Crown Royal Maple Finished with a Twist

crown royal maple finished

Nothing says Canadian more than the unique flavour of Maple when it comes to discerning Canadian tastes.  As 2015 comes to a close, what better way to celebrate the Holidays than to serve a taste of Canadiana at your next holiday party or get together.

The “Crown Canadiana” is a unique blend of  Crown Royal MAPLE Finished, Schweppes Dark Ginger Ale and Cinnamon blended with a hint of Basil to bring out rich earthy flavours.   It’s a spin on the ordinary ‘Rye and Ginger’

bottle

I thought it was fitting to introduce this recipe seeing as we have had such unseasonable warm, and green Christmas thus far, here in the *traditionally*, Great White North.   Mixed drinks are taking on a whole new twist especially as we experiment with adding fresh herbs to our favourite alcoholic beverages.  Maple and Cinnamon are a traditional complementary blend, now add a little basil (or mint), and it is a whole new experience.

Instructions:

  • In an ‘Old Fashion” whiskey glass add a Basil leaf and mash with the back of spoon.
  • Add one ounce of Crown Royal MAPLE Finished
  • Three ice cubes
  • Top with three to four ounces of Schweppes DARK Ginger Ale
  • stir with Cinnamon stick and leave in for garnish

Crown Royal Maple Finished

Note:

When adding fresh spices to any beverage, make sure you massage the leaves as this will release releases the natural juice in the spice itself,  (you can also crush it however it doesn’t look as pretty in the glass).

Crown Royal Maple Finished and Schweppes Dark Ginerale.

Enjoy and All the Best to You and Yours this Holiday Season!!

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Tim Horton’s Coffee Painting

tim hortons coffee painting

Begin Painting with Coffee Medium / Base:

tigers1tigers2

A friend of mine sent me a youtube video recently of a woman who paints with coffee.  After watching it, I started to do my own research into ‘coffee painting’.  There are many, very gifted artists out there, who use coffee as a medium, and I invite you to check them out.

My very first Tim Hortons coffee painting was quite rough.  I used a cup of ‘Timmies’ regular roast (black).  Although any brand will do, I prefer to use my Tim Hortons blend, mixed with a slurry of light acrylic paint.

Tim Horton’s coffee and I, have a lot in common.

We were born the same year and we’re both Hamiltonians.

I have fond memories of trips to Timmies with my dad when I was young.  We’d go there on Saturday mornings.  We’d sit in the corner table of “store number 16”.  I’d look up at the painting of Tim himself on the wall next to the counter, and dad would tell me the story of the hockey player who had died in an accident, well before his time.

He’d puff away on his cigarette (I know eh?),   whistle a light tune, while we ‘people-watched’.  I’d have the usual, chocolate milk, or hot chocolate in a real china mug,  and a chocolate dip donut.  Sometimes, he’d get me a my favourite donut ~ a bowtie.  It was a super -duper hot-dog-bun-size donut, filled with real whipped cream, chocolate ganache on top, another dollop of whip cream, and a cherry on top.  But that was an EXTRA Special treat, because bow-ties cost a whole 35 cents.

I’d felt that it was an over-indulgence.  But dad would sometimes buy them for me, and it was great.

The following is a series of Tim Hortons Coffee paintings that I’ve painted with regular roast coffee, as a base.  I’ve mixed it with a light acrylic in some cases, to get the deeper richer colours of dark brown and some of the black, etc..

Add Details:

tigers2a

I also love my cats.  Domestic, wild and of course my TiCats.  What better mascot to paint with coffee?  Feel free to write to me if you’re interested in any of my work and I will respond promptly.

tiger 4tim hortons coffee painting

Thanks for visiting 🙂  rawwwr….

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Honey, Who did you vote for?

filomena

Me: “Hey honey, who did you vote for ?”

Honey:  “I voted for that Italian Catholic chick.   I figure that my ass is already governed by one of you, so heck…it may as well be the two of you…   :-D”

Me:  tee hee….

****************************************************************

You done good Filomena Tassi!  Congratulations Prime Minister Trudeau 🙂

Posted in Newsworthy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Vegan-kid

“Oh Mom, vegan food can be quite delicious you know”?

From the time I first started introducing foods to my daughter many years ago, she had a violent distaste for meat.  I tried Gerber starter meats in a jar, I tried mixing it with veggies, I even made my own baby food with carrots, peas, and sauteed ground beef gently seasoned and made into a puree.  No matter what I tried, she just couldn’t stomach it.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying though.  As a youngster, she desperately wished she could eat a hamburger.  She wanted to feel like she ‘fit in’ at children’s birthday parties at McDonalds, and was quite embarrassed by her predicament.

As she grew, I tried hiding things in her food.  Salmon mixed in with scrambled eggs.  I used to tell her that pepperettes were a vegetarian salted delight.  It got the the point where she no longer trusted my food.

Last year she became a Vegan.

There is a saying that goes “Bless the beasts and the children, for they have no voice and they have no choice”. 

I used to think that there was something wrong with her, and her food choices.  The more I got to know what it was like for her, the more I started to think that perhaps its the rest of us that have it all wrong?

My daughter is a lover of all the world’s creatures and she has decided that she will not participate in innocent slaughter, so she eats NOTHING that comes from an animal.  Ironically, that takes great intestinal fortitude in my books and I’m really proud of her.

One evening while we were sitting around wondering what snacks were in the house, she suggested we try creating a vegan dessert.  She assured me that one doesn’t have to feel like one is going without, in order to eat delicious food.   I tried this version of a standard chocolate pear cake and added a few twists to eliminate all animal products.  This means, no milk, no eggs, no butter.

The result was surprisingly and shockingly good!  So good, that my other ‘meat-eating’ children couldn’t get enough of it and gobbled it up.  If you have any Vegan recipes you would like to share, please feel free to drop me an email and provide your particulars and I will try my best to post in a timely fashion.

vegan-cakeVegan Chocolate Pear Bundt Cake – with Caramel Rum Sauce

 cake

•  1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
•  1-1/8 cup warm water
•  1 cup dark brown sugar
•  1/4 cup molasses
•  2 tablespoons white vinegar
•  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•  1/2 teaspoon baking soda melted in 1 teaspoon of warm water
•  3 cups of pastry flour
•  6 tablespoons of cocoa powder
•  1 teaspoon of baking powder
•  1/2 teaspoon salt
•  1 tablespoon ground ginger
•  1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
•  1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•  1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
•  4 medium pears, peeled and diced 1/2-inch
•  1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting

For the Caramel Sauce:
•  1 heaping teaspoon of coconut oil in a small pot
•  2 teaspoons vanilla
•  1/8 teaspoon salt
•  3/4 cups brown sugar
•  1/4 cup spiced brandy or rum

Directions:

•  Preheat oven to 350°F.
•  Grease and flour a bundt cake pan and set aside.
•  In a Kitchenaide mixer, add the oil and brown sugar, molasses and cream together.
•  Add in the warm water, vanilla, baking soda and vinegar. Mix well.
•  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and spices.
•  Slowly add in the flour and spices into the mixer until incorporated.
•  Mix at medium speed until mixture is smooth with no lumps.
•  Add in the cubed pears and incorporate well into the mix
•  Pour batter into the bundt pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out of the cake dry.
•  If cake is not yet done, leave to cook for an additional 5 minute intervals.
•  Let cool for at least one hour, then invert the cake onto wire rack.
•  While the cake is cooling the icing can be prepared.

cake2

Directions for Icing:

•  In a small saucepan, add the oil and brown sugar and bring to boil while constantly stirring.
•  Sugar will look as if it is separating from the oil while heating.
•  Add in the vanilla and salt then add in the rum or brandy.
•  The mixture will instantly boil up. Continue stirring throughout and it will settle.
•  Mix will be smooth, not grainy after adding the alcohol.
•  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
•  When cake and sauce have cooled, sift powdered sugar onto cake over top and sides.
•  Stuff the sauce into clear plastic sandwich bag
•  Seal bag and cut off tip (small cut)
•  Squeeze the caramel sauce onto cake in zigzag pattern
•  Remove finished cake from wire rack and onto serving plate.

Slight variation,: For an equally moist and delicious alternative, you can substitute 3 cups of shredded zucchini in for the diced pears.

Let me know how this turns out for you 🙂

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Missed Job Interview

christian bale2

(names have been changed to protect the identities of the people below)

RULE # 1: Show Up:

A recent job search for a talented project manager yielded over 150 applicants for a role posted in my department. The criteria was specific, minimum 10 years experience, construction background, yadda yadda…my goal was to interview from a selected few, work my way through the first interviews then bring back two or three candidates for a second, and possibly, a third interview.

Fairly straight-forward, nothing out of the ordinary…right?

Last week, I had worked my way through several first interviews and had just one left to go. I needed to be away on business earlier in the week, so I booked my last candidate for 1pm on Friday. This person met all the criteria ‘on paper’, great resume, relevant and impressive experience, impeccable cover letter.

Friday came. At 1:00pm I checked the lobby and no one had arrived yet. At 1:10 pm one of the office staff went to check the lobby, and no one was there.

Strange?

This has never happened before?

RULE #2:  If you don’t want the job and don’t want to waste your time in an interview; be courteous ~ call and cancel:

I waited, and waited …1:20pm, 1:30pm…

When suddenly I thought “this is weird… but still… I will give this person the benefit of the doubt, so I’ll call”

ring, ring, ring….

<voicemail responds…hello this is Guenther Herman, I’m not available to take your call…>

“hello ‘Guenther’, this is Gina, we had an appointment today at 1pm. I just wanted to make sure nothing is wrong, or perhaps we got our wires crossed? Please feel free to call me back to discuss”

RULE #3:  Call back, apologize, make up a story, but do not send an email that says this:

**********************************************************************

Hi Gina,

Sorry, I did not attend the interview today, because, I am very much scared of working for i-talians anymore. My experience with previous employer & some of the nice idiots has proved that they are nothing but racist, sadist and psycho. I dedicated and shown my loyalty to previous employer named stupid ‘tony malony’, but he brutally spoiled my career giving a bad reference & recommending some of the employers to not hire in their organizations!!!! what a fantastic idea to spoil one family.

Anyhow, I avoided my interview because of this very basic reason and i don’t want to experiment anymore. You may not be the same, but, what-if you are related to some of your nice friends and give me a hard-time

Guenther

***********************************************************************

BAH! Can you believe it?

This is was no joke.  It really happened.

For more ways to see how you too can commit career suicide, please visit:

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2536820/it-careers/5-easy-ways-to-commit-career-suicide.html?page=2

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Vintage and Memories …

nostalgia

Bed-in-a Bag….You’ve seen them. A quilted bedding ensemble complete with pillow shams and matching sheets that come in a clear heavy-duty plastic zip-up bag…

My mother has a way of re-purposing almost anything. When it comes to the bed-in-a-bag “baggie”, for example, she’d either be storing blankets in it, beach towels, sweaters, table linens, seasonal clothes, or odds and ends.

Around the time my first child was born, she presented me with one of those clear thick plastic bags, complete with plastic handles, and inside were some very old things “baby’s things” that she had kept preserved for years. A blanket made of white pom-poms, strung together in a grid, then mounted on a smart-looking pink lining, apparently made for me by an old friend of the family. It was hand-made, and hardly ever used. I’m told that she had it displayed in my bassinet on my Baptism day. Other items in the bag were my first pair of walking shoes, my first grip-soled slippers, infant undergarments, the outfit that I wore home from hospital for the first time (my sister bought this for me),

baby bonnet:

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and sun hats,

several hand-made booties in addition to these ones:

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but most specifically my Baptismal gown:

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I had kept it for years, in that clear bed-in-a-bag baggie. The thought suddenly hit me that all it ever did was sit on the top shelf of my closet, never to be used, or see the light of day (which in hindsight, was probably good for the garment’s longevity). In addition to my own precious keepsakes, are the ones that I have set aside that belong to my own children. My children might decide one day, that these things are meaningful to them, or they may not. However, I believe that displayed in an appropriate fashion, they if nothing else, can hold a place in the past and serve as a talking piece for generations to come.

One way to preserve and display some personal treasures is by way of shadowbox or framed display cases. The following project takes only 30 minutes to complete, and makes a thoughtful keepsake, or special occasion gift for someone special.

For this project you will need:

  • 16″ x 20″ x 1″ display style picture frame
  • Decorative background papers (scrapbooking paper, remnant wallpaper, or wrapping paper)
  • Push Pins
  • Photos
  • Articles of clothing
  • Lace
  • Ribbons
  • Pieces of greeting cards
  • Other small collectible items

A display style picture frame can be purchased at any major arts and crafts supply store. This one is 16″ x 20″ x 1″

IMG_2893
You might decide that the backing of the picture frame is adequate, however I wanted something a little more vintage-looking. These scrap booking papers were not quite the same size as the background, however the seams would eventually be covered.

IMG_2894

Arrange the articles of clothing first, then overlay the photos and other small items.

IMG_2895 IMG_2899nostalgia2 IMG-20121104-02076

When satisfied with the arrangement, secure the items with push pins.

nostalgia1
This method can be used for any type of keepsake display.

I hope you enjoy your weekend project.

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il Tombolo

tomboloFrills and things. Vintage and lace.

Where did our fascination with lace come from?

Lace is considered to be one of those feminine wardrobe essentials, synonymous with high-heeled shoes.  Attractive, not very practical and likely uncomfortable. That said, why does our attraction to it, seem to start from birth?

I can still recall the day I fished out this find from the back of my sister’s closet.

bobbinlace

I had thought I had hit the ‘dress-up’ jackpot. What little girl wouldn’t be excited to find a wedding dress, just her size that fit almost perfectly.  I felt like a princess….

well….

sort of….

until I saw old photographs of my sister and brother’s communion taken in the late 50’s and regaled at how pristine and polished they looked compared to the crimpled blob of a crinolin I was donning over my checkered gabardine pants.

Rita's confrimation photo014

What I didn’t know at the time was that my mother made this dress.

Including the lace pictured here:

lacetop

lace close up

(on a side note, someone skilled in the art would have noticed that my brother’s suit was slightly big.  In fact, my grandfather, upon seeing it for the first time, several months after the photo was taken (we only had snail mail back then) said “it looks like he fell into it?”, haha – cute though 😉  ).

My mother came from a long line of women who made the fine art of needlework part of their vocation. It was more than a hobby, it was a livelihood. What also helped was that my grandfather was a tailor, his father was a tailor and his father’s father was a tailor. That’s the way it was back then. Those types of things seem to embed themselves into the DNA.

The Cambridge Suit Factory, famous for its DAKS suits aka Coppley Noys was a  factory in Hamilton. I believe now its just called Coppley.  My mother worked there for many years, on the floor, sewing piecework. Her specialty was men’s suit jackets. In 1979 she was chosen from many in the factory to sew Prince Andrew’s navy-style jacket when he attended Lakefield College in Canada. My mother remembers getting his measurements delivered on HRH stationary and remarked at how long his arms were. But I digress yet again…

Back to the wedding dress. I get a kick out of Kleinfeld’s bench…yes I’m a “say yes to the dress” fan.  I just love watching these different women from all walks of life: average, busty, tall, short, small, stout, and rail thin, all looking for that special gown that will make them the “Belle of the ball”. The whole idea of the frilly white dress is such a “consumeristic” custom isn’t it??. Whether its a low end “$1500” no name copy of a Pnina Tournai, or $15,000 for the real deal, there is something they almost always have in common…tears…and lace.

I’m sure that if the first lace makers of their day knew what Kleinfelds actually charges for a dress in 2015 (machine – made lace no doubt) they would be rolling in their graves. In my searches on ebay.it (the italian ebay site), I was looking for vintage lace just to see what it goes for. Very interesting, bobbin lace is still worth something in Europe. If you are ever interested, go to www.ebay.it and type “merletto antico” in the search engine and see what you can find.

Here in North America, someone would have a hard time buying a lace doilie  (that would have taken some poor woman over six hours to make), for anything more than $6. And we think garment workers are exploited in Asia? Why make your own lace then if no one is willing to pay for it? Why bother learning to become expert in lace-making??

Because its cool.

That’s why.

Back in Italy, my grandmother used to teach young ladies the fine art of needlework, embroidery, lace making, crochet, & sewing, in addition to taking on commissions. These were more than just a past-time, they were a necessity. People depended on craft prior to the days of the mass produced garments.

When a young woman was about to become a bride , a dowrey in its most basic form consisted of having enough undergarments, bedding and dining linens for the couples’ new life together. Nonna would be commissioned to help prepare dowries which she said, consisted of setting of 12 bras, 12 petticoats, 12 undergarments, 12 nighties, etc…in addition to bedding, and dining tablecoths and napkins for settings of twelve. When she was 16, she began sewing her first king size bedspread which took her four years to complete.

Here it is on my sister’s bed. A few close-up shots.  The angels were all hand drawn out in advance and the patterns created by herself as well.  Note the fine needlework edging around each figure.

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Back in the 70’s when Nonna came to Canada for an extended period of time, she embroidered beautiful linens for my sister as a wedding gift.  Beautiful trim with birds carrying ribbons and branches in their mouths, all along the top edge of the top sheets of bedding sets. Absolutely stunning work.   She would buy the bedsheets ready made, and I watched her strip off top band and sides, and redo the embroidery all by hand.

It was at this time that she tried to teach me how to embroider beginner stitches and she would smile at my ‘handiwork’ (~ which, actually, was quite sloppy), and she’d remark with encouraging words like “dont be discouraged, this takes a lifetime to perfect”.  I would watch how easy she made it look, but no matter how much I practiced, I could never make my stitches look as machine-perfect as her own.  Amazing, really.

My mother knows how to work the bobbin lace or “pillow lace” as they call it in some parts of the world. Bobbins come in all shapes and sizes, and usually have a section for winding the threads in addition to tail to easily handle them. The older bobbins such as the ones shown are hand-carved and along with the patterns shown. These patterns and bobbins are over sixty years old.

Hamilton 2-20120314-01426 bobbin lace

The various regions of Italy today have their own distinct style of lace-making as unique to them as their dialects. In Genoa, the lace had a cording woven through it that is typically considered akin to French lace today. The laces of the Milanese region were similar to what today is known as Battenberg (with thread weaves and tapes running through it). the Venetian laces had a more “Russian and Eastern European look about them. One common ‘thread’ (ha-ha) however, was that they were all made with bobbin spools, and they were all made on a base of anywhere from 8 to over 100 bobbins.

bobbin_lace_old2

The basic premise is to pin your pre-scribed pattern on your pillow surface and attach your threaded bobbins to a starting point. The bobbins are thread woven over each other, knotted then tied off one at a time with pins. The entire pattern surface is then covered with pins by the time the work is complete. After it is lifted from the pillow, it usually takes ones handiwork to embroider it onto a muslin sheet. Once attached, the muslin backing is cut away from the lacework.

bobbin lace 2

The origins of lace are not well known. Its hard to say which culture or era can take credit for its beginnings. One thing is for sure, many regions of eastern and central Europe developed their own ‘style’ and the art was far-reaching. In Italy, the first laces originated in three distinct regions. The Italian form of lace making is called “il Tombolo” taken from the shape of the pillow used.

Its typically a ‘bolster style’ pillow that is mounted on a stand, that would make it easy for a person to place a chair in front of and sit comfortably for hours.
When I did a photo search of the lace making is Isernia, a city about 200km inland and south east of Rome, it pulled up the following photo:

Melettaie_-_Isernia

The photo depicts a group of ladies ‘at their work’. Co-incidentally, even though this photo was older, I was so surprised to find that my mother recognized some of the women in it. The ‘tombolo’ as it was called, was characteristic of afternoons spent in the company of friends and neighbours, and was time spent where the women would work, chat, and share. All finished with their familial duties for the afternoon, this time was used to transfer their skills to the next generation, whilst story-telling; in addition to developing a wonderful sense of community.

Once I had discovered how lace was actually made, I never looked at it the same way again. Every time I go into a store, and I see a table cloth, or an article of clothing, I pay particular attention to see if it was machine made (much of the time it is).

If it appears to have been made by human hands, I think of the woman (or man, I suppose) who sat and toiled and secretly thank them for the lovely gift of their golden hands.

Sav

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Everything you see I owe to Spaghetti…(Sophia Loren)

Everything you see

Everything you see, I owe to Spaghetti”..(Sophia Loren)

If you hadn’t already noticed, my banner picture on this blog is a photo of ‘Sophia Loren’ and her sister ‘Anna Maria Scicolone’. Sophia is the profiled blonde on the left who’s face is hidden from view. Her sister is pictured facing left; her only sister and four years her junior. This picture, to me, is the essence of this blog. It shows the love of sisterhood with no fear of physical expression of love and connection.

Unless one is openly gay or lesbian, its not considered the norm for same-sexes to show such affection, or to walk down the street arm-in-arm. In places like Italy however, this is very normal. One only needs to take a stroll on a typical Italian ‘Corso’ on any given day of the week and see two heterosexual men walk arm-in-arm (as would heterosexual women), simply because they feel comfortable showing their affection for one another in the most basic form of friendship.

In fact, you will see this more often that not. If a heterosexual man tried that with another here in this country, he’d either be socked in the eye, or have his buddy recoil in horror, and possibly re-think hanging out with him.

Conversely though, some of these European traits do make their way into our culture here, especially among the older generations.  For example, in my parents home, I regularly see the male adults in my family greet my father with a kiss on both cheeks, to show their love and respect for our aging Patriarch. As a woman watching them, I feel a sense of admiration in their ability to be secure in their manliness, yet still feel comfortable showing this level of affection.

But I am digressing…sort of…

On my Pinterest page I have a board dedicated to Sophia Loren. I have searched the internet looking for her most memorable photos. In several of the pictures, I’ve captioned many of them with some of her quotes about family, aging, beauty, and life.

(btw…check out the waistline??)

sophia-loren-body

My sister asked me about a year ago “why do you have a Sophia Loren board?”
I couldn’t articulate an answer without going into a long and drawn-out explanation such as the one I’m giving now… other than “she seems familiar to me, and I just love her”.

In 2006, I had the good fortune of seeing her in person at Carmen’s banquet center in Hamilton ON. She was in her early 70’s at the time and even in her prime years, I was overcome by her beauty and personal presence in a room. How can I explain it? Its not even the celebrity in her, but more of ‘who’ she is, and what she represents, to all women of Italian origin. She is truly a cultural icon and when one meets her and speaks with her, an air of confidence, class, distinction and femininity surrounds her.

One is drawn in.

For me, it was the familiarity of her. I think of my mother, my sister, my daughter, my friends. That’s why I have a Sophia Loren board.

Many of us already know some details about her past – born Sofia Villani Scicolone, in Naples before WW2 – a rags to riches story, if you will.  Her father refused to marry her mother whom he provided no support to, and thus Sophia and her siblings spent their childhood in poverty. She was discovered after entry in a beauty pageant, at the age of 14, in 1949. Although she didn’t win the pageant (can you believe it? she didn’t win the pageant…), she did manage to catch the eye of a famous Italian movie producer Carlo Ponti, whom she had a relationship with, and married 7 years later. In the ensuing years, she landed a five-movie contract with paramount pictures in the late 1950’s.

It was at this time that her professional career soared, making her one of most sought-after leading ladies of the mid 20th century. It was here that she essentially proved her worth as an actress.

You can google her IMdB to see her past accomplishments so I wont go into them here, however it was her performance in Two Women that earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1962 and made her the first artist to win an Oscar in a foreign-language performance.

It was also her personal experience during the war, and especially having to bear witness to her mother’s suffering, that helped her to ‘get into character’ for the part. When I heard her descriptions of this time in her life, I immediately thought of my own mother who had similar stories, and it pierced my heart.

Everything you see Everything you see

Sophia Loren has many philosophies on life which parallel many others in the Italian community. Her take on a healthy lifestyle, minimizing stress, a hard work ethic, work-life balance and prioritizing ones life ~ having children ~ taking time to be a good mother, along with setting goals in life, and wholesome eating (and good genes) have helped her to live a long and healthy sought-after life. She was absolutely not without hardship. In fact, she had much adversity in her life.

“Everything you see, I owe to Spaghetti” …..

Sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it?…

However, it’s her way of reinforcing that you can still have a dynamite figure and eat pasta. She takes pride in her connection to her culture and her focus on family, Healthy-eating, a good Mediterranean diet, meats, fish, poultry, legumes and yes CARBS as a ‘staple’ in the diet, are “good for your soul” and thus your body too. All things good and in moderation …

I could never, in million years, see Sophia Loren singing the praises of a gluten free diet, just for the sake of eating gluten free.

And thank goodness for that!!

Just as a little extra treat on today’s blog I thought I would add a quick fettucine recipe that is easy to make, especially for those quick week night meals.

The following pasta dish is a modified version of my cousin Tomasso’s recipe from Luxembourg (God may he rest in peace ~ Tomasso,  I think of you every time I make this)

Sophia Loren

I call it “Caprese Salad Fettucine”

• 1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
• 1/2 cup (handful) of fresh basil chopped
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
• 1 onion (chopped)
• 2 cloves of garlic (mashed)
• 1 cup of fresh buffalo mozzarella (cubed)
• Salt and Pepper to taste

In a frying pan on medium heat, saute the garlic, in a couple of dollops of olive oil, until lightly browned.  Remove from oil.  Add onions and fry on medium heat until transparent. Add cherry tomatoes but give just a light simmer for two to three minutes (not necessary to cook all through). Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a 5L pot, boil water for pasta and salt it. Add Fettucini noodles and cook until al-dente. Remove and drain pasta water. Immediately add the tomato mixture, chopped fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella. Toss together (note the buffalo mozzarella will want to settle to bottom of the pot), Transfer from pot to large family style pasta serving bowl and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

A nice plate of pasta, a nice glass of wine and buon appetito!

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Zucchini Flowers

Squash-Blossoms

Fried zucchini flowers are one of those delicacies that remind me of summer picnics when I was a kid. It seems so stereotypical but most Italians I know, recall the large family picnics at the beach, where every ‘mother’ among the group would bring way too much food, more than the entire entourage could possibly eat in a week. One family would usually head out first thing in the morning and park one vehicle close to the picnic area to transport the supplies – lawn chairs, tent, bocce balls, barbeque and some type of musical instrument. Their job was to scout several picnic tables under a large shade tree, and string them together end-on-end, and wait for others to arrive.

And yes, our mothers would bring red and white checkered tablecloths.

Besides packing everything but the kitchen sink, round barbeque with charcoal, and coolers of fresh marinated lamb and spezzini (tiny barbeque-able meat kabobs), steaks and sausages for dinner, our mothers would bring some of the ‘lighter fare’ for lunch such as a hot tray of lasagna wrapped in several layers of newsprint and tablecloths, cold slab pizza, accompanied by prosciutto and soppressata, water melon, frittata sauteed with mint leaves & parmesan cheese, and of course fried zucchini flowers.

Zucchini flowers are a wonderful and addictive appetizer treat. One can never get enough of them. A normal sized garden of a few plants would yield only about twenty flowers per harvest. Early morning is the best time to harvest the flowers. It is also important to note that flowers are either male and female.

Although the female flower is tastier, its best to pick the male flower for the purpose of consumption, as it serves no purpose other than falling off the vine after it flowers.  The female flower, on the other hand, is essential for the plant and should be left in tact so the vine actually bears fruit.

In mid summer when the vine begins to flower you will notice a delicate and sizable yellow bloom on it. The male flower is hairier and it has a thin base where the zucchini attaches to the stem. The female has a thick bulge which is its ovary (at the point where it is attached to the vine). Once you harvest as many blooms as possible, it is best to brush them off rather than wash them in order to prepare them for frying.

Here is the recipe below:

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 zucchini flowers – washed and dried
  • Kosher salt and
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Edible squash blossom

Edible squash blossom

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Pour about 1 inch of oil in a large wok-style pot and heat to 375 degrees F. In a deep mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs and combinewith cold water. Add the flour and continue to mix until all is incorporated into a smooth batter. Dip a few flowers at a time in the batter and saturate to coat completely, letting the excess drip off.

Fry the flowers in the hot oil until crisp and golden – should take no more than 2 minutes. Remove from oil and place on paper towels prior to plating.

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Buon Appetito!

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Mother, Sister, Daughter, Woman…

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As Mother; I am Nurturer
A Guardian; A Guide
As Mother, I am Gentleness
A Warmth of Selfless Pride
As Mother; I am Teacher
I’m Strength; Security
A Mother I am Love & Peace
I am The Sanctuary
As Daughter; I am Humbled
I am Sheltered ;I am Child
As Daughter I’m a Student of
The Mirror of My Eyes
A Daughter; I seek Wisdom
Approval for My Pride
A Daughter; I am Innocence
Forever asking Why?
As Sister; I am Bound by Blood
A Confidante For Life
A Sister I am Kindred Truth
Eternally Entwined
As Sister and as No-One Else
I Speak So Honestly
A Sister; I am Not Like You
But you are Part Of Me
As Woman; I am All Of These
And Very Glad To Be
A Woman who just wears her Heart
With Pride Upon Her Sleeve
…..where All The World Can

Source: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/mother-daughter-sister-and-woman#ixzz3ZkjF1ejG

written by Jodie Mayhew

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