Ratatouille in a Pumpkin

with a Belarusian twist

Ratatouille Main Theme, Michael Giacchino

Lately, cooking is turning out to be one of my favorite creative forms. For me, it’s not so much about the food but about time well-spent.

Dear little kitchen,
Are you purposely distracting me from my computer?
I thank you.

Yesterday, while visiting Gabi’s page, Cooking Without Limits, I ran across a dish I couldn’t pass-up. Ratatouille in a pumpkin, it had me at the name. In a blink I traveled back to the time my daughter and I went to see the film premier. We always remember how we left the theater that day with all sorts of food cravings, especially for cheese.

Well, I had never attempted this dish, but how could I possibly resist this version made in a butternut squash. The title alone is irresistible.

The vegetarian recipe is delicious, but I wanted to add a Belarusian twist to it, so I included turkey kielbasa.

Do what you love.

Please don’t worry about perfect slices, I sure didn’t. And by all means use whatever veggies you like or whichever you might have in your fridge. I used eggplant, zucchini, red onions, and bell peppers. The peppers are part of the sauce but I wanted them sliced too.

Just scoop out the squash. I placed mine in the oven for a bit to make this easier. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stuff with sliced veggies. Cover in favorite tomato based sauce. I made mine with tomato juice, fresh tomatoes, cream, minced garlic, more oil, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Cook at 400f or 200c for 40-50 min or until softened. Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Thank you again, Gabi. The aroma alone made me feel like Chef Ratatouille himself. 🙂 Time well-spent.

See you, littles.

Olivier Salad, Little Mingling Squares

As the view of the buildings out my kitchen window.

Olivier (салат Оливье, salat Olivye, pronounced ah-liv-yeh with a silent r), a traditional salad dish in Russian cuisine, which I have enjoyed on numerous occasions here in Belarus. It is most often served on New Year’s and birthdays, but anytime really. It’s so popular that markets always have the fresh ingredients available, potatoes and carrots boiled and ready for you to take home and dice away. I have made delicious vegetarian versions too, dressed with extra virgin olive oil, but today I share the traditional ingredients prepared earlier this week. They go so well together that they seem to mingle.

From what I have observed and learned throughout almost two years now, Olivier is usually made with the following: 

  • potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • carrots, peeled and boiled
  • green peas
  • eggs, boiled
  • bologna sausage
  • brined dill pickles (or cucumber)

All diced in bitty pieces, dressed and finished with:

  • mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

Amounts are really up to you. It is that simple. Sometimes onions, but I have not seen that other than the occasional green onion and dill which is used as a topping on just about every dish here.

Dear little kitchen,

It’s been a most delicious week. Time flies, but you have taught me to pause for its outstretched wings. An enchanted season that once slipped through my fingers all too hurriedly, it has now settled in me as it was always meant to. I seem to have made room for it to stretch out comfortably, convivially. This stilled life, this simpler patch of earth, clocks and calendars no longer escape me.

Oh, little kitchen, agreeable soul, it’s good to mingle with you and it’s good to live slow.
See you, littles.


the highest heaven

Details seemed to aim to distract, skies overcast, winds that weren’t up to fanning as briskly as believed for, foliage dropping faster than the weightless flutter envisioned, and there I stood, in all the pristine stillness, found, lifted higher still than all that I had hoped or ever could begin to hope.

To a time of no time,
a place without a place,
a realm above every realm that ever was or ever will be.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased!

Luke 2:14

12 October 2021

See you, littles.

Medovik – Russian Honey Cake – Sorta

Minus the honey, which I realized I was out of mid-bake.

The very brief story of this cake dates back to the 19th century, when a new chef baked a honey cake for Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna, wife of Emperor Alexander I, unaware that she was not very fond of honey; however, as all good stories unfold, it turns out that she ended up liking the cake very much, so much so that it gained popularity then and throughout history. But enough of details which I can soak up forever.

There’s cake to be had!

This cake looks very familiar to Napoleon cake, but it’s not. For Napoleon cake, layers are formed with puffed pastry, whereas Medovik (literally meaning honey cake), layers are formed with a semi biscuit cake. It all sits overnight, softening and absorbing the custard creamy goodness (Typically made with sour cream or condensed milk if you prefer. I used neither.), covered with nuts or crumbs made from leftover cake edges. You can only imagine, or you should bake one for yourself and find out.

Dear little kitchen,

Baking all these biscuit layers in a sliver of an oven one at a time was quite a labor of patience. Allowing the finished cake to sit overnight in the refrigerator so that the biscuits could absorb the cream was simply a miracle. Enjoying it later today will be a slice of heaven.

A very buttercream-colored day.

I dedicate this post to all October babies, each and every one of us autumnal breaths.

Complete recipe including personal notes now posted to my Pinterest account.

See you, littles.

Something Up Above

Something up above was calling him imperiously.

Imperiously! Oh my, I’m hooked.

I started reading The Wind in the Willows, children’s classic by Kenneth Grahame. Every other word is a feast, a scrumptious feast. Sometimes when I dive into such books I can only take in one page at a time. Do you ever feel that way? Great words are as a delicious meal, you don’t want to stop but you can only eat so much in one sitting.

Continue reading “Something Up Above”

Winged Creatures in a Garden, They Do Fly!

There is ample room in a garden for endless creative meanderings, laughter and stories and all sorts of lightheartedness that lifts our feet off the ground even without the assistance of a magic cape. Sometimes a little or a lot of nonsensical too. And now I must look up nonsensical and play “Jellicle Cats” from the musical, Cats (on tour again, wow!), because that’s just the way my mind works, you might know by now if you frequent here.

Continue reading “Winged Creatures in a Garden, They Do Fly!”

Whispering Willow

Your softness cushions my steps
Your truths
Light-woven good news

This peaceful pause is from last year, at the end of the de-leafing as I like to refer to the not so pretty but also very beautiful part of autumn, under the willow, my favorite of all trees, along with fiery royal poinciana, but those are seen mostly in warmer climates.

When I came across this photo today, peace, followed by the words how beautiful are the feet of those…

Let’s whisper it out loud, slowly, precept by precept, line by line pausing after each, shall we? .

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Isaiah 52:7

On the mountains,
light-woven good news,
how very beautiful indeed.

See you, littles.

Oh So Otherworldly

It Is Well With My Soul Mark Baldwin

Dear bitty garden,
It’s a good day to watercolor acorns and watch mums as they come in. It’s a very fine day for humming to the rhythm of lovely and counting minutes and graces. Always is.

Continue reading “Oh So Otherworldly”