Archive for September, 2007

september i hardly knew ye!

september aspen by william hookI completely forgot about my Monthly Musing this month! Why is that? Probably because I love, love, love September and was too busy enjoying it…and didn’t it just fly by?!

September is my second favorite month after October, my birth month (the 18th if you’re keeping track), which is really like September Plus in my mind–but more on that another time.

So to me September is:

Relief from heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and all the nasty stuff about summer
that makes me irritable just thinking about it…

Renewed energy and fresh starts–
this from years of the school year really starting to kick into gear…

Smells of wood burning, rainy mornings, and
actual hot meals coming off the stove and out of the oven…

A crispness in the air coupled with warm sunshine, and
never knowing exactly how to dress for the weather…

Longer walks with the dogs because I won’t be pouring in sweat and
dreading every successive step…

Shorter but not too-short days, which means more cuddle time
with P as well as with the pooches…

I always love the glorious ninth month, and this year was no different. Thanks for the memories, September! Loved it, loved it, loved it, and I can’t wait to greet October (doesn’t hurt that Season 3 of “Lost” starts here tomorrow–yeah!!!!).

Now tell me do–
what do *you* like about September?

P.S. Have you noticed that I’ve signed up for NaBloPoMo? If you’re a blogger and want to pledge to post something every day during the month of November and join a great community besides, go here.


[tags] september[/tags]

What’s Happening in Italy?

Oh a lot, amici miei.

Let’s start from the most serious and head down to the downright silly:

(1) Italian Premier Romano Prodi has called for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty in front of the United Nations General Assembly. Without getting into a huge political debate (although you’re welcome to do so in the comments!), I’m firmly against the death penalty, and I’m molto fiera that Italy has stood up against it in the UN.

Of course the United States will be one of the key opponents of the moratorium, but Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema thinks it has a good shot at passing since public opinion has shifted over the years in favor of outlawing the death penalty. Time will tell, but I’m just happy that the discussion is on the floor and that Italy is in the forefront.

(2) This isn’t technically in Italy, but we’ll get there in a second. The Vatican City State has a new stamp–and not just any new stamp. This time the saint is from Calabria! Yeah! Go San Francesco di Paola!

For those who aren’t up on Roman Catholic saints, Calabria’s own Saint Francis is often overshadowed by Saint Francis of Assisi, the co-Patron Saint of Italy with Saint Catherine of Siena (although there is some debate on that, with Saint Joseph (father of Jesus) as the other contender). Anyway, it’s nice to see *our* Saint Francis, the Patron Saint of Calabria, being recognized.

Here’s a preview:

st francis di paola

(3) And finally, guess who’s invading the Bel Paese? You’ll never guess. Or maybe you will. Give up?

the evil empire...kidding (kind of)This ABC article is actually from April 30 of this year. Scary thing is that the article talks about the time frame of 24-36 months during which Starbucks plans to open branches in France, Germany, Spain, and (gulp) Italy.

Which means we’re *that* much closer to no more of this in the morning:

cappuccino from image chefYeah right.

So now that I’ve touched on politics, religion, and coffee–three subjects guaranteed to get any Italian fired up (only calcio is missing!)–I’ll leave you to your Saturday.

Hope it’s as gorgeous as ours is here!

friday five: some weekend suggestions

Just like Stefanie Says, I’m giving you a Friday Five. Here are five ideas of things to do this weekend:

1. DONATE. Go to Shannon’s Tales from the Fairy Blogmother and find out how you can help her brother Dave raise $10,000 as he bikes 100 miles for Africycle, a grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of those in Malawi.

As Shannon explains, there are 5 ways you can help:

  • Go directly to the Ride for Africycle website and make a donation.
  • Donate $5 using the donate link on Shannon’s right sidebar and get a chance to win a Dell Ditty mp3 player.
  • Donate $3 and score yourself a handmade beaded bracelet (50% goes to Africycle).
  • Visit Shannon’s Cafepress shop and purchase a shirt to show your support ($5 from each shirt goes to Africycle).
  • Know Shannon in real life? Just hand her some cash.

2. READ. Here are some of my favorite blog posts this week:

And a news story that has me scratching my head: Lost at Sea: A Ghost Ship Story. What the heck happened there?!

3. GO OUTSIDE AND TAKE SOME PHOTOS. I know that’s what Wanderlust Scarlett is going to be doing, and I encourage you all to do the same…and then share them with us please! No matter where you live there are beautiful sights to be seen and appreciated–especially for those of us who may never make it there. We love the ordinary *and* extraordinary around here, so get snapping!

4. TRY A NEW RECIPE. Perhaps you’ve seen The Foodie BlogRoll on my sidebar, but if you haven’t explored it completely–or haven’t looked at it lately–there are new food blogs added all the time. Some other new favorites of mine are Cook (almost) Anything…at Least Once and Rasa Malaysia. Get some inspiration and then enjoy the results. Yum.

5. WARM THE GLOBE (in a good way)…THROUGH FRIENDSHIP. Jeni of Down River Drivel sent me this a little while ago, and I think it’s a great idea. This is really a blogger activity started by the lovely Vic Grace of Cariboo Ponderer, and it’s great for those of us who love linky love.

To participate, just copy and paste the list below (adding your blog to the bottom) and then spread the love by posting it on your blog. Then your blog readers can copy and paste and so forth.

This is also great for finding new blogs to read, so even if you’re not a blogger, you can still warm up the blogosphere by visiting and commenting the blogs in the list.

Here they are–and remember, everyone is invited to participate.

warm the globe through friendship

Cariboo Ponderer

Me, my life, my garden
Author blog
A little piece of me
The BiPolar Diaries
Turning the Pages of Life
A Blue State of Mind
A Day in the Life of Sasha Stinerova
Whitterer on Autism
Pastorette Ponderings
Skittles Place
It’s About Time
Meloncutter’s Musings
10 Years Running Blind
Rather Than Working
Are We There Yet?
Overthehill Boomer Chick
Whee! All The Way Home
Mother’s Home
A Place I Call Home
Time With Shelby
Any Apples
BoggyWoggy’s Cache
Erika Jean
My Dogs Keep Me Sane
Rambling Shan
Random Autumness
The Turtle Parade
Dottie’s Place
The Wonderful World of Nothing Worthwhile
OzLady’s Ramblings
Chicken’s Life
Echos of Grace
Tales From a Former Michigander
A Purple Shade of Black
Dare to Get Organized
And Miles to go Before We Sleep
Beth & Cory’s Mom
The Middling Monettes
Twist & Skewer
A Day In The Life of Elle
Tea Time Ramblings
Bubba’s Sis
Lynne’s Little Corner of the World
A Southern Girl’s Guide to Almost Anything
Welcome to My World of Dreams
Charming & Delightful
Down River Drivel
Bleeding Espresso


Lovely Luna filled out this meme a while back, and ever since Stella Bella found out, she’s been pestering me for some blog time. Yeah, she goes through my archives when I’m not looking. Crafty, this one.

So here’s Stella’s first meme, as originally filled out by Mushu at A Spot of T. You can check out Luna’s meme here.

Not enough pooch talk for you? Check out our friends Phil and L over at the Dog Blog. They so crazy!

Stella BellaWhaddya mean you have to leave the house for three minutes?

1. What kind of dog are you? One that looks a lot like the other dog around here. I’ve heard that I resemble a Basenji and also a Cirneco dell’Etna. Whatever. I’m cute. That’s all you need to know.

2. Are you a boy or a girl? I’m all girl, and, in fact, expecting.

3. How old are you? The humans think around 9 months, but I’m not telling.

4. Name one thing you received as a gift on your last birthday. Haven’t even had one yet, at least not with these people.

5. Choose one word to best describe your physique. Wiry, and my mind is wily. Hah!

6. Share a quote. “Did I do that?” Steve Urkel.

7. Have you ever been stung by a bee? If so, where? Please don’t put the malocchio on me.

8. Who’s your strangest family member? Paws down, the other mutt. She does *everything* the humans tell her to. Weirdo.

9. Who’s your favorite family member? Tie between the guy and the girl. They both give good petties and treats, so there’s really no telling the difference between them most of the time.

10. Do you make an effort to be environmentally friendly? Yes. I’ll “recycle” anything.

11. If you were given a blank canvas and water colors, what would you paint? The bunnies that the guy took me to see precisely once. I wonder why he hasn’t taken me back there. Oh they were cuddly.

12. When is the best time for you to take a 20 minute nap? Only when everyone else is asleep, otherwise I’ll miss something.

13. Your hair? “Every-freaking-where” says the one typing this.

14. What do you want to be in 10 years? A mom. I’m a shoe-in.

15. What you’re not good at. Saying no to strangers. I’ll go to and take anything from anyone.

16. What are you wearing? Swollen nipples. It’s a statement.

17. What aren’t you wearing? My chastity belt. Obviously.

18. Your mood? Hungry. You got some biscuits in that pocket or what?

19. Your kitchen? Lovely. Would be perfect if that other dog weren’t always up in here though.

20. What are you thinking about right now? Why there’s chicken on the stove and not IN MY BELLY (said like Fat Bastard of Austin Powers fame).

21. Love? I got your love right here! Gimme a kiss! Or an ear! Or a leg! Mwaaaaaaah!

22. Foreign languages? I’m starting from scratch here, but I’m progressing nicely in English, Italian, and Calabrese. I’m smart.

Happy Love Thursday everyone
and Happy, happy Birthday Scarlett!


[tags]dogs, memes, love thursday[/tags]

what’s cooking wednesday: pasta all’amatriciana

Just in time for our cooler, rainier autumn days, today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday is simple, stick to your ribs goodness–Pasta all’Amatriciana, so named because it hails from a town called Amatrice, outside of Rome.

What follows is our interpretation of this recipe in my house. We use penne instead of the traditional bucatini, but we do use pancetta arrotolata like most recipes for this call for. Oh and we add just a touch of garlic.

What’s pancetta arrotolata you say? Well, it’s just rolled pancetta, and it looks like this:

pancetta arrotolata

You can read more about it here, but now I’m going to tell that we, lovers of all things spicy, don’t actually add any of our wonderful peperoncino to this dish–we just buy the spicy pancetta instead. See that reddish orange tint inside the rolls? That’s hot, and by that I mean piccante and not Paris Hilton-y.

As a substitute meat, you can use anything similar–we also prepare this recipe with Calabria’s most famous salami, soppressata, or even capicollo (and then add peperoncino). Just keep it chunky and spicy, and yum.

We’re lucky here in Calabria since its tradition of curing meats dates back to the days when Greeks first colonized this area–we’re talking B.C. So yes, they know what they’re doing, and the results are always fabulous.

For those of you lucky enough to be near an Italian market, do make the effort to seek out some of these meats. They’re great in antipasti and also as ingredients in a wide variety of dishes.

Like many Calabrian-Americans, we always had soppressata in our basement in America–my grandfather (non-Italian!), father, and brother would make them and we’d dig in for a Christmas-time treat. Sliced reeeeally thin with some fresh bread is my favorite. Anyone else?

Interestingly but not surprisingly, the local butcher who provides the spice mix to make the “soupies” as we called them (among Calabrians, “soppressata” becomes “suppressata,” and Americans love to make little nicknames, right?) has origins in Isca, which I wrote about yesterday.

So you see, I was also lucky in America.

Pasta all’Amatriciana

pasta all'amatriciana

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
100 grams pancetta arrotolata,
unrolled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 can peeled tomatoes
500 grams penne pasta
water and salt to boil pasta
grated pecorino romano cheese to garnish


First put on the water to boil for the pasta, and then chop all your ingredients as described above.Put olive oil in skillet and heat on medium. Add pancetta, and let cook for about five minutes, until the pancetta renders its fat. I know, yum, right?

Then add the onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and parsley and let cook for another minute or so.

At this point, your water should be boiling, and you can add salt and the pasta to the water (or do this whenever your water *is* boiling after this point).

Now add the tomatoes to the skillet. You can run them through a grinder or roughly chop them first depending on how you like them. You can also add some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce a bit; I usually use about 1/4 cup.Let the sauce simmer for about 1o minutes or until the tomatoes taste done to you. You can add salt, but do so sparingly because the pancetta is salty and you’ve also added salted pasta water.

When the pasta is just short of al dente, remove, strain, and combine well with the completely cooked sauce, still over medium heat.

Once the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce and become fully al dente, remove and serve immediately. Garnish with grated pecorino romano cheese.

A note:

Don’t worry if your timing isn’t exact the first time you make this–it’ll get easier the more you make it, which is only more incentive to keep pancetta in your fridge.

Buon appetito!


[tags]pasta, pasta all’amatriciana, pancetta, pancetta arrotolata, cooking, recipes, what’s cooking wednesday[/tags]


Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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