On Saving Raccoons and Eggplant Sandwiches and Such

Let’s talk about the time my roommate and I saved a raccoon. You can call us “Besties” and “Raccoon Savers” from now on.

Please note: There will be raccoon pictures in this post. If raccoons and trash ruin your appetite, do not read further.

Being a semi-productive person, I decided to throw away the trash a few weekends ago. The trash was smelling in a way I could no longer ignore. I tossed the bag into the fenced off dumpster and heard a scuffle followed by a ‘hey i’m alive in here’ noise. It’s the exact noise you don’t want to hear from a dumpster. For those who have watched any Law & Order episodes (dun, dun, dunnn), I’m assuming I’m not alone in immediately and irrationally surmising that a half-living person was in my dumpster. That initial thought was followed by a more rational one: perhaps (and hopefully) it was a small animal.

After hearing that extremely creepy dumpster noise, my instinct was to run. Run fast. But, curiosity never killed the cat, or did it? Either way, I decided to investigate further.

I peered over the edge of our trash dumpster (it’s really large!) and saw a tiny raccoon huddling in the corner. At first, I was relieved at the lack of human. Then, I thought of rabies. Ahhh, rabies! Then, I felt sad. That poor little raccoon! So many emotions! Our dumpster, being mostly empty at this point in the week, didn’t have enough trash within it for him to climb his way out. Then, I thought about rabies again. (please note: I don’t actually know if the raccoon was a male, but for the sake of this story, it will be referred to as a male. I also don’t know if he had rabies, but for the sake of being safe around raccoons, I assume the worst and hope for the best. )

I returned back to the apartment saddened by the thought of that little guy being stuck in that dirty dumpster.  I quickly enlisted the help of my raccoon saving roommate. At first, we called animal control. It turns out they have very limited hours, especially on the weekends. It was time to take matters into our own hands.

Like most 21st century 20 somethings, we googled for a solution and found a website to assist us. Rabies, people! Just as the website suggested, our raccoon friend was looking ” sorry, regretful, and embarrassed about the situation.” The website recommended placing boxes/wood/etc to help the guy get out. Revolutionary idea!  We gathered a few boxes from around our apartment and returned to help our dumpster diving friend.

We placed the boxes in the opposite corner of the dumpster (rabies, people!) at a 45 degree angle (as the website had suggested) and ran behind the fence that encloses the trash dumpster. The fence has a few rather large knots in it, so we peered through to see if our strategy was successful. For a long time, it was silence. Our raccoon was shy (just as the website suggested). Then we heard a scuffle and a few little raccoon-type noises. The box started to move and wriggle and slowly our little raccoon friend’s head started to emerge…. and just as slowly our makeshift box ramp started to fall. I watched in horror as our little raccoon friend and box toppled back into the dumpster. Noooo! At first, I blamed gravity and physics… and our slow moving raccoon friend… and the box … and myself… and my lack of raccoon-saving skills… and then, it was time for plan B.

Plan B: Get another box. Put that box in the same location. Run away quickly behind fence. Rabies, people! Watch to see if raccoon friend had learned from previous mistakes.

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Guess what? He did. Our little raccoon friend escaped from the dumpster. As the dumpster diver scurried off into the night, I snapped a quick photo because nothing in the 21st century goes un-instagrammed. Raccoon saving success!

So…. how was your saturday night?

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Eggplant Caponata Sandwich
Source: Giada at FoodNetwork
Printable Recipe

olive oil
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cubed into 1/2″ pieces
salt
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes
3T raisins
1/2tsp dried oregano
black pepper
1/4C red wine vinegar
1T sugar
1T drained capers
1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
fresh mozzarella, sliced (use fresh water-packed)

Heat olive oil (~1/4C) in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
Add celery. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add eggplant. Cook until begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Salt.
Add red pepper. Cook until it begins to get tender, about 5 minutes.
Add onion. Cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Add tomatoes, raisins, oregano. Add a pinch more salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking.
Add red wine vinegar, sugar, and capers. Stir. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat.
Rub bread with garlic. Grill bread on a grill pan, panini press, or place under broiler for a minute or two.
Add a slice of mozzarella to grilled bread. Spoon caponata mixture over mozzarella.
Enjoy!

Note: I like these as open-faced sandwiches, but you are certainly able to slap another piece of bread on top for a more sandwichy looking sandwich.

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