This should lure Steve home from work early tonight:

Every night, when I pick up Steve from work, he asks me if we have bread at home. (For his beloved peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.) And tonight, for the very first time, I will be able to say, "Yes. I made some."

And while I was at it, I made some fresh mozzarella cheese. And a huge pot of Vegetable Medley soup. And I picked the most beautiful (and tasty) tomatoes in the whole world. And we have a plate of homemade cookies from Kacie. See for yourself:

Okay, so I really can't take too much credit for the beautiful bread or the amazing cheese since the beginning steps were completed for me at a cooking class last night. And for those of you who were there, please don't judge my completed cheese. It might look funny, but it still tastes good. I might have run into some problems with the part about being patient.

Vegetable Medley was one of my Grandma Malouf's signature dishes. For a few years, I made and freezed it in great quantities to last through the winter. We got a little burned out one year, so we took a little break. Well, it's back. And it's better (and prettier) than ever with all of these different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. It's the sort of soup that you'll want to leave your house and come back in while its simmering on the stove, just to re-enjoy the smells, full strength.

Here's how you make Vegetable Medley, but it's all done to taste and availability, so you can tweak the quantities, as needed.

Saute 2-4 cloves of garlic and 2 onions in olive oil. Add a handful of chopped basil leaves and 10-12 tomatoes, chopped in large chunks. (My grandma always peeled hers, but I don't bother.) Then add all of the other fresh vegetables you have, chopped or sliced as you like them. (Zucchini, crookneck squash, carrots, green beans, corn, eggplant.) Salt and pepper to taste and simmer as long as you can.

Carrots are especially good in Vegetable Medley, so don't leave them out. The only vegetable I advise skipping is potatoes. They change the consistency of the soup too much. We don't use eggplant either. In fact, we finally quit growing them. They might be pretty in the garden (and win your kids a bunch of blue ribbons at the county fair), but it felt like every recipe we had for eggplant was merely trying to cover up the taste of the eggplant. So, what's the point?

I think it's safe to say that my recreating days of summer are officially over. It's on to the harvest. Good news for my family: I am back in the kitchen. Dinner will be served again.


The Ballard's said...

Is it selfish for me to say I am sad that you are done with summer?
Everything looks amazing. I think it is funny that you may have become impatient with you cheese making process. I got impatient just listening to 1/2 of the steps. You are a go-getter:) Props to you & your cheese.

Debra said...

crap, and I missed all that that beacause I thought I felt too tired. It looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Looks good!!! I really am going to stop by your house one day, and pick up my future baby leggings!:)


Kacie said...

You forgot to mention that you entertained 5 kids and mowed the lawn while you did all that....

Joanie said...

Quick question: What liquid do you add to the soup? Is the juice from the tomatoes enough or do you add vegetable stock or chicken stock? I LOVE soup with lots of veggies.

emily ballard said...

No need to add any liquid. You will get plenty of juice from the tomatoes.

@udj said...

it all looks great. will you give the cheese another go? i wish i would have remembered to take home some tomatoes. yours taste so good and look so pretty. i love the picture with all your tomatoes in grape crates too. so abundant and plentiful, who couldn't love the harvest?