July, 2007

Pumpkins, Peaches & Mufflers

zucca.jpgLuca and I have been eating peaches like there’s no tomorrow.  Seriously, between the two of us, we probably consume on average 3 peaches every day.  They’re SO good right now.

The nine pumpkins I planted a few weeks ago are doing great!  This week I took down the protective tent (aka bedsheet) that I set up to give them a little cover from the hot Italian sun.  They’re growing like weeds!  Okay, so there aren’t actually any pumpkins yet, but the leaves are really big.

In other news, my Lancia is on the way out the door.  Luca has been doing loadpomodoro1.jpgs of research on used cars (because personally I don’t have that much interest in doing used car research) and has almost decided which one we should get.  (I say “we” because, as sometimes occurs, he will probably be financing the initial purchase and I’ll pay him back in a few months).  The muffler on the lancia fell completely off last week.  And curiously enough, the insurance also expired.  So, we’re looking into a car that costs less in insurance, uses less gas and has a muffler. The most promising choice so far is a 1998 Ford Fiesta, metallic grey with 42,000km and both summer and winter wheels!  Ding.

I’ve been preparing lots of interesting things for dinner recently.  The other night I made Sarah Moulton’s Asian Steak Lettuce Wraps from her Weeknight Meals book.  They were so good.  I went foraging for mint for the wrap sauce after work, but couldn’t find any anywhere in Verduno!  (This baffles me because in Sinio I was practically the queen of finding wild mint).  So, I used basil instead and it was still great.

zucca_closeup.jpgWe’re going to the Aosta Valley for a week in August.  We’re staying at the Agriturismo Le Bonheur. Luca’s cousins go there every year and rave about it, so we thought we’d give it a go! 

I’m a little concerned about how my pumpkins will fare in my absence.  I’ll have to see if I can find someone to water them for me.  Maybe the Zio (those are his tomatoes above) would do it…The tomato crop this year is great.  No bug infestation like last year.  However, it’s a bad year for squash. (Figures!  Last year I planted tomatoes, this year I planted members of the squash family).

As you’ll notice in the picture, I installed tall stakes next to my plants.  A lot of people train their veggies to grow upward instead of outward to save space.  Since I only cleared about 3 feet of land, I figured I better do the same!

My green thumb must have really developed this winter, because I’m also  keeping FIVE grassy plants alive by our front door!  And four of them were Luca’s grandma’s plants that were left outside to die for three years and I miraculously managed to bring back to life.  One of the girls I worked with at AlbaBarolo gave me a beautious pink-flowered plant as a going away present.  It’s so cheerful!

One of the girls I worked with at AlbaBarolo gave me a pink-flowered plant as a going away present.  It’s so cheerful!


bookmooch_logo.gifI finally found an international book swap!!  Yahoo!!!  I only have ten books to share, but I’m going to try to convince Luca’s mom to let me add her vast collection of Italian romance novels so that we can bring in a bigger crowd.  So excited!

 In other news, I planted some pumpkins this weekend!  I’ll take pictures tomorrow.  I planted the seeds a few weeks ago and they’re growing like weeds!!  The ten seedlings no longer fit in my window planter, so I went out to “the back 40” (scene of last year’s tragic “sundried tomato” experience) and started pulling out weeds.  Unfortunately, smshovel.jpgmy brand spanking new shovel purchased last season appears to have gone missing.  (I secretly think that Zio must have stolen it!)  So, I was forced to till the entire plot with a spade. 

Good exercise.  All I have to say is “Thank God for the high-tech gardening gloves Aunt Joan gave me last year!”

I also felt the need to build a tent for my seedlings after last year’s fiasco.  Our plot of garden gets full sun from 8am to 7pm and I know pumpkins are hardy and all, but they just look so hot out there.  I’m sure all the local farmers are getting a good laugh out of my make-shift shade producing apparatus.  But they won’t be laughing when they see the super humongous pumpkins growing in a couple weeks!  MWUAHAHAHAH. 

And, I know the planting season is technically over, but today I bought more seeds.  I can’t help myself!  I’m addicted.  It gives me sshovel.jpguch satisfaction when the the seeds grow into little plants!  I’m starting research for an asparagus patch.  I hear it’s a major undertaking, but I love asparagus.  Definitely need to invest the 14 euro for the right shovel (pictured bottom right) for that adventure.

The Adventures of an Italian Laundress: Part I

Deluxe StendiToday’s word is: Asciugabiancheria (pron. Ah shoo-gah bee ahnk-air-eeyah).  The Italian/English dictionary defines asciugabiancheria as “clothes horse”.  However, I tried using the word out in everyday conversation and it turns out that it doesn’t mean the kind of clothes horse I was thinking about (i.e.  a person with a penchant for hording attractive attire).  

Asciugabiancheria actually refers to…well… any means of drying clothing.  “How many ways are there?,” you might ask.  MoreStendi Techno than you might imagine.  It amazes me how uninterested the Italian population is in modern technology.  Dryers exist almost exclusively in public laundromats.  That’s right folks, can we say, “Clothes Line”?!  I’d have to say that probably 90% if not more of Italians hang their clothes up to dry on either the oldfashioned clothesline or the slightly more modern “clothes horse” pictured above left (also referred to as a stendibiancheria).  This is actually a deluxe model.  The one I have is a sort of folding table with a series of evenly-spaced dowels instead of the tabletop.

This technologically advanced version on the right is another drying option, though I’m not sure if it ever became popular.  It guarantees dry clothes in 1-2 hours and warms the atmosphere at the same time!  

 But this is just the beginning of doing laundry in Italy…