Monday, August 10, 2009

Sun kissed and eyes opened

Little miss sunshine. Not only am I finding her more and more beautiful, but she also has an impressive tan going on. I think I'm in trouble when she's older. The boys are going to drive Chris insane.

Somehow the Mediterranean olive skin gene from my mom skipped me and blessed Bella. Yes, I have been keeping her covered with sunscreen, but daily exposure to the outdoors and being a fish in the water, she's built up a nice tan. When I say fish, I mean it. In just a few weeks they were able to teach her to swim. She passed the swimming test as well. She now lives under the water, just like a little fish. I remember being just like that.
My taste buds have been opened up to a whole new world of complex flavors. Thanks to my first class in a series of complimentary cooking sessions at Williams-Sonoma, I am now a fan of true balsamic vinegar. We learned that the store bought balsamic vinegar is a completely different product that the true aged balsamic from Italy.

I've always purchased the Vigo or whatever discount balsamic for home use. Not that I was unaware of the good stuff, just never found it feasible to spend the extra and sometimes very expensive price for the balsamic straight from Italy aged beyond 12 years. Also, I was never given the pleasure of being able to taste the well aged verses the average which is aged only months is some cases. We were given two little paper cups with about a teaspoon of balsamic in each. One had a regular store brand and the other had a balsamic aged 25 years.

The difference in flavor and smell was potently apparent. The store brand (the kind I have always used) was bitter, tart and pungent. The 25 year old vinegar was sweet, almost like a very complex port wine. We were all stunned. Needless to say, I purchased a bottle of 25 year old balsamic after also tasting some awesome dressings that were easily whipped up. The price was not that bad considering that it should last me a long time. I've since tossed out my insult to balsamic that I had in the cupboard. For sure my next serving of mozzarella with tomato and basil will taste like a dream when I drizzle some of that nectar of Modena.

Dad came with me and was impressed so much he purchased the same bottle I did plus a bottle of balsamic aged 25 years that has been through more reduction and aged in older barrels. That stuff is gold in a bottle. It should last him a very long time. Next weekend is about olive oils and techniques. I can't wait to find out what I have been missing in that product.

Ratatouille while cooking. I cooked down the vegetables for a while longer after this point and then added a large can of chopped tomato. I let it simmer for about 30 more minutes letting the sauce reduce. I served it over brown rice. It was delicious. Another recipe that I'll have to remember to make that is healthy, low in cost, fast and comforting. I have the recipe on this week's recipe of the week if you want to check it out.
Finding Nemo must be on again. I think Bella is also starting to figure out that she can play dress up with her brother. It starts with a hat and then before you know it he will be in full drag.

Looks like Bella is enjoying herself but what is poor Kristjan doing?

I see, she's got him working back there. Shouldn't he be on his toy being pushed around instead? He doesn't seem to mind for now, so whatever. As long as they both are having fun. I really treasure these times.


Val in the Rose Garden said...

Oh I am SO trying that dish! I have tons of squash coming out of my ears and need something fun to do with it. That is on the menu for tonight!


Nessa said...

I hope you enjoy it! It's really tasty and would use up a good amount of your squash!