Archive for September, 2009

2nd Annual O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Roundup Part 1

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month ContestA big thank you to everyone who participated in the 2nd Annual O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest by donating, posting the announcement, and/or submitting fabulous recipes.

In these two years, we’ve raised $600 for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, gathered nearly 100 fabulous O Food recipes, and hopefully reached many women with important information about ovarian cancer, particularly regarding signs and symptoms.

Remember, you can still donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and here are another 5 ways you can contribute to ovarian cancer awareness through jewelry. Other posts related to the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month events include:

Remember Gina herself will be choosing the grand prize winner this year–and winners will be announced on Friday, so be sure to come back then!

And now, it’s time for Part 1 of the roundup (as I remind you that I made the classic, tasty Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino for this year’s O Foods Contest); Sara has Part 2 of the roundup at Ms Adventures in Italy.

First I want to thank those of you who posted the contest announcement and are eligible for the Teal Toes gift bag prize (if you’re not listed here or at Sara’s place, let us know!):

Now, let’s start off with some appetizers, soups, salads, side dishes, savory tarts, and even some “first dishes” as we’d call them in Italy:

Insalata d'OrzoThis Insalata Calda d’Orzo comes from a very special blogger close to this cause–Gina DePalma’s cousin Nicki who blogs at Color Me Inspired. I’m especially loving how the colors of the Italian flag shine through here. Such fabulous presentation! Thanks Nicki!

Mint PestoI’m including pesto here since it can be used as an appetizer, but of course you can always mix it up with pasta as well for a snazzy primo piatto. Check out Ivy‘s Mint Pesto with Almonds and Graviera at Kopiaste. Mmmm I can taste that minty goodness from here! Grazie mille Ivy!

GC-Rosemary-Potato-CollageHere is a fabulously healthy and tasty way to enjoy the beloved potato. Diana of GardenCuizine shares her recipe for Oven Roasted Rosemary Potato Fries (which, by the way, features yet another “O” if you consider the rosemary is “rosemarino” in Italian). Thanks so much Diana!

Tomato saladNext up is Amy‘s Tomato Salad with Asiago Cheese over at Tomato Hill. I must admit that the tomato and any kind of formaggio are two of my very favorite “O” foods. Great combo here, Amy! Thanks for participating!

orichietteThe Food Hunter contributes Orrichiette with Ragu alla Bolognese over at the Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine. You’ll often see this adorable ear-shaped pasta paired with greens like broccoli rabe, but I agree with the Food Hunter that it’ll work just fine to catch up tasty bits of bolognese as well. Thanks Food Hunter!

Greek omeletOh wow. Check out Elle‘s Greek Omelet for Breakfast, which has pine nuts, oregano, spinach, feta, and oh I’ll just stop there before you make a drooling mess on your keyboard. Elle blogs at Feeding My Enthusiasms. Thanks for participating Elle!

Olives preadOur dear friend Judith of Think On It! sent in this wonderful Olive Spread with just three ingredients that all incorporate the “O”: olives, peperoncino, olive oil. I *know* this will be a huge hit at my house when I make this. Thanks so much Judith!

And while we’re talking olives, be sure to check out the Olive Focaccia over at La Vita è Bella! Thanks for sending this in Grace!

melogranoAnother dear friend in Italy, Michelle of Michellanea, sent in this Spelt Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate, which in Italian is Insalata di farro con finocchio e melagrano. Helloooo O’s! This sounds delicious, awfully pretty, and great for fall as well now that our pomegranates are coming back into season. Thanks Michelle!

Onion soupJen of NJ Epicurean serves up a hearty Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Giant Gruyère Crostini. The recipe comes from Epicurious, but Jen makes it all her own even serving it up in an adorable heart-shaped bowl. Thanks so much for sending this in, Jen. I imagine quite a few fall and winter days will be warmed up thanks to you!

Orange and Tomato RasamLavanya at Pieces of paper, squiggly lines shows there’s much more than writing in her bag of tricks. Check out this Orange and Tomato Rasam, an autumn twist on her prized Pineapple Rasam, which she notes is “something of a south Indian ‘delicacy.'” I’ve never had any rasam, but I’d love to head over to Lavanya’s for my first taste. This looks amazing. Thanks Lavanya!

porcini risottoNow back here in Calabria, we have Cherrye‘s Wild Mushroom Risotto over at My Bella Vita. OK, the recipe is really her husband’s, but it hardly matters when you have a plate of creamy porcini risotto in front of you. Seconds please! Thanks for sending this in, Cherrye (and Peppe)!

Stuffed, Wrapped JalapenO at girlichefGirlichef contributes these Stuffed, Wrapped Jalapeno Peppers. Um, did somebody say cream cheese *and* bacon? Wow. I’m *so* in, girlichef. If you click over, you’ll find a whole series of droolworthy photos, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Thanks girlichef!

Onion Fig TartPalma at Palmabella’s Passions sent in this lovely Onion Fig Tart. Sounds like a gorgeous combination with the onions and figs, two of my very favorite foods. Palma created this based on a tart she saw at a bakery in Washington; excellent work! Thanks Palma!

MangO Salmon SaladLisa is Cooking sent over this refreshing Mango Salmon Salad. Salmon is one of my very favorite foods, and I don’t eat it nearly enough. This salad is tossed with a lime shallot vinaigrette and a little arugula. Yum! Thanks for showing us another way to enjoy salmon, Lisa!

Erika's saladErika at Sweet Pea sent in her Avocado, Goat Cheese, and Quinoa Salad. I’m not sure it gets much healthier and tastier than this…and you *know* I’m all about the goat cheese! Thanks so much for contributing this fabulous recipe, Erika!

Now for some hearty main dishes:

Chicken Fricassee Abruzzo StyleMaria of My Place in the Sun sent over some Chicken Fricasee Abruzzi Style, which translates to Pollo all’abruzzese coi pomodorini e le olive, i.e., lots of “O” love in Italian. This looks like something that could easily be served on a Calabrian table too–so of course I love the looks of this. Thanks Maria!

Jerry's pizzaJerry of Jerry’s Thoughts, Musings, and Rants! sent in an appetizer and main course all in one–Onion, Potato, Pancetta, and Rosemary Pizza. Some of my favorite foods combined all on a pizza? Yeah, that’s pretty much heaven right there, Jerry. Thanks so much for sending it in!

And last but certainly not least, dessert:

Deeba's muffinsDeeba of Passionate About Baking sent in these Cappuccino Buttermilk Muffins, which you *know* I’m all over. You may be wondering whether cappuccino is really a food. Well it certainly is in my book but in any event these are also loaded down with chips made of cioccolato. Yum yum yum. Thanks Deeba!

*UPDATED: Two last O food recipes that slipped through the cracks:*

Noelle's Chilean saladNoelle of An Opera Singer in the Kitchen submitted a gorgeous Chilean Charquican and Tomato Salad. That’s pronounced Char-KEE-can, and Noelle describes it as kind of like a pot pie and great for hiding veggies (plus it has potatOes!); the tomato and red onion salad goes beautifully with it. Thanks Noelle!

Blue cocktail The Happy Cook‘s gorgeous Brazilian night cocktail made of Batida de Coco, vodka, and Blue Curacao over at My Kitchen Treasures. What a way to wrap up the roundup. May I have another?

Thanks so much for all these great O Food recipes!

I know there are a lot of recipes (and we’re very grateful for the wonderful response!), but don’t be overwhelmed! Simply bookmark the round-up pages (and Stumble too if you like!) so you can come back when you have a few moments here and there.

Remember the second half of the round-up is over at Sara’s Ms Adventures in Italy, and be sure to come back Friday for the announcement of the winners!

Interview with Gina DePalma on Last Day of O Foods Contest

Gina DePalmaToday is the last day of the O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, so be sure to get your recipes in by 11:59 (Italy time) tonight! Remember Gina DePalma herself will be choosing the grand prize winner!

To end the contest in a big way, we now turn to my interview with Gina, who is the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo Ristorante and Enoteca in NYC and author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen; Gina is also currently battling ovarian cancer, was our inspiration in starting the O Foods Contest last year, and has recently started the Cowgirl Cure Foundation, as a way of “rounding up the team to swing into action” and start a national conversation on ovarian cancer.

1. So, let’s start with the question I know everyone wants to know the answer to: how are you doing?

I am doing as well as I can at this point. The one-year anniversary of my surgery was in June, and I am still in the midst of my treatment. I’m involved in a drug trial which began with my chemo and continues for a few more months; it will be about 16 months total. A long haul. The recovery from the surgery is brutal, because it is a very invasive operation, a complete assault on your body. My doctors told me it would take about a year to gain even a percentage of my strength back, and man, was it ever true. I’m still kind of a marshmallow.

I have my good days and bad days. The best thing I am doing is building my strength up with the help of my local gym, and I try to do all the right things that my medical team tells me to do. I drink kale juice! I pray. I hope. I try.

2. One of the most challenging things about ovarian cancer is that so many women ignore the symptoms. Can you tell us a bit about your diagnosis process, i.e., what symptoms (if any) you noticed, how you approached the discussion with your doctor (if at all), etc.?

Well, I made a quite a few mistakes. I felt something was wrong, a soreness and a kind of  ‘presence,’  in my abdomen back in the fall of 2007. I was bloated, and not digesting food very well. I mentioned it to my gynecologist, but because I was so scared that it might actually be cancer, I downplayed it as I reported it. Those words seem really foolish now, but fear is a powerful thing, very powerful, and it told me to do all the wrong things.

I was referred to an internist for another general exam. I got some suggestions on dietary changes to reduce the bloating. I don’t know if it was due to the power of my mind or the fear, but the symptoms did fade, and I pushed it all out of my head.

When what I perceived as only tummy troubles flared up again, I eventually made an appointment with a gastroenterologist, who, God bless him, immediately raised his eyebrows at my story and ordered more extensive tests, including a sonogram and then a CT scan. In three days I had the bad news.

So I was diagnosed by a gastroenterologist, not a gynecologist. He looked beyond my own fear, thank goodness. My operation was six days later.

What I learned from my experience is this – since there no is no standard protocol or screening test for ovarian cancer in place right now, it is up to women to be as educated as they possibly can, and if something doesn’t feel right, speak up! Be insistent. Doctors will respond to you in most instances if you speak honestly and with conviction about your own body. If not, get another opinion from a different doctor. At that point in the process it is not the time to be timid, or like me, too willing to downplay symptoms because of the fear of what might be going on.

It is also important to know your family history of cancer, and not just your parents. Go up, down and sideways in your family tree and mention any instances of cancer to your doctor.

The bottom line is that you have to be proactive: get educated, ask questions, be insistent if necessary, and be as fearless as possible. That’s my lesson.

Cowgirl Cure Foundation3. So why the Cowgirl Cure Foundation? What do you hope to accomplish?

Well, as soon as I could sit up and talk, I wanted to do something. It very much had everything to do with the folks who were taking care of me at Mount Sinai Hospital here in New York. They are the most valiant soldiers, out there on the front line, trying to battle some pretty tough odds. Cancer is at an all-time high and funding is drying up. The more I learned the facts, the more frustrated and angry I grew, and I knew I wanted change things.

As soon as I could, I began researching as much positive information I could out there about how I could best help myself do battle against my disease. I enrolled in a drug trial the moment it was offered to me.  Your readers may be surprised to find out that only 3 percent of cancer patients are participating in drug trials. I viewed it as a win-win – it might cure me, and it might cure others. But I still wanted to do more.

I spent nearly a month in the hospital and I trusted my caregivers – my doctors and nurses – more than any other beings on earth. They all kept telling me how close researchers are to a breakthrough in curing cancer – all cancers, not just mine. The unanimous message I got from them was this: now more than ever, the fight against cancer needs money and attention. So before I was discharged from the hospital, I knew I wanted to raise money and shine a very bright light on my disease.

In my dreams, the Cowgirl Cure Foundation will become a household name. I want it to be significant, to really make a difference at this crucial time. It took a bit of thought to figure out how to frame my message, but the gift of the cowgirl ring from one of my very best friends made all the pieces fall into place.

I want to start that national conversation about ovarian cancer. We need a screening test, and we need a cure, and to do that we need money and attention. The cowgirl philosophy is a great way to deliver the message in these difficult times, because I think everyone can identify with that attitude. Cowgirls see what needs to be done, and go about getting it done without a lot of fuss and a lot of can-do spirit. Giddy-up, right?

Actually getting a foundation established is a monumental task, and I am in the thick of things right now.  Let me tell you this:  if for-profit corporations were as tightly regulated as non-profits, we’d be in a different economic boat these days, that is for sure!

4. I know you’re still a rather busy gal aside from the Cowgirl Cure Foundation; what other projects are you working on?

Well, I am still working at Babbo as much as I can. And I’ve spent much of the summer developing recipes for my second book and testing them, picking up from where I left off when I was diagnosed. It took a long time for me to find the willpower and courage to do that, but now that I’m in the thick of it again, it is pretty exciting.

To be perfectly honest, having cancer becomes a full-time job. There’s paperwork and insurance woes to deal with, and I’m still on the same treatment schedule I’ve maintained since I began chemotherapy over a year ago, which means lots of blood tests and procedures. I also devote a considerable amount of time to exercising and eating the right things and paying attention to what my body needs.

At the end of the day, its is about being happy. I want to spend as much time with family and friends as I can. I want to be happy as many minutes as I have left. It isn’t as effortless as it sounds.

5. And finally, from a very selfish standpoint (and I’ll have you know Sara also wants to know the answer), when will you be back in Italy?!

Ohhhh, how I miss Italy. My memories of my favorite places and my friends are what sustained me through much of this experience. I can’t wait to get back, and I’m pretty excited that my next visit will be this November. I’m going back to Rome, and taking a few fun side trips too. I can’t wait to get a tall spremuta, and taste coffee as it was intended, and eat properly cooked pasta, and to absorb all the familiar sights and smells and sounds again. It is going to be great!

Thanks so much Gina! You’re a true inspiration to us all!

Now, for those of you who want to help but won’t get in a recipe in time, remember you can also simply spread the word via your blog and be eligible for a prize (details here) or simply donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at our Firstgiving page.

And here are some other fun ways to support those who support ovarian cancer awareness and research (info courtesy of Carey of Teal Toes):

  • Diamond Cosmetics
  • Friends of Mel Foundation *adorable* bracelet
  • Weiman cleaning products and Wright’s silver polish
  • Ocaz “For the Love of Women” pendant
  • Various items sold by partners of the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation
  • FoxRiver teal-accented socks (partial proceeds go to HERA)
  • Pajamgram’s Put Ovarian Cancer to Rest pajamas (currently out of stock, but too cute not to mention)

Thanks to all who supported this year’s O Foods Contest!

Be sure to check back for winners and the recipe roundups!

Goat Tears Cure Muscle Aches and Pains!

Did you know goat tears are an instant remedy for your aches and pains?

That’s what Thera-Gesic says:

I don’t care how magical goat tears are. I’ll never make my babies cry on purpose.

Nudging on Flickr

You wanna know why?

Happy Love Thursday!

Hug a kid!

And get in those O Foods Contest recipes!

O Foods Recipe: Spaghetti AgliO OliO e PeperoncinO

I had lots of ideas for what my O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Contest recipe would be, but in the end, none was better than one of our standby favorites that is just *laden* with O’s.

Spaghetti AgliO OliO e PeperoncinO

Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino on Flickr

  • Spaghetti for two people
  • Water for pasta
  • A few tablespoons of oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 1 hot pepper, chopped, or hot pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: bread crumbs, chopped parsley and/or grated cheese

1. Put water for pasta on to boil.

2. Prepare garlic and pepper.

3. Once the water is boiling, add salt and pasta; remove when al dente.

4. In the meantime, just a few minutes before the pasta will be ready, heat oil on medium and then add the garlic, hot pepper, and salt to taste. Just let the garlic get a little brown, but be careful so it doesn’t burn.

5. Remove the garlic, add the pasta to the pan, and toss well together, leaving it all over the heat for about a minute as you mix.

6. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, parsley and/or grated cheese, allowing it to blend together a bit more before removing from heat.

7. Serve hot.

Buon appetito!

You still have until Monday, 28 September 2009 to get your O Food recipes in! Find out all the info on the contest here–which includes the text you need to include in your post to be eligible for prizes.

Angela Moore Jewelry for Ovarian Cancer Awareness

Last year I told you about 5 Ways to Raise Ovarian Cancer Awareness through Jewelry, and one of those ways was by purchasing a bracelet from the Ovarian Cancer Awareness collection of Angela Moore, who by the way you can now find on Facebook.

Well this year I’m letting you know that Angela Moore has *many* more Ovarian Cancer awareness pieces–and 15% of proceeds from their purchase go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund ALL YEAR LONG.

So while it’s great that you show your support for ovarian cancer awareness this month, you can also bookmark the site and head back for holiday and birthday gifts as well.

Here are some of this year’s selections with prices below their images:

Ovarian Cancer Awareness watch by Angela Moore


Ovarian Cancer Awareness earrings by Angela Moore


Ovarian Cancer Awareness hairtie by Angela Moore


Ovarian Cancer Awareness pendant by Angela Moore


All Angela Moore creations are hand-painted and one of a kind, so in addition to supporting a great cause, you’re also getting a gorgeous, original piece of jewelry that you’re sure to receive many compliments on–which, of course, offers you a great opportunity to spread the message about ovarian cancer (feel free to memorize the facts from the OCRF in the O Foods Contest announcement)!

I’m loving that pendant. Which is your favorite?

And, ahem, have you made your O Foods recipe yet or posted the announcement?

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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Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake