Unique Gift Ideas for Boys & Ratatouille Recipe

With 5 kids, 4 of whom are boys, we are constantly looking for unique gift ideas. We really don’t need any more legos…wooden trains…nerf guns…or video games. Over the years we’ve learned that giving them an experience as a gift, has far reaching effects that broaden their vocabularies and their appreciation for culture.

One year, when Baker Boy was 9, we gave him a cooking class at Sur la Table as a birthday gift. He made Ratatouille. Because of that class, my son fell in love with Ratatouille and more in love with being in the kitchen.

You may think that boys won’t appreciate a unique gift, like a cooking class, but we have found, if you make unique experiences a family value, your boys will come to appreciate and even look for new adventures in life.

Here are some creative gift ideas for boys:

*Tickets to a Broadway show, a local dinner theater or a community children’s theater

*A foreign food cooking class, a cupcake making class or an ice sculpting (for older boys) class

*Rock climbing lessons, a day at a bmx track, dirt bike riding lesson or surfing lesson

*Reservations for a 5 course meal, or to an Ethiopian restaurant, a Chocolate tasting or a multi course meal in your backyard

*A watercolor painting class, pottery class or computer animation class

*Djembe lessons, harmonica session or rock band camp

*Paintball day with friends, time on a go cart track or geo cacheing in your local park

Don’t be afraid to try something new! Not only will your boys walk away with a lot to talk about (even if it wasn’t “their thing”) but they will have a memory that will last them a lifetime.



by Devon Potler


1 eggplant

1 lg. onion medium dice

1 lg. red pepper medium dice

1 lg. green pepper medium dice

2 green zucchini medium dice

2 yellow squash medium dice

6 Roma tomatoes chopped

5 cloves of garlic minced

2 lg. cans of diced tomatoes

1 lg. bunch of fresh basil chopped

salt and pepper

olive oil

Degorge Eggplant:

1. Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Generously salt both sides of eggplant. Place a layer of paper towel on a sheet tray and arrange eggplant slices on paper towel. Lay paper towels on top of eggplant. Place another layer of eggplant on top. Finish with layer of paper towel. Put another sheet tray on top of layered eggplant and place heavy pan on top. Let eggplants sit this way for 1/2 hour to 1 hour.

2. Afterwards, rinse eggplant and dry with fresh paper towels.

3. Cut eggplant into medium dice.

(This extracts the bitterness of the eggplant and leaves it sweet.)

Make Ratatouille:

1. Heat 2 Tbls olive oil on medium high and add onion until tender.

2. Add Roma tomatoes and garlic and cook until thickened. (Don’t be afraid to brown the tomatoes. It will make the Ratatouille sweeter.)

3. Reduce heat to medium and add red pepper, green pepper, zucchini, squash and eggplant. Cook until vegetables are tender.

4. Add canned tomatoes and simmer.

5. Add half of basil and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.

Serve over pasta and garnish with rest of the fresh basil.


Yields 8-10 Servings