Where’ the beef

I have gotten to the point where I would rather wear the same clothes for five days running than have to make a decision. I am having dreams that wake me up at night and my vocabulary is suffering. Perfectly normal words like “capillary” ignore me all together and act like we’ve never been introduced. I know what the problem is. The problem is that I am asking too much of my weak and overworked head guts. I took the “you can do it” that some fool printed everywhere you look like Coke commercials at a drive-in way too seriously, and now I’m knee deep in “actually no, I cannot.”
The problem: I love it all, I want it all and I’m keeping it all.
I have no business telling Ferdinand it makes no sense to think like that when the truth is, it’s my Mantra.
If you’re suffering from the same thing, forget asparagus terrines wrapped with blanched watercress leaves and served with a coddled egg. Go all the way back to when all you had was a bicycle and homework. Nobody was making asparagus terrines.
Menu for the weary:
3 bean salad w/cannellini, fresh string beans, chic peas, fresh tarragon (all right, don’t hit me–flat leaf parsley) and a dijon vinaigrette
sliced cold roast beef (sear or not a roast beef after seasoning w/sea salt, cover w/sliced red onions, cherry tomatoes, bay leaf, parsley, thyme sprigs drizzle of olive oil and red wine or balsamic) w/ fresh thyme smashed in olive oil (I can’t help myself) or chopped tomatoes sauteed w/minced shallot, thyme sprigs and butter
potato salad w/dill, mayo mixed w/bit of sour cream or yogurt, chive, horseradish
avocado slices with lemons and salt
ice cream
chocolate chip cookies

Buy a ticket.

I can’t say I feel like a shell in the sand that you pick up because you just cannot get over how beautiful it is, how it glints in the sun and feels like silk in your hand. I have to say I feel more like the one that makes you think, uhhhhh, no,” and then you drop it. BUT. The difference between me and that greyish brownish shapeless rock is that I have legs and I can walk to the store and buy a melon that smells like summer sun and a bottle of Chianti to soak it in. The truth: if you eat beautiful things that taste even more beautiful you are going to feel a teeny weeny itsy bitsy bit beautiful.
Reduce one cup of red wine with 1/3 cup of sugar and a split vanilla bean until it is slightly thickened over a medium heat. Don’t leave it on it’s own because you’ll forget about it. Cool with a piece of orange zest that has had the pith removed. Peel and seed 2 cantaloupes and give them a squeeze of lemon. Pour over the wine syrup along with another cup of wine straight from the bottle. Let it rest for an hour and serve w/biscotti made with dried figs or some creamy dreamy fior di latte gelato. Can’t find fior di latte gelato?
That’s because YOU NEED a trip to Italy. xo


One of the memories I have of my dad, who died a few months later when I was five, is of him taking me to Farm Shop on the Silas Dean Highway in Wethersfield to buy me an ice cream cone. “This is my chance,” I thought, “Today is the day.
I am going to try a new flavor of ice cream.”
I was locked into buttercrunch like a long term marriage and I was worried there was a world of wonderful out there that was passing me by. I asked him to lift me up so I could see through the glass. The cherry vanilla looked okay . I didn’t mind maple pecan so much, and I wouldn’t turn down strawberry if that was the only thing going but who was I kidding? I ordered the buttercrunch. My heart rate returned to normal and I put my feet back on the floor. I loved buttercrunch. Nothing could deliver like buttercrunch.
In a world that spins without stopping it can be worth it to order your regular. Italy has made a science of it.
They would pull the shade down if you ordered a goat cheese with fennel and toasted walnuts in Naples. And there is no such thing as tofu lasagna (thank God) in Tuscany. I have never even seen a red pepper lasagna. They may have heard about it, but they’re not going to make it. Lasagna is bechamel, meat sauce, mozzarella, parmasen and pasta. That’s it.
Every time we go to the Bonci family you can count on Silvio making exactly the same focaccia like you can count your toes. Why change when there are earthquakes? This makes 4 half sheet pans (which would be 4 cookie sheets.) You can easily freeze half of the dough, or cut the recipe in half. You are going to need a scale for this that has metric measurements.
1.5 kilos of flour. Silvio uses half “00″ and half “0″. You can use all purpose with good results, or half pastry flour and half all purpose. Just be sure your flour is not self-rising.
.85 liters of water
180 grams of olive oil (or 100 grams of lardo and 80 grams of olive oil)
30 grams of salt
50 grams of sugar
100 grams of powdered yeast

Make a ring on your board with the flour, sort of like a moat. Pour the water in slowly with one hand and mix with the other, then use two hands to mix in the flour, pulling the dough together, and then banging on it like a chord on a piano with all ten fingers. When the flour and water are mixed together, add the oil, incorporate, and then salt and sugar, and continue to knead. Divide into two balls and knead each for about 5 minutes. It is best if you can allow it to rise in the fridge overnight; otherwise, allow to rise for about an hour. Let it come to room temp, or roll it out to fit the pans (oil the pans first). Cover w/chopped onions or halved cherry tomatoes and pitted black olives (no salt yet). Let the pans rest for about half an hour, then season w/salt and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes.

All in a day

All in a day at Montevarchi: olive groves su a Ventena with a rolling view of well tended hills of trees and vines then down to the factory of Prada where if you take a number a world of royal blue satin bloomers and white wing tip shoes with a side cafe to have a campari and soda is yours for the taking. Just down the road we watched Silvio massage great balls of dough into foccaccia and then toured the factory behind. We would have been happy enough with dark chocolate filled with Vin Santo but went on and had dinner in the garden to make us even happier.
Friday the group went to Assisi. You have to be very quite not to get shhhed over the loud speaker in the duomo which maybe ,t the forte of my group, but they pulled way out in front when it came to singing. They knew the words and dance moves to go with to any and all songs better than any other pedestrian this side of the Arno.
I miss them already and lucky for me I wasn,t left lonely. The farmer Tramontana and his family asked me up to Corgna for torta al testo, cooked over a stone in an open fire and stuffed with prosciutto and I ate senza complimenti until I could eat no more.

Polenta to comehome to

In the morning fog and swallows drifted over the fields of wheat that reach from the kitchen to the road but by the time the frittata was ready for breakfast, only the swallows remained. the group went off to Montepulciano, Montalcino, and Pienza today with Pino and Enzo. and when they came home I set the table and cut more of the roses crowding around the kitchen door, made a polenta with a pecorino from Sardegna served with pan sautéed eggplant, garlic and rosemary and roasted tomatoes and a salad of braised green beens, arugula, croutons and ribbons of pecorino. for an appetizer, fried zucchini wrapped around a salted caper, a basil leaf and a tiny cube of more pecorino. strawberries, chocolate cake and cream for dessert.


I leave tonight for Italy. After I lift my heart up off the floor from having broken after kissing Ferdinand and Jonathan goodbye and try to keep it from falling again before I get through the doors of JFK, and I get on the plane and then off the plane in Rome I have a coffee. A perfectly brewed thick foamed, hair on your head cappuccino at a bar across the street from Roma Termini before I get on the train to Cortona.
And then I sleep or stare out the window at the ten sheep still grazing on the inch of grass between the tracks and the rest of the world and because it’s May, fields of poppies that roll like an ocean painted red. In Cortona my friend Caroline almost always picks me up and takes me to the commune pump at the casa gialla to buy wine for my people for the week at what could easily be mistaken for a gas pump and then to the Coop for as many groceries as I can remember and then home to Mercatale where my car is waiting. I sleep until I can wake up again and then there is Italy. Always exactly as it was.
Menu for the week:
menu for Spring in Tuscany

I’m tired

I usually tell Ferdinand there is no reason for dropping his chin to his dinner plate and lapping up the food without the help of hands or utensils.
To walk the dog today I would have bumped down the road but that just doesn’t look right. Instead I drove to the park and hired squirrels. Two sets of house guests for the past two weeks with a day in between and for the last few days sleeping on cushions from a chair in the basement; last night I was up at midnight fishing olives from the bottom of a vodka martini for dinner. I’m tired.
Thing is, it’s times like these that you have to entertain. In any kind of emergency cooking or otherwise it’s best to put a pot of water on to boil and start early. I used the water for eggs and filled in with bagels, smoked salmon, tabouleh, hummus, baba ganoush, Libyan strained yogurt, capers, red onions, a platter of cut fruit and champagne and orange juice to blur the edges of the dusty housekeeper (moi) and the house. Went over like a treat. If you can buy from the best the rest is soooo easy. I love you Mr. Sahadis.
Sahadis on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn


Ferdinand and Ann and I sat at a table by the window with a view across the East River of Manhattan and ate chicken dumplings and edamame and cold sesame noodles and miso soup. Ferdinand loved it so much he asked the waitress to sign his scooter.

Who I am addicted to

is my husband.
I haven’t seen him for weeks more than a minute.
I feel like an ocean fish on a freshwater drip, and my cooking is showing signs of cracking. Last night I made hamburgers w/sides of buttered rice and braised string beans. Not a smashed herb or a chutney or even an onion.
Ferd loved it.