Weekend Adventures + A Updated Ratatouille

We took the kids camping with some friends over the weekend up near Mt. Adams. This was our first time going with all four of us, so I didn't really know what to expect. Jake has taken Lola several times on his own, but this time we felt Hudson was old enough and we could all go, make a little mini-vacation out of it. To get to our camp spot, we loaded the canoe up with all of our gear and paddled across the lake. It was absolutely beautiful. We fished, we swam, roasted marshmallows, all of the mandatory camping activities. But then came bed time, and even nap time, and everything fell apart. All four of us in one tent was hard. Hudson woke up in the middle of the night screaming and by the time I got him calmed down Lola was up. Basically we got about 3 hours of sleep. We knew, we just couldn't do another night. And by this point we were all covered in mosquito bites. No sleep, covered in bites, and seriously overly tired children, makes camping not quite the mini-vacation I had anticipated. 

It was still a great weekend, for the most part. Hudson loved playing in the water throwing rocks. Lola got to swim in a lake, go fishing and paddle the canoe. We came home a day early, everyone jumped in the shower to wash off the layers of bug spray, sunscreen and dirt that was caked to us all. My bed never felt so amazing. 

Sunday was grey and stormy here. It was actually perfect. And with being exhausted from the weekend I cooked a comfort style food dinner. Because when thunder and lightning are rolling in, and you are still hanging around in your sweats, you want warm comforting food. Think dutch ovens and fresh biscuits. And that's what we did. The weekend turned out to be just fine. 

I have been pretty obsessed with Amber's Southern Ratatouille recipe lately, but then I made the mistake you are not suppose to make. I started the recipe without completely reading through and double checking that you have all of the (at least main) ingredients. So what started as almost a disaster of a meal, turned into an updated ratatouille recipe that was rich, flavorful, packed full of vegetables and meat. Loaded with fresh herbs and topped onto fresh flaky biscuits. Amber's recipe is great. But this updated version works pretty good too. 

I served this with these buttermilk biscuits, but a freshly baked baguette would be lovely as well. 

Ratatouille with Pork + Thyme
adapted from For The Love of The South
serves 4

1 pound of ground pork sausage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 large (or 2 small) red  bell peppers, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 small zucchini, diced
1 teaspoons of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Sea salt

Using a large heavy pot, I used my dutch oven, place over medium heat. Once the pot is hot, add the ground sausage and brown until completely cooked through. Remove the sausage and set aside. 

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pot and add the onions, tomatoes, garlic, red peppers and a large pinch of salt. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, red pepper flakes, oregano and thyme with another pinch of salt. Stir to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Place the cooked ground sausage back into the pot. Stir and cook for 15 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Adding more salt, freshly cracked pepper or a few drops of hot sauce. 

Serve with fresh biscuits. 

Note, this tastes even better the second day.