I bought some pretty greens for my next soup. They are called bietola here. When I put them in the translate app they say chard. But they also have what I call Swiss chard here, in red and yellow varieties which is different — chisa! Here is a picture of what I used. I am sure you could use the colorful chard as well.
I cooked a batch of dried cannellini beans yesterday. Today I used them with the greens. You can also use cans of cooked cannellini. It was a truly delicious soup. I will make it again.
Here is the recipe which I will also include on my recipes page.
Bietola and cannellini bean soup
2 carrots chopped 1 large stalk celery chopped 1 medium onion chopped 4 cloves garlic minced Handful of dried mushrooms (like porcini), soaked and chopped, saving the liquid 2-3 cans cannellini beans or cooked dry beans 1 sprig rosemary 1 bunch bietola, washed and chopped, including stems Water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube or vegetable stock Salt and pepper A little vinegar (optional)
Sauté carrots, onions and celery in oil until soft. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add chopped mushrooms and their water, strained for grit, beans, rosemary, bietola, water or stock and/or vegetable cube and salt. Cook 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and add pepper. Off heat. Add a splash of vinegar to brighten it a bit if desired. Buon appetito!
On Saturday we had lunch with one of my long-time friends who was once my boss many moons ago. She and her husband are visiting Italy and are staying near Cortona. We met in the middle at a restaurant we have passed by a million times, but never have we eaten there. It is on the top of a mountain and has a view to die for of Lago Trasimeno. It is called Lo Scoiattolo which means the squirrel.
She brought me a couple of things from home — first, some always much appreciated ziplock bags. Between Shirley and other friends I think I am now set for a couple of years! But she also brought me a package of Alaskan smoked salmon which she had bought while on a cruise in Alaska. What a great thing to get! I haven’t had this for donkeys years, which, trust me, is a long time!
So, I decided to make a recipe I have been waiting to try. Pasta with pistachio ”cream” and smoked salmon. The pistachios are not a cream. They call them a pesto, but not a normal pesto to me. It is just ground up pistachios and olive oil, and a little salt and water. It becomes very creamy.
It was yummy. It was also super rich. Feeling full!
For those interested, my knee is much better. Seems the olive harvest perked it right up! My calf muscles were sore, probably from standing on tiptoe. But the knee is pretty good now. YAY!
Since my last post about our clogged gutter we have been waiting for the workmen to return. Their temporary fix really did nothing. Logistically it is a hard job to tackle. We went from ”we need a cherry picker” to, “we will build a scaffold”. So far these guys are very responsive, for Italians 🙂. Although it has been a couple of weeks. One of the men was attacked by wasps on one of their jobs which made them miss last week. Mercifully this long stretch of dry, warm weather has held and will last for the next week at least.
They arrived today with a truckload of stuff. They visited the police for a permit. They set up their ropes and safety measures. They are replacing a bunch of broken or loose tiles on the roof as well as adding pigeon proofing and either replacing, or unclogging the gutter.
So. They were here from 9am to 7pm. They replaced the joints in the gutter and cleaned the downspout. They put up pigeon guards on all of the pipes. They replaced quite a few roof tiles. They are certain all is fixed. They said when the first rain comes call if there are any problems. Pretty much everything that was wrong can be laid right at the feet, or on the poop, of the massive pigeon population we have.
~~~~~~~~ Reporting back on our olive harvest. We got 440 kilograms from which we got 53.3 liters of oil. That is about average. I will probably get some of the oil, so I will let you know what it is like. Umbrian oil is some of the best in the world. We didn’t have much of a harvest last year so we are all really looking forward to the new oil.
Our friends who have around 75 olive trees asked us if we wanted to help. This is our second time to harvest there. We really love being involved in the olive harvest which has been happening here for thousands of years. To be able to be a part of something that has gone on for so long is really something we like about living here.
I have hurt my left knee and have been nursing it for over two weeks so I was really not sure I could be much use, but Luther wanted to go as much as me, and I was willing to try.
We have had at least two weeks of dry sunny weather. Everyone in Umbria has harvested much earlier than normal. We had a very hot and very dry summer which affected the crop. It is fairly plentiful and all my friends have had good harvests and weight to oil ratios are pretty good. Here are a few pictures.
They hire a helper team with the beaters that shake the olives from the top branches. They had started yesterday, and were back today. We others harvested the lower and interior branches.
I don’t mind admitting that a hard days work nearly killed me. I managed to work steadily the four hours up to lunch. And credibly, I might add 🙂. I worked probably five or six trees. While I worked I thought about the fact that I am a small part of a long, unbroken line of people, just like me, stripping the olives from the branches on a golden October day — year in and year out for thousands of years. Makes one feel the history of this ancient land.
When we left they had 20 boxes of olives to take to the mill. All the trees were harvested. I will try to find out what the weight was, and the yield of oil.
Ask me if I am happy I participated…YES! Thank you Joanne and Mark. Ask me again next year! 🫒🫒🫒💕💕💕
I make a good deal of Mexican food and Asian food. Limes are something that I use often. To me, they have a distinctly different taste from lemons. Italians seem to think they are interchangeable. In fact, I have a very difficult time finding lime juice too. Only a couple of stores seem to have it. The last two times I went shopping I spied piles of nice limes. Of course I bought some and both times I got fooled.
You would think they were too, wouldn’t you? Well, it turns out that they are…
Yep! Tangerines. Green tangerines. I looked them up and they are Miyagawa mandarines. They are successfully cultivated in Italy in the citrus groves of Sicily, Basilicata and Calabria. Originally thought to be from China and/or Japan they thrive here. They ripen in September and October so they are the earliest of the citrus fruits. I don’t know why this is the first year I have seen them, but they are everywhere. They are sweet and good. It is not that I don’t like them, but they don’t work in my salsa or my chili.
🎶 And to top it all off, now I have that old song stuck in my head…you remember? ”My green tangerine 🎶 ” 😉
Short post – not much going on in Umbertide. One of the bars out in the piazza was closed this past week so it was quiet. The weather has been spectacular. One of the best Octobers I have seen here. The light has gotten that beautiful slant which makes the autumn so beautiful.
We went out to the market today. There were fresh porcini mushrooms so I had them for my lunch. Scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms.
We have finished a number of the chores on our ”to do” list. We still have a number of things to get done. We had our caldaia (heating system) inspected, mandated by law yearly. We still wait for the stufa (pellet stove) cleaner. We got our booster vaccines this week. We did some financial stuff. We need to buy a new light for our bathroom. And we need to see if we can get two screens replaced. This week we expect the gutter cleaners back to finish the job. I think they will build a scaffolding in the street to get to the top of the house. I assume they will need police permissions to block the street. I will report on the work as it continues.
Yesterday was a beautiful day! In fact, we have had a nice long run of beautiful September and October days. The Germans call it Goldener Oktober. We, in the US, call it Indian Summer. No matter what it is called…I am loving it!
We had a planned lunch with our friend Doug who just moved here a few months ago. We were meeting in Gualdo Tadino, a town in eastern Umbria which lies on the slopes of the Apennine mountains. The really big ones that run from the top to the toe of Italy. I had not visited this valley. It runs north and south along the mountains from Foligno to Gubbio.
The restaurant is Terrazza di San Guido. It sits high above the town on the mountain. I would have thought it would take advantage of it’s position to showcase the view. But it does not. It has an unpretentious interior dining room, and a few tables outside. The service was good. They have an unusual offering on the menu which I had not seen before. A whole section devoted to Crescia. It is a flat bread specialty of Umbria and Le Marche which they use to make sandwiches. I think it is the same as what I know as Torta al Testo.
Doug ordered one as his starting course. It looked tasty. We also had a chance to sample the bread as they brought out bags of it, soft and warm. I had Caprese insalata to start and it was good. The October tomatoes were still decent. Then we had pasta, and Luther, ever the meat eater, got the mixed grill. Doug got the Tartuffi Lasagna — Lasagna with truffles. I got a taste and it was great. I ordered Cannelloni al Sugo di Carne. It was good…but not great. Here are pictures.
On the way home I took a couple of pictures of the bodacious day and the beautiful scenery.
We will continue to enjoy this wonderful weather for as long as it continues. I am now seeing many pictures of the olive harvest which is just beginning here. Umbria is known for its oil. It is robust, grassy, and peppery in your throat. I am smitten with it. To me it is the best of all. Love the green green color of the new oil. Photo from my friend James Lupori.
The weather is fine and warm right now. Highs at 25C which is 77F. Nice! Now that it is October it’s time to think about harvesting the garden. Another last in our casa in the sky. Our last garden. It was a good one this year.
The basil was very prolific this year. Carefully harvesting throughout the year before it can bloom keeps it growing. But alas, the time has come to use it all before it frosts.
That can only mean…it’s pesto time! It isn’t difficult. You probably know that Pesto Genovese originated in Genoa. To make it in the traditional way, you use a mortar and a pestle with which you grind all the ingredients into a paste. I use a food processor as most people do. Someday I may try to make it the traditional way. Here are pictures of the ingredients I used.
I also add a little water if I want the pesto thinner without using too much oli. I prefer it not too oily. The final product. I divided it and froze part of it for the wintertime for a taste of the summer during the bleak months.
And finally, some of the flowers are still pretty.