Category Archives: cooking

July 5 — Luther’s birthday

Special day for Luther. We were invited to a BBQ up in the mountains. Our Italian friends who are our Italian famiglia invited us. It was a beautiful, breezy day. Not at all hot. We were nine people. The family of four, two young girls and their parents, who own the lovely property, and her father from Slovenia. Me and Luther, and another couple with a house in Umbria. They are Polish and live in Colorado and also in Puerto Rico.

The meal was wonderful. We started with a guacamole dip and a tomato salsa and chips. Wine flowed right from the start. I brought chocolate chip biscotti, the Poles brought a hunters stew. This property has a great pizza oven and BBQ in it’s own stone structure. We had grilled sausages, pork, beefsteaks. Also a very spicy eggplant dish which took me by surprise by its spice 😳 and also salad.

After a short time frozen vodka flowed as well as lemoncello. There was a cake for Luther to cut. My cookies and chocolate we brought rounded out the desserts.

View of had
View of the yard and oven.
Picnic Pavillion
Pizza oven.
The group
Outside dining
Vera and Luther
Dessert. Luthers cake, my biscotti, and a chocolate bell.
Birthday boy.
Me, Luther and Vera.

Tuesday – Day of the Republic

Today is a national Holiday — Festa della Repubblica. June 2nd. In 1946, it was the day Italians voted to abolish the monarchy, and the Republic of Italy was born. So it’s called Republic Day.

After an 85 year monarchy, which had for the most part been very popular with the people, a referendum resulted in the end.  All male members and future heirs of the ruling House of Savoy were deposed and exiled.

The monarchy had ruled since Italy’s Unification in 1861. Its final monarch, Umberto II only got to be king for a month, earning him the nickname ‘Re di Maggio’ or ‘the May King’.

Umberto had actually been acting as head of state since 1944; after Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime – to which the monarchy had been allied – collapsed, King Victor Emmanuel III transferred his powers to his only son in the hope it would give the monarchy a popularity boost. It didn’t work.

The constitution now forbids a monarchy. In 2002, The House of Savoy family formally renounced their claim to the throne so they could return from exile. Umberto refused the right to return to his homeland, dying in Geneva in 1983.

There you go! Your Italian history lesson for today 🙂
Last night I made a new recipe from “Six Seasons” cookbook. It was a faro salad with salami, cheese, and fave.  I added new peas, arugula and basil to the mint called for. Lots of good Umbrian olive oil. Very yummy. Luther loved it. 


Today, Saturday, dawned gray but cleared by midday after rain all night. Last night the young people partied into the night at Cafe Centrale. The rain made them pack into the cafe. Maskless. I guess we wait a week or two to see if we get spikes in the virus.

I had errands. First, we visited the market where I bought fave beans, tiny zucchini, the crisp cucumbers, rucola, and fresh eggs! The last five uova! I also took some pictures. Then we paid a bill for my friend. On the way back we visited the newly opened, Carrefour supermarket for the first time. There were far too many people in there. All masked but still… I didn’t feel very comfortable. The store itself is OK. Better than the old Conad but still nothing much different than all small Italian supermarkets. It does stay open all day, unlike the old Conad. We recognized all the checkout women from the old store 🙂. Finally to the farmacia. So much for our errands.

The last thing was to see if the Porsche would start after it’s dead battery issues. We had received our battery charger a couple days ago and it had been hooked up and charging for a couple days. Crossing our fingers we started her up. Vroom! We took a spin. Luther added air to the tires. All is well. It is due for a servicing so that’s next.

We went to Bar Mary for Aperitivo. I complemented Irene on her pretty flowered mask. She said she got it at the Tabacchi. Next thing I know she had bought me a mask…just like hers! She is so sweet. We are gemelli! Twins.

Tonight we are having a pasta primavera. Sautéed pancetta, peas, asparagus, fave. Mmm perfect for this time of year.

Covid 19 – Phase 2.1 – Day 6

228,658 positives in Italy. Up 0.3% – 32,616 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,429 positive cases in Umbria. 74 total deaths.

1,590,349 cases in the US – 95,495 deaths.
Sabato – Another bright sunny day. And it’s market day!

But I get ahead of myself. We got out for our first Spritz yesterday at Bar Mary. They have big new tables. Really big. Lots of space between people. The piazza was hopping. Almost like old times except for the masks. After our drinks we had our Friday night pizzas and later in the evening I took a picture outside. I could hear a babble of voices. Many young people. Some staying apart, most (but not all) wore masks.

So, back to Market day. I made a point of getting out at about 8:30, after the vendors 8am set up. Specifically to get eggs. Rats. Missed out. Only one stand has them. I guess I need to go out even earlier! But I did buy fresh asparagus, the first new peas!! And some pretty red onions, some new carrots and a cucumber, also the first of summer. It cost 7€. 

After my early morning foray we had errands to run. First the, ever needed, cat liter. Seems we need it more than we should but we have this one cat, Rocky, who has fixated on the bathroom sink. We have to run the water for him and he sits very still and studies it until it stills. He is completely engrossed by it. After a bit, he steps in it, it is shallow. And swishes it around. Then drinks copiously. Which in turn, makes him pee…copiously…which in turn means we need a LOT of litter. A day in the life! I will have to get a photo of him at the sink.

After the pet store we went to the Green Thumb…Pollice Verde…which has all manner of stuff. We were looking for plants. A tip from my friend Angela told me they had an array of hot pepper plants. And sure enough! They did! So we don’t have to drive all the way to Citta di Castello anymore. We got two, a jalapeño, and a habanero.  We improbably ran into friends from Montone there, buying big terracotta planter boxes. 

We passed by the Eurospin market and were amazed that the line went across the parking lot. Hoping against hope our Coop grocery wouldn’t have a line, we stopped. We saw parking places, and even two carts! So we went in. No line. First time we’ve shopped together in almost 3 months. I will say, they are definitely NOT social distancing in there. They are letting too many in at a time. Everyone had to wear a mask though, thank goodness. We saw Gary, and our Montone friends again! Hah! So, we managed to get the shopping done and headed home. 

While out we drove past the new Carrefour market. We are all so excited about it opening…on Wednesday! They are stocking it now. Sign is up outside. Can’t wait to check it out. 
One pretty picture for you…

Happy Memorial Day weekend. Please observe it safely. We have a holiday on (a week from this Tuesday) too, Day of the Republic, June 2. 🌈

Covid 19 Phase 2, Day 3️⃣

213,013 positives in Italy. Up 0.5% – 29,315 total deaths since beginning of the outbreak.

There are 1,400 positive cases in Umbria. 70 total deaths. A six person leap in cases…not good.

1,194,494 cases in the US – 70,272 deaths.
Some interesting statistics. From the NY Times.

Most countries with severe coronavirus outbreaks have come well down from their peak in new cases each day. It’s happened in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Turkey and, if you believe the official numbers, China.

But it has not happened in the United States. There, the number of both confirmed new cases and deaths has fallen only slightly in the last few weeks. Every day since April 2, there have been at least 22,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths.

Now, with many states preparing to reopen their economies, the toll is likely to start rising again, according to a private Trump administration forecast obtained by The Times. It projected about 3,000 deaths per day on June 1.

Why has the United States failed to bring down its caseload as much as most other countries?

The answer isn’t completely clear, given the complexity of the virus. But the leading suspect, many experts say, is the uneven nature of the U.S. response — like the shortage of tests so far and the mixed approach to social distancing.

The problem with the American response is that it’s so haphazard.

I suppose it is just the nature of the US. Our independent nature makes it less likely we will all obey the rules…even IF the leadership from the top had HAD any rules to obey to begin with!  I think, in the end, this independent nature will not be a positive asset in this crisis. Nor a genetic trait to want to have right now. Darwinian…
One of the loosenings here in Italy is that they now will allow funerals. Limited to 15 mourners and preferably outside. I have heard the mournful slow tolling of the funeral bells all day long. So many funerals, very sad. But at least now people can get closure that many could not get during the lockdown. The inability to say goodbye to the thousands lost will be with us forever.

We left our a Comune!! First time in over 2 months. We drove about 20 kilometers north to Citta di Castello where my favorite nursery is. And I did manage to buy two habaneros – a chocolate and a red. Luther chose one called Beni Highlands Peperoncino – very hot. I got a Multi-Colore Eureka and a Peperone di Capriglio. I also bought a thyme plant, a coriander plant, and Basilico Violeta – purple basil. I still need regular basil, another pepper and parsley. I will plant in the morning and take pictures before I publish this post

Well,  not planted yet but here are some photos…

lemon thyme.
Luthers very hot pepper choice.
Multicolore peppers.
Two habaneros
Coriandolo (cilantro)

Tomorrow I will have pictures of our mercato!

Stay safe my friends! 🌈

Corona virus 36

139,422 positives in Italy. Up 2.4%. 17,669 deaths.
1,289 positives in Umbria. Up 2%. 50 deaths total.
Still dropping.

419,975 cases in the US. 14,262 deaths.

I am sad. We ordered wine from our friend and Enoteca Wine Club owner, (formerly a restaurant, before this pandemic), Patrick. He drops the wine at our house. He told Luther he thinks he will be shutting down his business. He can’t afford to stay closed until June, which is best case scenario right now. He just can’t survive by selling wine. I have such good memories of many lunches and wine tasting dinners there. I would hate to see it end. I fear for our friends who own places, and I am sad for our town. And all the towns everywhere… To lose all these places is discouraging to say the least.

But on the better news side, Corriere della Sera had more information on the transition. Of course nothing is set yet but here’s what they are thinking about.

April 14 is the day after Easter and called Pasquetta here. It has always been a big holiday…Easter is past and Lent is done and it’s time to party. Traditionally with a picnic outside. Anyway, April 13 was the time for the government to reassess our situation here. They are thinking of letting some stores and businesses open on April 15. Things like pasticceria, clothing shops, stationary stores, farm stores, gift shops were mentioned as allowed to open. One customer at a time.

Then on May 4 they talked of the Italian government reassessing by region the restriction rules. I would hope, a region like Umbria, would be more able to allow more movement since we have few cases per capita.

Finally, on May 18 they will assess the situation in each region and will consider softening the travel restrictions based on level of infection in each region. The areas hardest hit, with the most immunities, and those which had less infection overall will be the most likely to begin to have relaxation of the rules. This may allow people to begin to travel outside their comunes. Sadly, there is no mention of when Bars and Restaurants will be allowed to reopen.😢

How will it be enforced? Who knows! But anyway. These are the milestones as they stand today.
Dinner last night was Chicken with Slow Roasted Lemons and Capers. It was quite good. It took some time to roast the lemons but hey! I got nothin’ but time! I served it with rice and green beans…I put the recipe under the recipe tab in the main menu.

I had my kitchen door open to the terrace. It is just so pretty out there at the moment. The terrace is messy but I liked how it looked. Temperatures are hitting around 70 now.

Jill said things up on the mountain where they live are really starting to burst. She sent several pictures but this one was my favorite.

Ciao for now! Stay safe, don’t let down your guard. 🌈 Andrà tutto bene…

Corona virus 31

119,827 positives in Italy. Up 3.9%. 14,681 deaths.
1,179 positives in Umbria. Up 4.5%.
Umbertide had 25 cases and 2 deaths (as of March 30).

266,671 cases in the US. 6,921 deaths.

Reading newspapers. Grabbed a few quotes. The problem in the US is pretty enormous…these are random comments/quotes from random governors and mayors and officials around the country.

This thing is going to come for us all…

“While we do not know for certain what the future holds, or how long this disruption will last, we can all rest in knowing that God is in control”

“I feel like the entire country ought to be under a stay-at-home order..”

Current and former emergency management officials said the delay would cost lives.

….the fact that the numbers could get that bad that fast,

He singled out the South, saying, “It’s almost a different approach, waiting to know it’s bad. I’m afraid that by the time they have reports of cases, it’s already too late.”

“We needed to be where we are now three weeks ago,” said the official

The series of new orders announced this week leave about a dozen states without sweeping restrictions limiting travel to essential needs.

Kemp (Georgia governor) said he learned Tuesday that the virus was “transmitting before people see signs.”

Um but… Governor Kemp…do you not know how to read? It was clear. No excuses…For weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have been warning about the disease’s spread in the absence of symptoms. – Nancy

“It would have made sense to start substantial social distancing in early March,” the mayor said. “But there was no messaging for that. And no one saw the threat it became literally days later.”

…many are now left to wait and wonder if the latest restrictions came in time, and what lies ahead for the Sunshine State.

“I have zero doubt that there are hundreds if not thousands of cases we don’t know about,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said in an interview.

Hanage, the Harvard epidemiologist, worries that many areas of the country no longer have enough time to dodge the viral freight train that is coming, including the Sunshine State.

If the message from trump and his administration, had been clear, unambiguous and succinct the US would be in a different place now. But the messages from the top could not be MORE confusing or misleading. So a lot of people are being confused. Sadly, maybe leading to their demise or their family members demise, from the virus.

Tonight we are eating something Luther bought on his hunting and gathering trip a couple of weeks ago. It is a whole chicken stuffed with pork. It was surprisingly good. I would not normally buy this, but I had asked for a chicken and apparently it was the only one they had.

Before cooking

After cooking

Surprise! It was boned

On the plate.

So, Saturday…another day, just like the other day. It’s sunny out. No clouds to be seen. It is cold but it will warm up. It is greening in the fields and the trees by the river are leafing out. Afternoons I’ve been opening the terrace door. I put the lemon tree back outside. Maybe we are past the freezing at night stage. I’ve done my morning chores and had a cup of coffee. It’s 9:30. Now what shall I do? 

Actually I have a few plans. I will continue my kitchen work. I’ve finished the spice cabinets and now I’m going to move to the upper cabinets and the drawers. We did get a nice call from Vera yesterday. She is going crazy too. The town where she lives, Mercatale, is small. It has one small grocery store. Plus a butcher. There are probably other things but she is pretty much limited since we are all stuck in our town or Comune. Now that I think of it, her town is in the Comune of Cortona. It’s a pretty big area. If I were her, I’d be venturing a bit farther. But maybe not. If the cops stopped her she’d have to justify being far from home.

It is kind of the luck of the draw as to who has what resource. Our nearby Montone friends are stuck with one small Alimentari. And a butcher. And the police WILL stop them if they try to leave their hill. Too, bad because Umbertide is very close with all needs.

Stay home my friends! Stay safe and well…

Corona Virus 29

1095 cases in Umbria. Up 1.5%. 37 deaths, no change.
110,574 cases in Italy. Up 4.5%. 13,155 deaths.

210,271 cases in the US. 4,469 deaths.

Dinner last night. Orecchiette pasta, one of my favorites from Puglia, way down south. The name means “little ears”. It has a nice chew to it and does well to hold sauce in its little cups. I had purchased a big batch of fava beans at the store last week and Luther shelled them. Then I parboiled them and peeled them. They are a pain to make but, oh so good. I put them in a frying pan with garlic and oil. I also had saved the stalk of a broccoli head. Hate to throw it away. And I cooked it until soft and whizzed it (with my emersion blender) with a little water to make a thickener which I added to the beans. I tossed in the cooked orecchiette and finally a couple handfuls of spinach leaves and tossed until wilted. Topped with Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) it was a nice yummy springtime dinner.

This morning dawned bright and clear. And cold. Did I mention cold? But that’s OK. Next week the weather we can’t go out into is supposed to be beautiful 😂.

Anyway, I always look out the window at the Piazza even though there is usually not much happening out there. But we do have a Unicredit bank. Now and then, I’m not sure what triggers it, there are a bunch of people waiting. I liked the composition of this with the bright sun casting shadows and the people, almost like pieces in a chess game scattered about.

So not a lot happening today. I will continue with my kitchen cleaning. I was pleased with my endeavors from yesterday.

I have also been really struggling with this WordPress interface. I upgraded and I so so so Hate the new knew one. Really hard to use IMO. I also managed to screw up my main menu and cannot figure out how to fix it. So, for the time being, if you want the recipe for the Lentil soup it is (stupidly) on the Main Menu. Please grab a copy.
Stay safe everyone, stay home. Faremo insieme! 💕

Corona virus 28

1,078 positives in Umbria. 2.5% rise. 37 deaths.
105,792 positives in Italy. 4% rise. 12,428 deaths

Still dropping.

174,027 positives in the US. 3,415 deaths.

I went to the pharmacy to refill my prescriptions. This is one of the three things we can leave our house to do. There was no one inside and no one waiting. They let one in at a time. There is a box marked in tape on the floor where you stand. You lean in with your boxes to refill. The pharmacist holds each new box up to see. You can’t pay in cash, only with a credit or debit card. Lean in to take the boxes. Arrivederci. And I’m on my way. Quick trip. Being outside in the cold air felt marvelous!! Too bad the pharmacy is so close to our house 😢

I have to admit, yesterday, I hit a wall. I felt very tired, sad, discouraged. Up to now I have been OK, but the thought of another month (or more!) in this house. Well honestly, it is depressing. I can’t even get excited about cooking. Now, for me, that’s serious. I don’t want to be a downer to others. But I also want to be honest. And I think it will be a problem for all of us who are locked down, in their house, away from friends and family, unable even to go outside for a walk, for weeks. I’m sure what I’m feeling is/will be normal for many.

So, now my job is to figure out how to overcome this. I’ve got to try to pull myself out of this funk. And I will. I think I will start by coming up with a list of tasks to work on. Things to accomplish each day. A goal. And a schedule. Not too much, but something each day. I think this will help me feel like I’m doing something other than sitting here reading the news and Facebook. Something that will make me feel I’ve accomplished something.

A new day. Clear and cold out. Slept a little longer than usual but then, where do I have to go? One thing I’ve read though, is that routine is important. Getting up at a normal time, dressing, bathing, chores…all good for the mood. For the sense of control. I feel a bit better today. I’m throwing myself at my kitchen cabinets 😀

I have a lot of spices and herbs. And I’ve got these cool cabinets with sliding glass that close some of them up. I suppose some would put pretty things in there. Not me, I put my spices and condiments and ingredients, near to hand. I’m taking everything out, making sure it’s cleaned off, cleaning the surface inside, and organizing them properly.

Spices. Glass is open.

To show you how the glass slides back to cover the bottles.

I buy a lot of my spices from Penzeys in the US. I have them sent to Cindy or a friend to bring over later. They have the best and biggest selection. Anyway, when I buy them they always put in extra stuff. And it is usually something hard to file among the other jars in an orderly way. Like Jerk seasoning, or steak seasoning. Usually blends which I don’t use so often. Anyway, I’ve got to figure out how to organize them.

The other cabinet, of the same type, is full of things for different foods and for baking. Balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, Worcester sauce, hot sauces, honeys, baking powder and soda, corn starch, vanilla etc. so it is next for this afternoon.

It has been a while since I made any soup and that is our normal lunch staple. So today I made Lentil soup with spinach. It smelled sooo good while cooking as it has cumin and cayenne in it 😋. I did fiddle with the recipe…no surprise there!

And, finally, lunch!


Stay home guys. If I can do it…you can too! 🤞😉🙃🙂

Corona virus 18

462 cases in Umbria. Up 17%. 10 deaths now.

53,578 cases total in Italy. Growth of 14%. Worst news is there were 793 deaths report yesterday, Saturday, in 24 hours, here in Italy. Seven hundred and ninety three.

Well they finally did it. They proclaimed that running or walking outside will be against the law outside your own yard. You can still walk your dog 200 meters from your house. So, of course I will comply. Too many people were misusing this loophole to congregate. I understand, it is for the best. But it did ruin it for me. I’m not sure how I can keep my knee progressing in this small apartment. Sigh. Walking was the best exercise.

Today is Sunday. We now pick up our pre-made dinners from Ely (of Calagrana – our favorite restaurant) every Sunday. We pre-order by Wednesday. Today we decided to walk separately over to the parking lot where she comes so as to not attract attention…soooo, I guess one of us will take the car next Sunday! The Carabinieri stopped and told us to wait at home. Boy did they NOT want us to approach their car!! Technically, Ely is supposed to deliver to our homes we think. Also Ely got stopped by them, and another lady there said she’d been stopped. They are OUT there today. They are definitely tightening up.

I’m watching the news everyday. Only in the evening. I watch the news conference with an ever-changing cast of characters…but always the same Emcee. (?) hmmmm.

I’m pleased to see five states have initiated a lock-down. But I’m sorry that ONLY five states have initiated a lock-down. California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois, and not mandatory. I’m not sure how they can make it mandatory like they can here. But they must. The US is sadly following in the footsteps of Italy.

I’m reasonably sure nothing else is going to happen today in Casa LUNA…LUther NAncy…so, since I don’t have a picture of any interest, here is one my friend Tom said I could use. From his beautiful house on the mountain nearby…

Stay safe…stay well…stay home! Wash your hands…
Faremo insieme!!