Today is January 30. I really dislike January. It is long. And it is cold, with short days. I don’t like to go out in the cold. Truth be told, it isn’t THAT cold here. Last night was our coldest so far 26F – or -3C. I remind myself it is good for the olives. I can’t complain about the sunshine. It has been bright and sunny. Bright and sunny usually means colder. Cloudy is not so cold. I’ll take the sun!
We have been using our stufa – pellet stove – for most of our heat during the daytime. We turn it off at night. I turn down the gas heat to pretty much off at night. Then I usually turn up the gas heat in the morning for an hour and turn on the stufa. As it got colder, we realized the heat from the stufa was going right up the stairway and the cold air was coming right down. There is presently no heat upstairs. We are waiting for the construction to begin. I studied the stairway. It is open in several ways. But I saw that with some extension curtain rods I could devise a curtain to close off most of the heat loss. It really makes a difference. Here is my fix. The curtains will come down in the spring and be stowed away until next winter.
I did make a yummy pasta dish. It is a traditional Sicilian recipe. I googled and there were lots of examples with slight changes, as always, to some of the ingredients. It is called variously, Sicilian sausage with fennel sauce. I mixed and matched and it was very delicious.
Here is what I did. I used about half a pound (or less) of sausage for the two of us. (Note: this would be delicious without the sausage if you don’t eat meat) I sautéed it until browned, then I added 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 onion, one fennel bulb (all diced) and 2 garlic cloves. I covered and cooked about 15 minutes until vegetables were soft. At the end I added a minced jalapeño (frozen last summer from my garden). I take the frozen pepper out of the freezer and immediately deseed it and mince it while it is still frozen. The Sicilians do like a nice bit of spice but you can leave it out. I deglazed the pan with wine but any liquid will do. Then I added about half a cup of stock and covered the pan and simmered another 15 minutes. For the pasta, I chose to use a big tube type pasta called Calamarata. It is named that because it looks like squid rings. Penne or rigatoni work fine too. I poured a dollop of cream into the sauce to make it creamy (some recipes use ricotta which I would definitely try) and then tossed in the drained, almost cooked pasta. I found the sauce liquid enough that I didn’t need any pasta water. I tossed it until the pasta was nice and al dente. Serve with grated cheese like pecorino Romagna, grana padana, or parmigiana. Garnish with fennel fronds if you have them.
It has been slow around here. It is one reason I have not posted, not much to write about. I have moved my office from upstairs down to the 3rd bedroom on the bottom floor. I also have been packing boxes of things upstairs and am almost done. I am anxiously awaiting the kitchen to start. We contemplate moving out for the daytimes if we can find a place to stay. It will make the noise easier to handle. I want the noisy stuff done soonest – the rest should be tolerable. New office location.
Okay! I am ready now…bring on Febriao!!