Friday, March 30, 2012


The visitors decided to prune our cherry tree, something that we have been putting off. But as soon as they sensed my presence ( I took these pictures through the window) they quickly hightailed it to the front yard.
I ran out to the deck and got one picture before they left the backyard.

Then they slowly sauntered up the street stopping to nibble on the neighbours shrubs.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Italian cooking school - Day four

We watch as the Chef beats sugar and eggs into a frothy lemon colour. The brandy is added and then the flour is expertly folded into the egg mixture.
Once the cake has cooled one of the students slathers the cake with the brandy-laced icing.
This is the Pigna di Pasqua.
We are also treated to cookies made by the Chef.
We present the Chef with a bouquet of flowers for her patience this week as we attempted to cook Italian.
Cake and tea.
We are done with cooking so we spend the rest of the day exploring.
An intricately carved totem pole downtown.
Is someone throwing that stool out?
It's a dome, not an Italian dome, but what are you going to do. They tried.
We stop at the quilt shop and get lots of neat ideas.
Our favourite bead store is right across the street; the wind chimes get our attention.
And then before you know it, you are back home.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Italian cooking school - Day three

Time to gaze out the window at the antics of the neighbourhood squirrel; only when the Chef wasn't looking.
Day three proved to be an easier day for us; we would be challenged with green polenta. We started by blanching the rapini, squeezing all the water out of the leafy greens, and then chopping them up.
Six, yes six, garlic cloves are browned in olive oil to which is added some hot pepper flakes.
Add two cups of water to the pot.
Add the chopped rapini to the pot and bring to a boil. While stirring add cornmeal to the green mixture, about a cup, and keep stirring until good and thick.
Pour the green polenta into a bowl and let cool.
Can be eaten at room temperature, chilled, or fried with a little olive oil until brown and crispy. This is the real polenta, not the yellow roll from the supermarket.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Italian cooking school - Day two

We prepare ourselves for another gruelling day in the kitchen; this time we load up on oatmeal and toast slathered with a plum-huckleberry jam made by our friend from Haida Gwai.

This is our reward today but first we must make the sauce.
The leftover ground pork from the raviolis is made into meatballs and slowly browned in olive oil.
Once they are done, we add a turkey neck and onions to the pot.
Crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and salt to taste. The meatballs are put back into the pot along with some hard-boiled eggs. Left to simmer for at least two hours.
While the sauce is cooking, we cut up some tomatoes with lots of oregano and make a little pizza.
While the pizza is baking, we fry up some sweet red peppers.
And then we fry up some jalapenos too because not everyone likes sweet. But these turn out to be sweet and great tasting. A tasty addition to the fresh egg noodles with meatballs.
So far so good, but do we have the stamina to meet all the challenges that our Chef throws at us? Will we win the coveted Sauce Spattered Wooden Spoon or will we go home empty-handed? Tune in tomorrow for Day three.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Italian cooking school - Day one

Up at the break of dawn, fortified with a quick shot of tongue-searing espresso,
or a foamy, egg-rich zabaglione we don aprons and gather in the kitchen.
Our first assignment is pasta. We quickly roll out dozens of sheets of the dough, flour them and leave them to dry for just a few minutes.
First we make ravioli. Two different fillings. One is ricotta and cabbage.
The second filling is ground pork mixed with lots of parsley, garlic, and cheese.
The little pockets are easy to make and are quickly frozen.
Our next lesson: penne. These were remarkably easy to make; a square of pasta rolled around a wooden spoon.
We had lots of dough left over so we made pappardelle using the pizza cutter.
Having survived the heat in the kitchen, we were rewarded with a bowl of perfect ravioli paired with a wonderful tomato sauce.
Ravioli and jalapenos! Perfect!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lots of snowflakes

'Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake.'

- Sir Francis Bacon-