four things to do this friday

I. Enter Alex’s La Cucina Italiana Contest
(for which I will be a recipe tester):

II. American cooking is back!
Check out Mary’s Potato Salad at Flavors of Abruzzo:

III. Celebrate Susan’s One-Year Blogiversary at
Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy:

IV. Tell me about all the fabulous things you will or won’t do this weekend!


After a very full work week, I plan on reading, writing (old NaNo novel!),
and generally relaxing with P and the pooches.

Buon weekend!

love thursday:
love in the leaves

When I first started doing Love Thursday, I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to keep it up. How could I possibly, continually find signs of love?

Well surprise, surprise–nearly two years later, and I simply can’t stop finding them. Everywhere I go I see hearts or other shows of our greatest, most powerful emotion. And it’s such a wonderful reminder that if you’ll only pay attention, love truly is all around.

Some of my favorite hearts are those found in nature; here are some examples of leafy love throughout this past summer:

Don’t you just love naturally-occurring love?

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

what’s cooking wednesday: pepper steak over white rice

I *loved* my grandmother’s steak hoagies. They weren’t exactly Philly cheesesteaks–they were better. Yeah, I said it.

The thing is, though, she used “Minute steaks,” which we don’t have here. Do you know them? Frozen, really super-thin slices of meat? Yes, it’s one of those things you can kinda sorta substitute, but still . . . it will just never be exactly the same.

Anyway, I made today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday recipe based on my grandmother’s original recipe, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but for those interested, let me tell you quickly how she made steak hoagies (no measurements because that’s the way she rolled):

  • Steam broken up pieces of Minute Steaks in a pan, remove and cover them.
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a pan and sauté peppers, then add onions as well.
  • Add meat and sprinkle everything with garlic salt.
  • Add a small can of tomato sauce and let cook until tomatoes no longer taste raw.
  • Stir in cheese (she used slices of Kraft American).
  • Serve on a big ole Italian roll. YUM!

Now, fast forward to my craving steak and peppers one night but having no tomatoes (fresh or sauce) or rolls in the house. This is what I made, a simpler, healthier, but still delicious version of an old classic:

Pepper steak over white rice
(serves 2)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 thin steaks, in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 green pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 medium onion, cut into strips
  • a few shakes of garlic salt
  • 1 cup prepared white rice

1. Prepare rice according to package directions.

2. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in pan, and then add meat, cooking until brown. Remove from pan and cover.

3. Add other tablespoon of olive oil and peppers. Sauté for a few minutes until starting to become tender and then add onions and sauté until tender.

4. Add meat and sprinkle everything with garlic salt, combining well.

5. Let flavors mix together for a minute or so, and then serve over white rice.

Buon appetito!

Whatever You Do, Don’t Eat the Free Figs

The other day I came home and found this on my doorstep:

When P came home, I told him, but we still didn’t know the identity of our Fig Fairy even though I had asked around the neighbors.

P told me: “Don’t eat the figs!”

Because, um, we live in medieval times in which our nemici might foil our dastardly plans with tainted figs left outside our house? Please.

Needless to say, I ignored him and ate three of them later that evening.

And then was awake most of the night with a stomachache. Gah!

I pretended like I had no idea what I could’ve eaten to cause the discomfort as I certainly couldn’t tell P I ate the figs.

Thankfully, the pain passed and the next morning, before I discarded the figs, I ran into a woman who owned up to being our Fig Fairy. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as she’s certainly one of the nicest signore around–yet another one of my nonne in the village.

And only then did I tell P the full tale of the figs, which he, of course, found hilarious.

I’m thinking I’ll just listen to him next time — just in case.

Pssst, Republicans: Comfortable Has No Place in Politics

I’ve stated here before that I’m a Yellow Dog Democrat.

Well, my YD status was severely tested this election season when the candidate I voted for didn’t win the Democratic primary. And neither did my second or third choices if you want to know the truth.

[By the way, click here to read more about and to sign a petition to impeach our current President and hold him and all future Presidents accountable for their actions.]

So I looked at McCain just in case I had been missing something. And once I went through the candidates issue by issue (which I encourage you to do as well), I decided to vote for Barack Obama and Scranton-scrapper (shout out to the Coal Region!) Joe Biden.

No, I’m still not completely convinced that Obama and Biden can or will turn the country around. I sure hope they do, of course, and I certainly feel the odds are a helluva lot better than if McCain, who voted with Bush 90% of the time during the past eight years and whose economic plans are strikingly similar to what Bush and his administration has been doing, took office.

I even considered not voting at all, but I simply can’t stay silent. By not voting, I feel that I would be telling the Republican Party that what they’ve done to the country is OK; that the way the world now sees us is fine; that health care isn’t a fundamental right; that the wealthiest Americans deserve more tax relief while the rest of her people struggle to keep their jobs, put gas in their cars, and put food on their tables.

Yes, I was probably going to come around to vote for Obama/Biden sooner or later anyway as my beliefs fall more in line with the Democratic platform (I *love* Biden’s insistence on a federal system in Iraq), but then the Republicans went and solidified my decision by picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for the VP slot.

I’m sure Palin is an interesting person—I know she can tell a joke!—and I have nothing personal against her. Her decision to run for Vice President with a 5-month old special needs child at home? All hers. Her 17-year-old daughter’s decision to have the baby she is carrying and marry the 18-year-old father? May they have a lifetime full of happiness.

And I’m also, for the moment, putting aside:

(1) whether I believe Palin is qualified to be VP when she was the mayor of a small town in Alaska just a few years ago (during which time she introduced a new position to Wasilla, hiring a City Administrator to manage city affairs) and has served less than two years as governor of the 47th most-populated state;

(2) whether I think the Republican party is (offensively) pandering to women thinking Hillary Clinton supporters will vote for any candidate with ovaries;

(3) whether I find it troublesome that Palin has at the very least courted (and possibly even been a member of) the Alaska Independence Party (AIP), which wants Alaska to secede from the United States of America and whose founder Joe Vogler once said, “The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government. . . . And I won’t be buried under their damn flag” (her husband, Todd, incidentally, was a registered member from 1995-2002);

(4) whether I was disgusted by her RNC speech, full of sarcasm and condescension (particularly offensive were her knocks on Obama’s community manager experience from his first few years out of college (see Obama’s response here) and the fact that the room erupted in applause when she ridiculed Obama for defending reading rights to those accused of crimes–yes even *alleged* terrorists); and

(5) heck, even whether Palin has ethical problems or has abused her power as governor or mayor, because, eh, she’s a politician. It happens, right?

But you know what is bothering me the most about this pick?

Palin will not be available for interviews until she’s “comfortable”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but are you frackin’ kidding me?

We are less than two months away from choosing the next so-called Leader of the Free World as well as the person who would step in and take over should something happen to him, and we have to wait until she’s “comfortable” to hear her formulate (or at least express without a teleprompter) her own opinions on all the important issues?

If I didn’t think McCain was playing a joke on the American people, not taking the position of VP seriously, and displaying a genuine disrespect for voters before, well, I can’t possibly avoid that conclusion now. Sarah Palin could be President in a matter of months, and we’re not even allowed to talk to her? Because it might make her uncomfortable?

Wow. Just. Wow.

The arrogance of the Republican Party just may have reached an all-time high here–no easy feat, mind you. Now they are telling us that after eight years of what they’ve done to the country, not only should we give them four more years, we should also simply trust their judgment on the second-in-command–she who would serve with a 72-year-old man with a history of serious health problems.

After all, McCain did meet Palin for fifteen minutes and then chatted her up on the phone once too. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t hire a dogsitter based on that level of contact.

Then again, maybe the decision against interviews is a good one in light of how McCain recently performed with Charles Gibson.

Well, I have to say, all this is just making me a little too *uncomfortable.*

This Yellow Dog is now barking mad, and I’ll be contributing to a political campaign for the first time in my life, financially and otherwise, and doing everything in my power to help put Obama and Biden in charge of America.

Yes we can.

Some of my favorite links on this topic:

Keep an eye on electoral projections at:

P.S. No, I’m not turning this into a political blog, and if you’re interested in why I felt like I had to write about the election, read my response to Vita’s thoughtful comment here.

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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