A Fun Weekend and Caponata

It was a great weekend!

Started off Saturday with hanging out with new friends, which was a lot of fun. We met this family through the girls’ dancing school. We’ve actually met 4 years ago, gingerly talking in the waiting room of the school every weekend during dance sessions. Just some of the few people I’ll talk to in there..since I am not a dance mom, and the other women in there with us are..let’s just say… uhm, ugly and annoying. Then a few weeks ago this family asked us to come over for an afternoon. We spent a handful of hours together laughing, talking about every topic, and the kids had a blast. So glad they were fun, normal people! We are going to set a counter ‘date’ at the end of May or early June, after all of our lives slow down a bit. A little fun in the sun, barbecuing at our house. I’m looking forward to seeing them next week to set it up. Then we ended the day by stuffing our faces with Belgian waffles at Ihop, which I forget how delicious their waffles are sometimes..and then we made a stop into the Home Depot to buy some outdoor stuff- ant spray, weed spray, grass seed, then a few lavender and rosemary plants.

Then today I woke up feeling energetic, and we spent the whole day in the yard dethatching the lawn, raking needles / leaves, and, cleaning up the past season’s debris. We haven’t done this much yard work since before the kids were born! I had a lot of fun, cause I haven’t been outside much since the Spring started, and I needed to clear my head by breathing some fresh air and getting my hands dirty and calloused. It is true, doing yard work is cathartic… feel so great right now! We spent about 6 hours together chugging along with each chore. We have almost an acre of yard, front and back, which is a lot to maintain, but we did a great job. And had a lot of fun. We took a break with the girls to play some football, which was a perfect way to take the load off from working so hard. Sounds like it would be opposite right? But when you’re laughing and running around, it’s less fatiguing somehow.
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A view of our backyard from the patio after we were done.

Us after a whole day cleaning the yard  :)

Us after a whole day cleaning the yard 🙂

 

Then after all that work, decided to cook my all time favorite comfort food, Caponata. A ratatouille if you will.  I grew up with this dish, and it’s a dish that reminds me of my childhood.  You know that scene in the movie Ratatouille where the critic, Anton Ego, eats Remi’s ratatouille dish, and is immediately transported to his childhood when his mother made it for him?  It’s exactly that for me, too.  My Mom’s version is a vegetarian stew; made of eggplant, potatoes, zucchini and summer squash. Cooked together with tomato till it’s a rich stew. This dish is easy and satisfying. There is no vinegar added as with most jarred/antipasto caponata. This is served hot with a side of crunchy bread. It’s earthy, creamy, warm, and delicious. A perfect way to end a chilly day outdoors working hard for sure.

Sicilian Caponata
1 large eggplant, washed and cubed
2 zucchini, washed and cubed
2 summer squash, washed and cubed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of tepid water
1/2 can of tomato paste
S&P to taste

All the vegetables you need

All the vegetables you need

Heat up the oil over medium-high heat in a large stock pot.

Add in the garlic, sauteing for 5 seconds, then adding in the onions and letting sweat till translucent.

First add in the potatoes. Mix well to coat in the oil. Let cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

Then add in the summer squash, mix. Then add in the zucchini and mix well.

All the vegetables in the pot.

Most of the vegetables in the pot.

Add in the 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil

Once boiling, turn heat down to a medium heat. Add in the eggplant. Cover the pot and let cook for 5 minutes.

Add in the tomato paste, and stir till all melted and the stock of the stew is red.

Add in a half can of tomato paste to a boiling pot.

Add in a half can of tomato paste to a boiling pot.

After stirring in the paste

After stirring in the paste

Turn the heat down to a low/simmer, and let cook for 25 minutes. Stirring infrequently.

Add in the s&p to taste. Let simmer another 5 minutes uncovered.

Simmer for 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the eggplant has basically melted into the dish.

Simmer for 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the eggplant has basically melted into the dish.

Done! The potatoes should be fork soft, the squashes should be reduced in size, and the eggplant should be melted into the stock.

Dish is DONE! Caponata with a nice slice of bread.

Dish is DONE! Caponata with a nice slice of bread.

Ok, well I gotta jet off to get ready for tonight’s two hour premiere of MadMen! I am terribly excited! I have missed my Don Draper and Roger Sterling!!

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