Vacation Scrounging

Yancey and Loretta with the first catch

Wow.  Five days in the North Cascades, staying in floating cabins at Ross Lake Resort, fishing, swimming, playing games.  Yancey has been going since he was a kid, and every year my wonderful father-in-law Wayne pays for all of us to go up and be together. First Sunday in August, every year.  In October, Wyatt starts asking, "How many days until Ross Lake?"  Finally home, the kids are both sacked out, sunburned, and sugared up.

There are so many things I could say about our idyllic 5 days--Wyatt catching the biggest fish of the week, the two huge splinters in his foot, Loretta loving the speedboat, Wyatt jumping off a cliff (!!) into the water with his Uncle Charlie. But I have to tell you a Leftoverist story.  This is a food blog, after all.  Or at least, I'm always coming back to that.

rainbow trout fried in butter and garlic

We dread leftovers at Ross Lake because every single thing we eat has to be packed in--first in the car, then on a ferry, then on a flatbread truck, then on a speedboat across the lake, and finally into our cabins.  Every year, Yancey and Wayne talk about the good old days when they would hike everything in and just eat Top Ramen.  Now that girlfriends and wives are part of the picture, those days are over.  So they bitch like crazy about all the totes full of food and no one wants to pack out the fruit and vegetables that were so carefully trucked in.

dinner frenzy

Kelly and Charlie made chicken gyros one night, and there were lots of leftover chopped veggies--tomatoes, peppers, onions.  I opened the fridge the next day and saw ratatouille written all over it.  Loretta helped me throw everything in an old dented roasting pan--anything to keep her occupied for a few minutes so she didn't go careening off the dock.  The smell filled up the cabin for the next two hours, and I joyfully packed out the leftovers.   STARVING tonight after being on the road for four hours and getting the kids to bed, I cooked a late dinner in true Sarah fashion.  A quick quesadilla?  No.  I had been dreaming about ratatouille over polenta. With chevre (also packed out).  So that's what I made.  Scrounging even on vacation. I'm back.

ratatouille ready for the oven

Summer Ratatouille
Okay.  I wasn't totally making do.  You know me. I had brought my spice holster--olive oil, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, pepper grinder.  And I threw a bunch of fresh basil from my garden into my cooler at the last minute just in case.  You never know.  And Kelly had a jar of Kalamata olives that came in handy.  There wasn't any fresh garlic left, but I've included it here.

4 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cut into large diced pieces
1 head garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 lbs. tomatoes, roughly chopped or left whole if small
4 small or 2 medium green or golden zucchini
1/2 c. pitted Kalamata olives
lots of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 c. best quality olive oil
1 large bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped

Combine everything in your biggest roasting pan.  Roast at 300 in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until mixture is about half the volume, the liquid is evaporated, and veggies are all sticky and blackened in spots.  Serve alone, atop polenta, tossed with pasta, or pressed between bread in a panini maker.