Archive for 2007

Snow in Calabria!

“Amò! Guarda la neve!”

“Honey! Look at the snow!”

P opened the balcony shutters this morning and found that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas–we got snooooooooow!

Snow on old monastery in Calabria, southern Italy
Don’t you just love how at the bottom, the land around the olive trees is all green but then by the time your eyes reach the sky, everything turns all white?

Oh that Mother Nature . . . .

So, yes, it’s just a dusting, but it’s actually visible from my house; usually you have have to go farther up into the mountains before you hit the white stuff.

A lot of people don’t know this, but there’s actually some great skiing in Calabria (they tell me; I’m not a skier) in the Sila Mountains where you’ll find the Sila National Park.

And yes, I know a lot of you are having blizzard or blizzard-like conditions right now, so this may not seem exciting (by the way, I do hope you’re all safe and not throwing out your back shoveling), but for someone like me who despite now living in southern Italy grew up with

snow days
and school delays
and watching flakes fall in complete silence
and flapping my arms and legs to make snow angels
and sipping hot chocolate with marshmallow
while wet gloves, hats, scarves sizzle
and dry on the radiator

even a simple dusting can make my entire winter.

I love snow!
Snow on old monastery in Calabria, southern Italy
It’s still raining and cold cold cold, but no worries, because I have a lot of this in store today (much like yesterday):

baking supplies
But I won’t be lonely. Besides the pooches and remaining pups, I’ll have P around as he’s been enlisted to help (official nutcracker and crusher), and also this guy and his heavenly voice:

Harry Connick Jr., When My Heart Finds Christmas
Harry Connick Jr., Harry for the Holidays
Don’t worry, I’ll also make time to take Stella’s cue and find a nice lap by the fire.

Stella on P's lap by the fire

Buona domenica!

"grease" out, "w00t" is the word! (plus vote for me & a word to expat bloggers in italy)

Various announcements this Friday, so let’s get to it:


Merriam-Webster has recently named its Word of the Year. It’s “w00t” and yes, those are zeros in the middle of it. Yes Virginia, this is a word that’s not even made up of letters.

W00t is defined as “expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word ‘yay.'”

Hey, who knew that “yay” was a word?

Anyway, you can read more about “w00t” and its origins here. As much as I love an evolving language, are we getting a bit too lax on the criteria when words are made of numbers?

I’m kidding (mostly) but what I’m really wondering is how long it is before I hear Italian children shouting this in the piazza:

“Ci vediamo dopo…w00t!”

Eh. I guess it’s still better than all the English-turned-Italian technological terms that have become part of the lingo around here like clickare, downloadare . . . bloggare. Don’t get me started.


Write From Karen's Photo Contest 5: Holiday Cheer

As you may know, I recently entered this photo in Write From Karen’s Photo Contest 5: Holiday Cheer:

Pap (Holiday Cheer) Pap

Doesn’t Pap Pap just *scream* Holiday Cheer?!

You can read more about the background of this photo here in my official entry to the contest, but let me just say that for the record, Pap, who has since passed away, put these bows on himself of his own volition. And it was so very out of character that the hilarity was monumentally increased.

You still have time to enter your own photo (until 4 pm Central today) but then just an hour later at 5 pm Central today, I invite you to vote for my photo in the contest–voting lasts through the weekend until 8 pm Central on Monday, December 17, so you have a few days to get to it.

There will be a voting poll here when the precincts open.

Make your voice heard!

Grazie mille in advance!


This is a note to my fellow expat bloggers in Italy. If you haven’t already, head over to Valerie’s 2 Baci in a Pinon Tree to see about a contest she’s running just for us.And to those who aren’t expat bloggers in Italy, head on over to Valerie’s anyway for some great reading on her and her husband Bryan‘s move to Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche from New Mexico.

Valerie is trying to compile a blogroll of all of us expats who blog from Italy–a very worthy pursuit–and so she’s asking us to send her an email at:




with the following info:

Your Name (as well as your blog moniker if you use one)

Your Blog’s Name and URL address

A one-line description of your blog’s focus

Your Location (city and region)

Send the email by December 30 and you can win “[a] brand-spanking new English translation of the quintessential Italian cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi.”

Sounds great to me!

And that’s all for today kids. Busy weekend ahead for many of us, I’m sure, so…

Buon weekend!



letting go

And so the process of letting go of the puppies has begun.

As of Tuesday night, I was going to post “And then there were five”:

five puppies

Tuesday evening, a lovely young couple from the village took home this little guy:

puppy number 1

Yes, that’s my lap he’s on there.

No word on a name yet, but I know he’ll be happy because they are both big dog lovers–the girl actually called me to ask if she could come and get their puppy sooner than planned because she was exploding with excitement, having prepared his bed and toys already.

Then last night, I delivered one of my very favorite little ones to Rosa, an extremely caring woman who lives next door to P’s house, the one we’ll be moving into at some point–which means it’s only a matter of time before I see Lila (pronounced LEE-la) every single day when I go out on the balcony:

Lila the puppy

Lila is extremely shy at first, but quite playful when she gets comfortable; I sent this precious puppy off with a stuffed gingerbread toy because she loved carrying it around even though it was bigger than her.

I didn’t want to give her to a family with kids who would drive her crazy, so when Rosa stopped me and asked me if we still had puppies the other day (as a matter of fact, there was still one remaining who wasn’t spoken for), I was over the moon happy to say yes–and I knew immediately which of the darling pups she should have.

As I sat with Rosa last night as Lila got used to her, she told me how she raised her last dog from a puppy with a bottle–for two years. A little spoiling is never a bad thing, right?

It was funny, actually, because when I got home, P told me essentially all the same stories that Rosa had told me about her love of animals, how she adored her dog, etc. I hadn’t realized before just how close to his neighbors P had been at one point. Very cute.

I’m so happy that these two have gone to wonderful homes, and I can’t wait to run into them in the village.

So who will be next? This cutie perhaps?

puppy number 3

No, letting them go isn’t easy for me. Yes, tears have been shed.

And I’m afraid more are on the way with four puppies still left. . . .



Recipe: Tortellini con Prosciutto e Panna

What's Cooking Wednesday It’s holiday time. You’re in a rush. I’m in a rush. I’ll keep this short.

For this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday, you need three ingredients–prosciutto cotto (cooked ham), panna (heavy cream), and tortellini, preferably stuffed with prosciutto crudo. OK, you need salt and water too, but that’s it.

panna, prosciutto crudo, tortellini
Interested? (The clementines in the background are dessert!)

I’ve seen other versions of this recipe that add butter, cheese, and even an egg yolk, but honestly this is delicious just like this, although, as always, I do encourage you to experiment.

Feel especially free to add other ingredients to spice it up–peas or mushrooms are our favorite. You can also play with the type of pasta from fettuccine to pennette. It’s all good.

Tortellini con Prosciutto e Panna
(serves 3-4)

Tortellini con prosciutto e panna250 g tortellini (half of the bag shown above)
150 g (between 1/4 and 1/2 lb) prosciutto cotto/cooked ham, torn up in pieces
400 ml panna/heavy cream (about a cup and a half)

1. Prepare tortellini in salted, boiling water.

2. Meanwhile, heat cream in large saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Stir in prosciutto and lower heat, being sure that cream isn’t sticking to pan. I use a heat-resistant rubber spatula during this part. Keep the cream and prosciutto mixture warm until the tortellini are ready.

3. When the tortellini are cooked to your satisfaction, drain them, and combine well with cream and prosciutto.

That’s it!

Buon appetito!

Ghost of Christmas Past (Revisited)

The newly-crowned Princess Wanderlust Scarlett has tagged me for a most glorious Christmas meme–to write about 12 of my favorite Christmas things. I’m choosing to write about 12 of my favorite Christmas memories over the years.

I will fulfill my meme-ly duties in due time, but for now, Scarlett’s tag reminded me of a general Christmas memory post that I put up last year around this time.


Now let’s revisit “Ghost of Christmas Past” from December 17, 2006:

I am a loyal reader of Petite Anglaise, and her December 13 post has been resonating with me for days now. Petite is separated from the father of her young child, and in this entry, she admits struggling to make Christmas special for Tadpole, as she calls her daughter.

If you’ve read my 100 things about me, you know that my parents were divorced when I was very young. And so, I’ve been in the shoes of Tadpole–having adults around me trying to make everything seem normal when, it turns out, I suppose it wasn’t (whatever “normal” means anyway).

So the more I’ve thought about Petite and Tadpole, the more I’ve been thinking about my own childhood Christmases–and the more I’ve felt the need to write this post.

By Christmases (plural), I mean that we had two every year. If today were 20 years ago, this might have been the morning that I woke up at my Mom’s house, opened gifts, and then prepared for our Christmas dinner, which usually included my father and his family.

That’s because one or two weeks before the big day, we had “Mom’s Christmas,” a full celebration only a little early. More than the early gifts, though, the highlight for me was the unveiling of Mom’s cookies–chocolate chips, Michigan rocks, ricotta, kolaches, butter pressed, pizzelles. Of course, some time in the weeks before, we had decorated the cut-outs, which involved a couple of my girlfriends and a slumber party.*

Man I’m missing home (and childhood) right about now.

Anyway, some of the reason behind having two Christmases was that my mom is a nurse and always worked Christmas day; on actual Christmas morning, she usually came over to my father’s house for a little while.

But I’m sure the bigger reason was that with two full holidays, nobody missed out on a family Christmas experience. In fact, as kids, we were blessed with double the fun.

And the best part was that all of this seemed completely normal to me even though I knew the other kids at school weren’t having the same deal (suckers!). Now, as an adult, I see that this was the plan. And it worked.

Don’t buy it? My testimonial not enough?

Take Exhibit A, then, depicting what the two Christmas set-up made my normally curmudgeonly grandfather (may he rest in peace) do to himself one year:

Pap (Holiday Cheer) Pap

See, Christmas miracles do happen.

*These are not the actual recipes my Mom uses. As you can surely understand, these are top secret and under heavy guard. I did, however, try to find some that are close to hers.

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