I made a new soup which I adapted somewhat from a Washington Post recipe called Caccio e Pepe soup with chickpeas and kale. It was delicious. It was modeled after the pasta dish Caccio e Pepe which is one of the easiest pastas to make, just pasta, parmesan or pecorino cheese and black pepper. Comfort food. This soup was quite rich and very warming.
We also had a really fun, and filling(!) pizza night with Jane and Christie at Degusto. They have two types of crust. One is integrale or whole grain. Pictures of two.
Yesterday was a big day. Since we had managed to open our recalcitrant second garage we could order pellets and wood. In this new house I guess these are the benefits. No way we could store this much in the old apartment and we have this basement garage storage area which has easy access to the elevator. Much easier for us to shift these things here.
So, that’s done and dusted! Of course there is the sinus issue still looming. The dentist had to remove an old crown (with difficulty) and tested the tooth which is viable so they say it can’t be the problem. So next is a pre-op testing regime and I guess I’ll find out about a date for the procedure. I don’t look forward to that but I will look forward to feeling better, for sure!
This weekend is the festival of San Martino. One of my favorites!
We have a few loose ends to tie up. We had a nice lunch with new friends who own a house in Centro. I gave them a little help by accepting their Amazon deliveries before they came. We went to Vineria Carmine for lunch. It was a windy day and a little cool but we did sit outside. We also asked if we could see the kitchen since my architect was also the architect here. (There will be a posting soon about my kitchen) Here are a few pictures.
~~~~~~~ Yesterday I “harvested” my olives from my little tree 😂 hahaha. I may cure them. There aren’t many, but it would be an exercise!
Speaking of the raccolta – harvest, we are awaiting news from friends who may allow us to help them harvest again this year. It has been very spotty here in Umbria. I know some who had none, but most had some. Our friend Fabio is in the middle of his harvest and says he has less olives but the quality is good. I will buy some oil from him. ~~~~~~~~ We had friends join us for Pranzo last week. This is how we manage to entertain on the terrace without a kitchen upstairs. We use my little cart and it goes up on the elevator. The next one is the table all set.
It is the weekend. I went to the Saturday market and then Luther and I went to Bosco, a town south of us, to buy beef and pork from our favorite butcher. Their meat is amazing. And they have cuts not seen in normal butchers here. I bought two tomahawk pork chops, one tomahawk steak, their primo hamburger patties, and filet steaks. All this was not all that unusual. We also got skirt steak and flank steak. Neither is found here and I do miss them. They also gave us a regalo, gift, of some interesting looking popsicles…just kidding…they are like pork (or maybe beef) cylinders on sticks to grill. THIS should be FUN!
Our weather is still fairly nice. We had storms come through yesterday and now it is cooler but not bad. Tomorrow should be fine, so let me wish you all a buona domenica!
Umbria is a heavily agricultural region. I have written about the four main crops, winter wheat, corn, sunflowers and tobacco. Today I got to see a farm with animals. It was the first time I got a real idea of how this all works here. Many of our guests have commented on the fact they never see pastured livestock. Yes, sheep are often seen but cattle are not. They are mainly kept in the barns and fed or they have small outside pens. No pastures. It is due to the lack of manpower, fencing, space.
Today, I was part of a group of women, our former apartment buyers and two of their friends who are friends with Angela Pauselli, the daughter of the farmer who makes this pasta. I was happy to give us all a ride over there. I bought a lot! More than this picture!
This is an artisanal pasta maker here in Umbertide — Pauselli. They use old wheat varieties milled special for the pasta. We have purchased from them before but the shop is simply never open so I haven’t been able to get more. Sadly they are farmers and not marketers. They don’t promote the product or try to sell it. It makes me sad because it is very special and a very excellent product. It will disappear soon with no one to help. I am betting the slow food people would want to promote this. I will try to see what I can do.
We got a tour of the farm facilities from Angela’s dad. It is an extensive farm with a lot of livestock. They have a large solar farm so are somewhat sophisticated. Plus, as always they grow grapes (make wine for the family to drink), grow olives for oil, I saw a peach orchard, there were maybe 30 chickens. And pigs. The cattle were segregated into barns. The first was all the castrated males, destined to be butchered at about age two for meat. These cattle live in a barn. They are not pastured. Not the best life 🙁.
Animals are not generally pastured here. They are in the barns or in small enclosures. They feed them from the enormous, round hay bales they harvest during summer. The “girls” who were all together, along with the bull, and away from the young castrated males were mostly Limosine, Chianina or Charolais cattle. Almost all pure white. In the past the Chianina were used for all facets of a farm. They pulled the plow, pulled the cart, provided milk and provided meat. To me they are beautiful, large and known for their gentleness and docility.
When I got home I made pasta for dinner, 🙂, what else! I used my butter roma tomato sauce and some guanciale and pecorino romano. Mmmm.
This Sunday started out cold and rainy. It is autumn after all so the season is definitely changing. And so is my cooking 🙂. Today I made several things, just because the weather was dreary and it felt right to me.
First I made some of the cheese broth for soup that I periodically make with saved cheese rinds. It makes a nice rich broth. With this broth I made the Spinach orzo soup I posted about last spring. My first soup of the fall! I stashed that in the refrigerator for soups this week.
Then I made a bolognese sauce for pasta. My niece and her husband are arriving next Saturday so I wanted something to make pasta in case we eat at home. That went into the freezer.
Last I made our dinner for tonight which is pork chili verde. A new recipe I wanted to try and it is a nice autumn dish. Luther liked it. I was OK with it.
To be honest the day actually got better around midday. We still had occasional showers and it stayed cool but there was quite a lot of sun. Here is our sunset last night, with some of my flowers in the foreground.
Managed to pay for the refrigerator today. Luther went back, repeatedly (three times) to get the bill to pay. Italy is the only place I’ve lived where you’ve got to chase them down to pay them. The thing is, we buy our appliances from a store here in town called Formica. Family run and they will get anything you want. Yes, you pay a bit more for it but they bring it, set it up and if there’s ever a problem make sure it gets fixed. Plus you support a local family and store. And yes, you’ve got to chase them down to pay them! But it’s all good.😁 ~~~~~~~ I had lunch with a new friend in Assisi today. What a cool location. The hotel, named Borgo Antichi Orti has indeed got an ancient vegetable garden. It sits beneath the basilica of St Francis. The lunch was nice and meeting my new friend for the first time was great.
On the way to lunch I got stopped in a random traffic stop. These are common. The Carabinieri hold out what everyone calls a “lolypop” looks like one, it is red and means pull over. They check the cars papers and your driving license. This was a first for me. Luther has been pulled over three times.
Here is where we ate lunch. The glass doors were the restaurant and looming above was the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi. Amazing.
Scorpion – first one I’ve seen in this apartment. Rocky was playing with it. Luckily they are not dangerous here. But still creepy. ~~~~~~~ Today was a rainy day, the first one since back in the spring. I like the occasional rainy day. I puttered about the kitchen, using up ingredients I bought to make random things. First, I parboiled and peeled some Roma tomatoes from the Saturday Mercato so I could make more of the delicious butter sauce.
Then I spent a looong time chopping 3 bell peppers, 4 cucumbers and 2 onions into tiny dice to make sweet pickle relish. You can’t buy that here so I’ve taken to making my own. Now I prefer it to store-bought. It is easy to make but there is a lot of chopping!
Last I roasted some of the recent tomatoes from my garden which, as is expected, aren’t as good a summer ones. When you roast them with olive oil and slivered garlic it makes a delicious sauce and resurrects a poor tomato. This was dinner tonight. Felt kind of Greek. I liked it but it isn’t a keeper.
Last night I tried a new recipe (of course with some of my own adjustments/additions!) called Spaghetti quadrati con zucchine. Luther subscribes to a website calle Doctor Wine. He is always sending along recipes that he thinks he would like. When he sends one that I ALSO like I save it. This one was one of these.
It was bit unusual. Beginning prep was to cut a large zucchini (I used yellow summer squash), or a couple of small ones, into strips. And chop up a few cloves of garlic. I also added a few mushrooms. Then you sauté in olive oil until brown and crisp. (I also added pepper flakes for some zip). Add the garlic at the end. This is now ready for the spaghetti at the end.
For the quenelles (for two people) you put a couple of big, rounded spoons full of ricotta in a bowl. I had fresh goat ricotta from the market. Add a quarter cup grated pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) and a drizzle of olive oil and mix up. The recipe called for zucchini flowers but I didn’t have them. If you do, then remove stamens and chop them, then mix in now. Roughly tear fresh basil leaves and mix them in. Form into rounded spoons full. Set aside.
Cook spaghetti until not quite done. Save some water. Drain and added to the previously made squash and garlic along with some water and more torn basil leaves [EDIT – also add more grated cheese now]. Sauté and cook until pasta is al dente. Place in bowls and put a quenelle on top of each portion. Drizzle with more good olive oil. Serve.
We are preparing for a new trip. We have house/cat sitters arriving on Sunday. We are meeting up with my sister and her husband for another small ship cruise. Again on the Windstar line. This ship holds 300 people. We will fly to Amsterdam and depart from there and sail down the coast to Bordeaux. Then fly home. I will, of course do a trip report. Right now many preparations are being made. Getting the apartment ready for our sitters is the prime importance. And also, of course packing for ourselves. We are almost ready. Still just need to make up a second guest room since our sitters are two women who want separate bedrooms.
Last night I finally tried the outside wood BBQ. I made a garlic, yogurt marinated chicken thigh recipe. It came out well but I needed either more oil on the grill or not skinless thighs. They tended to stick. They tasted good though. I will use this grill more now.
Stay tuned for my upcoming Trip Report. Buon fine settimana a tutti!
I was, for some reason, craving this particular pasta from Sicily. A super simple dish which comes together very quickly. All you do is take about 6-8 anchovies in oil and put them in a pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and cook mashing them until they melt into the oil. Add a handful of pine nuts and cook a bit, then a chopped garlic clove and a handful of soaked and drained raisins or sultanas and a few stalks of minced parsley. I also put in some hot pepper flakes (natch😉). Cook the spaghetti and drain, saving some water, and toss into the sauce with some water as needed to make a creamy sauce. Serve with grated cheese if desired. Super fast, super easy, and super yum.
It pushed my pasta craving buttons perfectly. Tonight, southern fried chicken and potato salad! I’m nothing if not eclectic. 😄
Tomorrow we lunch with friends at Calagrana. We had a lot of big storms yesterday afternoon into the night. The world nearby is washed clean after weeks of drought and it is beautiful now. Clear with brilliant blue skies and puffy clouds. It is very cool with highs about 22C today and downright chilly in the night. Loving a break. The heat will return.
Here’s a picture over by Assisi up on Monte Subasio. My friend Doug Hunt took it. It is the road to his house. The colors are amazing and the world so clean after the rain. Enjoy! 💕 Umbria is so beautiful!
The story of our Italian family is a long one. In a nutshell, it started as soon as we moved into our last apartment. The place was full of the dust of construction and everything needed cleaning. My friend Susan introduced me to Vera, who cleaned her house. A super interesting and intelligent woman from Bosnia originally and then Slovenia. To avoid an arranged marriage (Islamic parents) she fled to Italy and became a nanny. She met her future husband, married and had two beautiful girls. And she began her own business.
Vera cleaned for us and we engaged her to chat with us in Italian after cleaning. Time passing and we became good friends. Eventually we were adopted by Vera and family and we adopted them. We all love good food and relish the different cuisines. Not normal for Italians. So that’s the back-story.
Sunday Lunch was the first in months. I hadn’t seen Vera since February. Now that we have a table and furniture we asked them for Pranzo. I decided an American lunch was the best thing given the heat. The menu was chips and salsa to start, sweet and spicy. Pulled pork sandwiches with hot sauces and coleslaw, grilled hot dogs with the fixins. Potato salad. And for dessert, peach tiramisù.
It was so nice to see everyone again. I had missed them so much. It was a lot of fun. Here are some pictures. Graziano is very tall and has made some tall girls! And beautiful redheads.
My new, favorite Italian word is….telecomando. Somehow it makes me feel like the captain of a Starship. What power I have here in my hand! I won’t keep you waiting, it is the word for remote control. I guess I’d heard it before, but now I’ve got fans with telecomandi — I assume that’s the plural(?) — so I’m feeling mighty powerful 😁
It’s still hot but it will be slightly less for the weekend. Then it goes back up to 39. But happily, after that it is a more livable 32ish. My salad last night was a burrata tomato salad. Burrata is a cheese made from the byproducts from making mozzarella. To me it is richer than mozzarella. I served it with cold cannelloni beans.
My next salad project will be a Panzanella, probably for tomorrows dinner. It is a classic Tuscan salad which uses up stale bread. Frugal, those Tuscans. It is only good when the tomatoes are at their tip-top in high summer since they are the star ⭐️ in the dish.
I have invited our old friend Vera and her family for domenica Pranzo. We havn’t seen her since maybe February? Vera and I love to cook. I showed her how to make American style ribs and how to cook a whole turkey. I have made Mexican and Indian for them as well. The whole family are very adventurous eaters. This is not the norm for Umbrian Italians. Due to a lack of a convenient upstairs kitchen I’m doing an American style BBQ. We will start with Salsa and chips, one spicy, one mild. I can make pulled pork in the slow cooker ahead of time, which won’t heat up the house. I’ll grill hot dogs. I made homemade BBQ sauce (hard to find here), and then we will have some salads, coleslaw and potato, and finally, a new-to-me fresh peach tiramisù. I’ll try to take pictures. I hope it isn’t terribly hot upstairs. 🤞