Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green Gold – Extra Virgin Gold

The last of the olive harvest is over and the crop was a good one well I take that back, it was fantastic. The hard work always brings a smile after the olives have gone to milling and the finished product is dripping from a thick piece of bread toasted quickly at screaming high heat, rubbed with a clove of garlic and sprinkled with salt…true heaven for those who love just-pressed extra virgin olive oil. There is even more satisfaction as it rolls over the tongue, spicy and fragrant, a bright emerald green; the thought that you picked it yourself and, you worked your blooming arse off to get it...add to the flavor appreciation.

Nowadays, in Italy the laws have become so encumbering, picking olives has become another dying act. Granted in the past, people took advantage of those they hired to help pick; today if you hire, you need to pay insurance on them, pay them an hourly wage, a minimum of 9 Euros/hour (hell, way beyond minimum wage in the States) and some go as far as asking for product as well the hourly wage. So tell me, how can anyone afford to even pick the fruit off the trees when the product sells at market price of 9 Euros per liter????

If you do not have a large family, which is now the case in so many Italian homes as the families are not only getting smaller but moving to the easier jobs and cleaner jobs as well meaning, they leave the parents on the farm, alone to do what used to be done in numbers.
So what is a person to do who is alone with a butt load of trees to pick? How are they supposed to bring to market a lost treasure, stupendous in flavor (and organic)? An oil tasting of fresh green olives packed full of beneficial properties and history? It used to be “an event” in the countryside at “olive time” where the families came together, took days off from their jobs to get to the fields and pick. Lunch would be had in the fields either over a makeshift campfire grilling fresh sausage, bread, pancetta and such all watered down with homemade wine.

The time spent picking wa
s a time of recounting gossip of the month and catching up on who is doing what, there would be laughter and voices of others in fields nearby floating upon the air who were doing the exact same thing. Everyone happy, working quickly if the weather was cold since harvest time was usually the beginning of December, and if not cold everyone would be relaxed, happy and working for that liquid gold, for that first Bruschetta of the year.

Life was simpler, harder but full of satisfaction.
Today, it is a rush to get to mill, the weather is not the same so harvest time starts at the end of October and if you have too much to pick, you might wind up leaving the fruit on the trees unable to pick it all. You legally are not allowed to have anyone help except direct family, mother, father, son or daughter. Cousins mean insurance, actually anyone means insurance however tell me…are those bastard twits in uniform or undercover from the Finanza really going around looking for people picking olives?

Seriously! I need to figure this one out…or do they show up if someone rats on you, like jealous neighbors? Damn, always have to be nice to neighbors because you never know when they might stick it to you and here in Italy, the laws are made for snitches and tattletales.

So what is for dinner tonight? La Bruschetta!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mingao - Dessert for Buongustai


3 tablespoons of sugar per egg yolk
Use 4 egg yolks
1 -2 tablespoons flour or one generous one.
1/2 liter of whole milk
scorzza di limone/lemon zest. Use half a lemon for those who like the lemon flavor and use a good zester tool, use a whole lemon.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar (from 10-12 tablespoons) and the flour energetically for five minutes until nice and soft. At the beginning it will be dense and difficult to stir but will soften up as beaten.

Add the whole milk at room temp with the lemon zest.
Place on low flame and stir slowly with wooden spoon, bring to boil. After it begins to boil stir one more minute and then turn off. Pour immediately into cups and cool.

Note, this is a great dessert when placed in pots du creme or nice little liqueur glasses. Serve using chocolate spoons made by Lindt (unfortunately Lindt is not one of our sponsors, of course we would not mind if they contacted us...;-) If you cannot find chocolate spoons, regular ones will work just fine but garnish with a a dash of grated dark chocolate.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ashera - Luxury Cats

OK, has anyone out there heard of this breed...or even seen one? I have been discussing this with a vet friend of mine and we get into some heated discussions about genetic stuff and is the link A-4ft-leopard
It seems Lifestyle Pets created this and a few other unique examples and as much as I might be aginast breeding, these cats fascinate me (check out the prices while you are at it)!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Computer Affaiar

Have you ever had a relationship, in the beginning where all communication was based on letters, phone calls or now, the internet? Thinking about that the other day, I realized how much fun those can be, how exciting and frustrating as well. So, Snow White presents one of her best efforts with technology and love. ;-))

She gets up out of bed, the two legged “thing” in the bedroom is snoring, so she takes the chance and scurries down the hallway, in the dark; well not too bad since the "on" light from the computer casts a glow on the walls. Nonetheless, she hurries down the hallway, trying to throw her arms into her robe as she moves and trips on a cat. Scream, howl an
d screech, from the cat. Oh damn!!! She grabs the walls and regains her balance, for two seconds and she is off again muttering under her breath, “ Damn cat!” What the hell were you doing in the middle of the hallway anyway, in the dark on the rug?”

Unfortunately the cat woke the dogs up and so they decided it was time to investigate what was going on. Here comes the big one and pushes her from behind at her knees, she buckles and goes down on all fours as number two dog jumps over her. Damn it again!! She pauses; listening...he is still snoring, yes? She waits; yes...he is sawing down a forest. OK, great! She stands up and continues her journey to the "office" and enters only to find another cat in her way and one under her foot, and another one on the desk trying to brush up against her and as she tries to maneuver around them, the dogs screw everything up by insisting on coming in and joining the party!!!! There is no more room so she makes a lunge for the chair on wheels and slams herself into the corner of the desk.

Oh my God she screams in silence! Tears roll down her cheeks…as
the pain hits her full force. &%§£, that hurt; she is jumping around, swearing quietly, crying and glaring at the zoo before her. The dogs are cowering, the cats could not give a damn. She twirls the seat of the chair around and crashes into it still holding her shin, swearing, pissed...but on a mission nonetheless. She turns to the computer while still holding her shin, moves the mouse around to wake up the monitor, while waiting, she nurses her bruised bone. All four cats are on the desk wanting to be fed. “Damn it guys, go out and catch some rats or something, leave me alone, I have super important things to do here!!!!!!!!”

The monitor slowly comes to life and she tries to type in her password, but she cannot see because she has not turned on the light for fear of waking the great “white logger” in the she practically has her face on the keyboard to see the keys but to no a
vail. She mistypes, and again, and again; Oh to Hell with this! She turns the light on low and quickly types the word but now she has her glasses on...found them in the light. Shit, will miracles never cease?

OK, here we go she thinks to herself, but the mouse does not move well over the new mouse fact, it really sucks! She is desperately trying to click on her browser.....misses, clicks and viola!! Finally!!!!!! She looks at her mail tab; no new messages; oh crap, that is not possible! She is nervous now. It must be this stupid browser. She closes all tabs and launches her browser again. All five tabs come up....oh lord how long does this thing take??????????? I could pull five files out of a file cabinet faster than this!!!!!!

OK, here it is, the mail tab......she looks, and then looks again; nothing is there.
Crap, now what??????? Desperate for a fix she goes in to her file of emails from him....ah....finally some old mail to read. She peruses a few of those until she knows them by heart, OK, now what? I’ve got it; my sent file! Let's go over what I wrote him, maybe I'll be inspired to write him some more gibberish (she is now panting...nothing is working she is needing a fix so badly she is ready to do just about anything...god how my shin hurts she thinks....all that pain....)! Bloody hell again!

OK, get a grip on yourself; this computer is not at fault, do not yell at Bill Gates because he did not cause this mail failure. OK, fine! I'll get over this....I will. She turns to her two trusty friends and pets them, which helps calm her down and at the same time, makes her realize how addicted she is to her torrid love affair with this electron
ic box!

The dogs understand, they nuzzle her and then leave and go back to bed, the excitement being over for the night. The big fat 15 pound cat comes over and just plops himself down on top of the desk next to the monitor and looks at her..."you stupid nut, she is thinking he is thinking...." I guess I'll have to make myself a chamomile and just try to go to bed she says to herself.

A voice in her head tells her: In the morning my child, must wait until morning, for the computer monster does not relinquish emails until then...calming down...wishing she was in another part of the world that very second...OH
MY GOD, how am I going to last???? One word, just one...even gibberish would work....I'd sell myself for one word she thinks to see his email address in my inbox....yes that would do it....that is one word, isn't it, that address??? Yes, I would be happy (liar)!!!!!!!!

OK, computer...I'm leaving now so do NOT crash on me between now and the mo not look for viruses or I'll kill you myself...and for god's sake, do not let any spy ware get through the "protection" or you are going to be under the next delivery truck that passes by!!!!!!

OK,...going back to bed...she is totally blinded in the dark after the brightness of the computer screen...walking down the hallway with both hands on the walls...teeny tiny steps ...shuffling her feet in case there is a cat...OK, so far so good...listening....crap! He is STILL snoring...that is good and bad...still asleep is good but that means he will keep her awake...oh GOD NO!!!! No more sleepless minutes, please (meaning more time to think about emails)! Ughhhhhhhhhh, how will I survive??????????????????????????

She slides into bed as her mind turns on instead of off; drowning in thoughts of another place in time, sleep never coming.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Musing over...

She looks down to the floor at the gray furry friend she has staring at her with his big orange eyes, she knows the only reason he is looking at her is not for affection; she has supermarket written across her body and hands! Yes, that is all he wants, any and all food either from her hands or plate!

She is sitting at her computer with the view facing the lake watching the weather change from sunny to a mix of overcast, windy hot gunk and eating a piece of Parmigiano cheese making sure she sliced a few smaller pieces for the beast
at her feet (why she bothers to cut them into small pieces she wonders, he throws any size down when it comes to cheese)! Thank god he does not like wine and at his age, she would give him anything he wants as long as it does not contain gluten. Hum, he seems to be eating more of her cheese than she, a bite for her and two for his little skinny body.

Hell, he is good company even though he couldn’t give a rat’s ass about her, at least he is a snoring, breathing living body who shares her meals and wakes her up a few times in the night with his toys. She knows he listens to her when she talks to him because his tail whips back and forth so fast slapping the floor or the furniture he is near. We still have not graduated to purring and after having a great home for 14 years then torn from what he knew as home, she cannot blame him at all for not being ready to take on a new boss. The nice thing about him is that after a ½ inch of cheese he’s ready for a nap and so he high-tails it to his blanket on her bed or to his basket in front of the toilet (yeah I know, great place but he was used to that before so I cannot break his habits). Nothing like having company when you go need to visit the porcelain god!

The bells from the church on the island are so close she feels as if they are right in her back yard particularly if the wind is right. She hears the sounds of the trains as they pass below her nest, gliding over the tracks reminding her there is a world in constant movement even though here looking at this idyllic view one would think otherwise. The sounds of the occasional Ferrari or super sports car as they wind around the roads float to her open window as well as those idiotic motorcycles screaming over the road by the shore.

The azaleas are in full bloom leaving massive bright color blotches all around the area and in the towns. She decides to finish a few postcards and get those ready to post the next day and look over some tourist ideas for the next day as well, trying to decide on museums or a drive; reality seeming so far away just like the villas on the other side of the shore.

Actually, she thinks this is the perfect kind of weather to go to town, sit at a table outside with her marrochino and begin planning the course of her book, the cast of characters, the overall flavor and tone and begin a rough outline. Of course, it would not be all work because she loves nothing better than to people watch and soak up the sounds and flavors of the towns while sitting in the piazzas or along the shores or ridges or whatever it is in that particular spot.

She gathered her belongings, packed her little tote bag and went to fire up
the big beast and point it towards town, time for a dose of life, coffee or maybe a glass of wine. As she closes the door she hears her furry friend snoring up a storm; that’s good she thinks, at least he is satisfied and happy on his full cheese belly. A dopo!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Men, Food and a Deserted Island

Here is a quick test to see what kind of man you have in your life. I thought of this after reading one of my favorite blogs. OK, so I decided after living with three male monsters who were selfish and self centered, I would come up with a type of “what would you do…” type of screening question for future men in my life.

I realize the home is truly the responsibility of the woman and she really does know almost every thing there is in each cupboard in the kitchen and refrigerator. Now, you bring a man in there, he opens the door and cannot find his beer or the cheese because it is not FLAT OUT in front of his BLIND face. There may actually be a carton of milk in front of it, (God forbid) or worse yet, her tub of yogurt!

So here is the test: You ask him what he would do if you were deserted on an island (the kitchen) togethe
r with a fixed amount of food supplies, limited to a small wooden crate (the refrigerator). You tell him what types of food are in this box and tell him you will divvy out the portions equally each day/meal. Then you tell him that you only have one Twinkie or cookie and you assume this will be split equally or, you as a female, being givers of life, will probably let him have your half…right? Well, maybe. Two days go by and you are both starving, looking at that last Twinkie; you both go to bed and pray for a miracle the next day. The next day you get up and it is gone! What is his response? You want to hear the ones I received? These are real my friends and I mean it.

One of my “lovely” suitors told me in all sincerity that he would and
should always get more than I because he was bigger and needed more energy to function and, he would have been sneaking into the box every night eating everything. With a deadpan face, he told me if there was one left, he would take it and fight for it.

Male number two: This is not even a discussion because he takes the last of everything and leaves the empty box, bucket or wrapper! So being deserted together would be sheer hell and so it was. The refrigerator was always full of empty wrappers and I would come home thinking I could make a sandwich with the turkey….what turkey? There isn’t any bread either….!!!! Getting my drift???????

Male number three: No that is OK, you take this, really. I want you to have this and eat it…as his fork comes over to take a bite…then another bigger and bigger and
as he eats, he truly believes he is being the bigger “man.”

So, how do you think this bad girl solved some of these issues? Well, when the fork came over to have a “taste,” her fork tines went into his hand! When number two thought it so funny to leave empty containers, this innocent creature emptied the kitchen and refrigerator of all food filled boxes, dry or otherwise and filled them all up with empty boxes. The refrigerator was full of empty wrappers, Tupperware with nothing in them, empty sandwich meat bags and for the bread, she filled it with sawdust mixed with mashed potatoes, made it into a form looking like bread and left that as well. For the first male, he was an easy fix; Ex-lax brownies did a number on him. ;-))))) So, the moral of the story is; don’t mess with the kitchen help!!!!!! Now, try this out on your men and see just how magnanimous they really are. ;-)