Monthly Archives: November 2020


I made our turkey and shared it with friends. They shared things with us. No one saw each other. We all stayed in our pods. I was just watching a doctor on TV pleading with those who ignored all the cautions against traveling or seeing family for the holiday to please return home and stay there for 10-14 days. Just because you test negative when you go home doesn’t mean the virus is not inside you, growing until you will test positive. Christmas will be a disaster this year. 😔

It fits!
Finished product.

Enjoy your dinner. 🍁🍁🍁 Stay safe 🌈

Thanksgiving – let’s give thanks 💕

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. In Italy, the holiday doesn’t exist except sometimes in the American and foreign community. In any event, there can be no big celebrations here this year with friends, because gatherings aren’t allowed. Having a non-pod member into your home is also taboo. I say pod — all people in your normal household are your “pod”.

As you know, we are celebrating on our own. A normal Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey and all the trimmings. I’ve even got a small container of frozen cranberry sauce left.

We ordered our turkey last week. From our local EuroSpin supermercato. These are the bargain basements of food stores. They all have the same pattern. The center of the store is canned, boxed, and bottled goods. Cheap, and I don’t buy any because they have off brands and the quality can be iffy. BUT around the middle, along the walls are individual stands owned by independent contractors. They provide produce, cheeses, prepared foods, bakery goods, meat and fish. These people have great stuff. Here, we get our turkey from the butcher. Italians like turkey but never, ever whole! We carefully explain we want — tacchino femmina intera. Turkey female whole. Here they have two sizes…male and female. Male is 15 kilos and up (~35 lbs+) and females 6 kilos and up (~15 lbs+). My oven can barely fit a smaller one. So we asked for it to be as small as possible. We picked it up today and it weighs 7.1 kilos or 15.6 lbs. This should be enough for us and the friends we are sharing with.

We are celebrating it on the Thursday, not that I have to do it on the exact day… yet… I want to. I’m needing that right now. Things in their proper place and time. The normality of the Before Times. I’m going to miss my sister this year. We try to celebrate at least one holiday together. We usually fly to the US. But this particular year we had planned a Windstar cruise from Barcelona to Lisbon. It would have encompassed Thanksgiving and since it’s an American line I assume they would have had a “turkey with all the trimmings” dinner. Sigh. Maybe in a future, unseeable now, it will happen. But meanwhile we celebrate how we can. And we stay safe, and we keep our families safe. We’ll always have Paris…ooops wrong movie! 😁

The fact that we can’t celebrate Thanksgiving like normal, doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t stop and think of what we ourselves have got to be thankful for. And we have a lot. Think on it. We’ve got food. A bed to sleep in at night. Running water. Toilets.  Plus first world extras like WiFi and computer… and wine or booze (probably). There are hundreds of millions of people in this world who do not have the basic things. They are hungry most of the time, they sleep on the ground or floor. They don’t have plumbing or clean water. We are the winners in the lottery of life. So, let’s stop our kvetching and remember WE are some of the lucky ones. Let’s not forget. And let’s be thankful. And hopeful.
I’m heartened to see more State Governors are mandating masks in the face of enormous numbers of cases. Keep Covid-safe everyone…Andrà tutto bene 🌈 and Happy Thanksgiving. 💕

And the winner is…

I left everyone hanging on Sunday about which recipe I would make from my Six Seasons cookbook first. The winner is…the Lasagna. Here is last night’s dinner…

It was very good. No meat. It was made of: a bechamel sauce, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed Tuscan kale, all of that fresh ricotta you saw with lemon zest, of course egg noodles, and Parmesan or pecorino romana cheese on top. The noodles we can get here are flat. No curly edges. It is a keeper recipe, especially when I have vegetarian friends over for a meal.
Stay safe everyone 😷🌈

Sunday lunch

Sunday lunch. It was not my normal soup….it was the wonderful goat cheese I bought Saturday. Very yummy, soft and spreadable. I had it with Hjortronsylt. It is a jam popular in Sweden, from a fruit I am not familiar with. It goes very well with cheeses. I was lucky enough to be gifted with a jar from my friend Ava. And I am here to say, it was wonderful. Thank you Ava!

We woke this Monday morning to the first freeze of the year. But it is bright and sunny so that’s cheerful anyway. We have a busy week ahead. Our list of chores has grown. Shopping, a visit to the Poste and the Tabacchi for bill paying, and picking up all the thanksgiving food, to include the turkey.

Stay Covid safe everyone! 😷 Andrà tutto bene 🌈

Let’s experiment!

Here it is blustery and quite cold. Our first cold snap this year. I ventured out to our small, Saturday market. There was some new stuff. One stand was selling only fresh, crisp apples… all kinds. Tis the season for them! One stand with only celery…odd?! May have been the Sedano Nero (black celery) which grows not very far from here. One stand had all local honey.

I bought Swiss chard and onions and fresh ricotta and a small piece of caprino…a fresh goat cheese (for a personal treat) at the local cheese stand. I’ve got a couple of recipes in mind…

Freshly made ricotta.
Swiss chard, yellow and red.

I was again inspired by my Six Seasons cookbook. I had not looked at the late Fall section which is just before the Winter section, which is the last. There were lots of beet recipes, kale recipes, and chard recipes. All looked intriguing. Oddly, we don’t have beets around here very often. We do have cavolo nero or Tuscan black kale, and curly kale. We also have an abundant supply of Swiss chard – bright red and sunny yellow. This is what I bought today.

The three recipes I’m considering are “Spaghetti with Swiss chard, pine nuts, raisins, and chiles” (I’m pretty sure this is a Sicilian recipe), or “Kale and mushroom lasagna” and last a side dish called “Rainbow chard with garlic and jalapeños “.

You will all have to wait and see what comes first! Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutto bene 🌈


Tonight we had a big ole hunk of the zucca (squash) (picture of one of these a few blog posts ago). I roasted it and diced it and eventually added it to my simmering risotto. I don’t use a specific recipe but it’s quite simple. I sautéed a small onion in butter. After it was soft I added the rice and turned up the heat to toast it. Then I glugged in some white wine, maybe half a cup and cooked it until it was absorbed by the rice. Meanwhile I warmed my broth to hot. You can use any broth. Then I added the broth a cup at a time, simmering and stirring as it is absorbed and add more. Maybe halfway through I added the diced zucca and continued cooking, adding broth. Total time is around 25 minutes. The rice gets very creamy. At the end I add about half a cup of Parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese. It will thicken the liquid in the rice. But the final product should be pretty soupy. Served in bowls with more cheese. Yummy.

Corona virus alert

I’m concerned that so many in the US are planning to either travel on Thanksgiving, or are joining family and/or friends for the traditional meal. This is a very bad idea. It could kill your friends and family. I hope you’ll heed the CDC directive just out today. Don’t travel. Stay home. Be safe. There is always next year… You need to be very careful so you and your family can get to the time when the vaccine is available. It is totally up to you. Please chose carefully. It is only this one thanksgiving…it is not so hard to wait til next year.💕

Boring things. We all have to do them…

Like everyone on this earth, we all have errands to run to keep our lives ticking along on track. We are happy all the shops are still open and, although we have to stay in our Comune, we have everything we need here.

Our list for today was extensive. First stop. As everyone does, we are preparing for winter. We have a heated mattress pad for our bed. And we have a summer one. So that summer one went to the dry cleaner to be cleaned for next summer…SUMMER ☀️ which I see as a shining light ahead of us! Maybe a new beginning after this pandemic. Spero di si.

Second issue we had been dealing with. Our old printer had died and we ordered a new one from Amazon, after trying to find one locally. We got that on Friday and have semi-set it up. (Don’t get me going on how hard it was!) Of course, as these things go, I had JUST ordered new toner for our previous printer when it died. €80 worth. So I needed to return it. But, without a printer, I was unable to print the mailing labels to do so. So I waited. Today we took the toner to the DHL pickup location to return. Check.

Last week we also had to go to the ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale – Local Health Unit) because our E01 had expired. Our Dottoressa had noticed when we visited her. This is the code that is used here to determine how much you must pay for prescriptions and some tests…according to your income. If it expires, you automatically pay the most. So we got that updated but we didn’t have all of the copies of our cards they needed (of COURSE they need copies!!). At home, we had no copier…so we waited and once we got the new printer – we made the copies and we took them there to drop off. Check.

A trip to the EuroSpin supermarket to order a turkey for thanksgiving was next. This part I liked best. This year I decided to do Thanksgiving dinner, even if it is just for us. Our friend Susan offered to make a pie and I think Gary is making a vegetable. No matter. I will take a pan of turkey, maybe dressing, gravy, and of course, mashed potatoes to them. We will eat alone, alas, but at least we will share the bounty with some friends.

After that we visited the Coop supermercato. I had not been since we went to Code Orange and they are again taking things seriously. We had our temperatures taken before we could go into the mall, of course masks are mandatory everywhere now, both inside and outside, and the spacing between people is being enforced. We bought a bunch of the staples we needed. And also some cat food for our friend who is in isolation. She feeds a mamma cat and her litter from this year and was running low on food. I dropped it by her house so she should be good for a while. She told me they are coming to her house to give her the Covid test rather than making her go to Citta di Castello. One of the few benefits of age 🙂.
I took a walk Sunday evening. By the time I got back to the Centro the sun was just setting and the sky was pretty. Here are two pictures.

The Rocca, our fortress.
The entrance to the Centro Storico. We have a pedestrian bridge which crosses over from the road.

Stay safe all….andrà tutto bene 🌈

Tuscany is Code Red

It’s getting ramped up fast here. We are still Orange but just a few miles from here is Tuscany, and it is Code Red now. The highest. Pretty much a complete lockdown over there. The map below shows how fast Italy is raising the alarms.

Unfortunately I now know of a number of people in our area who’ve tested positive, or of people in self-isolation after being exposed. It is far worse for Umbria in this second wave that it was in the first.

It is Saturday. It’s cold and damp here. I am not even going outside to our Kilometer zero market. We have the stufa burning so it’s cozy inside. Here’s the foggy view from our terazza …No laundry will be drying today!

I had hoped to clean up some in my ortino. Take a look at my biggest producer. I’ve never had a pepper with so many before! These all ripened in the last 3 days. And these babies are HOT. I freeze them but now they are taking over all the space.

Stay Covid-safe everyone. Wear your mask! Andrà tutto bene 🌈

My beloved Umbertide 💕

I have found out lately one must have thick skin to write a blog. I hope my readers don’t think I am always tearing down my town! A friend has recently told me I am guilty of this. I like to tell my tales and I like to be honest about my life here. I think most people appreciate that. Umbertide is, as I’ve said many times, a “real” town. So it has good things and not so good. But I love it for all of these things. It is no Disneyland. It is a slice of Italian life. 🥰

In my last blog I wrote about the difficulties our bars and restaurants will have in the newly restrictive Code Orange lockdown. I mentioned one of the bars in the Piazza, Cafe Centrale, and that I was worried for the owner, Diego, who had made quite an investment in his bar. I got my information from a friend who said he had talked to the owner who said he may not be able to manage on only day traffic. To set the record straight. It seems this may not be true, and not a problem for the bar after all. I’m happy to hear he will be OK and won’t have to close. His bar certainly brought a lot of life to our Piazza. I wouldn’t want to see it go. It is a class act. I want all of our businesses to survive this latest trouble. Now, I hope my friend tells Diego, that I wrote this.

Stay safe everyone. Andrà tutto bene 🌈