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!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Unconditional Love

Here's the other half of the family... The half that thinks everything is great all the time...the half that never fusses, whines or says bad words...the half that doesn't need to have anything ironed for it...let's just say, our better half!

This is Mariushka. We got her at the dog shelter. She was apparently rescued as a puppy from a gypsy family that beat her. She is very eager and enthusiastic about everything, but nervous around brooms.

This is Blanca. We got her at the dog shelter together with Mari. She is somewhat more refined and composed than Mari...but just barely!

This is Blackie. She is a new arrival, just started showing up at dinnertime last week. After a couple of days she started coming at lunchtime, too. And now she's a regular visitor at breakfast as well. The fisherman says she nobody's fool...

And this is Bunny. Bunny is a sweet bit of fluff who unfortunately spends too much time in his cage. He has some bad habits when he's out and about, like biting through electric wires...

Tomorrow a tour around the garden...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Who Are You?

And now for some family portraits...

Ok, that's me, the one holding the plate. Good looking fish, huh? I didn't fish them myself, actually, nor did I clean or cook them...but I did help in eating them! Don't notice the messy kitchen counter...I said, don't notice!

This is the fisherman. Enjoying a glass of fine French wine in Lyon's old town. Wearing his t-shirt that says "Me taue addaveere?" in our local dialect (not Lyonese!). Not easy to translate, but roughly approximate to "You gotta be kidding!" or "What?"

First son, leading the way, in the prow of our boat of life... The attentive viewer can guess his sports preference...

Second son, squinting against the harsh sun of life...ok, these poetic turns of mine are getting a bit ridiculous. But, the attentive viewer will once again have spotted the hidden clues to this boy's sports preference...

Tomorow I'll introduce you to the other half of the family!


This is not going to be a food blog. Because I'm really not a food person. I fall into the category of those who eat to live, rather than live to eat. But, come one, take a look at that fig! Isn't it just perfectly beautiful? This is one of my all time favorite foods. I can eat 5, 6, 7 of them at a time. So many women I know won't even touch one. They are apparently high in calories. Please! If you're gonna splurge, do it with a fig!
*Click on the photo to see how luscious it looks up close.*