venerdì 8 aprile 2016

Letture ed una torta al limone

Hi there,

Hope you’re doing well!

Today I am feeling sleepy, it might be because of the old saying “Aprile, dolce dormire” (April, sleep is sweet). I did try to check if there was an English version, but apparently only Italians sleep more in April, but please feel free to update me if you also feel drowsy at this time of the year.

***

If you’re feeling like reading, today I felt moved by this article on how autism touched my family.

And if you haven’t already heard from him before, this essay by Paul Kalanithi, How long have I got left, is mind blowing. I have just read his book and his words still linger in my head.
I found a thread about it thanks Ben & Birdy  here.  

***



On a completely different and much lighter note, as you may know, if you’ve read some of my other posts, I kind of like buying cookbooks and among the various ones, I also am the happy owner of Honey and Co. The Baking Book.

I tried their Saffron & lemon syrup cake  and despite the unbelievable amount of sugar it tasted really great. It totally resonated especially to my loved one, his ancestral half Sicilian taste buds were so pleased he gobbled down a quarter of the cake in one evening (warning: this is scientifically proved to cause indigestion, the poor greedy love of mine could not sleep well at all).

Just for my future self, I will take a few notes for the future:
1. Italian lemons tend to be smaller than the ones used in the recipe, with two I could not cover the whole baking pan;
2. Italian lemons have stronger peels: boil the cheeky slices until they become translucent and easily pierced by a fork;
3. 6-8 minutes were not enough to thicken the syrup, possibly the recipe tester may have had an electric stove or they let the whole thing splutter like lava, don’t know, but I will boil it longer next time.



I wish you a pinch of joy and some peace for your weekend.

lunedì 14 marzo 2016

Venezia: Museo di Storia Naturale

I know, if you’re going to visit Venezia, you probably do not have dinosaurs’ skeletons in mind, but you may be a science nerd or a parent and then things take a different perspective.

Yesterday we had the pleasure to chase our gorgeous four year old through the exhibition spaces of the Museum of Natural History and despite the expected hurry (I mean, the little one had to take a ferryboat - Vaporino as soon as possible), we actually enjoyed our visit.

So yes, while I am not a bone person either and I kind of walked hastily through the taxidermist rooms which smelled of century old dust and forlorn animal souls, I appreciated Mr. Ouranosaurus nigeriensis welcoming us to the Museum and totally enjoyed the deep blue fish room.



The museum is kids friendly, meaning that the staff is actually used to tiny barbarians hovering everywhere and they eye you with sympathy and understanding.

I would stay as far as possible, if you are happily single or still in the un-parent mode or travelling without offspring.

On the other hand, if you wish to observe Italian natives and/or feel less stuck in a tourist trap, this may actually be a great place to be.

It is easy to reach from the train station, as there are shields indicating your way (almost) at every turn and you can find more information on the dedicated internet site.


Opening hours: Tuesdays to Fridays, 9:00-17:00 (tickets are sold only up to 16:00); Saturdays and Sundays 10:00-18:00; Mondays closed.

venerdì 11 marzo 2016

mugs wishlist

House of Rym, the store. Stockholm/Sweden.:
Splendide tazze - House of Rym
Piccola my - Arabia
 As usual daydreaming about enriching my home with nice little things...Have a nice weekend! 

Disclaimer: All rights belong to the respective owners, I hope nobody minds their pictures to show up here, but just in case let me know.

giovedì 3 marzo 2016

cooking peas

Hello dearest reader,

I hope you are enjoying a restful moment, before storming to whatever is next in your life.

I do believe life can be difficult, and when I see my little one struggling over trivial issues, such as his mate M. going to enjoy an earlier turn than he does at preschool, I so understand how matters can be complex even in a blessed existence of four years old.

At this very moment I am testing Vegan Richa’s curried peas (not exactly a new recipe, mind you, as it dates back to 2014, you know I am always kind of hip, right?).
  
It just happens that I am in one of my survival moods theme and that recipe seems so easy maintenance & store cupboard based that it has the potential to become a staple in my lonely desk meals at work. How romantic and entertaining, I just wonder why I need to write this stuff down and yes, I accept that if you are rolling your eyes at me or simply skipping to the next web spot, you are so right.

By the way, if you horribly suffer of office distraction (I can relate), you will be as relieved as I am to find out that it is not your fault! It all lies in the evolution, yay! We have developed in the last gazillions years to be distracted. This is of course not going to excuse me for more distraction today, have you heard, dear self?

Also please note how lovely these orchids are. They are a gift from a nice client of mine: thank you so much dear Mrs. P.! Sometimes it is so rewarding to receive unexpected tokens of gratitude; they make up for many other not so nice encounters with unfriendly fellow beings. We can actually all be naughty at times, but as usually human beings are kind of self centered, we always feel worst when the next person in front of us is not nice to us and probably forget about other times we were not exactly at our top form towards the others.

On the pea department, I just found out I did add too much water to my curried peas, so, well, I have just taken a swift Italian move and added some pasta to it.


Have a nice day!

venerdì 12 febbraio 2016

On books and a recipe to try

Hello my dear,

I am still quite behind schedule. Needless to say, as a professional procrastinator I usually prepare my to-do lists and let them simmer until they pop in my face and I start suddenly to fret about them and try to get things done.

Lately I have been reading! It is always unusual when I decide to open a book (not a cookbook) and get through it, how amazing.

I finally read The Stone Angel  by Margaret Laurence.

I have just actually read her biography and I suddenly found in her life some similarities with the main character Hagar. Margaret’s mother died when she was only four (while Hagar’s mother died upon giving birth to her) and an aunt stepped in to take care of her, later marrying her father. I actually find a bit amusing that instead Hagar’s aunt did not manage to get her father to marry her. Also I believe that probably the dysfunctional relationship with her husband may reflect in Hagar’s troubled marriage. 

Overall the book is definitely worth reading, despite the fact that I found a bit disconcerting the lack of love and trust that I always hope to see interspersed in the lines of a novel. Only in a couple that Hagar meets at the hospital, I could notice a constructive relationship, still though haunted by the lack of children, despite their different desires.

Still thinking about the author’s life, it is distressing to read Hagar’s fall into sickness and death, especially considering that the book was written in 1964 and later in 1986 Margaret would find out too late that she had lung cancer and would end up in the same difficult path.

On a completely different style, I just read beloved Arto Paasilinna Il liberatore dei popoli oppressi VapahtajaSurunen, 1986 trad it 2015  

The very unlikely Surunen manages to save several political prisoners around the world. The book dates 1986, despite having being only recently translated to Italian. Some of the political frames, may be outdated, but Paasilinna delivers as usual a sharp depiction of human nature in his typical melancholic and humorous style.

In the kids’ department, we have totally enjoyed Astrid Lindgren’s Lotta combinaguai "Barnen på Bråkmakargatan" - "Lotta på Bråkmakargatan" in a great edition illustrated by beloved Beatrice Alemagna. My son (4 years old) simply loved it and is still asking to have the book read to him.

On the cooking side of life, if you are like me a banana bread person, you may want to try Nigella Lawson’s Breakfast Banana Bread 
The only tweak I suggest, is limiting baking soda to a pinch. The cake will not rise as much, but it is worth skipping on the metallic aftertaste of soda.


Have a gorgeous weekend!

mercoledì 13 gennaio 2016

Sarmede and some blabber on kale

Hello dearest reader,

I hope you are enjoying a few restful minutes of break under a loving sun. If you’re horribly stressed out and surrounded by scorching rain, no worries, I so totally relate and we can always hope for a better future in the next few hours/days/months/years or never ever actually.

If you have never been to Sarmede (TV) I so recommend it. It is a tiny village hidden among the hills where they had this brilliant idea of pursuing the arts. 

As soon as you arrive at the town square and enter the threshold of the exhibition area you feel catapulted in a different dimension. Obviously it a tiny place, but so interspersed by light and childish imagination.

The current exhibition has talented Giulia Orecchia as guest of honour and her illustrations are so vivid and mesmerizing that I am thrilled anytime I take a glimpse of them.

Manyactivities are organized year round to suit all kind of people that enjoy the arts, from theatre to laboratories, readings, you name it. 

My son laughed out loud listening to the story of Pierino Pierone, despite being quite dreadful as only ancient fairy tales can be. 


On a different note, we must address a few words on kale, well known worldwide as a superhero food. As you know here in the countryside novelties arrive about a century afterwards, so I had the chance to purchase deep purple kale and sunny yellow kale – the only species available – at the grocery store only recently. 

Needless to say, their bright beings enlivened my fridge with their bossy sizes. I don’t know about other worldly kale, but certainly average Italian fridges are not designed to welcome such a tall vegetable. 

Meanwhile I browsed my infinite cookbook collection with such anticipation: finally I could actually use kale! Silly I decided to try a super healthy recipe that seriously bored me to death; I am surprised I am still here to tell this story. 

So it turns out that this fabulous yellow green majestic thing actually tastes roughly like cabbage. I just hate cabbage. I know, I am supposed to be the friend of all things veggies, but cabbage, no, I am sorry. I respect you, but please stay away. The purple big sister landed directly on a pasta sauce, intermingled with some bitter radicchio and I have to say that so hidden, I favored it more. 

Have a nice day!


mercoledì 23 dicembre 2015

Recycling

We all know how important is to recycle. Obviously the best would be to avoid producing waste at all; yet in this season of the year this seems so unlikely.

So in order to help the planet, I made up my mind that it was about time to recycle my nuisance of today, which is a freshly baked cake: I had great expectations that went lost soon enough. I tested a new recipe and the dough looked so promising, but I under baked the whole thing and to my biggest dismay the final cake was sadly soggy and dense.

There is a wide tradition of recycling old cakes (trifles, cake pops, charlotte, tiramisu, you name it). I assume that such long standing traditions stem out of gloomy damp cakes as well. 

While surfing the lovely net, I stumbled in my next project, which is called New Orleans Russian Cake or Creole Trifle. The whole web carries so far one only recipe that I will skimp. My plan is to cube the awful loaf, wash it away in some juicy concoction (it will be citrusy and berry colored) and disguise the shameful lot under a thick smear of mascarpone or Greek yogurt. There will be sprinkles as well.

I hope you’ll have good holidays or at least fine bakes.

PS: Meanwhile I am trying to go to the core of the problem. Some say collapsing might depend on overmixing the batter: the solution is to cream butter on medium and blend in dry ingredients at a lower pace. Yet I believe I have done this. Some other say there may be too much sugar, or butter or little or ineffective leavening agent. In my case the cake has risen properly, before turning flat. So I guess the recipe may have had a higher sugar/butter content as desired.

Now I am actually thinking about preparing some custard and reducing the mushy loaf to crumbs.