Saturday, September 3, 2011

And We're Back

I've been so busy. So very very busy. I've been to LA. I've learned how to give a baby CPR and assess a site of a potential nuclear explosion. I've eaten a Barbecued Pulled Pork and Macaroni and Cheese Sandwich. I've consumed my weight in coffee. I've lost four pounds. I've been to a gym. I've swum in a warm pool. I've eaten candy floss (cotton candy) at a Baseball game. I've watched a girl walk down a hallway on her hands. I've rubbed a pregnant belly. I've stayed up until 5am. And I've made Ratatouille. Twice.

Now, I'm back doing my normal routine, with a little extra work thrown in but not too much. I think I can finally get back to cooking. This makes me very happy because spending all of that time out of my kitchen has been really rough. I feel really relaxed in my kitchen. Playing around with food is probably the best thing I can do to alleviate stress. There is something about the chopping and tasting, stirring and pouring, spreading and kneading that just soothes my spirit. It keeps me content and helps my busy brain settle itself down.

With money being quite tight around here the pantry is pretty bare, but I got my last CSA basket of the summer and luckily that provided me with a few things to help me along. We've been so disappointed with our summer basket. We've had hardly any tomatoes and the ones that we have been receiving have been either bad or just about to turn bad. The variety of other items hasn't been very good and we've just been disappointed. We've decided on no basket for the Fall, so I'll probably have to be better about hitting up the Farmers market.

I've never had real Ratatouille. That does make creating it a little harder, I have to say, but after scouring a few recipes, I think I've gotten the essence of the dish. I think sometimes soon I'll try and make it by following a recipe in more detail, rather than just winging it. I was happy with what I created though. It was simple and tasty, bright and heartwarming, but still light. I topped it with a fried egg for texture and a hunk of home made bread on the side.

Apparently, it is advisable to saute the ingredients before you layer them, but I confess I didn't try that. I just sliced them, layered them, and cooked them. I feel like a bit of a slacker, I must confess, but if you don't have a lot of prep time, this is certainly an easy lunch or dinner choice. It's also very low in calories by itself.

Slackers Ratatouille

If you want less liquid in the baking dish, drain the tomatoes first and then mix in a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.

1 Medium Eggplant, sliced
1 Zucchini, sliced
1 Green or Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1 Small onion, minced
1 Clove of Garlic, minced
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (14oz if using fresh)
Dried Thyme, Oregano and Rosemary
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the tomatoes into a shallow baking dish, about 8x8 or so. Mix in the onion and garlic and a couple of hefty pinches each of rosemary and thyme, and one pinch of oregano. Layer the zucchini slices over the tomato mixture, then salt and pepper them, repeat with the eggplant, and then the peppers. Sprinkle a little more thyme over the top and a drizzle of olive oil if you so choose, though it isn't necessary. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for about 40 minutes until the tomatoes and bubbling and the veggies are tender. Serve with rice or bread, and with a generously seasoned egg fried in butter on top.

Makes four servings.

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