Foraging and Cooking – Local Delights

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. This silly old girl broke her wrist last week. Yes, I fell in the house and have three fractures and one break. hurts like crazy, but mostly it is frustrating. Difficult to function with one hand. Typing one handed is something I never thought I’d have to do! Anyway…..

Let’s get back to food! I purchased some very cheap, local red chillies on Monday. Don’t they look delicious? I had enough to make five small jars of picante sauce, which goes great with any Italian pasta. The only ingredients were chillies boiled in olive oil, garlic, and salt to taste. Delicious!

Yesterday I was given a bag of wild spinach by the little lady who lives down the steps from me. We see her foraging often walking the country paths with her walking stick over her shoulder and bags full of wild greens dangling from it. It seems to keep her fit and healthy. Today I picked out the grass and weeds and chopped off the thick stalks, before chopping and washing the spinach. Now I’m going to wilt this in olive oil with garlic, pesto (made from my own basil) and serve it for lunch with chicken.

I think I’m quite daring. I think foraging the countryside to use what is available is a great idea, and there is a lot available. Wild spinach, asparagus, artichoke, pomegranates, plums, apples, olives, persimmon to name but a few.

The good people of Abruzzo live cheaply, what can’t be foraged is bought local, it works well.

Food for all Tastes

The past few days have been filled with rain and writhing mists. Lovely to watch from my window. I don’t mind days like this, it gives me time to reset myself and take care of indoor chores I’ve been putting off for too long. My kitchen now much more user friendly in preparation for my son-in-law, who likes to cook. He will be here at Christmas…got to have the kitchen ready for him.
Yesterday (Sabato) wasn’t so bad and we met some friends for a fish and chip lunch. British fish and chips are not a regular cuisine in Abruzzo, but a lovely restaurant close by called Osteria Livornese, was serving them as a special for two days. They were delicious. We drank a little too much wine, but oh well. The chief was Irish and cooked the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. He was pretty amusing also…oh wait, of course he was, he’s Irish. We’ll visit the restaurant again and try out their specialty which is a fish broth called cacciucco.
When I opened my eyes at 7am this morning I thought it was still night time. The rain was heavy and has barely let up all day. I’d love to go for a walk, but not a chance. Instead I practiced Italian (as always), and then decided to harvest some of my basil and make pesto sauce. It turned out great!
I cooked Lancashire Hotpot for lunch, with Parmigiano Reggiano sprinkled on top, just to give it an Italian twist.
It’s still raining so I’m going to open one of Mr. King’s books, (Stephen to his friends) and laze away the afternoon in front of the fire.
Enjoy your Sunday everyone! (Buona Domenica a tutti)

The Pomegranate Trick

In Greek mythology, the pomegranate was known as the ‘fruit of the dead’ as it was said to have arisen from the blood of Adonis. … Hades, God of the underworld, used pomegranate seeds to trick Persephone into returning to the underworld for a few months of every year.

Good job no one tricked me because I’d spend the rest of my life in Hades! When I was a child pomegranates were a Christmas treat and I loved them. My mum made me pick each individual seed from the fruit with a pin. It took forever to finish, but I loved it. The pomegranates (melograno) that grow wild here in Abruzzo just fall apart. They are juicy and scrumptious. My good friend Franco gave me four last Sunday and this is the last one. It’s all I’ve eaten so far today because last night we enjoyed the hospitality of Nino and Vittoria. As always their food was delicious. Prosciutto wrapped around a delicious juicy melon for starters, followed by a constant flow of Italian delights, all washed down with excellent local wine. Of course the meal ended with various digestivos. Limoncello, Sambuca and Amaro….to name but a few. Wonderful night. I’ve been trying to pluck up courage to cook for Nino and Vittoria…piano piano as they say in Italy (slowly). They’re a hard act to follow.

Today is a foggy rainy day, but thats OK, it washes the old cobbled alleyways and refreshes the countryside.

I finished my pomegranate while writing this so I hope I don’t get snatched away to Hades!
Have a lovely day everyone.

Good Day Everyone – Buon giorno a tutti!

Too much time has passed since my last post. We’ve been busy, but in a fun way. If I ever had to start working again I’d have a problem, I don’t have the time.
A week ago we took our first tourists around Colledimezzo. So glad we got involved in this project, it was fun! Since then we’ve been on the go the whole time. Our life here is full of fun and surprises. I’m still discovering new places to shop for local food, delicious cheeses and all things Abruzzese. I’m also still finding things I need for the house. We came here with very little.
Domenico, our brilliant carpenter, finished the bench for our little alcove/bar area so I had to find cushions. I was so excited to find a couple of large side cushions that look like photographs of our village. Aren’t they gorgeous? On Sunday we hosted lunch for five very good friends. I cooked pasta di fagioli, which is a soup starring cannelloni beans and small pieces of pasta. I followed that with chicken, sausages and onion’s roasted in the oven. It all went very well. Good food, good friends and great conversation. Of course the wine was excellent too.
Today I’m a little tired…but managed to muster up strength to help with a firewood delivery for our neighbors that live down the steps from us. Our neighbors from Iceland jumped in to help too, and the wood was soon stacked neatly away.
What now? A little (very little) bit of housework and then maybe a walk. It is a glorious day.

Buon giorno a tutti!

The Cats of Colledimezzo

There are very few domestic cats in Colledimezzo. Majority of these fluffy felines are cared for by the village. They are a little feral and mostly unapproachable. The bigger cat on the left was a kitten when I moved here a year ago. I’d feed her and her four legged sibling on left overs when I had any. She was the cutest little thing.

When she turned up again in May of this year, she looked like her days were numbered. She was skinny, her fur was matted and her eyes were dull. I fed her leftovers and a little milk, but she didn’t always want food, just wanted to sit outside my door and feel safe. Pretty soon it was obvious she was nursing, which is why she looked so bad, her babies were taking all of her goodness. She wouldn’t let me approach her, and hissed if I came too close, but I fed her anyway. After a couple of months she began to look much better. Still too skinny, but she looked healthy. Last week she turned up with her babies, two black, one the same color as her, and a solitary ginger kitten. They are adorable. No, I can’t take them in, but I can help them survive. The babies love bread and milk. The enjoy left over rice too.

Now as well as the locals who come to my friendship window…I have furry four legged friends too. I enjoy them all.

Death Bells – The Sound of Serenity

Our home in Colledimezzo is very close to the church. I could easily throw a tennis ball and have it bounce on the church steps. The Church bells ring every fifteen minutes! I like the bells, they’re beautiful. I can’t leave the windows open at night because the sound would keep me awake, but thats OK. Bells are happy, traditional and typically Italian. They remind me I’m here, I realized my dream, and retired to Italy. They tell everyone when to wake up, when to go to church, and sadly, when someone dies, they are part of the way of life here.

I don’t like hearing the bells is when they’re telling us someone died. The death bells make a beautiful and peaceful sound, but they are ringing because a soul is passing from this world to the next. In spring of this year, the death bells were a regular occurrence. We lost a lot of elderly villagers. It wasn’t due to COVID, it was just their time to go. A couple of months ago, a treasured local was taken from us, someone we still miss. He was taken way too soon. Those death bells were difficult to listen to.

Yesterday, when I heard the bells, I knew who’d gone. He was old and quite ill. The bells were a beautiful way to mark his passage. They rang again today for his funeral. I hope he can hear their sweet sound from above.

When it’s my turn to go, I can handle the death bells, but only if they’re followed by Rod Stewart singing “I am sailing” enjoyed by all of my friends while they drink champagne and toast my life.

Enjoy your Sunday and hug your loved ones.

Fossacesia – September on the Beach

I love September.

Wine, wine and more WINE

It’s been a busy and tiring week so far. On Monday we had a second load of wood delivered for the winter. I personally think we have enough for two winters… Lester knows best though.

Yesterday was a heavy lifting day. We decided we liked the bedroom on the middle floor better than the one we were in down below (This old house is sort of upside down). After trying it out for a few nights we decided to make the move permanent. That meant moving hubby’s gym, which was bolted into the wall, to the bottom floor. It also meant filling holes and painting, a well as moving and rearranging furniture. Worth it though, better view from up above. The bedroom we vacated is now a gym, dressing room and utility room as well as being a spare bedroom. It all looks great, but moving furniture up and down a narrow winding staircase isn’t easy. My muscles are old now and don’t recover so quickly.

Today we rested, well sort of! We met up with our friend Alessandro in Lanciano, and went to his local Cantina. As well as getting bottles of wine filled by what looked like petrol pumps, we bought local honey. We also watched the tractors and trailers come in and unload their grapes. Very interesting fun day.

Now, back home, I’m sitting in the kitchen sampling an excellent Merlot, which was free. Why was it free you may ask? It was free because my husband was with me and spent twice as much as I’d of spent on my own…they thought we deserved a freebee.

Now you know why I usually leave him at home when I go shopping.

Have a lovely day everyone. I hope my stories of living in Italy are amusing you.

The Giving Season

No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about the fruit bearing season in Abruzzo. Our very good friend Nino brought us this wonderful collection today. We have figs, large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and then his wonderful wife baked biscotti…I don’t think I’ll ever lose weight here.

When I walk I see trees bursting with fruit and the wonderful scent of jam making and baking wafts from open windows as I pass by.

It’s only going to get better as we move into Autumn.

Autumn in the Air

It’s September (Settembre) tomorrow. Even though the temperatures are still in the upper 20’s (upper 70’s lower 80’s in Fahrenheit), it’s feeling a little cold. After three months of upper 30’s (upper 90’s f) anything feels cold. I’m enjoying it though.

It’s the season to bake pies and make preserves. This year seems to have been a good year for figs. I’ve made lots of fig jam, (marmellata), and a big tray for fresh fig pies. The hot peppers are ready too, so I’m making jars of delicious pecante (hot pepper) sauce. There are fruit trees everywhere. Yesterday we were given a big bag of the delicious plums. Small, yellow and sweet. Yes, they were definitely plums and not apricots.

Today we stacked logs in the garage ready for the cold weather. Neatest stack of logs I’ve ever seen, stacked the Italian way. I’m looking forward to cozy evenings in front of the fire.

I had my first facial in Italy today, just down the road in Villa Santa Maria. Lovely little place. Even after being here a year, I could only understand half of what she said to me, but she was patient. It was very relaxing.

And now, I’m sitting out on the terrace with a glass of wine looking at the forest in front of me. There are tinges of orange in the trees, autumn (autunno) is coming.

Last year, on the highway, I remember following tractors pulling trailers full of freshly harvested grapes. It made me smile. I’ll be seeing them again soon. Life is simple and good here in Colledimezzo. People live from day to day. They get together in the evening and talk about food, football and family. It’s whats important to them and what they love.


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