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:
- Destiny, At Home in Piemonte
- Phone Calls and F*llatio, (PG-rated but for the last line, which is classic) The Daily Rant
- conversations with a hitchhiker, Poppy Fields
- Something Very Beautiful, cease cows, life is short!
- Passionate Mondays, The Passionate Palate
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.
Me, my life, my garden
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
It’s About Time
10 Years Running Blind
Rather Than Working
Are We There Yet?
Overthehill Boomer Chick
Whee! All The Way Home
A Place I Call Home
Time With Shelby
My Dogs Keep Me Sane
The Turtle Parade
The Wonderful World of Nothing Worthwhile
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
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
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!
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]
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:
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.
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.
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.
[tags]pasta, pasta all’amatriciana, pancetta, pancetta arrotolata, cooking, recipes, what’s cooking wednesday[/tags]
Last week, my grandmother’s first cousin, Domenica (but don’t call her that–she goes by Marie) from America and her childhood friend, Laura, came to visit me. Both of their mothers, as well as my grandmother’s mother Concetta, were born in Isca sull’Ionio, or Isca on the Ionian Sea, which is the village next to mine.
Meet Concetta via her 1941 US citizenship certificate:
To explain a bit, my great-great-grandfather (Concetta’s father) was born in the village I now live in, and he married a woman from Isca, and that’s where they had their children. So my roots, as well as those of my Marie are actually from both villages. Laura’s family is all from Isca.
The connection between this tiny village on the Ionian coast and my area back home in Pennsylvania is extremely strong; indeed, most of the Italian (Calabrian) families in and around my hometown come from this village and share names like Varano, Scicchitano, Bressi, Feudale, Mirarchi, and Nestico (here, it’s Nesticò, accent on the last syllable).
One of my most vivid memories of the first time I visited here was my jaw continually dropping at just how many last names I saw on signs and businesses that were so very familiar to me–even the geographical position of Isca is very much like our towns nestled into the Appalachian Mountains.
You can read more about Isca’s history and links in the United States at IscaCalabria.com, made by a friend of mine that I met via the Internet quite a few years ago. He ended up connecting me with a woman originally from Isca who now lives in South Philly (I also lived in Philly at the time); it turns out that she had also lived up in my area of Pennsylvania…and, as we discovered once we got talking, had even worked with my grandmother in a sewing factory in the 1960s or 70s.
Talk about a small world, huh?
Alida gave me one of the best quotes ever during an email exchange four years ago, and I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing it here:
When I was a little girl, before I knew of the rotation of the earth, I really believed that those pretty mountains ate the sun and by a miracle God would send it back the following day.
Don’t you just love Italians?
A few years ago, Alida, her family, my mom and I went to the San Marziale festival, organized by Iscatani, in South Philly together.
Now back to our visit to Isca with my cousin. Through genealogical research, I was able to pinpoint the street, although not the exact house, of our family. It’s called Via Borgo, and here’s Marie in front of the entrance to the smallest “street” I’ve ever seen in my life:
Here’s a look down said street:
As you can see, there’s actually a bit of reconstruction going on, but Isca Superiore is still mostly emptied out, even more so than my village; in fact, every time we asked about someone who had formerly lived up there, we were directed to the Marina village. Isca was particularly hard hit by an earthquake in 1947, so that was the impetus for many to get off the hill.
We didn’t have too much time to walk around Isca, but here are some old scanned photos of mine from a previous visit:
Then we went back to P’s parents’ house in Badolato Marina and enjoyed a lovely lunch with them. Here are P’s father Salvatore, P’s mom Caterina, Marie (eyes closed, sorry–told her to leave on her sunglasses!), and Laura.
Marie had a great time trying to teach P’s dad some English words–much laughter ensued as “I looooooove you” repeatedly echoed throughout the Marina. And since I never tire of hearing old family stories, this provided yet another opportunity for Marie to share what she remembers of her grandparents–my great-great-grandparents–and others long gone.
P’s mom must’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic too because she broke out her old photos; I had never seen a baby picture of P before, so that was extra special. What a cutie! You may or may not see said photos scanned here at some point. Good thing he doesn’t read the blog, eh?
So after quite a day full of emotion, laughter, great food, and fun, Marie, Laura and I headed back up the mountain to Badolato. As they rested, I got to thinking, as I’m wont to do.
I have always thought of Isca as representing the feminine side of my Italian family, as my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother were born there–who knows how far back that goes, but I’d sure like to find out. Even the town’s name ends in “a” denoting the feminine. I’ve always had a stronger connection with the women in my family, and so I would’ve guessed that Isca was the place for me if I were going to settle in Calabria.
But there’s so much more to me than that feminine side, and I’d say I’m pretty balanced in my traditionally masculine and feminine influences. I’m not a girly-girl by any means, and you couldn’t tear me away from a football, baseball, or basketball game in America if you tried. I can also be awfully aggressive when I want/need to be.
Interesting, then, that it’s my great-great-grandfather who was born in Badolato (note that it ends in an “o” denoting masculine) and relocated to Isca for his wife; I, on the other hand, was first drawn to Isca (my family had never heard of Badolato until I found citizenship records), but then the pull to Badolato was so strong that I ended up staying here, in the masculine village, if you will.
And here I found my P.
Now I struggle to balance those masculine and feminine influences once again–this time in a culture with fairly distinct gender roles. Southern Italy isn’t what you’d call modernized in its ideas about what a woman and a man should do. Lucky for me that I’ve found a guy who loves that I work and that I actually *want* to go hunting for mushrooms in the mountains, etc., with the boys–and he also happens to be a great cook who occasionally surprises me with his housekeeping abilities.
It’s not always easy, of course, but I’m loving the challenge.
Writers aren’t accustomed to singing our own praises, but it’s good to look at the positive now and again. Here are what I consider my strengths as a writer.Read on...