reading and ratatouille

We love to read.

Jason is a big fantasy series buff, and I’ll devour most any book with a solid recommendation or Goodreads rating. [Though these days, we’ve been sticking almost exclusively to expectant-parent content and French baby books.]

My love for books is probably why I’ve never been able to say “no” to a book club, even if it means participating in multiple at the same time. Sure, some dwindle away and others continue on long after I relocate, but that doesn’t change my fondness for them.

We’ve been especially lucky in the reading department since coming to Denver. Not only was Tattered Cover Book Store one of my first epic finds in the city, but we’ve also been blessed with an impressive public library system and one kick-ass book club scene.

Anyone who follows Watson’s Instagram knows that our trips to the library are a frequent and favorite outing. Case in point:

library

Not too long after arriving in Denver, I was also invited to be a part of a unique book club group. The idea behind it was to create a sort of chain… two ladies started it, and they each invited someone they knew, who then invited someone they knew, etc. So by the end of the group’s formation, everyone knew two people out of the group so as to not make it too awkward, but they were also introduced to a slew of new friends.

My “comfort” people have since moved on or moved away, but my “new” friends have transformed into tried-and-true connections founded on a sincere love for books, the Skimm, and supporting one another no matter where we are in our journey.

[Seriously, when Christmas gatherings and impromptu baby showers result in favorite books being gifted and exchanged, you know you’ve found the right people.]

Perhaps one of my favorite book club moments came just this week.

I have a pretty solid track record of picking THE WORST books for us to read, but this month I finally found us a winner: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.

Not only did we all love this historical fiction read, but we were also able to Skype with the author herself and ask her one-on-one questions about the characters, her writing process, and what’s next for her. It was honestly the nerdiest and coolest book club moment I’ve ever experienced.

lilac girls

It was one of those perfect evenings that made me reflect on this group of girls and our near 3-years together. As one of us put it, this is “the best group of strangers I’ve ever met” — one that began as a hesitant gathering of fellow bibliophiles and has grown into the kind of safe space where we can enthusiastically Skype with authors on a random Tuesday in August.

So to celebrate them and our journey, I’m sharing the Summertime Ratatouille recipe that accompanied our discussions this week. It’s a dish begging to be shared with good people and good conversation — a given at any of our book club gatherings.

I hope you can share it with the amazing people in your life, like the ladies I have found in this humble book club.


Summertime Ratatouille

We’re big fans of experimenting with the many variations of Ratatouille, but this iteration is one we continue to recreate. The key is fresh ingredients. Fresh herbs, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes from our garden were paired with farmers market onions and eggplant. All of it combined together gave it a distinct summer flavor that we absolutely love.

Ratatouille

Ingredients
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 onion
  • 2 – 3 tomatoes
  • 1 log of fresh mozzarella
  • Several sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
1. Thinly slice all veggies with a mandolin and place in a large bowl with chopped herbs. Drizzle with a hefty amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Let marinate for about an hour.
2. While marinating, place mozzarella in the freezer for about 30 minutes. After freezing, slice thinly. [Freezing makes it easier to manage the thinner slices.]
3. In a large roasting pan, arrange veggie mixture in a slanted “snake-like” pattern, interspersing with the sliced mozzarella until pan is filled. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil found at the bottom of the veggie bowl.
4. Roast uncovered at 450-degrees for 35 minutes or until slightly browned and the cheese is bubbly.
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