First Ratatouille of the Season

On day 9 of 12 covering for Mom’s pet sitting clients. 2 dogs and 2 cats. Fortunately, everyone gets along! The biggest challenge is getting into the mood to do some real cooking. It’s hard because you have to look for everything you need. Tools, spices, side dishes, etc. An even bigger challenge is depending upon the client to have the tools you’re used to.
I just recently purchased a 10″ Wusthoff chefs knife, and I really wish I had brought it with me. Really need to find a cool little knife carrier so I can do that easily. The knives that are in this house are pretty dismal. Unfortunately people think they are buying great knives because they spend big money; the reality is they are buying crap that gets dull and transforms into even more crap ๐Ÿ™
This is my 3rd time staying here and I just today found a wooden cutting board. Ever try to use a total crap, dull knife on a glass cutting surface? Ahhhhhh!!!!
I hit the Verde Valley Farmer’s Market down in Camp Verde yesterday and got some nice fresh produce. Zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, baby red and white onions, purple carrots, romaine lettuce (that stuff is a trip!), and beets. In fact, I bought 3 bunches of beets because I want to start putting them up in the freezer to make sure I have plenty during the off season.
Oh, almost forgot. I picked up a couple of Japanese eggplants so I decided to make my first ratatouille of the season. It’s in the oven now simmering away. I’ve just removed the lid of the casserole to allow some of the liquid to evaporate off.
In the meantime, I popped a top sirloin into my crock pot, turned on the PID controller to 125 degrees and inserted my salt and peppered beef. I’m really digging how this sous vide cooking is going. Super #yumbo!
Finally, I’ve got some long grain white rice steaming away on the stove top right now. Should really make for a lovely Sunday dinner. Wish you could be here to enjoy it with me!

Happy Birthday America!

It’s July 4th here in America (and presumably around the globe!) and I’m doing what I’ve done way too much over the past year or so. Just sitting on my ass and messing around with the computer. Oh, I’m also doing some back up pet sitting for my Mother.
It’s hot out in Sedona, AZ today. But then you’d expect that in the middle of summer, right? I’ve discovered that swamp coolers have an interesting effect on my sinuses. I’ve also discovered that it’s not groovy to keep the cooler blowing on high with a ceiling fan swirling over the bed I’m sleeping in. Suffice it to say I’m hoping I’ve fended off a potential sinus infection. Never any fun ๐Ÿ™
But this blog is about food, not my nostrils! And this post is about expressing my gratitude for living in a great country, despite some of the obvious set backs over the past few years. Financial declines and general economic havoc aside, America is still (and hopefully, always will be) a wonderful, diverse and unique place on the planet.
Are we the best there is? Hopefully not. Is any place truly better than any other? I have my doubts. Do I want to see it all, experience it all, live to tell about it all? Oh, yeah.
But for now, I’m “stuck” living here in Northern Arizona, and today, on the symbolic anniversary of our country’s independence, I am pleased to be able to say that I live in America. For all its good, bad, ugly and other. It’s important to express the fact that today is a day to celebrate not just our independence, but a deep, bone marrow tingling gratitude to the millions of men and women of our military. Past, present, and (unfortunately, likely) future soldiers who’ve given all, or nearly all they have.
It’s easy to express thanks for the sacrifices of others. We should. Constantly. I personally feel that its good to always be broadcasting that gratitude. One really easy way to express this is by heading over to the ReMIND website and do something. Just last night I ordered 10 of their dog tags. My thought was to share some of them with my family and close friends. When I checked out, though, I decided to double the order and will have 20 of the tags coming my way.
Thanks to Craig Newmark for posting about ReMIND and the work they are doing for our country’s veterans.
Okay, back to thinking about food for me. Watching the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” marathon. Now that I’ve read (finally) Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential I can really get into his TV show. In fact, I’ve just started his latest book, “Medium Raw“. Nice continuation (albeit, 10 years after KC) about his life after his time as a chef. If you’re interested in “the life”, or various aspects of food and cooking, check out these books when you have a chance. They’re definitely great reads.