Just to let you know, my mom is not the only cook who neglects to specify proportions in a recipe. Linda and Roger Petterson, members of Wisconsin’s Harmony Valley Farm group, also seem to think dictating quantities superfluous. Their recipe for French Ratatouille is an excellent example of how the Petterson’s leave a cook room for creative interpretation. The recipe calls for zucchini, eggplant, onions, green pepper, tomato, parsley, basil, and olive oil. How much? You decide. How big is your pot? Or your appetite? Now the Pettersons do specify the quantity of garlic, – 1-2 heads (or do they really mean cloves,? Is a head one bunch of cloves? Probably in this recipe it matters little since everything else is relative). Yes, this recipe is the dream recipe for those cooks with attention-deficit disorder who have trouble following recipes to begin with.
In honesty, I am one of those recipe-following-challenged cooks. Perhaps my tendency to wander from obeying a recipe’s stated proportions is genetic, or perhaps it just plain results from being too-easily distracted. But none-the-less, I like recipes that lack stringent guidelines. I’ve more room for error that way, – error that needn’t be defined as error because, well with quantities lacking, who knew? Yes, the preparation of such recipes are more like experiments. So I am a kitchen experimenter. I couldn’t say scientist however, because I never record notes on my procedures or outcomes. Rather mine is a dance of whim that more and more often results in edible food.
So I was drawn to the Petterson’s recipe for French Ratatouille. And if you continue reading I’ll tell you the assembly procedure they do recommend. But first let me urge you to try making it yourself for reasons beyond any acknowledged cooking ineptitude. You should make this recipe because it its healthy. It’s all vegetables baked in healthy olive oil. No, it won’t look pretty, but in post-holiday winter neither do we. In Wisconsin we’re too bundled up for anyone to discern whose figure is svelte and whose isn’t. Which is all the more reason to make a lot of this vegetable dish now and eat it. Make a huge quantity, take it everyday to work for lunch, and by spring you will be as skinny as a string bean. This is a healthy way to eat, to diet, to enjoy food. Bon Apetite!