wife and daughter. So that’s where the inspiration came from.

I had a hard time finding a quote from this book. And no, it wasn’t because there weren’t any to choose from. It was because it was difficult to isolate a scene from the text where everything is connected and need the context to make sense. But I chose this one as it (in my opinion) reflects the story as whole.

“What you’re feeling now,” Scott was saying. He put up his hands: Don’t get me wrong! “I’m not saying I know exactly what that is. But whatever you’re feeling now, you’ll think it’s going to go on forever. You’ll think it’ll never, ever get better – not even a tiny bit. And then someday, something will happen. Someone will smile, and you’ll realize you smiled back. You’ll walk by a car with an open window, maybe, and Beethoven’s Seventh will be playing on the radio, and you’ll be humming along without even knowing it. Whatever it is, something will happen, and you’ll see that happiness is possible again after all.”
(Matt Dean: Wide Night Sky, 89 % Kindle edition)

Fresh oregano, thyme and basil

The Aubergine Casserole
1 batch of tomato sauce
fresh thyme
fresh oregano
fresh basil

2 (700-800 g) aubergines
olive oil
ground black pepper
sea salt
100 g fresh mozzarella cheese
50 g grated parmesan cheese

1. Start by cutting the aubergines lenghtwise into thin slices (about 1 cm). Then sprinkle them with salt to sweat out the excess moisture. Leave the slices to sweat for 1,5 hours.

2. While sweating the aubergines, prepare the tomato sauce acording to the recipe here. Make only few adjustments; leave out the chili powder and add handful of fresh herbs (thyme, basil and oregano) roughly cut when you cut off the heat.

3. Heat the oven to 200 ‘C. Wipe the excess moisture and salt off the aubergine slices with kitchen towel. Then place them on a oven tray covered with baking paper. Sprinkle the slices with olive oil and grind some black pepper on them. Then bake them for about 20 minutes so that they soften.
4. After baking the slices, take a casserole dish (mine was about 15 x 25 cm and 10 cm deep). First set a layer of aubergines, then add a layer of tomato sauce and top that with fresh mozzarella pieces. Continue this until the final layer of aubergines. Top them with tomato sauce and grated parmesan. Bake the casserole in 200 ‘C for 40 minutes.

Cesar Salad

Croutons fresh out of oven

8 slices of toast
1 dl canola oil
1 tbs dried parsley
1 tbs dried rosemary
1 tbs dried thyme
1 tsp dried ground garlic

2 heads of romaine lettuce
50 g grated parmesan cheese

1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 anchovy fillets
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs Dijón mustard
1 tbs lemon juice
2 dl olive oil or canola oil
ground black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 200’C. Take a bowl and add the canola oil and dried herbs and garlic. Mix well.
Then cut the crust of the slices of toast. Then dice the toast slices. Add the dices into oil-herb mixture and toss them well so that all of the bread is covered. Take a oven tray, put on baking paper and pour the bread dices onto it. Roast them in the oven for 8 minutes.

2. Take a bowl. Break in the egg and egg yolk. Add the anchovy fillets, crushed garlic, mustard and lemon juice. Mix well. Take a hand mixer and mix the whole time while slowly adding the oil. Add oil until you reach the consistency of fluffy mayonnaise, not too thick. If required, you can use milk as a thinner.

3. Rinse and dry the romaine lettuce. Then shred it into rough bitesize pieces into a bowl. Add the dressing (you probably won’t need all of it, don’t drown the lettuce). Toss the salad,  so that you get dressing all over. Add the croutons and grated parmesan, toss some more and serve. You can top the salad with parmesan flakes.

The Wide Night SkyThe Wide Night Sky by Matt Dean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started this book, read a little, paused, read some more and almost gave up. I’m glad that I didn’t.

The Wide Night Sky is a story about a family, which against all odds, after everything, survives. It is all about finding out who you really are and that goes to the whole Littlefield’s family, not just the father Leland. But him acknowledging that he’s gay is just part of the story, not all of the story.

The book has multiple POV’s, all equally important and all equally strong written. And that what adds to the allure of this book. Everyone gets a voice.

Matt Dean has written a raw and honest book. And here’s no judgement, no stance on what is right or wrong, Dean has written like a scribe, documenting events as they occur. This is what life is about, no sugarcoating the shit but in the other hand appreciating the little things, the small details that make living worthwhile.

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