Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ratatouille without the rat

Ratatouille is peasant stew from France but it could be Italian too... except for the name. It is one of my favorite dishes because it is so easy and oh so tasty. My mother use to make it when I was a teenager but I make it differently.

She would layer the ingredients in a glass casserole dish (she came from the generation of casseroles... get your can of Campbell's soup & can opener). She didn't use Campbell's for this one though... she would saute the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onion in olive oil and then layer everything in the dish and bake it. I remember really liking it. It was very different for her.

After looking at a couple of recipes on-line, I started making my own version of ratatouille last winter. I make it in a big stock pot. The onion and garlic get sauteed in olive oil first then the vegetable stock and tomatoes get added. By that point the salted eggplant has sweated and the veggies have been cubed: eggplant, zucchini, green, red & yellow peppers all into the pot! Salt, pepper, oregano, basil & bay. Simmer for an hour or two and then let it sit overnight before serving then the flavors can really meld & blend.

I made some peasant stew yesterday for a party tonight. It has been pretty cold in our little California beach town and I thought a pot of warm tasty stew would be a nice treat. It also seemed like the perfect dish for a housewarming party.

This housewarming party was really quite lovely. So many people came to warm this new home for my friend Vonder. Everyone brought food and the table was overflowing. There was a gigantic Christmas tree standing in the corner of the studio apartment all sparkling with lights and ornaments.

There were groups of people standing, sitting, talking, laughing. At one moment I was really happy to realize I was part of this group of warm happy people during this time of year. I was surrounded by friends and it was heartfelt.

When I went to gather my items to leave I found that the ratatouille was nearly gone. It is always a happy sight when you find that everyone has enjoyed the food you prepared. It is for me anyway.

So that is the state of the world for me tonight. I am still radiating gratitude as we fast approach the New Year.

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