Friday, September 26, 2014

Getting ready for Fall

After seeing the movie "Ratatouille" a few years ago, I came home and hunted for recipes online, and found the very one they invented for the movie!

Smitten Kitchen's photo

I've never even tried to make it as gorgeous - I was looking for the basics. And what I found just upended my favorite, spaghetti sauce.  Mine is more of a vegetable stew. The past couple of years I've made large quantities to freeze over the winter. It's cheap, delicious, nutritious, and versatile. The more authentic recipes, I think, use very few herbs or spices. Some thyme, maybe. So it's a great base for just about any ethnic variation you like: Italian, French, Near Eastern...

Anyway, I took myself by surprise yesterday when I got done loading the car trunk with grocery store groceries and as I got in and fastened the seat belt, thought: "Wenninghoff's." That's a multi-generational family produce farm in the north central area of Omaha. So I drove on out there and guess what, came home with eggplant, zucchini, red and green bell peppers, onions, plus a buttercup and butternut squash, a small box of tomatoes, and some little red potatoes. The squashes and potatoes will go into homemade TV dinners that I'll freeze, some with roasted chicken portions, others entirely vegetarian, to add some variety in the winter. Here's what I got:


This saves me incredible amounts of money in the winter, and makes sure I'm eating a  lot of vegetables. And oh my, do I love ratatouille! It's good just with garlic bread and some parmesan on top, or over noodles, or rice (I dislike the idea of having it with potatoes, for some unknown reason), or some cooked lentils mixed in. Some ideas for variations:

French: thyme, basil, rosemary, bay leaf; with of course a baguette hot out of the oven and butter, and a green salad
Mexican: Mexican oregano, a dash of chili powder, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, some fresh cilantro and shredded cheddar on top; serve with corn bread or tortillas
Italian: a tsp or 2 of fennel seeds, oregano, basil, and bay leaf with parmesan on top; over spaghetti or penne, garlic bread side with a lettuce & tomato salad
Near Eastern: I am not very well versed in this, but I do know that za'atar - a flat bread with lots of thyme (here is David Lebovitz's blog post that turned me on to za'atar) and sesame seeds and sumac - goes very well with it indeed, even my poor imitation of za'atar

Next month is soon enough to start thinking about sealing the house up with plastic over the windows. I dread that, for eventually the house air seems stale and I start getting stir-crazy. But, it makes a significant dent in the gas bill, so there ya are.

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