Category Archives: Food

From The Grill In Tuscany

An evening meal grilled on the barbecue is an exceptionally fine way to ease into an evening of together whilst holidaying in Tuscany. The weather here has become so warm even the crickets and cicadas have gone silent. In these surreal travel times we find ourselves eating in for our trip. Of course this was the plan. To simply find a bolthole we could set up home in for a wee time.

Thankfully, one of us loves to cook! And he’s rather spectacular when it comes to Italian cuisine. I refer to him as the Italo-food-phile. Let me take you through some simple Italian style dishes we feasted on last night. Perhaps there’s one for you? All these dishes can be also be done in a pan or roasted in the oven.

First job, heat the charcoal grill! Then the zucchini’s are added. These have been cut length wise in quarters and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt and pepper. As the foodie started the cooking I joined him with the topped glasses, it seemed the supportive thing on a Saturday night to do :). And quite frankly the setting does demand it! Look at that view. Obviously we left dry July in Holland.

Next up the radicchio. Drizzled in EVOO and grilled on the BBQ. Once cooked topped with balsamic to serve. Slightly bitter, crunchy, delicious and full of goodness for health.

The Chicken. These pieces had been mixed with garlic, rosemary (from the garden, goodness) and lemon juice, the mixing perhaps half an hour before the cooking. You could prepare earlier and leave in the fridge.

When in Italy – tomatoes of course! With a little salad, parmigiano  and topped with EVOO and balsamic (of course). We did plan to add roasted peppers but forgot!

Served with bread for soaking the flavour and leftover sauce from the bottom of the plate! Perhaps we would have eaten in local restaurants some evenings in different times. We ventured out for gelato one evening this week. The town was quiet, many restaurants and bars empty. It’s hard to know how busy this town would normally be as we are off the tourist grid but I imagine there would be some tourism. Tourism which as yet hasn’t returned.

It’s a treat to eat under the golden light with the local town in view. In normal times we’d be campervanning in summer. Today we talked of many things and of the  freedom of the van. In this heat we’d probably have moved towards the mountains to cool down at night. There’s a lot of delicious food and much food for thought this trip! Or is this a collective time of considering where we all are? You, me our friends and families.

Where we are now and where we want to be. It seems the time and place for pondering and feeling grateful for good things. And of good things, thankfully, a cool breeze arrived this evening. Hopefully, combined with another day of hiking in this Tuscan landscape sleep will come easily tonight. And also to my friends and family in Melbourne in this time of great unease they may be finding themselves in. An unease that’s a little with me too because of my love for them.

#writingstreak

#underthetuscansun

#ladocevita

 

 

 

Another Tuscan Day. Another Tuscan Door.

Another Tuscan day, another Tuscan door. This one into the kitchen. Sometimes we don’t know what it is we need until we go on a treasure hunt. In one door or out another. And there are many, many ways to hunt for treasure.

Yesterday I hiked in the bush and up the hill. There was treasure there. I felt the deep joy a hike brings me. Not the flat Dutch walk kind hike, but the gritty, rocky path, up hills, down hills kind of hike. So many good thoughts, ideas and vibes out there on the trail. I miss it. I need to find ways to do more of it.

This month I wrote every day. There was treasure there. All the little daily sprinkles of gold and of course the solid nugget. I’ve graduated from writing here every day to writing 1,667 words (a chapter) a day of my camino story.

I ran every day for 140 days. There was treasure there. I ran through the beginning of and then the quarantine period of a global pandemic. It kept me moving forward. It guaranteed the circulation of the hormones I would need to get through this time and arrive sturdily at the other end.

On a whim I decided to cook a book. This one. Rome. Centuries In An Italian Kitchen. (This photo is my home kitchen not the Tuscan kitchen I’m currently in.) There is treasure in following whims. Would I have been as drawn to Tuscany if I hadn’t begun project The Italian Kitchen at my house? Would I realise the doorway into the kitchen would  be the door I needed to walk into to find a familiar friend. Simplicity. Food has felt heavy for me for a while. I’m not always kind to myself with food. I needed to find a simpler way, a lighter way.

Breakfast was melon with prosciutto. Oh my, this is a spectacular flavour balance. And so easy. Every mouthful heaven. We don’t need to cook like a masterchef contestant to create beautiful food. We can do that too by keeping things simple.

(Sorry for this one Sue).

A belief in something. There’s treasure there. We all have different ways in which we make sense of the world and create our meaning. I look for the coincidences. The synchronous happenings and I do like to wonder what the animals who arrive on my path mean.

I was stung by a wasp a few days ago. I sat on it. Oh la la that’s a painful experience, and then it’s a really bloody itchy one. And I was stung not once! But twice. The second as I shoo it from my stinging with pain butt cheek. I was a bit lacking in direction and motivation this afternoon I went in search of what the arrival of a wasp might mean.

“Wasp symbolism is reminding you that merely thinking about your dreams will not make them a reality as quickly as going out and doing it. In other words, this spirit animal insists that you make a plan. Then you must keep working towards it and let nothing get in your way. Similar to the Snail, the Wasp meaning says that goals require perseverance, desire, and action. Thus you must apply your passion to the reality you wish to achieve!

Wasp symbolism is letting you know that resistance to change by definition, is self-sabotage. Therefore it’s time to allow yourself the notion that all things are possible and that you deserve to have all your dreams come true. The Wasp meaning asks you to be the best you can be!” Spirit Animals.

Now friends I’m a bit tired after a few nights of reduced sleep. It’s rather hot here (36 degrees) for one from the Nth. I know! I’ve gone soft since leaving Australia. And I’m tempted to do nothing. Which is of course completely fine. I already skipped a training run this week. But I had to take note of the wasp symbolism!

Like someone who needs AA I need my streaks. Do nothing about my creative dreams when it’s challenging and it’s a slippery slope. I need to keep the fire burning. If I don’t I fear it will all simply fall away. I need to be accountable. The streak has proven in this phase of my life to be the key for me. It takes me beyond simply thinking about the dream.

So I fired up the keyboard. Snapped a photo of the kitchen door and popped in here to write. From here I know I will continue moving in the right direction because the writing is part of the plan, it’s the work I need to do to realise the dream.

Also I’ve been undecided about ending this streak because I still need it. I need the rhythm, the process, the courage it takes to try, the risk (to find my limits) and of course the treasure.

In writing here today the simple answer (the treasure) appears. I will simply do either or. Write here or write a chapter. I need both doors to remain open. One where I write a story from the past and one where I write a myself into the story of my future.

Thanks for being here. Silently and sometimes with comments. Both are fine. Both are appreciated. You are appreciated. There are never expectations. I hope my whimsy today reminds you to go digging for treasure if you’re in need of some magic.

#writingstreak

The Simplicity Of Tuscany.

It all begins when the shutters are opened and the morning arrives into the room. Waking with the sweet luxury of not knowing or needing to know the time. There was a hint it was later than it felt but only if you looked. Sun visible through edges of the window frames. Each day here in Tuscany I’m reminded of  a certain way of living, of choosing a life of simplicity. Of where I can cut back further.

Breakfast.

Lunch.

Dinner.

Three meals. Fresh salad. Vegetables picked from a jar. Meat finely sliced. Mostly local. Perhaps not the avocado. All three with the same condiments. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Italian), Balsamic Vinegar (Modena, from the closest province) pepper and salt.

I ask you this question … if you could choose two condiments other than salt and pepper what would they be? For me these two are it. The excess on the plate is soaked with local day old bread. Hard because preservatives are not added.

An afternoon aperitivo to relax into the time between when the day is finished and the evening starts. Another day of writing. A chapter added. Twenty eight to go. I can do it though. I showed myself. Today is the 30th day of blog writing, little letters in your inbox.

Not all days are smooth there was a double wasp sting last night. Me. Painful, I share this with you. Painful. Glad for ice treats in the freezer to numb the bites. Watch where you sit in Tuscany I warn you. All resolved now, just the mozzie bites still itch.

Once I publish this post the evening will begin. The time to tidy, organise, sit, chat and eat. It’s a bbq tonight. The music will play and the joking about when mum sat on a wasp, screamed and ripped her clothes off will begin!

I am glad for simple things. For a live of simplicity.  For having the courage to let go of the guilt I used to feel when I used my time to write. It’s a beautiful hobby and it is this hobby that brought this dream of simplicity to us.

#writingstreak

#day30of31

#choosesimplicity

#itallstartedthere

 

 

 

Sun Kissed In Tuscany.

Behind the brown shutters are windows and doors with bright red frames. Opening these are how a sun kissed morning begins in Tuscany. Closing them after a long and late night spent eating and chatting is how evenings in Tuscany end.

Food that is grown under kiss of the sun makes for a perfect lunch. There’s a flavour that can’t be ignored. And a reminder of how simple one’s lunch can be.

Herbs for the kitchen, grown in the  garden are illuminated by the kiss of the sun.

A healthy glow and contented manner,  the evidence of a sun kissed boy’s day of play.

A house built to withstand the kiss of the sun. Terracotta tiles on the floor and in the ceiling, thick walls of concrete and brick archways.

The kiss of the sun willing a writer to write on. A day spent in the first 13,000 words of a story. A memoir of a long walk and a time leading towards this life now. A time where questions were asked, actions were taken and the leap of faith that happened. The Tuscan sun enabling the needs of all to be met and comfort to the writer when the doubts set in. The power of his kiss is strong. Write, write he assertively guides. Now is the time. It matters not if the written words see me, the light of day. It matters they are written. That the writer writes the story. For her. Her story.

 

*edited to change her to him, my instinct was that the sun is a more masculine energy and a little note from a friend confirmed this. xx

#writingstreak

#day29/31

#writingon

#writingthrough

#writing

#ishibernationcalling

#thewindsarechanging

 

 

 

A Thing That Completes Me.

Did you know it was Dutch growers who cultivated the orange carrot? True. It was a tribute to William of Orange who led the struggle for Dutch independence against the Spanish in the 1500s. Traditionally carrots where yellow, white or purple. It’s not just colourful tulips here!

One thing I miss from Australia is the way they do food. It’s fresh, flavoursome and tasty! We love food in Aussie. Our deliciously migrant inspired cuisine. How many Masterchef series are we up to? It’s also easy to have a little food adventure with local growers. Farmers markets are a real thing. And there are many small scale, big love for organic practices farmers and farmhers doing exciting things. I’ve popped in on garlic farmhers, pasturised chicken farmhers and market garden farmers.

Produce here is a bit bland, maybe it’s because a lot of our produce comes from outside our borders. And humans have developed a taste for ‘out of season’ food. If we are eating berries here in winter, aargh they’re travelling a LONG way. Typically the Dutch aren’t foodies. In all honesty you don’t come to Holland for the food scene. Ok except for the chips and mayo! This is excellent.

I have been perplexed about food here. We have similar topography and climate to Denmark and yet they do far tastier food. The Dutch are growers. Huge growers. In fact they are the second largest food producer in the world. Last year the agri export industry was worth 94.5 billion euros. Punching way about their weight this tiny country, feeding the masses. Remember this country is half the size of Tassie with a population of 17.8 million (Aussie is 25 mil).

Even the markets often sell imports from all over world. I can buy NZ kiwis here most of the year. I don’t obvs because food miles. One of my goals this year was to get better at knowing where my food comes from. During my hikes through Holland I have seen many interesting farms complete with the farm gate, my favourite. By walking across this country I’ve seen there’s a local food movement. I just have to start tapping into it. And how I love the notion of walking across countries, best way to know one and actual most authentic form of slow travel in my mind.

I was super excited when my friend sent me the link to crisp.nl. They’re an online food delivery company whose mission is to sell quality food direct from the growers and producers to consumers. So easy. Simply down load the ap. order and the next night it’s one the door. I’ve only had one delivery but I really noticed the difference in food quality and taste. And the packaging was fairly minimal on the plastic which pleases me greatly.

I did ask about returning the delivery boxes to reuse but as yet that doesn’t happen. It’s a problem in process, hopefully a solution will follow. I think I may also raise the idea of wonky fruit. The fruit the farmers can’t sell because it doesn’t look perfect. I’d be interested in buying that. It didn’t seem a lot more expensive than the supermarket.

I really admire young start ups that seek to create something with meaning. Here they are trying to build a business based on supporting local farmers. I had contact via whats ap with then prior to my delivery and after. It was so personal, so positive and so tech convenient. Lol. I wish I had the energy of these entrepreneurs. Yeah this little find, this way of purchasing food, of knowing the farmer it is surely one of the things that makes me feel complete.

Tell me a little story of something that completes you if you like, if you have time. It’s actually is a nice way to smile inside and I’d like to know you a bit more. :)

#writingstreak

#day24/31

#justkeepwriting

#wontgiveup

#evenwheni’mblank

#showingup