Ian and I love animated films. Our DVD collection is full of them. From the original Disney classics to the most recently released 3-D animation, animated movies speak to us: the humor, the heart, the technical expertise. We have many favorites--it's so hard to choose--but on the top of our list, maybe the very top, is one particular film: Disney-Pixar's Ratatouille.
So of course, since we are trying to learn to cook and cook together, since we love the film so much and since so many vegetables are still in season, we absolutely could not resist making a batch of the movie's signature dish. Ratatouille--a French "peasant dish"--is easy, cheap, and healthy. It is completely vegetarian--vegan, even--and although it makes for a lot of slicing and dicing, it is incredibly simple. Chop the veggies, throw them in hot oil with herbs, salt, and pepper; cook. Done.
OK. It's not quite that simple. Different veggies have different cooking times, the eggplant absorbs more than its share of oil, etc. But still--it's easy. Unless, of course, you've decided to make ratatouille, potato soup, and hazelnut meringues with coffee cream all at the same time.
Ian and I spent our Sunday morning in Coeur d'Alene, two hours away, running errands and generally spending time away from our oppressively small town. We got home around 3:00 pm, unloaded the car, and realized we were already late starting our evening meal. The ratatouille wouldn't require too much time at all, but the meringues--oh, the meringues. I've made meringues before, but somehow these seemed more demanding. I ground up hazelnuts, folded them into the puffy egg whites, squeezed the flecked fluff into the rounds Ian had made with his compass on parchment paper. Meanwhile, Ian flitted around the apartment with his camera, photographing a pair of whisks in strange places in an attempt to hone his photography skills and to capture an image to accent my blog (I hope you like it--he spent a lot of time on it and deserves the credit).
I could continue to bore you with the specifics of our evening of cooking, the reasoning behind making both ratatouille and potato soup (which could have easily been made tomorrow) but I won't. We spent our share of time chopping and sauteing, arguing over whether it was OK to have wine on a Sunday night, but that's not what I want to tell you.
I want to tell you that my darling husband is, at this minute, as the Ratatouille credits roll on the TV screen (of course we watched Ratatouille--how could we not when we had created such a delicious pot of the same?) in the kitchen, putting herbs in plastic baggies. He makes sure to fold a paper towel into each baggie--he's very fastidious, you know--and as he does so, I can't help but fall in love with him a little more. Maybe it's the pinot gris that I had chosen to accompany the meal. Maybe it's the four hours we spent together in the kitchen. But as he moves from bagging herbs to shelving dishes, I know this project is worthwhile. I watch him sorting silverware, and I can't help but smile. I chose a good one, and I don't mean the ratatouille recipe (though that was good too--thank you Emeril).
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