Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pickin' Out a Piggy

We're late this year in picking out a piggy to raise.  We did actually travel to the pig farm a few months ago, trailer in tow, but Amore's father and the pig farm owner couldn't agree on a price.  It's the same as when you're bargaining at an open market and the time comes to walk away when your final offer is not accepted.  And so we left, pigless.

This particular pig farmer sells his pigs by weight.  The pigs have grown since we last saw them and now cost more.  Amore and I made the trip without his father and paid the price the pig farmer asked.  It was getting too late in the year to haggle.

It's a long trip to make twice, but at least it's a pretty drive. Right now the fields are golden.

And cornflower blue. 

And sunflower yellow!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Corn Flake Cookies

In a word, these cookies are amazing!  Or would that be four words, "these.cookies.are.amazing"?  Anyway....  light and buttery, crunchy and chocolatey, a little bit of heaven in each bite.  This recipe comes from Ashley at the blog Not Without Salt  passed down from her grandmother.  I wholeheartedly recommend them!


3 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
3 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup corn flakes
1 cup quick oats
1 (12 oz) pkg. chocolate chips

Sift the flour, salt and soda onto wax paper. Beat butter and sugars until well creamed. Combine egg, vanilla, milk and oil in a small bowl. Alternately add the oil mixture and the flour mixture to the creamed sugars. Mix until just combined. Stir in the corn flakes, oats and chocolate. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350* for 12 minutes until golden.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Auto Shopping

We went auto shopping last week in search of a 4-wheel drive truck for our new house.  My bad, I don't think I've posted photos of the new house yet!  For that matter, have I even posted that we have a new house?  Sometimes life can get overwhelming.  I promise I'll tell you all about it in the not too distant future.  Anyway, the road leading to the new house is dirt and rocks and we really need a vehicle that is built for challenging road conditions -- especially when it snows!  Amore was off viewing actual trucks while I found myself wandering around admiring old European cars.  Cool beans.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Fishing Hole

It's fishing time!  Or is it called fishing season?  Whatever. It's an excuse for men to gather.
 This is a serious fisherman.  Very serious.
 These are not serious fishermen.  These are spectators.  (That's Amore on the right.)
  This is breakfast.  Grilled sausages and grilled pancetta.  Served with bread.
And wine, of course.  For breakfast.  Of champions.  And serious fishermen.  And spectators.
 The Wall of Fishing Fame. 
A farmer who lives not too far away comes every Sunday to the fishing hole with seasoned pork products, fresh pecorino cheese and his red wine for sale.  His wife accompanies him. She and I were the only women.  It's not unusual.  I am soooo excited to visit their farm when my sister and her husband come to visit this summer!!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spring Indoors

Outside my kitchen window there is dreary weather and bare trees, but inside I have Spring!  
I'm counting down the minutes until I have Spring outside too.  Tick, tick, tick.....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cheater's Cassoulet

Let me begin by apologizing for not having a nicely propped photo, but it is what it is.  And what it is is an amazingly delicious cassoulet.  Yes, I realize this is mainly a blog about Italy but France is our dear neighbor.  And technically this dish isn't called a cassoulet, it's Duck Breast with White Bean and Sausage -- to which I added some diced homemade pancetta to kick it up a notch.  Although I have never eaten an authentic cassoulet, I would put this recipe up against a cassoulet any day of the week.  Any wagers?

Duck Breasts with White Beans and Sausage  
Recipe from Clyde Common
Serves 4

1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless duck breasts (1 to 1-1/2 pounds total)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 sausages, about 1/2 pound 

2 small shallots, chopped, about 1/2 cup (you can substitute yellow onion)
1 medium carrot, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Toast bread crumbs. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low flame. Add olive oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add bread crumbs and toss to coat with oil. Toast until golden brown, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a shallow bowl or plate and allow to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Pat duck breasts dry with paper towels and trim off any excess fat. Score skin in a crosshatch pattern at 1/2-inch intervals with a sharp knife, being careful not to slice through the flesh. Season with salt and black pepper on both sides. Heat a 12-inch ovenproof lidded sauté pan over medium-low heat. Place duck breasts, skin side down, in the hot, dry skillet. Cook the breasts until the skin is crispy and most of the fat has rendered, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn duck breasts and cook the non-skin side for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.

Pour off all but one tablespoon of the duck fat in the skillet and reserve for another use.  (Roast chicken and roast potatoes are both good uses of leftover duck fat!) Sauté shallots and carrot in duck fat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. This is where I added a small amount of diced pancetta to the pan.  Add sausages to the pan and continue cooking another 5 minutes, turning sausages once. Add garlic and thyme to pan and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add wine and broth to pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Add bay leaves and cannellini beans and bring to a boil.

Return duck breasts to skillet, along with any accumulated juices. Cover pan and transfer to oven. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes (or longer, if needed), until an instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally into center registers 125°F for medium rare (unlike chicken, this is perfectly safe—and delicious). I left the dish in the oven to cook for 20 minutes because our oven isn't very accurate.  Remove from the oven. Transfer breasts and sausages to cutting board, tent with foil and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place uncovered pan over medium flame to slightly reduce liquid and concentrate flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings (use a light hand—the duck and the sausage will provide some saltiness).  Sprinkle each plate with a generous amount of bread crumbs (you will have some left over, and that’s fine). Don't skip the bread crumbs, it really adds to the dish!  Enjoy.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Holidays 2014, Bring 'em on!

I was a little late this year in drying my orange slices sufficiently in time for the holidays. Rather than dry them in the oven and use precious (and expensive!) electricity I opted for the slow drying method using the top of the radiator.  Since I had never attempted to dry fruit in this manner, I started off by sacrificing (slicing) only one orange to see whether or not this process was effective.  It took days.  And days.  And then more days.  In fact, it took so long let's just say that I will be one step closer to making the beautiful garland below for the new house for the holidays in 2014!  

(via Gardenista)

 Or one of these two below.  Or all three!!!  I better get started now drying more oranges!

(via theKitchn)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

I Know, I Know....

I have been exceedingly remiss in posting, but I promise to be better in 2014!  I have a big adventure ahead of me and I am so excited that sometimes I feel like I'm going to bust.  I am so grateful that I live in Italy, I am so grateful for my husband and my family, I am so grateful for my life.  And I hope to find a way to share these things with you.  I worry sometimes about what to write because my life seems ordinary, but it's not.  My life here is extraordinary.  It's all in the perspective.  I hope to inspire.