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It is now ratatouille season, and for the rest of the summer

Summer time means gardens.

Summer gardens here in urban and suburban America mean tons, literally, of zucchini and tomatoes.

Some gardeners can their success. Using Mason jars, they boil, steam, stew, blanch and otherwise prepare their hard-won vegetables for the long pantry sleep or freezer burn.

Not I. Oh, I like to eat, especially fresh vegetables.

So my thing is to give away some extra garden produce and eat like a king every day, lunch and dinner.

Probably the easiest and most wholesome meal possible out of the basic garden is ratatouille. If this word has too many syllables for you, like it does for me, and it makes you think of fancy French men in white chef’s hats, take heart. It is this easy to make: some diced zucchini sauteed in olive oil. About 3/4 of the way to done, fresh tomatoes are thrown in the skillet and simmered down amidst the sautee action. Maybe an onion, if you like onions. More olive oil (we use California Olive Ranch) can only make things taste even better. Then some home-grown herbs (no, not that), like basil, rosemary, dill, garlic.

Keep simmering and sauteeing. Low flame.

When it is all becoming a big mush, sprinkle it with cheese. Don’t mix it in. A blend of grated hard cheese like wine goat or parmesan, with some decent Vermont cheddar, and let the skillet lid sit over a very low flame for about three to five minutes.

Turn off the heat, and let the skillet sit there on the burner for a couple minutes, with the skillet lid still on. Magic is happening in there. Don’t lift the lid to peek, or you will let the magic slip out and away.

Serve yourself first, because everyone else around you will dive in on the ratatouille and it’ll be gone in a minute.

The garden as metaphor, part deux

Basil is erupting by the bushel. Four types. The pesto I made for my wife today had all kinds of exotic tastes she worked hard to identify, and it was all good.

Tomatoes are laggards, every one of them. Green, small, looking nothing like what Giant provides, they are just takin’ their sweet time.

Where did that dill weed come from? Well do I recall planting a wee sprig. Now it is about to flower, so it must be harvested in order to regenerate.

Showy zucchinis, with their big nodding leaves, they are a bunch of braggarts, with nothing to show underneath. Lots of colorful flowers, sure, but nothing edible or useful. Intrigued by the nipped flowers. Are chipmunks running amok again? Only recently did I trap the last one out of the house. Hopefully the garden isn’t inviting them back….

Not one of the peppers has produced, either, although clearly something has ‘et them but good, leaving bullet holes zooming through all of the young fruits. My pocket is picked!

Finally, the cucumbers are lazily snaking their way into the other plants’ areas, and showing nothing for it. Like the zucchinis, they are all about showmanship. But fellas, we don’t see anything to support your territorialism.

And that run-down right there is the world in a nutshell, with yet another edition of Garden as Metaphor (C)…..