My love affair with fresh food started in childhood. Growing up in a family with 6 children it was necessary for us to have our own vegetable garden in the back yard. I remember picking green beans and helping prepare them for our evening meal. I also remember helping with the canning and the freezing of our freshly picked produce.
After I got married, I planted my own garden. I continued to raise my own fresh vegetables. As a young bride, I was able to stretch our food budget by growing much of what we ate. Once again, I put my canning and freezing skills to good use.
Fast forward to our time living in France. We rented a house that had a large back yard so we were able to plant our vegetable garden. However, this time it wasn’t a necessity. The town we lived in had a Tuesday and Saturday farmers’ market. We were able to buy our fresh produce at the market. Stall after stall of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, eggs, and even live fish and rabbits. Our daughter, Victoria, who was 4 at the time, loved to pet the rabbits. We didn ‘t have the heart to tell her that they were destined to be someone’s dinner.
We eventually moved to Sedalia in 1997. You can imagine how thrilled I was when Sedalia started its own farmers’ market. I was able to buy my fresh fruits and vegetables. My family and I became regular shoppers at the downtown market. It was after buying the ingredients for making ratatouille that I asked Beverly Rollings if they ever had cooking demonstrations at the market. She said yes and asked when I would like to schedule my demonstration. So my husband and I prepared my lean and easy ratatouille and we also demonstrated bruschetta using ingredients purchased at the market at a later date. I am now on the Sedalia Area Farmers’ Market board plus being in charge of the Little Sprouts craft tent on Fridays. I looked forward to shopping every Tuesday and Friday and spending time with the various vendors and my market family.
Here is the recipe for lean and easy ratatouille:
Lean and easy ratatouille
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 small eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 small zucchini, cubed
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Combine the onions and oil in a 3-quart casserole dish. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Stir in the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, basil, and thyme. Cover again and microwave on high, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the vinegar. Let stand for 10 minutes.
You can also chill it and serve it as a salad on a bed of lettuce.?