We are officially homeowners now and are experiencing the highs and lows of being such. Like writing our first mortgage check, which is surprisingly a high. Knocking down our first wall, definitely a high. And replacing a leaky roof, absolutely a low.
I find this to be a law of the universe: when the warranty on an item (blender, i-pod, car, etc.) expires, that seemingly solid, in working order item will inevitability break soon after said expiration date for no good reason whatsoever. Apparently the same law applies to closing on a house. Not two days after signing the hundreds of sheets of paper the bank requires, I woke up to an early morning rain shower and the sound of drip-drip-drip coming from the playroom ceiling. This is a sound that still haunts me and I swear I hear it every time it rains, even though we have a beautiful, brand new roof.
We bought this former rental house of ours as-is, at an amazing price, knowing we needed to do a lot of work. Before buying the house we made a very, very long list of projects and replacing the roof was number one. Replacing the water damaged playroom ceiling was not on that list. But it is now, number 92, about a third of the way down the list.
We are actually quite excited about all the work this house entails. Between John and I we can fix/make almost anything and what we can’t, my dad can. We’re pretty handy and into the whole DIY thing. A friend of John’s told him how he replaced his own very large roof in two days. We have a relatively small roof in comparison and for half a millisecond, we considered replacing our own roof. Luckily we know our limits.
I did find getting a roof replaced takes more effort than I ever expected. We had several companies come out to give us estimates and were amazed by the huge variations in pricing. Anywhere from $3500 to $12,000. We ran into a few dog and pony shows and some snake oil salesmen. Also a ‘free estimate’ that was going to cost $300. Thanks, but no thanks.
We ended up going with a local roofer. The owner came out himself to give us the estimate, he really knew his stuff and never tried to over sell us. He wasn’t the cheapest nor was he the most expensive. As a bonus, he was totally cool. Like the kind of person you want to hang out and drink beer with cool. He and his crew did an amazing job, and the new roof is beautiful and leak proof and under warranty for a very, very, very long time.
We have a lot of plans for this sweet little house of ours. Actually, I have a lot of plans and John just goes along with me. Starting with my next post, I’ll be sharing my home renovation adventures along with my culinary adventures on the site. I’ve been working on a pretty major project and have finally finished. What I thought would take 5-6 days, has taken six weeks. Six very long, very busy, very disorganized weeks. As a result I’ve needed to take a bit of a sabbatical from blogging, mostly for my sanity’s sake. Plus I haven’t made many ‘blog worthy’ dishes.
This sandwich is definitely worthy. Oh so worthy with it’s layers of summer vegetables and spicy tomato sauce. Plus it’s pretty. Oh so pretty…
This is a wonderful sandwich to make with all those veggies you’re either picking from your garden or buying at your local farmer’s market. I’m sad to say we do not have a garden this year. Keeping up with a garden and renovating a house was just too much for us. We’re hoping to have one up and running again next year, bigger and better.
To make this visually appealing, look for veggies that are about the same diameter, a task easier said than done! Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife and steady hands, thinly slice the veggies to about 1/8 inch thick. I ended up using a knife for the peppers and Garrett sliced the rest of the veggies on the mandoline. He has deemed it the most awesome tool in the kitchen.
Mix together the tomato puree, onions, garlic, salt and pepper flakes then spread it in the bottom of the dish. Next, layer the vegetables so they overlap. To layer the red peppers, I cut the ring then coiled it, as you can see in the picture above. It’s not as hard or time consuming as it sounds.
Traditionally, a ratatouille is in an oval dish and layered in a beautiful spiral. Knowing that I would be scooping this out to put on a baguette, I decided it would be best to arrange the sliced veggies in neat rows.
The dish is covered in foil and baked for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. The temperature is then increased to 425 degrees, the foil removed and baked for another 15 minutes. The veggies should be tender, but not mushy. The smell coming from your oven will be amazing. It will be difficult to wait, but allow them to cool for ten minutes before assembling the sandwich. While they are cooling, warm your baguette in the oven.
I’m sure these veggies would be lovely on their own, but we’re piling them up on a warm, crusty baguette and adding soft goat cheese. I knew this would be a beautiful sandwich, which is what drew me to making it in the first place. What I wasn’t expecting was so much rich, robust flavor. The tomato sauce packs a bit of heat, but not enough to deter my boys. They gobbled it up. Which was surprising, because neither of them particularly likes eggplant or red peppers.
I made one very long sandwich and cut it into four incredibly hearty portions. Six smaller sandwiches is also an option. I can even see making this for a get together and cutting it into 10 to 12 appetizer portions. A long sub like this would make an impressive presentation.
I do feel I must warn you. This is a messy sandwich to eat. Maybe not so great for fancy dinner parties. Have napkins available and avoid white clothing. The tomato sauce will drip out the sides as you bite into this sub, and you will find yourself licking your fingers, possibly your plate. Expect all table manners to fly out the window. If you’re into neat, dainty sandwiches, this is not for you. I find the best sandwiches tend to be on the messy side. But that’s me.
- 1 long thin zucchini
- 1 long thin yellow squash
- 1 long thin japanese eggplant
- 2 thin red bell peppers
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 c tomato puree
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 1/2 t salt
- 1/4 t red pepper flakes
- 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 long, thin french baguette
- 4 oz soft goat cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine the tomato puree, garlic, onion, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes. Spread into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
- Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut the squash, eggplant, red pepper and zucchini into 1/8 inch slices.
- Arrange the sliced vegetables in layers over the tomato sauce. You may not need to use all the vegetables. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over the veggies. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and the thyme evenly over the top. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Once time is up, remove the foil, increase the temperature to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes. The vegetables should be tender, but not mushy. Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Place the baguette in the oven to warm for 5 to 10 minutes. Once warm, cut in half lengthwise. Spread goat cheese on one side of the baguette. Using a long, thin spatula, pile layers of vegetables and sauce on the other side. Close the sandwich and cut into 4 to 6 portions. Serve immediately.
Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook