Happy August, shareholders!
Even with the heat that we have been experiencing and the arrival of crops that we think of as marking “high summer, ” for us farmers there are hints of autumn just around the corner: a certain scent to the air in the morning; of old cucumber plantings and dried grass; the shortening days; the final push to get fall crops in the ground–our last big plantings of the season. We’re beginning to seed cover crops and starting to plan in earnest for our garlic planting in early November. The light looks a little different now.
This weekend I took advantage of the cooler, gray days and made one of my favorite dishes, ratatouille. I always make this in August. It’s a dish born of garden abundance. Because of the combination of ingredients and the way you prepare it, it really signifies the straddling of seasons. It uses high summer fruiting vegetables, but you have to cook it on your stove for a long time during the heat of August or September. It’s cozy food that you prepare during the least cozy-feeling time of the year!
The first time I made ratatouille, I did it the Julia Child way. She believed strongly, as do many French chefs, that ratatouille tastes best when each vegetable is sautéed separately and set aside before combining, rather than just all thrown in a pot and stewed together. This makes the flavor of each veggie really sing on its own. I still do this sometimes—I believe it tastes better. But it’s a labor of love, it uses a lot of olive oil, and I am lucky to even have the time or energy to cook this time of the year. So I often start by sautéeing onions, then adding garlic, then adding everything but the tomatoes and herbs, then adding those in last and simmering for a couple of hours. Easy peasy, and still so tasty.
There are a ton of variations on ratatouille, and I encourage you to try some as the tomatoes pour in. Ratatouille is a great way to celebrate August!