Monday, June 25, 2012

A Handmade Baby

We'll have our second (and last) baby soon. When we had our first, being him a non expected surprise, we were a bit overwhelmed... My husband was still a student, I was abroad working and things were just a tiny bit messy. Well, in the end, everything turned out to be ok, my husband found a job and moved here where I already had one, we rented a small place for us and were just not prepared for anything that was coming. We were just over the moon with happiness and full of questions. This time around, we have our own house, we are settled. I can just have fun creating a welcoming environment for the baby that will hopefully be with us at the beginning of December.

More importantly, I now own a sewing machine! So I could not miss the chance to create something nice for this new baby...

Because I am not an expert in the art of sewing, I just took a pattern from a beautiful blog and then measured up a friend's Mei Tai carrier and made my own last night. Yep, after having dinner and watching Italy playing at a friend's house, we returned home and I put together a baby carrier:
In the past couple of weeks I also made two hats, one for the baby and one for my son, with his initial on. I knitted them without any patters, just out of fantasy. The one for my son is quite plain, in two colors of cotton&bamboo thread. The one for baby looks like a smurfs' hat, because I knitted it like a triangle.
I love all of my "creations" so far. More are to come. I bought Aran Islands wool to knit a baby blanket and am working on it at the moment. We'll see the results soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Single Fruit Goes a Long Way - Pineapple Vinegar

Two days a go I found a good offer on pineapple and I bought one. I love pineapples, especially now that I know NOTHING goes to waste with these amazing fruits.
I washed the pineapple, under running water, making sure to rub well its rough and aromatic skin. I chopped off the top and put it aside, not in the bin. I peeled the fruit with a knife and placed all of the skin in a large jar with a 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 litre of water (I let the water air all day in a jug, to make sure the chlorine evaporates). I covered the jar with a tea towel and it will stay on my kitchen counter for at least 4 weeks. I'll stir it everyday to make sure oxygen gets in and the yeasts in the air can have their beneficial action. Once I filter the vinegar, I'll post new pictures. Forn now, it looks like this:

I also kept the top. I placed it in a small coffee cup with water hoping it will soon grow roots. We'll see. If it does, we'll have a nice indoor plant soon and an actual pineapple in 2 years :)
Updated: Here is the vinegar filtered and bottled. I'm very proud. I used it to make a yummy Tomato Relish as well...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Zucchine Sott'Olio - Canning Courgettes the easy way

My son is on holidays, lucky him. He's at my parent's in the countryside, in central Italy, in a beautiful valley that is my birthplace. He's having fun eating cherries straight on the tree, jumping on bales of hay and following my father wherever he goes.
He's having a great time, of course he's delighted to be outside the whole day and he seems to be sneezing his way out of asthma over there :)

This means that, at the weekend, our home is incredibly quiet and plain boring. Yesterday, though, I had the wonderful idea of canning. Aldi is offering courgettes at a very good price this fortnight, so I have to take advantage of it and do my best to refill my sottoli stock.

For a medium sized glass jar, I used 3 courgettes. I cut them in thin, round slices and placed them in a roasting dish:
On the top, I placed wooden sticks and a stainless steel utensil, so they would stay in place.
On the stove, in a small pot, I placed 600 ml of water and 600 ml of vinegar, with 1 teaspoon of salt. Once it started boiling, I poured it over the courgettes and set everything aside to cool.
Once cool, I drained the courgettes and lined them in 3 layers on clean tea towels.
Tap gently with your hands and forearms so the liquid will drain and then place the courgettes in a jar with small garlic pieces and some fresh basil leaves here and there.
Fill with olive oil, and using a knife, make sure all air bubbles are gone:
At the top, I placed two pieces of skewers to make sure the courgettes would stay covered in oil. They are yummy straight away or within the next month. I'm sure they are not going to last that long anyway:)

Mac and Cheese my way :)

I made a yummy Macaroni and Cheese the other night. It was simple, it cooked itself, and I used up a bit of soft cream cheese I had left in the fridge.

I also had a broccoli head and 2 courgettes that needed to be eaten soon. Hence, a super idea: Mac and Cheese with the above mentioned broccoli and courgettes.


2 Courgettes
1 Broccoli head
Pasta, preferably short
Soft Cheese as much as you wish

I placed the washed and chopped vegetables in a pot with very little water and salt, and let them cook with the lid on for about 30 minutes, until they were very soft. Then I cooked and drained the pasta, threw it in the vegetables pot and added the soft cheese. It was awesome!

Sprinkle some black pepper on the top if you wish, it adds to the flavor beautifully :)