We’ve had a string of ridiculous thunderstorms the last few weeks. Violent bolts of lightning followed by house shaking thunder. Incredible, tree-bending wind and torrents of rain. When the storms came in the afternoon, Lyla would stand at the back door and watch in awe, hands and face pressed up against the glass, equal parts scared, impressed, and amused. But when they came at night (and most of them did), she was totally unaffected. While Adam and I would startle at each flash, and struggle to sleep between the thunder, Lyla slept soundly, and quietly. With each thunderous crackle, I waited for Lyla to cry, but she never did. The storms would come and go, and Lyla would keep on dreaming. Of course, an hour later, once the storm had passed, and I finally drifted back to sleep, I’d hear a mumble, a scream, and a bunch of crying. A bolt of thunder can’t wake Lyla; but the rumble of her tummy always does.
While the storms haven’t been great for my sleep, all the rain has been a blessing for my little garden, which is now growing out of control. It’s August 1, and my plants are the greenest they’ve ever been. I was worried after one particularly violent storm that my tomatoes and zucchinis might be in trouble. They looked so sad and pathetic, with their leaves forced to the ground by the high winds. But they popped right back up as soon as the sun came out.
Each morning Lyla and I venture out back to check on everything and last week we found a very pleasant surprise. Several of our zucchinis were ready to be harvested. With one slow turn, our first zucchini snapped of the plant. Lyla was very pleased.
Just a couple of weeks ago, as we suffered through day after day of 100 degree heat, and oppressive humidity, I had almost given up hope. Because of our move, and because it’s hard to cultivate a garden with a babbling baby at your side, the garden hadn’t gotten my full attention. Plus, we got a late start; it wasn’t until early June that we got the seeds in the ground. But now, everything – even the jalapenos and tomatoes, which were only planted just recently – is prospering.
Now, as my pile of zucchinis continues to grow (just picked another two today!), I need to find recipes that highlight their freshness and flavor. Recipes like the one I used the other night, for Ratatouille Provençal.
Ratatouille Provençal (adapted from Joy of Cooking):
I started off by chopping up my eggplant and the two biggest zucchinis from the garden.
I then sautéed them in olive oil over medium heat. After about 10 minutes, I removed the vegetables from the pan.
Then added one sliced onion plus a little more olive oil to the hot pan. Once the onions were tender, I added in a chopped red pepper and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Next I added two fresh, chopped tomatoes, thyme, a bay leaf and a bit of crushed red pepper. Most recipes wouldn’t call for crushed red pepper, but I wanted to add a little heat and a bit of a heat to my dish. After fully seasoning the veggies, I turned the heat down to low and let the flavors meld together for about 5 minutes before adding the zucchini and eggplant mixture back into the pan. I covered the pan and let it all simmer for 20 minutes.
Before serving I added fresh oregano and basil leaves right on top and then dished it up along side of a loaf of homemade bread.
It was surprisingly filling and very tasty. It was a meal the whole family could enjoy – and one that we all worked to make happen.
Lyla wishes everyone happy eating!