photo by Michigan Municipal League (MML)
Shane’s mom came up from Cleveland today to attend the chaos known as the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair. It’s actually more accurate to say ‘art fairs’, plural, as there are four fairs spread out over the downtown and Central Campus areas. Between vendors and visitors, the art fair conglomerate brings in upwards of 500,000 people over the course of four days. That’s 500,000 people buying and selling, wandering and eating, sweating and parking in very close proximity to where we live and work. That’s a lot of people, you guys.
After a trip to the garden (me) and some quiet post-fair downtime (Shane and his mom), we had a delicious vegetarian dinner of various things from the garden and the market. I came home with carrots, beets, rapini, chilies, and cucumbers – quite the exciting haul! Our entree resembled the sort-of ratatouille from a couple of weeks ago – onions, tomatoes, garlic, and a chili sauteed in a bit olive oil until everything went saucy, then served over warm polenta. The chili gave just a little bit of heat – a heat we’re going to have to learn to incorporate into more things, as our garden is overflowing with them. I also tossed sauteed rapini with raisins – Shane didn’t love it, but I ate it up.
It was a lovely, healthy, filling dinner improvised amidst long conversation, and then followed by a walk through the downtown masses to Ashley’s for a Bell’s event, where we hoped to try Black Note, but where we made do with a Founders Cerise (me), a lambic (Mom), and a Hell Hath No Fury (Shane). A long, relaxing evening, and a nice end to a very warm day.
As we enter July, we’re starting to reap the benefits of the community garden plot. We’re also starting to experience mid-summer gardening woes: mosquitoes, sunburn, weeding, excessive kale. I’ve taken a few pictures, but I’m not sure if you can really get a sense for what we’re working with – or what our garden neighbors are producing in similar spaces.
And so it happened that we found ourselves facing down a fridge full of produce on the eve of leaving for a weekend trip. Inspired by this week’s SELMA menu, I decided to use up the zucchini, tomatoes, and rapini in a sort-of ratatouille. And I have to say, it turned out way better than I expected.
I sauteed a couple of cloves of garlic (minced) and an onion (finely diced) in a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat, then added 3-4 small tomatoes (diced) and let the whole thing go saucey while prepping the rest of the veg. I chopped a medium-sized zucchini into bite-sized pieces, then added it to the sauce once the tomatoes had cooked down a bit, tossing to combine and to ensure even cooking. While the zucchini was going golden, I washed, trimmed, and chopped a handful or two of rapini from the garden, and tossed it in to wilt for a few minutes.
We’d picked up a couple of loaves of bread at Plum Market last night – baked goods go half off or more at 8pm – so I sliced half a ciabatta in half again, then put it in the toaster oven for a few minutes while rounding up Shane for dinner. I had initially thought about serving the ratatouille over polenta, but that was just too much heat for an already hot night – and the ciabatta turned out to be just right.
The only thing I’d change for next time is the rapini – it was, well, like eating a bunch of rapini-flavored sticks. After one bite each, we carefully removed the stick-y parts, and proceeded. We ate this pile of goodness with fork and knife, pulling away bites of toasty bread, sweet red-gold sauce, and tasty veg topped with shaved Parmigano-Reggiano.