Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring asparagus lasagna (lasagne agli asparagi)

I know it is spring when:
I feel the constant urge to buy fresh flowers to brighten up the apartment
It is design week in Milan
Every pigeon, butterfly, ladybug and cat around me is doing it
I can't stop photographing the wisteria outside my window (see last post)
My solitary early morning run suddenly gets crowded
I start cutting 40 little nails and toenails 2x a week instead of 1x (is it just my kids' overall growth that is so affected by hot weather?)
I stop wearing socks, but keep an emergency pair in my handbag (fancy!)
Every previously hidden nook and cranny of the apartment is visible and screaming "clean me!"
Asparagus, and other veggies make their appearance at the market
How can you tell it is spring?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guessing game

Any idea what this is?

Oh, did you get distracted by the beauty outside my kitchen window? I do too, constantly.
Every spring, when the wisteria blooms, I open the windows, breathe in the fragrance and take a million pictures. I have the same identical pictures from the last seven years (which those of you who follow me on Instagram - unfortunately for you - already know).

Never mind that that plant is a major pain in the butt the rest of the year: it is invasive, it is destroying the façade of the building, it gets gnarled in the mechanism of our rolling shades (breaking them more than once). It manages to somehow grow through our window frame. To top it all off, a bird colony has nested right over our window. At first I was excited, but that changed quickly when they started crapping all over my window panes, window sill and all the leaves beneath their nests. They squabble and fight all the time and chirp in an eerie hitchockesque manner in the middle of the night.
Not to mention the branches are bare and gnarly and full of bird droppings in the winter too; or that it is so overgrown in the summer, barely any daylight gets into the kitchen. Or that every year an army of guys with saws invade my apartment to prune it, leaving a mess of leaves and broken branches and yes, bird s**t, all over my kitchen to clean up.
But it is beautiful for two weeks a year, I'll give you that.
Back to my initial query. Do you know this vegetable?

Before cooking

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gratin di sardine con pomodori e capperi (or sardine gratin with tomatoes and capers)


The other night  our youngest had a meltdown little moment right before dinner, the kind only a four year old can regale you with. The kind that makes you wonder if you are plain dumb or if you missed something crucial because it takes you totally by surprise and you have no idea why it is happening.

The scene: the children's room. Toys strewn all over the floor. Dinner is about to be served.

The rule: whoever makes a mess, cleans up. When the job is too daunting for a four year old and a little overwhelming for him to tackle on his own for organizational reasons, we help and also give him some general guidelines (put all the animals into the green box, all the lego pieces go into the blue box).

Action: my husband gives him a hand; they seemingly work together in harmony and the job is soon done. Dinner is on the table.

Next thing we know, our son turns into a raving, screaming, three-headed monster. He starts throwing all his neatly stowed away boxes and toys all over the floor again, putting them the way they were before the clean-up.

Aha, you are thinking, he wanted to do it himself, he wants to assess his independence, Daddy shouldn't have rushed him.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thoughts on the Table podcast, introducing... me!

Today's post is a little different and was quite unexpected for me too.
A few weeks ago I had the honor of meeting Paolo, the talented blogger behind 'Quatro fromaggio and Other Disgraces on the Menu', in person while he was visiting Italy. Paolo's blog accurately describes authentic Italian cuisine in an effort to preserve it from the horrors often inflicted upon it abroad.
We had a real Neapolitan pizza, or as close as you can get to one when not in Naples, and a long chat, which continued at my place in the form of a podcast.

You see, a while back Paolo started a new section on his blog called 'Thoughts on the Table', podcasts in which he chats with chefs, scientists and bloggers about everything and anything food. So when he contacted me before his trip and suggested recording a podcast together, I felt very honored to be included in such a crowd.
I cannot begin to tell you how uncomfortable I was initially: I am that person that needs to record my voicemail message over and over because I invariably crack up every time I start speaking into a microphone (yes, he actually had a portable mike on him). Also, we had not prepared any questions beforehand, so we were totally improvising. Thankfully Paolo has experience working in radio and was a great host, making me feel right at home (forgive the pun) and as a result I only found myself cringing once or twice while relistening to myself (the first time being upon hearing my recorded voice... ugh!).


To listen to us, click directly onto the logo or here to go over to Paolo's, or hop on over directly to iTunes.