Thursday, June 27, 2013

summer bounty

Homemade ketchup, just in time for 4th of July
My lemons
Summer is in full swing, and aside from working too much, I'm back to playing around with the incredible bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available here during the sunny summer months.

Apricot and greek yogurt coffee cake
 The tons of fresh tomatoes sitting in crates on the terrace make great stars in homemade ketchup, which I made by following this recipe, but adding spices like cumin, coriander seed and turmeric.  The apricots from my neighbor were amazing in an apricot coffee cake from one of my favorite blogs, topped with a Greek yogurt and egg custard.  The fresh mint and lemon balm in the garden made a great iced tea with fresh ginger and thyme honey.  The chives, basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary?  Chopped fine, mixed with local olive oil, lemon and Dijon mustard for an easy vinaigrette.

Just when I'd made a significant dent in the produce I'd acquired this week, a nice older man from the village stopped me in front of work.  
"Do you want two lemons from my garden? I just went and picked them."
No one can refuse that, and despite my refusals, he left me all the lemons he had just picked, leaving me with a future filled with limoncino.  It's my own fault, as I forgot that often when Italians say "two" of something, they really mean "some".  Like the first time a woman ordered due fragole after dinner, and I walked away, thinking that it was odd she was so specific.  I chopped up the two requested strawberries and brought them back to the table.  She looked at me and her tiny plate of dessert blankly and asked me what in the world I brought her.  I responded, confused, that she had asked for two strawberries.  Lesson learned, Christine.

Regardless, it's nice to have so much fresh produce at hand, even if it means spending a little more time every day planning on how to eat it all.  Thankfully, I've gotten over my fear of canning, and there are more experiments on the horizon.

mint lemon tea and herb vinaigrette

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Container free!

Helicopters have been swooping back and forth from the parking lot here in Fegina (by the soccer field) to up atop the mountain dividing the village, bringing up supplies as they rebuild the walls that crumbled down from the convent above. The containers that lined Via Fegina leading up to the tunnel to the Old Town have finally been removed, as most of the work has been completed and the slip stabilized.  It's a nice feeling, watching the containers trekked one by one out of the village.
The work isn't yet done, but the part requiring protection for the people walking underneath has finished and Padre Renato and his brothers on top of the hill do need all the help that they can get.  Though the local kids are doing their part with lemonade stands and even stands selling local herbs in the piazza, you can help out as well.  The site of the convent is located here in English, with more photos of the landslide, ongoing construction, and the history of this little part of paradiso.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How does her garden grow!

Manuel very sweetly gifted me with a garden for my birthday last weekend.  We don't have any outdoor space except for our little terrace, and as I came home from work on my birthday, I walked outside to walls covered in planters full of herbs and vegetables and fruits.  I've long wanted to get into gardening, but not actually having a single square inch of dirt to plant in really hampered that desire.  There is just something about life in Liguria that makes me want to be more hands on.  Maybe it's because so many people grow things or make things themselves, but it makes me want to try too.  Mushroom foraging? A dream of mine.  So is the wine harvest this year.  
These are things that are so normal with the seasons here, but so unique and interesting to me.  Though foraging and harvesting might still be a little far off for me, I certainly can water some plants.
Today, thanks to a bit of sun, I enjoyed the fruits of our labor, eating a summer salad with fresh fruit from the market and kumquats from our little garden.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Infiorata 2013

Sunday was one of my favorite days of the year - the festival of the Infiorata here in Monterosso which celebrates the Catholic holiday of Corpus Domini.  I've posted on it before in more detail, which you can see here, but every year the flower mosaic designs change, covering the winding streets of the Old Town with flower petals, sand, and oddly enough, coffee grinds (for borders and dark colors).  And incredibly enough, it didn't rain!