I have eency weency spiders on my mind because Portland has been invaded by them. You can't walk between two trees, bushes, gateposts, or any other pair of things closer than eight feet apart without getting spider web stuck to you or, worse, one of the little critters scurrying on you. Ick!
The kitchen remodel is still waiting on exterior bricks. The word is, the bricks are now in the state of Oregon -- not at my house, but within the borders of the state.
In the meantime, I was just pleased to see this little length of copper drain pipe finally get installed. It meant we could finally say Bye Bye to the black PVC pipe that has been hanging from our eaves since January.
Inside the kitchen was busy because yesterday was Caponata Day at my house. Every year, I take advantage of friends' garden bounty and our local farmers market and spend one day making a huge batch of caponata. I freeze it in smaller packages to enjoy all winter.
Part of this tradition is to try to find a caponata recipe in my Cookbook Library, get frustrated, and make it up from versions I've seen on the internet or eaten myself. Despite the number of Italian cookbooks I have and enjoy (see list below), as far as I found before giving up, only one of them has a recipe for eggplant caponata and it is a hugely simplified version -- basically sauteed eggplant with some vinegar and garlic.
MY CAPONATA RECIPE
eggplant, with peel, in 1 1/2" cubes
yellow and/or green zucchini. with peel, in 1 1/2" cubes
yellow onion, quartered or cut into eighths, separated
celery, in 1" pieces
tomatoes, in 1 1/2" pieces or, if cherry or pear, whole
garlic cloves, peeled
pitted green olives, with or without pimento
red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
Amounts depend on what you like and have, traditionally heavy on the eggplant. In years where friends grew lots of red or yellow peppers, I've included those too.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Separately roast eggplant, zucchini, onion, and celery with olive oil, turning occasionally, until browned and soft, but not mushy. Do the same with the tomatoes, but they will get mushy. Roast the garlic cloves in olive oil either in the oven, on the stove top, or in the microwave.
Once cooked, combine the vegetables with the olives and capers and stir it all together. Add vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Add more olive oil if desired.
Eat warm or at room temperature. Add more vinegar right before serving to brighten it up. Eat as is for a side dish. Chop it up a little and serve with crackers or bruschetta for an appetizer -- very good with goat cheese. Or chop it up a lot and use as a sauce with polenta or pasta.
Many recipes call for canned tomato sauce or canned chopped tomatoes instead of fresh, but it turns out more sauce-like, which is good if you want sauce, but not as good as an appetizer. You can always add tomato sauce later to use it as a sauce.
MY ITALIAN COOKBOOKS
(with no caponata recipes that I found)
The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan
Cucina Rustica by Viana La Place
A Fresh Taste of Italy: 250 Authentic Recipes, Undiscovered Dishes, and New Flavors for Every Day by Michele Scicolone
Italian Casserole Cooking by Angela Catanzaro
The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio by Wanda Tornabene (with the simplified caponata recipe)
Marcella's Italian Kitchen by Marcella Hazan
Naples at Table: Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz
Pasta Classica: the Art of Italian Pasta Cooking by Julia Della Croce
The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed
A Tuscan in the Kitchen: Recipes and Tales from My Home by Pino Luongo
Veneto: Authentic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast by Julia della Croce