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Monthly Archives: September 2011

I don’t usually like grape juice. But this weekend while at the Farmer’s Market, one of my daughter’s classmates was handing out grape juice samples. She was working so hard (she is in 5th grade) and helping her grandparents, how could I not buy a $5 jar of fresh Galena Grape Juice?

When I arrived home, I poured some over ice and took a sip. Delicious….so much so, that I can NOT WAIT to get more this weekend at the market.

My suggestion to you…run, don’t walk, to your local farmer’s market or local vineyard and see if you can get some fresh grape juice of your own!

And, now that I have a new passion (I don’t use the term “nectar of the gods” often), here are a few things I may try this weekend with grapes:

1) Sausages with Grape Sauce, which is a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks “Intercourses, An Aphrodisiac Cookbook”. I highly recommend this cookbook….and NOT for THAT reason, hee,hee…though THAT is a good reason, of course. Every recipe I’ve made from the cookbook turns out great and is relatively simple. Here is a similar recipe I found online at Lidia’s Italy.

2) Click here to learn how to make your own homemade grape juice (sounds a little messy, but could be fun)

3) And, I did an online search for “Galena Grape Cocktail” and read about one that had only two ingredients: Galena Grape Juice and Vodka!

Cheers!

I get it now….the  joy and rapture felt by the mean food critic in the movie, “Ratatouille.” Do you remember that scene…the emotion, the memories, the savoring every single bite???

After I saw the movie, I made ratatouille for the first time. It was ok. Nothing special; probably because I used out-of-season ingredients. (tisk, tisk—I should know better.)

Monday night, I made it using the freshest of ingredients from my garden, from Jennifer’s garden and from the Farmer’s market, including unbelievably flavorful tomatoes and a variety of eggplants (purple striped ones, yellow and purple ones, white ones—and yes, I should have taken a picture but my camera wasn’t charged). Plus, onions, garlic, red bell peppers and thyme.

After assembling the ratatouille, I had some leftover onions and peppers and decide to do a little “test.” I decided to roast the extra veggies on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper–just like I normally do. And then, I’d bake the ratatouille at the same time.

What an eye opener…the roasted vegetables were fine…slightly dry and smoky with good flavor. BUT, the ratatouille was oozing and dripping with flavors from the garden…the onions at the bottom of the casserole were tender and amazing…all the flavors melded together, while also keeping their unique individual essence (Can you see me channeling that food critic from the movie? Yes, that’s what happened on my front porch while I ate dinner. Now wouldn’t that  have made a great photo?!).

I based my casserole on a recipe in Mark Bittman’s ” How To Cook Everything” cookbook,  but I disregarded quantities and just did one layer of each.

Ingredients (forget all that measuring–just go for it )

Eggplants
Bell Peppers
Tomatoes
Onions

Garlic
Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Great Parmesan Cheese (I added this…liked the idea of a little salty extra)

In casserole pan:

Spread a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of sliced onions, next a layer of red bell peppers, followed by a layer of eggplant, topped with a layer of thick sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle whole, peeled garlic cloves on top, and fresh thyme (leaves from 6-8 good size sprigs), a generous amount of salt & pepper and then drizzle olive oil on top (maybe 1-2 Tbs). Cook until all the veggies are soft.

At 30 minutes, I checked on vegetables and flattened the casserole with a spatula, did the same at 40 minutes plus added a little Parmesan cheese on top, and at 45 minutes it was complete.

Baked in a 400 degree oven.

 Yes, I’m in love with ratatouille.

(So much so, that I will be continuing my love fest this weekend with a Ratatouille Cornmeal Tart recipe!)

UPDATE September 21: Ratatouille Tart was tasty, but not as mesmerizing as the simple Ratatouille. Looked gorgeous though! As did my daughter’s Tomato Pie, in the background.