Category Archives: Eating

New stove delivered

Here’s a picture of the new stufa. A pellet burning stove. Should keep it nice and toasty inside. So far, four days in, it is super efficient. Much more efficient than our old stove, and it is completely silent. This was very important to me. Happy with it.

Even though we are dealing with all these details to get ourselves moved we still have to deal with other things we need to get done. One was to get our VeeDub serviced and the bi-annual inspection done. This we accomplished this week.

Our house has two garages but one is still in use by our sellers, until the end of March. It is the larger garage and easier to park in. Right now we have a smaller garage without a straight shot into it. But between me driving, and Luther directing we are getting the hang of it.

I also drove the 20 miles north to Sansepolcro to get my hair cut. I feel I have put myself on the back burner and my hair was a real mess. So I got it cut. It feels great to get it done.

Today, Saturday, is market day. We had a few things to get done, first we went to the stufa seller and paid for the stove. Then we drove to the Centro to get the two bags of pellets we had left there. I also got my cleaning supplies I had left. Then we parked. I had some things to donate to books for dogs which I dropped off. Next we went to see Angelo in his Alimentari. We bought a few necessities and went to the market in the piazza. I got ingredients for another soup. Finally I visited the farmacia and Luther went and got his haircut appointment. We got much done. But I really miss having all that within steps of my home. 😥

Once home I made a soup for my/our lunches. I got bietola at the market so I made the cannellini soup with bietola in the instant pot. (Recipe) Worked out fine.

At 2pm our potential house painter, Luca, was coming with a preventivo (estimate). It was eyewateringly expensive. But this house is really big so I guess it wasn’t unexpected. We are going with him and he will be our roommate for the foreseeable future I am sure. I like him and he came highly recommended by a good friend.

Tonight I tried pasta in the instant pot. I tell ya, we’d be toast without this pot. We went last night to the Indian takeaway and the Piadina we got was, to me, inedible. The food in the rosticcerie down stairs is much the same. Keeping us fed is up to the Instant pot. There are other rosticcerie so maybe we will try them next week.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we are going to the first Calagrana lunch of the 2023 season with three friends. Something to look forward to.

Sunday lunch out

Luther and I decided to have Sunday lunch in a restaurant right next to us that we love. We lucked out and got the last table. Note to self: remember to reserve next time. C’era una Volta is the name of the restaurant. It means Once Upon a Time. It is a family run place with no menu. They just come and read what they’ve got. They are known for their antipasto platter so we got one to split. And then we each got a pasta. I got tagliatelle with cinghiale (boar) ragù bianco. Luther’s came with guanciale (pork cheeks) and potatoes. It was all good. First three pictures are the antipasto, next my pasta, then Luther’s.

It was good to get out for a bit without having to get something done!

On Saturday we picked out a stufa. We have a chimney sweep coming to clean and then they will come to install.

It is Monday. New week. New things to get done! Ciao for now!

Lots and lots of progress

It has been a cavalcade of people through here this week. I am not complaining.

Wednesday IKEA came. It is pronounced EEE-KAY-AH here. The two gents were super nice and brought everything up and placed it in its proper room. I had worried for nothing. Ibraim, the main guy, told me if I had any problems with Task Rabbit for the assembly to call him. I thought that was sweet.

Task Rabbit is out of Rome and a completely different entity from IKEA. Our guy drove 2+ hours to get here Thursday. His name is Valentino! I love that. It is almost Valentine’s Day. He arrived about 1pm and got right to work. I asked if he wanted a caffè but he declined showing me his banana and his sandwich and water bottle. I often wonder about folks like him. Just trying to get by in a big and expensive city like Rome. Must be tough. By seven pm, he was done — with a 2+ hour drive home. Here are a few ugly shots. I finally finished unpacking all the food.

Yesterday we also had Luca, our potential house painter come to measure everything. He will be giving us an estimate next week. It would be lovely to get a fresh coat of paint and all the messed up areas on the walls fixed. Brighten things up a bit. I am going with a warm white color. And white, white ceilings. Later I may do some decorating but that is WAY down on my list!

Manuele, our Geometra also came yesterday. He had been coming last week but he forgot! That’s Manu for you! So I reminded him this morning. We showed him the upstairs where we had hoped to put a nice kitchen. As opposed to the the one downstairs which will never be a really workable kitchen for me. We had had our architect friends come the first weekend we were here and they had noted the wall I had wanted to remove had the Caldaia mounted on it with all the associated piping to the bathroom and radiators for heating. We have two of these, one for each floor. They said it would be a bitch to move it and costly. I was pretty disappointed.

Manuele has a different idea. We have two in wall heating/cooling units upstairs. He said we can use those plus a third one to heat instead of the Caldaia. Then the wall can come out easy peasy. New floor and they can use the existing vent in the ceiling for the range. Water easily moved. And I will go with convection cooking upstairs to make it less costly. So it won’t cost too much. This was a worry of mine. I can go to a local kitchen designer and get what I want. So anyway, a bit of upbeat news. And perhaps less costly than I had thought.

Today, Friday, we had the stufa guy bless our space. He also told us how big the stove needs to be. And today, the Vodafone installers came a day earlier than we expected to hook up our internet. Yay! Last, but not least, the caldaia guy came and figured out why we only had warm water. I do so look forward to a hot shower! I am very tired of lukewarm water on freezing mornings!
I never reported on my Instant Pot adventures. I have made four things so far. First simple black beans. These would be an ingredient. Then I made chicken and rice and beans. It was pretty good and made a lot so we had leftovers. Wednesday, I made chili with black beans. It was easy and good on a winter night. Last I made soup, cabbage leek and faro. I like the pot. I will also use the slow cook feature someday. It is still hard to make dinners with no sink and not a lot of room to work. But it helps us not have to go out hunting and gathering every night.

Excellent progress if I do say so myself!

Spinach soup

I made this soup that is now one of my all time favorites. I am not sure if the broth I made, made it special. I will make it again without that broth to see. We save cheese rinds in the freezer. And when I get a big bunch I boil them for an hour or so. The kitchen smells like cheese. I strain out the solids and use the broth in soups. I don’t do it often because it takes a while to save enough rinds. Anyway, this soup used this broth. But any broth would do. All you do is chop an onion, carrot and celery and sauté until soft. Add broth. I used chicken broth and the cheese broth and then some water. I cooked it all together for about 30 minutes. Then I added pasta. The rice shaped one. (Did you know orzo is barley here! I wonder how the US started using that word for rice shaped pasta?) Anyway, I cooked the pasta and then put in a huge amount of washed chopped spinach. I did not cook it. It just wilted into the hot broth. Even a huge amount will practically disappear into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. The soup was delicious, and so comforting…felt like chicken soup for the soul. Except…no chicken!

This is our picture window in our living room. It probably was the reason we bought this apartment. It brings real meaning to the phrase “picture window”. It changes by the minute. It looks like a painting. I never tire of it. I should have taken more photos like this. Oh well…


Today is New Year’s Eve. New Year is called Capodanno in Italian. Everyone is wishing each other buon anno and auguri. Today is Saturday so I got to go shopping for the beautiful produce I needed for our dinner today and tomorrow. I also wanted to get a pork shoulder. My eating plans for the weekend are in step with the traditions of two countries, Italy today, and the US tomorrow.

In Italy, the tradition is to eat lentils on New Years Eve. The legumes are coin-shaped. So they are supposed to bring you wealth. They traditionally eat Cotechino at the holidays too. This is a traditional product made of minced pork, fat, and rind with salt, spices and wine. Since pigs were generally slaughtered in December, this sausage became a symbol of the holidays, accompanied by lentils and mustard or mashed potatoes. Super easy to prepare. Here are the ingredients.

So. I prepared the Cotechino as the box instructed as well as lentils. I decided a salad was needed for a green — I had bought some nice greens from the market today. I also added an egg. Here are pictures.

This was our first Cotechino. It tasted a lot like corned beef. It was pretty good. I am not a big meat eater. The small Cotechino was perfect for the two of us. I would do this again!

Tomorrow I will be doing Hoppin John. Carolina gold rice, black eyed peas and pork shoulder. Homage to my southern roots. The more luck the better for the coming year.

Buon anno a tutti and Auguri! 🎉🎊

Broccoli romanesco

A couple posts ago, I talked about buying one of the alien looking broccoli romanesci. It is a very delicious vegetable. And amazing to look at too! Romanesco broccoli is a stunning example of a naturally forming fractal, recurrent throughout the natural world. It is a mystery why…but I just wanted to eat it! 😁

I decided to try an Italian recipe. I used a head of the broccoli. I separated it into florets. Then I boiled it for ten minutes and drained it.

Then I placed it in a pan lined with carta forno, or parchment paper. I preheated the oven to 200C (400F). I sprinkled it with bread crumbs, grated pecorino or parmesan and chopped almonds. Then I drizzled our amazing olive oil over it.

I roasted it for 25 minutes. It was perfect just like that but the recipe said an option was to put cubes of cheese on it and put it back into the oven to melt for 5 minutes. I thought that sounded nice, and I had scored some white cheddar this week so I grated some on top, instead of the cubes. Then I put it under the broiler. It was terrific. It could be a main for vegetarians. It easily could be for me too. But we had it as a side dish.

After roasting

Even Luther liked it! 🙂 I hope you give it a try.

Winter Solstice

Today was a nice day. We got together with friends for a holiday lunch. Three friends, all of whom moved here since the beginning of the year. All near Spello. Roselyne and Steve live in Spello Centro Storico. An excellent apartment with great terraces which have country and mountain views and a front balcony above the main street going up the hill. Right in the action. Doug lives in a sweet house situated on Monte Subasio. I don’t know his elevation but it has views across the valley to die for. He is in the very beginning of renovations.

We chose to meet in Assisi. There is a nice restaurant there called Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erbe. It is just off of the main piazza which has the Assisi Comune. It also has the temple of Minerva and lots of cafes and shops. Today, it was empty. I don’t think I have seen Assisi as empty and quiet as today. The restaurant welcomed us. It wasn’t very busy. We have been going to this restaurant since a 2011 trip with my sister and her husband and another couple. It is still good. It is nice in summer as it has probably the only trees in Assisi. They have two menus, one Traditional and one Fusion. I love the fusion choices. Here are a few pictures. The first one is fried artichoke/carciofi in a cheesy sauce. Very delicious. It does look a bit phallic. Three of us got this.

Doug’s next course was Strangozzi yakisoba. Fat spaghetti with shrimp. It looked great.
I had the salmon taco next.
For dessert three got the tiramisu. But it wasn’t your everyday tiramisu.
I got the gelato with caramel sauce topped by popcorn. The salty popcorn set of the caramel perfectly. Luther got a spoon…🙂

It was a really nice get together. We won’t be doing much this Christmas. Nothing in fact. Which is kind of sad. But it is what it is. Happy Winter Solstice, here’s to longer days…if not warmer ones!

The tree is lit!

A very pretty, tall and stately tree. We walked through the little Christmas fair for the kids and also small booths selling things. The first picture is where Babbo Natale awaits visits from the children. He is inside La Rocca, our fortress.

Babbo Natale awaits within!
Old woodcut
Carnivale mask
Collection of dolls for sale.
Jane enjoying the ambience.

Today we had a pizza lunch at Calagrana. Albi had fired up the wood oven. Delicious.

Luther had bacon and potatoes on his
Mine was roast vegetable with anchovies. Jane had the same minus the anchovies.
Christie had a margarita with fresh pomodorini and anchovies.

It was all delicious. The day was mild and I didn’t have to wear a coat. Our friends Jane and Christie are just here until next Tuesday. They return to the US and their adventures there until next spring when they will return and move into our apartment. Big adventures to come for us all.

Closing date — finally!

The weather is still vile. Not terribly cold, in the 50s in the daytime. Not cold at night. We did get down to 3C last week. I see next week it will become a deep freeze with temps to -3C at night. Time to cover the lemon tree!

We have been entertaining (!) ourselves getting some needed things done as you know from the last post. Yesterday we went to Città di Castello to Mailboxes Etc to mail a package to my sister and send Luther’s Passport off to the Embassy in Rome for renewal. What an ordeal. The instructions were to specifically “go to Mailboxes Etc” to mail and get a return envelope. The woman at the shop had no idea how to do this. Doesn’t seem they actually “have” return envelopes! So why would the Embassy website specifically instruct us to go to Mailboxes Etc? We hope what we did will work. Hopefully the embassy will call us if there’s a problem. We can always go to Rome to pick it up.

Then we drove past the Poste again, and it was again very crowded. So we skipped that. Finally we stopped at the little shop which does stuff for cars and drivers licenses etc. My license will expire on December 28 so I got the ball rolling to renew.

Later in the afternoon we were off to Perugia to have an adjustment done on Luther’s new hearing aids. They do seem to help. It is bad enough when you can’t hear well, but not hearing well in a foreign language sure doesn’t help with comprehension! We drove back along the E45 super strada. Bad traffic jams. Rain and dusk and road construction didn’t help. After we broke free we admired the trucks as they approached us on the other side of the highway. Some of them are amazing with all kinds of lights. A lot have lights in green red and white of the Italian flag. Many have the drivers name in neon lights in the front window. We oohed and ahhed. Luther said it was like looking at Christmas lights! Hah! It was!
Now for the BIG news…we got our closing date on the new house. January 23. A little longer away than we thought but it will work out ok. Now at least we can DO some things to prepare. We contacted the moving company and they gave us dates of 23-25 January to pack and move us. I decided I cannot pack the entire house myself. They will pack for us but it is an extra cost. So we opted for that and now I will stop packing. I sent out a request to reserve a place for us to stay for a couple days during the actual move. Someplace to take the cats where they will be out of the way and safe. And we need to order two beds and a mattress from our old friend Mr. Tiziano. We bought quite a bit of stuff from him when we moved here in 2014. If we’ve got beds, then at least we’ll have a place to sleep. It feels better that I can start working now!
They put the lights in the Christmas tree on Monday. Now it awaits it’s grand lighting ceremony tomorrow on L’Immacolata.

Lunch today was my old friend Zuppa di Cicerchie . You may remember this pea from previous posts. Here is what Wikipedia says about it: “Lathyrus sativus, also known as grass pea, cicerchia, blue sweet pea, chickling pea, chickling vetch, Indian pea, white pea and white vetch, is a legume commonly grown for human consumption and livestock feed in Asia and East Africa.”

Who knows how it came to Italy. It is common in the central Italian areas of Tuscany and Umbria, parts of Lazio and Abruzzo and the Marche. It fed the poor when nothing else was available. It is essential that it be soaked for at least 24 hours and the water be changed several times. It removes the toxins in the grain. It does make a delicious winter soup!

Alla prossima! 💚💚

It’s ….. pizza nite!

We really don’t go out at night often. Mostly we are tucked inside watching a movie after our dinner at 8:30. That’s why we seldom have pizza. Around these parts they only make pizza at night. Never at lunch, except for pizza by the slice in some take out places. It is because it takes a long time to get the oven up to the optimum temperature. Here it is — fiery hot!

There’s a place in the next town north called Pizzeria Nestore. We’ve passed it countless times but it always looked closed up. That was in the daytime. At night it is brightly lit and inviting. Tonight we decided to try it with Christie and Jane. We got there when they opened at 7pm. Good thing too, because it gets very full, very fast. A bottle of water and a bottle of wine and we looked at the VERY extensive list of pizzas. There must have been 100 different kinds. And all the kinds I alway hear Italians don’t eat were included. Like pineapple pizza. Yes, it was there.

We all ordered and shortly after we were delivered four big pies. The crust was quite thin. I would call it Roman style. I will put what they were in a caption.

Fresh cherry tomatoes anchovies and crema topped with lettuce.
Sausage mozzarella
Ham, spicy sausage, mozzarella and tomato sauce.

All of us ate almost all of our pizzas! They were delicious. Christie couldn’t quite finish hers as you can see below.

I thought Nestore pizza was good, but not extraordinary. Every Italian town is chock full of pizzerias and they are for the most part very good or they wouldn’t stay in business. Italians are very picky about their pizzas. I guess we need to explore the ones here in town. I will report back if we do! Ciao a tutti!