It’s that time of year again: the sun is out, the corn is knee high, and I’ve got nothing on my to-do list except a pile of books and an endless list of new recipes to try. Summer (and the end of the school year) always comes more quickly than it did the time before, but I swear this year just jumped right up and slapped me in the face. Don’t get me wrong, summer is my favorite time of year, and I’m glad it is here. The fact that I’m done with three years of college however, isn’t such a welcoming thought. I’ve got one more year (well maybe one and a half if I decide to go for a victory lap) to make my mark at the University of Georgia. I just got here, how can it be almost over? May’s arrival this year made everything a little more surreal than it has in the past- lots of my friends graduated, I officially became a senior, and my roommate went back home for the summer (which means I have to be a big girl and live on my own). This month has marked the end of a lot of good memories, but it has opened a chapter for many more to come. This summer I’m staying in Athens to continue my internship of a lifetime- working with Rebecca Lang, a contributing editor for Southern Living and a cookbook author, to write and promote a cookbook. In between me pinching myself that I’m actually getting to do that, I’m going to be tutoring a high school girl in Spanish, trying new recipes everyday (and of course writing about them here), and reading books on my porch (because I can, not because my professor is making me). But first, my parents and my family from Connecticut are going on a cruise to Alaska. Yeah, still can’t believe that one is happening either. But anyway, the cruise lasts a week, and since Mother’s Day and both of my parent’s birthdays are coming up, I’ll be away from Athens for about three weeks. While I should be packing and cleaning, I found myself pulling out a recipe for ratatouille I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I justified it by saying I was cleaning out my fridge of all of my perishables (aka my endless supply of veggies I always have on hand). I chopped the onions and minced the garlic, softened them in a little olive oil, and emptied the entire contents of my refrigerator’s crisper drawer onto the cutting board. After pulling out a tomato from the pantry, slicing and dicing it, zucchini, bell pepper, squash and eggplant, I simmered everything with salt, black pepper and basil. In a little less than 15 minutes, I was out on the string-lit porch with my ratatouille and a tall Olivia Pope glass of Shiraz. Somewhere between the wine, John Mellencamp in the background, and my plate of summer vegetables, I realized that ratatouille is good for a lot more than helping you clean out your fridge. It warms the soul. I looked back on a year of many firsts, tons of laughs, a few tears, but most of all, a whole lot of joy. And with that, I enjoyed my last bites of my little French bistro cuisine- another year of college behind me and a whole summer of new adventures ready to be taken on.

 

Ratatouille

1/4 Vidalia onion

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 can diced tomatoes (no salt added)

1 eggplant

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1 orange bell pepper (or any color)

1 large plum tomato

1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

2 tsp dried basil (or 1 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped)

Mince the garlic and chop the onions, then soften in a skillet with the olive oil. Add the can of tomatoes, then slice or dice (roughly chop) the remaining veggies and add to the skillet. Simmer on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Serve topped with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.