Sunday, June 17, 2007

The haricot verts are in!

(That's skinny string beans to most of us...) My in-laws gave me a bagful from their garden yesterday, enough for two meals at least. Today I made half the Italian way--boiling them for a while, then sauteing them in olive oil and adding salt. And because I really didn't have enough sauce already made for lunch today (Pio told me we were going out to eat, then the gate guy came to work on the lower gate, and at the last minute, that was the end of that) I added the sauteed string beans to the rigatoni and not quite enough sauce I had...along with some more oil and pasta water and lots of grated parmesean...delish!

Oh, and Dante and I are excited! After much deliberation, it's decided that we will travel to NY this summer and we got tickets on the same flight as Paul and Sebastian. I'm trying to enroll Dante in golf camp with cousin Brett in Pennsylvania, then soccer camp with nephew Sebastian. I'm also looking for a reasonably priced computer camp...Dante's current obsession! We'll both get our annual physicals where we'll understand exactly what the Doctor is saying (and he won't ask us if we sweated recently, I'd be willing to bet!) and I'll visit my knitting teacher to review exactly how to knit those socks on two round needles???Pio will stay in Italy, with perhaps a short trip to Lourdes, taking care of the house, dogs and Mom and Dad.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Keeping busy . . .

Yesterday I made a healthy banana bread from a recipe I found a couple of years ago in "Cooking Light". It includes corn oil instead of butter, 2 or 3 bananas and rolled oats (along with the obvious flour, some sugar, baking powder, eggs, etc.). It's delicious. Of course, I've eaten it nearly all by myself so far! Dante is working on the chocolate chip cookies I made with dark chocolate mini chips...the only kind we can find here. They're very yummy, especially made with brown sugar which gives them a bit of a butterscotch taste.

I also have a pizza dough in the bread maker (I run my one from NY through the transformer) and a buffalo mozzarella ready (made from water-buffalo milk, it's got a special tang which I love, wasted on pizza, but it's all I have). Can you tell that two of the things I do to keep busy are cook and then eat? The dough recipe I prefer has 1/2 cup olive oil in it. It's very easy to work with and has a delicious taste. Did I mention I've gained back the 5 pounds I lost while in New York ?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The "Happy Feet" Finale

Here in small-town Italy Dante only has physical education once a week...with minimal equipment. Most of the year they did an obstacle course inside the small gymnasium (they rarely go outside, and if they do, it's NOT to run...see previous post about sweat & breeze = getting sick). They do, however, have an end-of-the-year show which includes tumbling and dance numbers that show evidence of LOTS of practice. This year's show was great and included a penguin dance by the second graders, ala "Happy Feet". They first did the show last week one evening outside the school, then a second time last week at the local "Campo Sportivo" (which didn't start until after 9 p.m. and ended after 11 p.m) and then once this week for the residents up at the rehabilitation center 5 minutes above the village.

Do these boys look like penguins? Here they were waiting for everything to get organized. That's Dante showing off his "cellulare" which never has money on it to make any calls, but can take photos, video and has cool ring tones! It's a hit with the 8-year-old crowd here.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Fruits and vegetables

If there's one thing I NEVER complain about, it's the quality of the fruits and vegetables available here in Italy. At least twice a week I visit our local "frutivedolo". They may not have everything--they never carry "american" broccoli for instance, one of Dante's favorites (called Sicilian broccoli here to distinguish it from broccoli rabe which IS very common), and they rarely have fruit that's really out of season (strawberries in November, for example) but what they do have is GREAT. It's probably because most is not traveling really great distances (from Spain or Italy mostly) and also because Italians buy a lot, so there's great turnover. In fact, their tiny parking lot AND the sidewalk out front is often overrun with cars parked every which way and everyone is walking out with several bundles jammed full. They buy in quantity and eat it all. An important part of that healthy Mediterranean diet, no doubt.

Another great tradition here is the family garden and fruit orchard. We are often the grateful recipients of our friends' excess--bags of freshly picked lettuce, lemons, grapefruit, plums, tomatoes find their way to our table. And the idea is to eat it up quickly. Instead of making that little bag of plums last for a week, it's more like I should eat a few whenever I pass the bowl--or make jam when it just seems to be all too much of a great thing!!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I was hearing bells...

so I ran outside and saw "the great migration". Cows from the valley, along with their shepherds? cowboys? were passing by to reach their summer grazing lands in Prato di Campoli. They had started out at 5:30 a.m. and it was now nearly 9 a.m. (Our little street is one of the oldest roads in Giglio because it was a cow path and it retains its traditional usage twice a year--in the fall they'll head back down.) By tonight they will have reached the Prati (part of Abruzzi National Forest) and there will be a big celebration. Maybe we'll head up there and check it out!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Weather or not...

Last week people were swimming in the hotel's pool which I can see from my patio. This week we've had storms move through which include sunny early mornings, big black clouds moving in midmorning and downpours at mid-day, right when it's time to pick up Dante from school . And it's been chilly. We can even see new snow on one of the highest peaks we can see from here.

While back in the States many (including me) would dash from car to school or store and back again without an umbrella, here an umbrella is a MUST! They thoroughly believe t hat if you get wet (through sweat or rain) and then there's a breeze, you'll get sick.

Well, I'm sick. The first thing the Doctor asked me when he saw me was "Did you sweat recently?" (this was last week, before all the rain arrived). As fervently as we believe that germs are transferred on a shopping cart handle and resistance lowered by too much stress, the Italians believe getting wet and then a chill is all you need. And, of course, you can always make the connection (well, I sweat every morning that I walk these hills for almost an hour, and living on the side of a hill, well, we get more wind than most places). Who knows, maybe there will soon be scientific evidence that they're right!

A little background...

A life-long Long Islander, I find myself now living in a small village about an hour SE of Rome. From my patio I see the Apennine mountains and a number of other small hilltop towns, as well as olive groves, grapevines, oak trees and fields. We've built a house here after living upstairs from my in-laws for a year. In the interim we've been back and forth to New York, working some, trying to sell the house there. Let me begin by saying the obvious--living in Italy is WAY different from vacationing here! Here's a bit of our daily story, what keeps us busy, what I'm thinking about. Hope you find it interesting!