Thursday, November 13, 2008

One Minute Writer

Looking through the Blogger Blogs of Note I discovered the One Minute Writer. This blog's premise is that we have 1,440 minutes in each day, why not dedicate just one to writing? Well, I know that I already dedicate way more than one minute a day to blogging...and that takes precious time away from urgent matters in my vacuuming, ironing, going to work, etc! Can I afford another minute? And what can one actually say in just one measly little minute?

Well, I'll never know if I don't try...and free-writing is a technique I teach in my essay writing course at the let's give a whirl!

Today's writing prompt is "If you had the opportunity to write as a career, what would you write?"

I would like to write movies, funny movies about real life situations, relationships between less than normal people. I mean people who have an interesting approach to life, a different way of seeing things and interpreting everyday events.

Time's up?!! Well, I didn't get much written, did I? Hmmm... I suppose this one-minute business is just meant to force you to write something, anything to get the creative juices flowing. In the same way that I ask my students to use free-writing to generate ideas. But, at least I give them 5 minutes!

I suppose that if you like what you've written you'll continue with it...using up other precious minutes! ;-)

Interesting, I'll have to try it again another day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday!

It's not easy being a little brother. Your big brother does everything first, you have to wear his hand-me-downs, he bosses you around... And in our family, the older son has always had "better" birthday parties. Better because he was born in the summer and has always had outdoor parties with lots of people invited. A November birthday is a bit harder to organise and could never be held outside because of the weather.

Until this year! We have been having such a warm fall that we were finally able to pull off an outdoor party for G. He invited 10 friends (5 girls and 5 boys; unlike his brother he has never gone through a "Girls? Yuck!" phase). I organised 12 different outdoor party games, but the kids didn't want to do anything organised at all. They had a wonderful time just running and running and running around the yard...playing with the cat, talking to the dogs, riding bicycles, playing ping-pong, hide and seek and other spontaneous games on their own.

Free play is such a rare treat for Italian kids these days. Every day of their week is super-organised between school, homework and after-school activities. Then about 95% of them live in apartment buildings and never get to play in a yard at all. The parks here are few and far between and, in any case, do not have grass to run or play on.

It was a wild free for all, but a good time was definitely had by all!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Comfort Food

It's raining, it's raining...thank goodness, it's finally raining! We have gone without rain for too long here, they have even been rationing water supplies. But, tonight it's pouring down rain, a regular thunderstorm!

The perfect evening for Chicken and Broth, an American classic that I have Italianized by serving the broth with pastina as a first course and then the chicken and the vegetables seasoned with a bit of salt and olive oil as a second course.

Here's how I prepare it...

I use a pressure cooker to speed things up. Place a whole chicken, two peeled whole onions, 3 or 4 peeled whole carrots, 2 stalks of celery and 1 whole unpeeled potato in the crock pot. Cover with water and add 2 bouillon cubes. Close pressure cooker lid. Cook for 20 minutes at minimum from the time the first steam is released from the cooker.

Cook your favorite kind of pastina in another pot. Drain and serve in bowls with chicken broth.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Shanghai Chinese Restaurant

My son D. had a craving for Chinese food the other day and so we decided to go out to the only Chinese restaurant in town. We used to be frequent customers at this restaurant when it was under different management. We would go there for birthdays and special occasions, we had our New Year's Day lunch there one year. We even had a special card on which we accumulated points every time we ate there. Once those points added up to a certain level, you qualified for a gift...we got some rice wine once and toys for the kids other times.

The people running the restaurant were friendly and efficient, but one day they were shut down by the Health Department for poor hygiene. I know the bathrooms weren't very clean, but the food always seemed good.

Well, since then we hadn't been back. We decided to take the plunge and try out the new setup. It wasn't easy to find friends brave enough to risk the "restaurant that had been closed down by the Health Department." Italians are pretty reticent about trying foreign food, in any case. Their attitude is usually, we have the best food in the world, why eat anything else? Italians are famous for seeking out Italian restaurants while traveling abroad! But, we managed to round up an adventurous family and off we went...

I'd say the bathrooms were a lot cleaner than they used to be, but the food was mediocre. The best thing there was the new owners' son...

This little guy had a great time playing with our kids. He didn't seem to speak any Italian besides "ciao" and "acqua." The kids tried speaking to him in English, but that didn't work any better than Italian! They had a great time anyway... You can't see it in the photo, but he had a toy laser gun and had no end of fun shooting G. who willingly died dramatically about a thousand times!

On our way out, I asked the father what the boy's name was and he replied, "Francesco. He was born in Rome!" That was the last name we were expecting, but...of course...he was born in Rome!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

High School Musical 3

You are not officially the mother of a preteen if you haven't seen the High School Musical films. A friend and I took our 11-year-old sons to see HSM3 on the first day it was released in Italy.

Watching popular teen films in the theater in Italy is quite an experience. Let's just say that the audience participates quite actively...they clap at the beginning and end, they scream and hoot when their favorite actors come on screen, they theatrically deep sigh as a group when the main characters kiss (or almost kiss...this is a Disney film, after all!). When Troy takes off his top in one scene, the female element in the audience just about exploded! I must admit, the kid does have extremely good muscle definition! ;-)

I think D. studies these movies as mini-lessons on teenager/boy-girl relationship behaviour. And then...there's the basketball!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween, continued...

Here is our Halloween pumpkin, created and displayed last night outside on the front porch. Facial design by G. Manual labor by Mom. Appreciation by D. and F. ;-)

Halloween is only an imported holiday here in Italy, there is no tradition of it. In the schools they talk about it in English class, teaching them all of the worst aspects, such as throwing eggs and turning over trashcans...(what are they thinking?! because obviously that's what Italian kids do now!) In past years my children tried trick-or-treating, but people just didn't get it and the kids came home empty-handed. But, through the miracle of marketing, people are catching on, and G. went trick-or-treating with his friend P. last night and came home with a major haul of candy. He was quite satisfied!

A classic Halloween poem...

by Robert Burns

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin' clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween...

You can read the whole poem here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

School Strike

Both of my sons are home from school today because their teachers are participating in the national strike against the educational reforms proposed by Italy's new Minister of Education, Maria Stella Gelmini. For two different takes on the situation, check out these and here.

It's interesting to see how their individual choices for spending their free time differ. The activities they have chosen reflect their personalities, as do the condition of their desks...
G. is playing Spiderman on the computer. Check out that desk!!!
He takes after his mommy...LOL!

D. has invited one friend this morning and another this afternoon for marathon basketball sessions, and so started work on his homework at 9 a.m.!
That neat and orderly desk is all the result of genes from his father!

Variety is the spice of life...we wouldn't want them to be cookie-cutter kids.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Zucchero "Il Volo"

Zucchero is the name of an Italian singer, for those of you who don't already know him. Zucchero is a stage name, his real name is Adelmo Fornaciari...I'd take a stage name, too, if my name were Adelmo! This song from 1995 is called "Il Volo" or "The Flight" and I thought I'd share it with you since I've got it stuck in my head today...

Ho camminato per le strade
col sole dei tuoi occhi
ci vuole un attimo per dirsi addio...spara
Che bella quiete sulle cime
mi freddi il cuore e l'anima
ci vuole un attimo x dirsi addio...
X questo troppo amore, per noi
e questo bel dolore
Ti prego no, ti prego lo sai!

Sogno, qualcosa di buono
che mi illumini il mondo
buono come te...
Che ho bisogno, di qualcosa di vero
che illumini il cielo
proprio come te!!!

Ho visto il sole nei tuoi occhi
calare nella sera
ci vuole un attimo x dirsi addio...spara

Che bella quiete sulle rive
mi freddi il cuore e l'anima
ci vuole un attimo x dirsi...addio!

Ma dove andranno i giorni e noi
le fughe e poi i ritorni
ti prego no, ti prego lo sai!

Sogno, qualcosa di buono...

Siamo caduti in volo
Mio sole
siamo caduti in volo!

Siamo caduti in volo
Mio cielo
siamo caduti in volo!

Baby don't cry, baby don't cry
Baby don't cry, baby don't cry, baby don't cry

X questo amore immenso, x noi
e il gran dolore che sento
ti prego no, ti prego lo sai!

Sogno, qualcosa di buono...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fly Like an Eagle

Some of you may remember the little sparrow I found on my driveway a couple of weeks ago. If not, you can read the full story here.

The other day, when I took Tigro the tomcat in for vaccines, the vet was happy to tell me that Tino (as my younger son named the little bird) was alive and kicking. At the time it had seemed that he was partially paralysed because he couldn't seem to move his right leg (do birds have legs? Stick-figure legs...). Apparently, however, it was all psychological! When he was left on his own in a cage at the vet's office he got up and hopped around to take care of his "business." But, when people came around, he played dead.

I thought that was pretty odd, personally, but the vet swore it was true. She said little birds like Tino are literally petrified with fear when people touch them. They can even die of a heart attack from fear. Well, I'm glad our attempts to save him from death by cat didn't cause him to die of fear!

Some volunteers from the WWF came by the vet's office to get him and took him to a bird shelter where he is living happily ever after amidst his similars. In a cage (which I hate)...but she promised me that it's a *really big* cage that he and the other birds can fly around in.

Anyway, his fate would have been sealed if I had left him on the driveway that day. Tigro is turning out to be quite the hunter and, besides finding lots of dissected lizard bits scattered about on the patio, on two separate occasions we've found dead sparrows with Tigro using them for batting practice.

This one's for you, Tino!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Can't Stop Loving You

Here's a fun here to find out what the number 1 song was on the day you were born.

Who knows, maybe it was your parents' favourite song? Hey! It might be more interesting to do a search for the number 1 song nine months before your birthday, to see what song you were conceived to. But, then not... Maybe we don't want to follow that train of thought too far...

My birthday song is "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles. Can't beat that!

What's your birthday song?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Kissed a Girl

"Mommy, Mommy, this is my favorite song!" says my 11-year-old son.

What?! This song that is about girls kissing girls? Which, in my opinion, is really only about titillating men who are interested in girls kissing girls, because in my own ignorant-about-the-whole-issue opinion, no self-respecting lesbian could love this song. Please correct me if I'm wrong... This song that, in any case, talks about kissing people whose name you don't know, but that's okay because they are just your experiment...

Ok, calm down. The kid probably doesn't have any idea what is being sung. Maybe he thinks it's about boys kissing girls and he's starting to be interested in that possibility...that's okay...I guess...

Usually when my kids love a song with objectionable lyrics, I explain the lyrics to them and talk about why I'm not crazy about what the song has to say. But, in this case, that's a discussion that I think could get way too complicated for his 11-year-old brain! We have talked about what being gay means, but there is so much more in this song.

My answer to his declaration was a simple, "Oh? That's nice, honey." And not another word...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Let's Play Tag

I have to thank Scintilla of Bell'Avventura for tagging me to play the 6 Random Things About Me game. Not so much because I really think anyone wants to know six random things about me, but because she has forced me to pay some needed attention to this blog...

Not that I've meant to *give up* on Amid the Olive Trees, but I have been very busy elsewhere and it's been hard enough to keep up Molfetta Daily Photo. But anyway, let's see...

1. I do a lot of work in translation of texts from Italian to English in a wide variety of fields and, as a result, know more than I should about things like evapotranspiration, aerodynamics, the use of waste water in agriculture, etc. Don't ask...

2. My feet spread out after having my first son and I wore larger shoes, but now they seem to have returned to their normal size...

3. When I'm listening to music on the radio, I have no idea if the songs are in English or in Italian unless I really stop and think about it...

4. Often throughout the day, songs related to whatever I am doing will just pop into my mind. So, I guess I associate events with music stored away in my brain.

5. Weight-lifting gives me great physical and mental pleasure. I haven't really got any muscles to show for it, but it's the process I enjoy...

6. I like getting attention, but would never want to be famous.

The rules of this game are as follows:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

I don't think I'm going to tag anyone...but if you read this and would like to do it on your blog...well, consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


After 4 long years of Taekwondo, Mr. G. has decided to take up a new sport.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you...Mr. G. the Roller Skating King!

Well, he's working on staying vertical so far...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You never know what you'll find on Internet!

I've been fooling around on-line today. Got a bad cold and don't feel like doing very much that involves dragging my body around!

So, I discovered this neat gadget that determines the reading level of your blog. This blog was rated "College Undergrad" level...

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

Well thank goodness, considering I teach at the university and least I'm up to my students' speed! But what's got me confused is that my other blog "Molfetta Daily Photo" is rated at "Genius" level! What does that mean? That I'm more intellectual when I talk about Molfetta then when I talk about home life? I guess recipes, poems and conversations with my children don't require a lot of big words! Sticking to the basics works fine around here!

Next, I found a great site for registering to vote overseas. The Overseas Vote Foundation will take care of everything for you...get you registered, get you an absentee ballot...all on-line! You can even vote on-line! I'm excited since (gasp!) I haven't voted in a US election since I've lived abroad...that means for the past 21 years! What a lame citizen I've been! Well, that's about to end!

And on a lighter note...if you love bags, but despair about the high prices, guess what? I found a great contest where you can win a free handbag from handbagplanet a handbag producer that will be celebrating the launch of their on-line site by giving away one free handbag every hour on October 15th. Check it out!

Okay, it's time to drag my cold-infested body away from the computer and start cleaning up around here. Why don't mommies get sick days?

Monday, September 29, 2008

What is this...a zoo?

The other day my younger son, G., came home from school dead set on getting a hamster. He had never talked about wanting a hamster before. And it's not as if we don't have animals around the house. Take a look here and here for proof!

D. and F. were against the new addition, but my thought was that it would perhaps be a good idea for G. to have a responsibility all of his own. Generally, F. takes care of the dogs, I take care of the cats and D. takes care of the bunny. And it was a heck of lot better birthday gift idea than *another* Nintendo DS, which is what he had wanted. So, we now have Boris, a Russian hamster, living with us! He is very cute and innocuous...I just hope he likes red, that was the only cage they had at the pet shop!

No sooner had we pulled into the driveway with Boris and his supplies in tow, did I find a little birdie lying on the ground! Now, I have to admit that I do not like birds. I mean, they're great to look at as they fly by at a distance (the greater the distance the better!), but I do not like getting up close and personal with birds. So, we sent F. out to the rescue. This little guy, who G. promptly named Tino, seemed perfectly fine, but he had one leg pulled up and seemed unable to fly. We made him as comfortable as possible in a basket lined with some soft rags and decided that if he survived the night we'd take him to the vet.

Well, this morning he was alive, though not especially well, and I took him off to the vet's in a shoebox. Her diagnosis was neurological damage rather than orthopedic, as in the leg isn't broken. Later today a friend of hers who studies veterinary medicine at the university, and knows more about birds, will pick up Tino and take care of him.

Tomorrow we're due back at the vet's with Tigro, the kitten, for vaccines and we'll let you know about Tino's progress.

D. was a bit exasperated by all this animal activity yesterday and cried out, "What is this...a zoo?!" But, really he's just as crazy about all our pets as the rest of us!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sveta's Turkey Loaf

One of my favorite resources for discovering new recipes is to ask a friend, "What are you cooking today?" If it seems like something that might go over well at my house, I cook it that very day.

Because often I do get stuck in a recipe rut...fixing those "sure hit" recipes time after time. Well, yesterday I spent the morning on a wild shopping spree with my Russian friend, Sveta, who told me she wanted to fix a Turkey Loaf. And guess what we had for lunch at my house yesterday?

Here's her recipe...


1/2 small onion
300 g. deboned turkey breast
300 g. fresh ricotta
1 egg
some bread crumbs (how much? depends on how compact you like your loaf)
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of ground nutmeg
some parsley
a dash of extra virgin olive oil
300 g. sliced speck ham

Heat oven to 180° celcius. Blend all the ingredients (except the oil and ham) in your food processor until you have a fairly smooth mix. Lay your slices of speck on a sheet of waxed paper (in Italy they have what's called "carta forno" which is similar to waxed paper, but without the wax) and form a loaf on top of the ham. Wrap the ham around the loaf, using extra slices to close up any uncovered areas. Grease your cooking dish with some olive oil and gently roll your loaf into the center of the dish. Bake for 1 hour, approximately.

Optionally, you can use a slightly larger baking dish and add diced potatoes, seasoned with a bit of salt and olive oil, around the loaf.

My kids were still raving about how good it was when they went to bed last night! Now, that's my measure of a successful meal

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Fell Down and Went Boom

Two days ago I blithely sauntered out my front door, down the steps and across the raised concrete pathway right foot slid out from under me in a completely unexpected direction and I started to fall.

In that millisecond of time between starting to fall and landing, I thought to myself, "Self, how can I stop this fall?" and the only answer that came to me was, "Self, you can't. Go with it." And, that fast, boom I was down in the mud.

The next thing I saw was my younger son G. looming over me in the sky, looking rather concerned.

G: Mommy, are you laughing or crying?
Me: Both. Ha, ha, sob, sob!
G: Why?
Me: Crying because it hurts. Laughing because I feel really silly.
G: Yeah, you look pretty silly. (eruption of relieved giggles...)

And then he had to pull me up off the muddy walkway and help wipe the mud off my jeans, and away we went on our original outing.

As if nothing had happened at all.

Until that evening.

When everything started to hurt real bad.

Older son D. wanted a bedtime cuddle with Mom, so I invited him to curl up with me on the big bed on the condition that he not move too much 'cause Mommy was not feeling too well.

Me: D., you're moving.
D: Yeah, so?
Me: Well, when you move, you move me and right now I don't want to move 'cause everything hurts.
D: Why?
Me: Well, you know, Mommy fell down today.
D: So?
Me: So I hurt myself when I fell down.
D: Why?
Me: Well, I banged my ribs and my hip and my arm and they hurt.
D: Why?

This was not a very fruitful conversation up to this point, two people talking at cross purposes, until I realised exactly *who* I was talking to. This is Mister "Fall Down All Day Every Day and Pop Back Up as if Nothing Had Happened." Mister "Basketball and Soccer on Concrete? No Problem."

Me: Okay, right. So, when you get older it hurts when you fall down.
D: Why?
Me: Well, your body just kind of gets tighter and less elastic.
D: Oh, I get it! Like when babies fall down and they just bounce back up 'cause it's like they're made of rubber!
Me: Yeah, that's it. Mommies aren't made of rubber!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Forgotten Language

Remember when you were little and it all seemed so clear to you? I remember being 10 years old and vowing to myself "I will *never* forget what it feels like to be 10 years old!" And now? I can't imagine what I was going on about at the time!

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to return to our childhood point of view every so often? Just to remember what it was like? And to feel what our children are feeling right now?

Forgotten Language
by Shel Silverstein

Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fried Nolca Olives

Right. So, by now you've figured out that I live "amid the olive trees." And a great by-product of living in this particular setting is....we have lots of olives!

Today's "If It Ain't Easy, I Don't Cook It" lesson is on the preparation of fried black olives. These are Nolca olives and they have a lot of "fruit" to them. They are completely inedible raw (like all olives, as far as I know), but fried they are quite delicious!

The olives should be washed in cold water and then dried thoroughly. Heat a fair quantity of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and throw in your olives, plus some halved cherry tomatoes, some fresh basil and a pinch of salt.

Cook over a medium-high flame to get started. Then cover the pan and reduce the flame to the lowest possible setting. Shake the pan to mix the olives regularly. Cook until the olives soften.

Serve as an appetizer with bread and cheese, if you like. Yum, yum!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This powerful and exciting singer is apparently not well known in the this possible? She has such an amazing voice and upbeat style, plus she's beautiful.
She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of 13 and then with breast cancer at age 35, but she has always fought back and is definitely a fighter and a survivor! Check out her website!
This is not one of her more recent songs, but I love it...and her!

Paid My Dues, Anastacia, 2001

You can say what you want about me
Wanna do what you want to me
But you can not stop me

I've been knocked down
It's a crazy town
Even got punched in the face in L.A.
Ain't nothing in the world that you keep
me from doing what I wanna do

'Cause I'm too proud, I'm too strong
Live by the code that you gotta move on
Feeling sorry for yourself
Ain't got nobody nowhere

so I...
(Held my head high)
Knew I (Knew I survive)
Well I made it (I made it)
I don't hate it (Don't hate it)
That's just the way it goes

I done made it through
Stand on my own two
I paid my dues, yeah
Tried to hold me down
You can't stop me now
I paid my dues

so like i told you
You cannot stop me
I paid my dues

Now I'm still tested everyday
people try to mess with Anastacia
gotta nothing in common
cause I handle mine
and I thought I better let you know

I'm no punk I can't get down
I don't give a damn about who's around
that was just fine 'til now

So I...
(Held my head high)
Knew I (Knew I survive)
Well I made it (I made it)
Oh I (Don't hate it)
That's just the way it goes

I done made it through
Stand on my own two
I paid my dues
Yeah yeah

Tried to hold me down
you can't stop me now
I paid my dues, yeah
yeah yeah yeah

Took so long to get me here (here)
But I won't live in fear (fear)
You try to steal my shine (shine)
But first they wanna build you up (up)
Then they tear you down (down)
It's a struggle tryin' to bubble
so I...

(Held my head high)
Knew I (Knew I survive)
Oh I (I made it)
(Don't hate it)
Said that's - just - the - wayyyyy
(I done made it through)
(Stand on my own two)
I said I paid my, I paid my dues

(Tried to hold me down)
But you can't stop me now (you can't stop me now)
(I paid my dues) I paid my, paid my dues
(I done made it through) oh
(Stand on my own two) oh

(I paid my dues) I paid my, I paid my dues
yeahh (Tried to hold me down)
But you can't stop me now (you can't stop me now)
(I paid my dues) I paid my dues

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Motherhood: sound bites (2)

G: Mommy, if you entered a beauty contest, you would win, for sure!

Me: Oh, I don't think so!

G: Oh, yes you would! (pause) But maybe you're a little bit too old...

Me: Too old?

G: I think you have to be between 20 and 30 years old.

Me: Actually, there are beauty contests for older women, you know.

G: Well, they wouldn't even let you participate if they saw you.

Me: Why not?!

G: Well, you are just *too* beautiful. They would turn you away at the door. All the other women would be afraid to compete against you.

Me: You know, honey, external beauty is really not the most important thing in life. I think it's more important to be a good person, to be friendly and kind to others...

G: Oh, I know that. I'm just trying to flatter you!

Me: ....

(This boy has been watching too many episodes of "Le Veline"!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of Gina DePalma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are asking you to donate to the:
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (via
and then, out of the goodness of your hearts and to be eligible for the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest, please do the following:

1. Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato) and include this entire text box in the post;
2. If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word about the event and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
3. Then send your post url [along with a photo (100 x 100) if you've made a recipe] to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on September 30, 2008.
We will post a roundup and announce prize winners on October 3.

1 Recipe Prize for best “O food” concoction: $50 gift certificate to Amazon;
1 Awareness Prize for only publicizing event: Copy of Dolce Italiano cookbook.
From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.

Please donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fundand help spread the word!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Lunch is generally the main meal of the day for most families here in southern Italy. Many people are either finished with work by midday, or able to return home for the lunch hour.

On those mornings when I don't have to work, I like to prepare a complete homemade Italian-style meal. That means a first course, a second course, a side dish and, perhaps, even a dessert.

But, as you probably have guessed by now, I am a lazy cook. If it ain't easy, I don't cook it, right? Today's lunch was right up my easy cookery alley.

Here's what we had...

First course, Pumpkin Soup. This pumpkin was one of the volunteers that grew in our garden this year.
pumpkin, potatoes, water, boullion cube, seasoned croutons

Chop pumpkin and potatoes into cubes and place in cooking pot. Use about one third the quantity of potatoes as compared to pumpkin (that means less potatoes!) Add water to just below level of vegetables (more water makes a thinner soup, less water makes it thicker). Depending on quantity of water, add one or two boullion cubes. Bring to a boil. Cook until vegetables are soft. Blend with a hand blender. Serve with seasoned croutons.

Second course, breaded chicken cutlets. These got eaten up so fast that I hardly had time to take the picture. This is the last piece left...

Ingredients: chicken cutlets (chicken breast sliced into thin flat pieces), 1 egg, bread crumbs, milk, salt and pepper to taste, olive oil.

Directions: Beat egg in a dish, add a splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste. Put bread crumbs in another dish. Heat oil. Dip cutlet in egg mixture and cover both sides with egg. Next, place the cutlet in the bread crumb plate and cover completely with crumbs. Fry in hot olive oil till golden brown. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Dessert: chocolate chip cookies! I always use the Original Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe with a couple of variations. I use only half the quantity of chocolate morsels that they advise and I double the quantity of walnuts (I love walnuts!). I also take the cookies out of the oven a couple of minutes earlier than recommended, so that they remain soft!

So, there was no side dish today...but, hey, nobody's perfect! We got our veggies in the soup!

Buon appetito!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I am Supergirl

So, just wasting time (of which I have very little to waste, but when the opportunity arises I waste with gusto!)...I took this Which Superhero Are You? quiz and here are the results...

You are Supergirl
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
Green Lantern

Lean, muscular and feminine.
Honest and a defender of the innocent.

I think that description fits! I'm going to feel like Supergirl all day today!!!

Why don't you try?

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Kitty on the Block

Welcome to the family Tigro! You are the sweetest, cuddliest, cutest kitty on the block!!!
(Take a look at the rest of the menagerie here...)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Good Time Was Had by All

Last night we celebrated the end of the summer with a mega barbeque dance party at our house. Well, it wasn't all that MEGA in terms of participants...there were 16 adults and 18 kids from ages 4 to 13...but it was mega in terms of good food, good friends and fun on the dance floor!

It started raining at about midnight but that put no damper on the fun. We just moved the party onto the covered patio and sent the men out to buy hot cornetti with cream at the all-night bakery!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Motherhood: sound bites

Junior High School, Day 1.
After-school conversation, in the car on the way to buy school supplies.

D: "Junior High is great! I'm so glad to be finished with elementary school! I feel so big now!"

Mom: "I'm so happy for you, honey!"

D: "Yeah! I can't believe it...I never thought I'd get to this age!"

Mom: "What?"

D: "Well, yeah, with all the risks out there in the world..."

Mom: "What?!"

D: "Yeah, like that time you pulled me out of the path of a moving car...or that time I almost drowned...I'm lucky to be alive!"

Mom: "Oh, dear..."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fried Peppers

This is the Queen of "If It Ain't Easy, I Don't Cook It" recipes...nothing could be simpler.

First, gather and wash a bunch of green or red (not spicy) peppers. These are from our garden. They are not bell peppers, they're smaller and skinnier.

Next, place them in a frying pan with a couple of tablespoonfuls of preheated olive oil.

Add some cherry tomatoes cut in half, a clove of garlic also cut in half and salt to taste.

Cook covered at a relatively high heat until they soften to the consistency you prefer.

Serve warm.

It's that easy. And so delicious!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back to School

Today is the first day of Junior High for my older son. What fear! What joy! Change, the great unknown!

Have a great year in your new school!

Two Schools
by Henry Van Dyke

I put my heart to school
In the world, where men grow wise,
“Go out,” I said, “and learn the rule;
Come back when you win a prize.”

My heart came back again:
“Now where is the prize?” I cried.
“The rule was false, and the prize was pain,
And the teacher’s name was Pride.”

I put my heart to school
In the woods, where veeries sing,
And brooks run cool and clear;
In the fields, where wild flowers spring,
And the blue of heaven bends near.
“Go out,” I said: “you are half a fool,
But perhaps they can teach you here.”

“And why do you stay so long,
My heart, and where do you roam?”
The answer came with a laugh and a song,
“I find this school is home.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Italian American Boys

People call my sons "American boys" but just as a joke. They are so completely Italian. It has taken me a long time to come to peace with that. Or better, to come to relative peace with that, because it still makes me somehow sad that my sons will not have so many of my American childhood experiences.

But, one of the important lessons I have learned in being a mother is that my children are not little versions of me. They have their own personalities, interests, points of view...and language and cultural experiences as a result of being "Italian boys."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Last Time Down the Slide

On the last day at the beach club, both of my boys left crying.

"Goodbye, beach club! Goodbye, swimming pool! Goodbye, high dive! Goodbye, water slide! See you next summer!"

The summer is so long when you are a child, but the school year is even longer!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Think Positive!

This video is dedicated to a friend who needs it...she knows who she is!

Jovanotti, Penso Positivo, 1994

(Refrain: Io penso positivo perché son vivo perché son vivo,
io penso positivo perché son vivo e finché son vivo,
niente e nessuno al mondo potrà fermarmi dal ragionare,
niente e nessuno al mondo potrà fermare, fermare, fermare)
quest'onda che va, quest'onda che viene e che va (x4)
Io penso positivo ma non vuol dire che non ci vedo
io penso positivo in quanto credo,
non credo nelle divise né tanto meno negli abiti sacri
che più di una volta furono pronti a benedire massacri,
non credo ai fraterni abbracci che si confondon con le catene
Io credo soltanto che tra il male e il bene è più forte il bene.
quest'onda che va quest'onda che viene e che va (x2)
Uscire dal metro quadro dove ogni cosa sembra dovuta
guardare dentro alle cose c'è una realtà sconosciuta
che chiede soltanto un modo per venir fuori a veder le stelle
e vivere l'esperienze sulla mia pelle sulla mia pelle.
quest'onda che va quest'onda che viene e che va (x2)
Io credo che a questo mondo esista solo una grande chiesa
che parte da CHE GUEVARA e arriva fino a MADRE TERESA
passando da MALCOM X attraverso GANDHI e SAN PATRIGNANO
arriva da un prete in periferia che va avanti nonostante il Vaticano.
quest'onda che va quest'onda che viene e che va (x2)
la storia, la matematica, l'italiano, la geometria,
la musica... fantasia

Friday, September 5, 2008

Interesting Pizza

There's pizza and then there's PIZZA. Anyone living in Italy long enough becomes a connoisseur, able to identify the "better" pizza on the basis of the crust, the quality of the toppings, the combination of the toppings, the type of oven used (electric versus woodburning) and the skill of the "pizzaiolo" (pizza chef) to put it all together.
My favorite place for pizza here in Molfetta is Salvatore Bufi's restaurant. It is not actually a pizzeria, but a fine restaurant, but on Saturday nights he whips up some of the most delicious and ingenious pizzas I've ever tried.
This beauty has a thin crust and is toppped with tomato sauce, pit cheese, red onions and mushrooms. Delicious!
What's your favorite kind of pizza?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Slice of Life: Fun in Andria

Yesterday afternoon was spent in one of the most irritating ways possible...going to the dentist. Ours is in Andria, a town about a half an hour drive north of us (this is already irritating in and of itself. It's not like the States here, where a half an hour drive is a drop in the bucket, here a half an hour drive is a big deal!).

Andria is famous for its dairy products and organized crime. Neither of which were on offer at the dentist's office, although the cost of braces for two kids does feel a bit like extortion! And an hour in the waiting room had me ready and willing to commit at the very least some vandalism...

But, between shushing, threatening and physically seperating my sons during that hour, I had time to remember another exciting day in Andria some years ago...

My husband was there for work (at a dentist's office...what a coincidence) when his car was stolen from where it was parked right outside the door. In fact, the dentist's secretary saw the whole thing and said, "Mr. Grillo, they've stolen your car," without getting too agitated...after all, this was Andria, they're used to that kind of thing!

F. went running out to see what he could see (which was nothing 'cause the car was long gone) and was surrounded by various witnesses of the crime who basically said, "He went thataway!"

The next hour was spent driving around the "best" Andrian neighborhoods in search of our car.

Meanwhile, one of F's employees called him on his cellphone and...surprise, the thief! Who, fair enough, said, "I'm not F. I'm the guy who stole his car. Tell him to bring me money!"

Which brings us to an interesting angle on the whole car-stealing industry. There are those who steal a car and send it off for sale in such interesting places as Albania; there are those who disassemble a stolen car and sell off the parts; and then there are those who ransom the car back to its rightful owner...we got one of those. Which, from a strangely practical point of view is...better? Well, not really, but at least you have some chance of getting your car back, if you can afford it!

To make a long story slightly shorter...F found his car parked in a dead end in a nasty corner of town and...hotwired it and stole it back! He even got his cellphone back because it was still in the car...whatta guy!

So, as you can imagine, I have mixed feelings about Andria and dentists in general.

And in a completely unrelated note...I found this picture to the left here while searching for images of Andria.

Maybe he's our thief!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Funky Bahia

Thought I'd let you listen to Sergio Mendes in one of this summer's biggest hits as the summer fades away...

Makes you want to dance in the sand one more time, doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

32 Things You Never Wanted to Know About Me

When you're not sure what to write...why not answer a bunch of random questions that perhaps no one would ever think of asking you!
(I stole this list of Qs from another blog, The Daily Rant. I hope she doesn't mind!)

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? My son G., he's a riot!

2. What were you doing at 0800? Feeding the cats.

3. What happened to you in 2006? That's so long ago! I went to the States for the summer with my sons, but without my husband. We moved into our lovely new house in the countryside in August. I lost a lot of weight. I went to my first Women's Fiction Festival in Matera with my author friend, Shannon McKenna. I did a lot of jogging.

4. How many beverages did you have today? Tea, orange juice and water. I need to drink more liquids!

5. What color is your hairbrush? It's made of wood and is a light brown.

6. Where were you last night? Out and about with my son G. to sign him up for roller-skating lessons, then dinner and TV at home.

7.What color is your front door? Dark brown wood.

8. Where do you keep your change? In my wallet, where else?

9. What’s the weather like today? Variable. First overcast and cool, then hot as hell, now overcast and cool again...

10. What’s the best ice cream flavor? Chocolate chip forever! but with big pieces of chocolate!

11. What excites you? Isn't that a rather personal question?! Well, let's be bland...a good book, going dancing, flirting, a good basketball game...

12. Do you want to cut your hair? No! I actually just did and I miss those inches of dead ends.

13. Are you over the age of 25? WAY over! LOL!

14. Do you talk a lot? Yes, but only with other people and animals.

15. Do you watch The OC? Oh, please.

16. Do you make up your own words? Yes – particularly in Italian, when I don't know or remember the word I just invent one that MIGHT work!

17. Are you a jealous person? YES.

18. Name a friend whose name starts with an ‘A’? Angie!

19. Name a friend whose name starts with a ‘K’? That's pretty hard here in Italy where the letter K doesn't exist...but I do have an American friend here named Kristen.

20. Who’s the first person on your received call list? The babysitter.

21. What does the last text message you received say? "My phone batteries are low. We'll wait for you at school." Fascinating, huh?

22. Do you chew on a straw? No. What a question!

23. Where’s the next place you are going? The bathroom, but what else is new?

24. Who’s the rudest person in your life? My son D. But, he means well...doesn't he?

25. What was the last thing you ate? Chocolate chip ice cream, of course!

26. Will you get married in the future? That's a nasty question to ask a married woman!

27. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last 2 weeks?Prince Caspian” Ok, I admit, it's the ONLY movie I've seen in the past 2 weeks, but I did enjoy it very much. And it was MUCH better than Kung Fu Panda in French while in France...hard to enjoy fully as I don't understand French!

28. When was the last time you did dishes? Last night at 11p.m.

29. Are you currently depressed? Not particularly, although the whole September-back-to-school thing does get me down.

30. Did you cry today? Not yet.

31. What was the last thing you said aloud? "Why did you go out of the yard?"

32. What car do you drive and what bumper sticker(s) do you have on it? An old Peugeot 206. No bumper stickers but the hatchback is covered with little star stickers that G. decided made the car prettier!

Monday, September 1, 2008


So, how did you spend your Sunday morning? Relaxing with breakfast in bed? Sunning at the beach? We had the best intentions of spending a relaxing family day together, but no sooner had we arrived at the beach when... Aack! My oldest son fell to the ground rolling around in intense abdominal pain. Since he is also known as "The Drama King" we weren't sure if it was all a show...or not. But when we suggested going to the hospital and he didn't say "no" we figured it had to be for real.
Just as quickly as it came on, it went away about an hour later, but not before having to CARRY all 42k of him into the emergency room, having blood drawn and analyzed, fever measured, belly poked and...the best part of all...then having to drive ourselves to Corato, a town about 20 minutes away, because in our hospital there is NO pediatric ward!
He's fine now, was fine yesterday afternoon, actually, and that's the best possible thing. I think it was GAS!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm the Mom!

I love this makes me laugh and cry and cry from laughing too hard!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Spinach Pie

This is an easy family favorite, the Pizza Rustica agli Spinaci...or Spinach Pie. Even my older son digs into this meal...and he hates anything even remotely GREEN. The crust is Puff Pastry and here's a recipe, but I'm usually just too lazy to make it from scratch. I can get it readymade at the supermarket for about €1.45 and, for me, it's worth it.

So, step one for me is - take the puff pastry out of its packaging and lie it across your tart pan. You can also use a standard pie pan. It depends on whether you prefer a deeper or shallower pie.

Step two - prepare the pie filling.
some frozen spinach (thawed and excess water removed)
some ricotta (150 grams?)
1 egg
some grated cheese (Parmigiano, Grana, Pecorino, as you prefer)
salt (to taste)
pepper (if you like it)

Blend the above ingredients all together in a deep bowl with an electric blender. Pour them into the pastry shell and bake until brown (about 30 minutes) at 180° Celsius (about 375° Farenheit).

If you like, you can add other cheeses, either cubed or grated, or diced ham. This is one of those recipes where you can follow my mother-in-law's advice and "throw in whatever you have in the refrigerator"!

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Poem

I Saw From the Beach
by Thomas Moore

I saw from the beach, when the morning was shining,
A bark o'er the waters move gloriously on;
I came when the sun o'er that beach was declining,
The bark was still there, but the waters were gone.

And such is the fate of our life's early promise,
So passing the spring-tide of joy we have known;
Each wave that we danced on at morning ebbs from us,
And leaves us, at eve, on the bleak shore alone.

Oh, who would not welcome that moment's returning
When passion first waked a new life through his frame,
And his soul, like the wood that grows precious in burning,
Gave out all its sweets to love's exquisite flame.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Big Blue Balloon

What a big beautiful balloon...makes me happy just looking at it! Lucky I took the photo before my son popped it! But life's like that, isn't it? Just because something gives you great pleasure doesn't mean you should try to hold on to it forever...

Oh! That reminds me of the short film The Red Balloon

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bees Do It

We're not sure WHY we have pumpkins growing in the garden...WE didn't plant them...but there they are. Growing steadily day by day, putting out pretty flowers and attracting lots of bees (there are three in the flower in this picture). Unexpected bounty!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sunday with Nonna

Every Sunday is dedicated to Nonna Eva, my mother-in-law. She is 85 and well into senile dementia, but we love her dearly and do our best to keep her happy and comfortable. One of our Sunday rituals is having "aperitivi" (appetizers) before lunch. Nuts, pretzels, olive, potato chips and a "bitter" (it's a typical soft drink served with appetizers and does, actually, have a bitter taste...but it's good, go figure!) on ice in good company. A bittersweet tradition...

Monday, August 18, 2008

My bags are packed

All you need to run away from home:
3 pairs underwear
2 t-shirts
3 pairs shorts
1 backpack (your brother's because it's better than yours)
1 bicycle (your brother's because it's better than yours)
1 motive - parents who won't let you decide what day to go to the movies
All you need to be convinced not to do it:
1 big hug
100s of kisses
1 long discussion on "how much we love you"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kids these days...

...are so electronics dependent it's frightening!

Here we are at a local festa with bandoliers, a fantastic light display, balloons, ice cream, you name it...

...and they are consumed by the latest Nintendo DS adventure...


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Into the Blue

Cool, clear water!
When it's this hot outside
(and inside...what? no air-conditioning? no...welcome to Italy!)
all you want to do is dive into some
cool, clear water!
...and stay there...

Friday, August 15, 2008


Today is August 15, an Italian national holiday which I've never understood... It has Roman agrarian origins, on this day the main agricultural chores had been completed and it was a day of rest. Nowadays it's an excuse for mega dance parties on the beach for the young (do they need an excuse?) or yet another occasion to get together with friends and families and eat too much (do we need another occasion?).
For me it represents the beginning of the end of summer. Back to school time is just two weeks off for me - though my boys have another month of vacation! It seems like time is flying by...just like the train in the photo. The very train I'll be taking to work not too long from now...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Food Happens

Now, I know I started this blog by boldly stately that it would NOT be a food blog because I am NOT a food person, etc., etc. And Yet...somehow I keep posting about food...why is this? I've decided that it's just inevitable...FOOD HAPPENS!

And if it's good food, why not take a picture of it and share the recipe on your blog, eh? Well, why not?

So, here we are with another food post...this time it's:

Crostata di Marmellata di Roberta

250 grams flour
100 grams sugar
100 grams margarine (or softened butter!)
1 packet of Pan degli Angeli yeast (or 1/2 tbsp. baking soda)
1 egg
Mix all your ingredients together. I start mixing with a wooden spoon, but end up working the dough with my hands. It's a rather crumbly dough so keep working it until it all sticks together. Set aside a bit more than a third of the dough. The larger portion of dough is your bottom crust and you should push it around with your fingers until it covers the bottom of your torte dish. Spread a layer of your favorite jam over the bottom crust, taking care to leave the edges un-jammed! Roll out the remaining portion of dough and cut strips to crisscross across the jam. Bake at 180° C (or 375° F) until lightly browned.
Buon appetito!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


It's nice to live in a sunny place...the sky is almost always blue, a beautiful blue, the sea awaits just a few meters away...

...but, the summer is hot, so hot, so very, very HOT... sometimes all you can do is lie around in the shade...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Peach Pie

Peach Pie Betty Crocker's way...
(recipe to follow in the early afternoon ... now I'm going to the beach!)
Ok, I'm back...

Pie Shell
1 cup shortening (or butter!)
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
7-8 tbsps. cold water

Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1-2 teaspoons water can be added, if necessary).
Gather pastry into a ball. Divide and shape into 2 rounds on lightly floured surface. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than inverted pie plate with floured rolling pin.
Fold pastry into fourths. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and sides.

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 cups sliced fresh peaches (about 6 medium)
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 tbsps. butter

Heat oven to 425° (220° celsius). Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir in peaches and lemon juice. Turn into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with margarine. Cover with top crust. Tuck edges of top crust under edges of bottom crust and flute all the way around. Cut slits in top crust. Cover edge with 2-3 inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Bake until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. 35 to 45 minutes. Cool. Serve with vanilla ice-cream!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Single Cloud

"Have you seen the weather?" they asked. "A summer storm is brewing," they warned. "Just look at the sky," they said, pointing at this cloud. "Wouldn't take the boat out with the kids and the missus, no sir!" they admonished.
So much fuss for this sweet little cloud! Of course, there was a thunderstorm a few hours later...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Solar Power

Last winter the cost of heating this big old drafty house just about killed us we're going solar! We are building a structure on the roof that will support the solar panels and putting in enough of them to produce energy for ourselves and then some to sell to ENEL, the Italian electric company. That way the whole operation should pay for itself...we hope!

These are photos of the crane truck that lifted the wood up onto the roof.

The man who is overseeing the job also teaches construction courses. The guys to the left have finished their theoretical courses and are doing their practical application on my roof! Do you think they need more help there? I can't believe it takes five of them to hold that beam up! And one to watch. Sounds like a many Italians does it take to...?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

If It Ain't Easy, I Don't Cook It

The Yin and Yang of Salsa Fresca
Mamma Eva's Basic Tomato Sauce
fresh tomatoes
1 carrot (peeled and cut in half)
1 onion (cut in half)
fresh basil (to taste)
salt (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil
milk (some)

Cook the onion for a minute or two in a couple of tablespoons of oil. Add the tomatoes that you have washed and cut in half. How many tomatoes? Well, Mamma Eva's recipes never get that specific. Enough tomatoes to fill a decent sized pot about halfway...does that help? How about a couple of kilos of tomatoes? Experiment and see what works for you! Add the carrot and the basil. Cook about half an hour or until the tomatoes start to break down. Pass the sauce through your passaverdura (I'm not sure what this tool is called in English, take a look at this photo and then let me know what you would call it, please!) Be sure to really work all the tomato through the passaverdura. The liquid will go through quickly, but you have to keep turning and turning the handle diligently to get the other parts of the tomato through, but it's worth it because that's the stuff that thickens your sauce up nicely. Put the sauce back on the stovetop over a medium/low heat and let it cook some more. The longer you cook it the thicker it gets. At this point add the salt and some more olive oil, if desired. Adding some milk will cut the acidity of the sauce.
Buon appetito!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What does your Garden Grow?

Let me just say that I although I love having a garden and love harvesting and cooking our homegrown produce...I am not the gardener. The Fisherman is also the Gardener! He plants, waters, weeds, etc. Without him there would be no garden! But, that said, once the crop is ripe...I step in ready for action!

This pumpkin plant took over our garden this summer. She and about 10 of her close personal friends just sprouted up all over the place and started growing like crazy. She pulled herself up the fencing with aggressive tendrils that seemed to appear out of nowhere from one hour to the next. The funny thing is that we didn't plant any pumpkin seeds. The only thing we can figure is that the seeds were in the compost we use for fertilizer. I did throw that Halloween pumpkin in the compost pile last November...

Tomatoes, tomatoes, lovely tomatoes! Good for salads, good for pasta dishes, good for sauce... the generous tomato!

Welcome to the basil jungle! We have oregano, parsley and mint, too. Way too much is another overeager plant...put in one tiny little specimen and it'll take over the garden!

It's late summer now, so this is all that's left in the garden. It's so hot and water is so scarce that only the hardy can survive at this point. Without air-conditioning we sometimes feel that way ourselves!

Tomorrow a recipe!