Ratatouille Omelettes. Cheer for the downtrodden.
Can you keep a secret? Promise? Okay. I am really really tired of the beautiful weather in London. This is the second year in a row we’ve been hit with bright blue skies and warm dry weather and that is NOT why I agree to move our family here for the summer. I am here for dark, cloudy days. Rainy afternoons. Wellies. Macs. Umbrellas. I am here for curl-up-on-the-sofa-and-eat-Gu days. I am here for Midsomer-Murder-reruns-all-day days. And lately, well, lately, I’d just like a nice fat excuse to sit on the sofa and not have to take a shower and put on make up and all that other stuff that grownups are supposed to do. I think I might be a little down in the dumps.
At least I’ve pinpointed the cause: Our adorable flat on Portobello Road — you know, the one that overlooks The Electric and has a huge back deck — has grown too small for us. She, with her puny two-bedrooms, laughed at us in June when we walked in carrying a 4-month-old 3rd child. “No problem,” we told her. “We’ll put the baby in our bedroom. You’ve heard of Gina Ford right? This baby is totally sleeping through the night.”
“I shall believe it when I see it.” the snooty thing said.
Damn if she wasn’t right. Powers may be adorable. She may coo and smile and try to chew Sophie’s face off. She may eat and drink as scheduled. But she also has a tremendous amount to say at 2 am. And 3 am. And 4 am. And 5am. And after several weeks of this sleep deprivation routine we realized that we needed to pull a Marvin K. Mooney.
So we did some research, rented a flat for a week, and moved some clothes over. You would think this would do the trick and that it would be all happiness and joy now … but of course it isn’t. That would be too easy. Instead I feel like the relocation is sucking the life right out of me. All those books on the bookshelf that showcase someone else’s likes and dislikes. The stupid rules that we also follow in our house but because it isn’t our house they are stupid (like no shoes on the carpet). The poorly equipped kitchen. The vaulted bedroom ceilings where no one thought to put a freaking ceiling fan because *newsflash* it DOES get hot in London in the summer. It all just sucks the inspiration right out of me. Objectively, the house is fine but it is not OURS. It is across town from our perfect-for-us little flat with all of its quirks and oddities that we love. The walls with no art hanging on them because we haven’t gotten around to it yet. The hot water heater that shoots bursts of heat into our bedroom at 2am but doesn’t show up for bath time. The dining table that is too big for the space. The little red bistro table that is sort of on a window ledge that we sit at and watch Portobello Road go by. It’s all ours. Every bit. And now it is sitting, across town, without us.
This lack of inspiration means I am just not putting anything of note on the table – which has the knock-on effect of making me feel like a fairly crap mom, a really crap partner and an incredibly crap food blogger. Which I am certain is a feeling no one else has ever had because I read a half-dozen food blogs on a regular basis and I know what happens in their houses: They wake up, courtesy of the bluebird on their shoulders, naturally, and saunter into the kitchen to brew a cup of perfectly frothed cappuccino and then scoop out bowls of homemade granola and expensive yoghurt topped with perfectly ripe fruits. They serve it up to their soft focus children before whisking them away to their idyllic little schools then sit down at their stark white, expertly appointed desks with fresh pale pink flowers and framed block prints of pithy inspirational sayings before pouring their hearts out in concise and witty prose. I mean, really, do you think Pioneer Woman ever just thinks, ‘Man I hate these f*cking horses” or Deb from Smitten Kitchen ever says, “Hey — this kitchen is too damn small and I work from home so let’s MOVE.” What about Joy the Baker? Think she ever wakes up and says, “Pies are SO over. I’m going to grad school.”
So here I sit. With the big kids in camp and the baby, Powers, next to me in a rental high chair of pink vinyl with little brown flowers that is covered with remnants of her lunch (and breakfast) as is she. She just looks at me. Then she coos. Smiles. Screeches. She looks up at me with her perfect skin and her big blue eyes and she simply wonders why I need anything more than her in my life. And I do too.
Just like that I’m not down anymore. I take a look around. I think I’ll make omelettes for dinner. Who needs make up? That’ll make me a hero.
And it does.
And I smile as I write another day.
- 10 eggs
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk
- butter for cooking omelet
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Olive Oil
- 1 courgette / zucchini diced
- 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 small red onion, diced small
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium eggplant, diced
- 2-3 tomatoes (combined they should be about the size of your fist), chopped
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) tomato sauce, optional
- Pepper (red, black and white)
- There are many ways to make ratatouille, and I usually do it differently than this, but this preparation is the way I make it when it needs to be quick and easy.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When it starts to ripple, add the zucchini, onions and bell pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently enough to keep it from sticking but letting it sit enough long enough to get brown. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 20 minutes, stirring only occasionally. If you want to add the tomato sauce, do it halfway into the 20 minutes. Taste and season as necessary. Turn the heat to low and continue to cook until desired consistency is reached.
- Mix all of the omelet ingredients together.
- Heat a 6" sloped-sided non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Add a scant tablespoon of butter and let it fully coat the pan.
- Pour 1/4 of the mixture into the pan and very gently mix, in the pan, with a rubber spatula, for about 15-seconds. Then leave it alone. Once the mixture is fully set, add about 1/4 cup of the ratatouille mixture to the middle. (If you dislike runny eggs at this point you can slide the pan under your oven's broiler for about 30 seconds and it will firm up the eggs). Do not overcook.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the omelet mixture over the middle-third that contains the ratatouille.
- Slide omelet onto a plate.
- Fold the final-third over the middle. Top with more of the ratatouille mixture and some fresh basil. Serve immediately.