Friday, December 21, 2012

Today, after I returned home from visiting my Mom, I fixed a Bailey’s and coffee, grabbed a few sugar cookies, put my feet up and watched one of my favorite movies.I had a completely, totally, absolutely relaxing afternoon, finally.
The movie was one of my very favorites, Something’s Gotta Give. Even though I have seen it a dozen times, I watched it again. Not only is it fun and entertaining with a great soundtrack,  I love the cast, I love the story, I love the locations and I love the humor. Spending the afternoon with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, Frances McDormand (and the Bailey’s) was just what I needed!
The beautiful beach in the Hamptons made the snow outside my window seem not so cold and difficult. And the house on the beach was a dream. It was all shades of white, with a blue and creamy white striped rug, and magnificent paintings! I bet I could write a much better blog if I had a desk in my bedroom overlooking the white sand beach just like Diane’s. .............Diane Keaton did solve one of my dilemmas.... it has to do with sleeping alone in a bed made for two.

I mentioned our snow....first we had rain, then about 3 inches of snow that was whipped into deep drifts by 40 mile an hour winds. I don’t mind snow as long as I can get the car out of the garage and it doesn’t interfere with my schedule. But this morning Zeus the Moose and I went out for a walk....that changed my idea of snow. We made it across the street and suddenly Zeus was up to his chin in a drift. Did he bound out of the cold white stuff? Did he leap with joy across the neighborhood? No.....he burrowed down and proceeded to cry....more like a whimper. Poor little guy, he had snow and ice packed around the little pads of his feet. His little paws were freezing! He had had enough of the White Christmas thing. I carried him home.

It looks like Mom will not be joining the family for our annual Christmas Eve celebration at Tom and Vicki’s house. As a matter of fact, Mom has already stated she is not going to be there. We will miss her terribly. Mom taught us all how to have a perfect Christmas. She and Dad made sure that Ann, Tom and I had fairytale holidays as children and continued to perform the same Christmas miracles with her 8 grandchildren and then her 15 great grandchildren. The little lady has always been amazing. We will all take turns visiting her, a few at a time. Hopefully we can give her a memorable Christmas.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. Be safe, be happy. I shall return with the New Year.
Buon Natale!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I am a true cheese lover. As the old saying goes ”Never met one I didn’t love”. So, yesterday when the Smithsonian eMagazine arrived on my screen, I was enthralled!
Check it out.

"December 12, 2012
New Discovery of 7000-Year-Old Cheese Puts Your Trader Joe’s Aged Gouda to Shame

New evidence indicates cheese was invented as far back as 5000 BCE, although ancient cheeses wouldn’t have been as varied or refined as the cheeses we have today.

My note: Sadly, I had to look up what BCE stood for. I knew BC stood for “Before Christ”, but the E was new to me. Here it is….”The meaning of AD is Anno Domini or Year of our Lord referring to the year of Christ’s birth. The meaning of BC is Before Christ. CE is a recent term. It refers to Common Era and is used in place of A.D. BCE means Before Common Era.”

Are you still confused? Could it possibly be another attempt to “not offend anyone”?

Back to cheese…..
Archaeologists have long known that cheese is an ancient human invention. Wall murals in Egyptian tombs from 2000 BCE depict cheesemaking, and Sumerian tablets written in cuneiform text (? okay, I'm confused again) seem to describe cheese as well. Our distant ancestors, it seems clear, knew about the wonder that is cheese.

Today, though, cheese lovers have cause to celebrate: New evidence indicates that the invention of the utterly delicious and at times stinky product actually came thousands of years earlier. As described in a paper published today in Nature, chemical analysis of prehistoric pottery unearthed from sites in Poland shows that cheesemaking was invented way farther back than originally believed—roughly 7000 years ago.
A team of researchers from the University of Bristol, Princeton and a group of Polish universities came to the finding by examining an unusual group of artifacts from the Polish sites: clay shards that were pierced with a series of small holes. Struck by their resemblance to in modern-day cheese strainers, they chemically tested the material around the holes, and were vindicated to find ancient traces of the kinds of lipids and fatty acids found in dairy products. These ceramics are attributed to what archaeologists call the Linear Pottery culture, and are dated to 5200 to 4900 BCE.
Researchers tested these perforated ceramic fragments and found ancient dairy residues, indicating they were used as cheese strainers.
“The presence of milk residues in sieves, which look like modern cheese-strainers, constitutes the earliest direct evidence for cheesemaking,” said lead author Mélanie Salque of the University of Bristol in a statement. “So far, early evidence for cheesemaking were mostly iconographic, that is to say murals showing milk processing, which dates to several millennia later than the cheese strainers.”

Although different cheeses are made by a variety of processes, nearly all start with the separation of milk into liquid whey and solid curds. This is typically accomplished by adding bacteria to the milk, along with rennet (a mix of enzymes produced in animal stomachs), then straining out the liquid from the newly-coagulated curds. These perforated pots, then, seem like they were used to strain out the solids.

The researchers also analyzed other pottery fragments from the site. Several unperforated bowls also had traces of dairy residues, indicating they might have been used to store the curds or whey after separation. They also found remnants of fats from cow carcasses in some of the ceramics, along with beeswax in others, suggesting they were used to cook meat and sealed to store water, respectively. Apart from being capable of making a complex food product like cheese, it seems that these ancient people also created different types of specialized ceramics for different purposes.

The authors of the paper believe this ancient cheese making goes a long way in explaining a mystery: why humans bothered to domesticate cows, goats and sheep thousands of years ago, rather than eating their wild ancestors, even though genetic evidence indicates that we hadn’t yet evolved the ability to digest lactose, and thus couldn’t drink milk. Since cheese is so much lower in lactose than milk, they say, figuring out how to make it would have provided a means for unlocking milk’s nutritional content, and gave prehistoric humans incentive to raise these animals over a long period of time, instead of slaughtering them for their meat immediately. Making cheese also gave these people the ability to preserve the nutritional content, since milk spoils much more quickly.

That leaves one more pressing question—what did this ancient cheese actually taste like? Without abundant access to salt or knowledge of the refined heating and ripening processes that are necessary for the variety of cheese we have today, it’s likely that the first cheeses were pretty bland and liquidy. Like ancient Egyptian cheeses, these were probably comparable in texture and taste to cottage cheese, Salque and colleagues noted" So, it all boils down to this....the origin of cheese is probably what is now Poland?  All I really care about is, yes, we have cheese!  So, as you are putting together a lovely cheese selection for your holiday  Christmas party, remember cows, sheep and goats have been working hard  for 7000 years so you could enjoy cheese.

Monday, December 10, 2012

So I returned to blog again, then I disappeared. My Mom has been very ill. She is a little better, but we had to move her to the Care Center and then empty her apartment,  so time has been a difficult thing to hang on to.  Always a list of things to do....blogging never had a spot on that list.
But, I am back for now.....but way behind when it comes to our fast approaching holiday.  This may be yet another Christmas when I don't do baking, don't entertain,  don't do shopping.....time will tell.

While sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, I picked up a copy of an Italian cooking magazine.  I was pleased to find an article on cicchetti.
Cicchetti (chee-keh-tee)
What a great word….cicchetti…..In Italy, particularly Venice, there are very special places where you can go to get cicchetti. You can also get an ombra. Getting an ombra and some cicchetti is a good thing!

So here is the scoop….both of these things are available to you if you go to Italy and find a bàcaro.  A bà a small place that sells ombra, a small glass of wine and cicchetti, little bites of wonderful food, not unlike the small plates we are becoming familiar with here in the United States. Cicchetti is the Italian relative of the Spanish tapas.

Bàcari are small, dark establishments, down dark little side streets where you can go get a simple little plate of food and a glass of wine, something to hold you over until dinner time, which is much later than here in America. Actually you could go there and get the same to hold you over until lunch! Maybe even breakfast! They are open all day!

The wine is always local, and the food is always as fresh as it comes. The idea of the Slow Food movement was born in Italy. Always fresh, always local, always sustainable.

Are you wondering what kind of cicchetti you might find in a bàcaro ?
Try these….and of course, don’t forget the ombra.

Polenta Bites with Caramelized Mushrooms
about 50 spoonfuls

Polenta Bites with Caramelized Mushrooms
photograph by Napa Style

For the polenta:
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup polenta
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

For the mushrooms:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound button or cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
Finely ground salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

Cook the polenta: In a medium, heavy pot over high heat bring the cream, stock, salt, and nutmeg to a boil. Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly. When the mixture thickens, switch to a wooden spoon and adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring often, until thick, smooth, and creamy, about 15 minutes. Add the Parmesan and stir. Keep the polenta warm over low heat, stirring occasionally. If the polenta gets dry as it sits, stir in about 1/4 cup of warm stock or cream.
Saute the mushrooms: In a medium skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the mushrooms in a single layer. Don't stir them! Let them sizzle until they have caramelized on the bottom, about 2 minutes. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss them once and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to cook without stirring for about 5 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the butter and cook until it begins to brown, then add the garlic. Continue to cook until the garlic begins to brown. Add the thyme and cook for about 10 seconds. Add the lemon juice and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the wine, and simmer until the mushrooms are glazed with the sauce. Add the parsley. Then stir and remove the pan from the heat.
Place or pipe about 1 tablespoon of warm polenta onto a spoon. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the mushroom on top of the polenta. Garnish with grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Polpette (Meat Croquettes)
1/2 cup milk
2 slices white sandwich bread
1 1/2 lb. ground veal or pork
2 cups mashed potatoes
2/3 cup finely chopped parsley
8 eggs
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup flour
1 cup plain bread crumbs

Pour milk over bread in a bowl; let soak for 10 minutes. Squeeze bread to drain milk; discard milk. Place bread in a bowl and mix with veal, potatoes, parsley, 4 eggs, garlic, and salt and pepper. Shape mixture into about thirty 1″ balls; place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and chill. Pour oil to a depth of 2″ in a 6-qt. Dutch oven; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Place flour, remaining eggs, lightly beaten, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls. Working in batches, dredge each meatball in flour, coat in eggs, and coat in bread crumbs; fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Peperoni con Acciughe (Stuffed Cherry Peppers)

SERVES 10–12
5 oz. canned tuna in olive oil, drained
8 anchovies in oil, drained
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tbsp. capers, minced
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 32-oz. jar red, hot cherry peppers, drained, rinsed, and stemmed (jar reserved)

Finely chop tuna and anchovies; mix with 1/3 cup oil, bread crumbs, capers, parsley, and salt and pepper in a bowl; stuff each pepper with tuna mixture. Transfer to reserved jar; pour remaining oil over peppers. Chill for at least 8 hours to marinate.

I think Kay's bàcaro will have to be open one evening during the holidays. It is a great way to entertain!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Here we are....the election is over and the many ridiculous political gaffs have embarrassed us enough; it is time to think of something more Thanksgiving. Having been raised in a home with major holiday celebrations, I am quite capable of doing the whole big turkey and cornbread dressing deal....but at the request of 2 of my 3 children, we will not be having turkey. No, not this year. Instead of turkey, we will be dining on enchiladas, tamales and tacos! That is fine with me...we all love the south of the border flavors. But I have been concerned about desserts. Do I go traditional with pumpkin pie? Do I go south of the border with churros (deep fried pastry strips rolled in cinnamon and sugar)? Or do I make our nation’s very favorite....Apple Pie?

As the chef for Somerset Ridge Vineyard, I made Apple Slab Pie for several Harvest Events. I would make it in half sheet pans, usually three of them. Making traditional 9” pies to feed 80 to 100 people was simply too time consuming, and serving them would be a nightmare! Cutting squares is so much easier, and you have much better portion control. Apple Slab Pie quickly became a favorite of the harvest crews.
Conveniently, while I was planning my menu for our family dinner, King Arthur Flour’s blog was posted ( and wouldn’t you know it....their recipe for today was Apple Slab! The photographs grabbed me right of the bat. I thought that was caramel icing drizzled across the top crust, when in fact it is a cinnamon glaze. I’m debating myself on which glaze I will use....cinnamon or caramel, but I’m pretty sure caramel is going to win.
Here is their recipe and one of their photographs. If you can turn your back to them, you are a much stronger person than I!

Apple Slab

2 ½ cups King Arthur Perfect Pastry Blend Flour ( KT...or any all   purpose flour will do in a pinch)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons buttermilk powder
¼ cup vegetable shortening
10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
6 to 10 tablespoons ice water

1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or other coarse dry bread crumbs; or 1 cup coarsely crushed cornflakes
8 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Granny Smith or other tart, firm apples, about 6 large apples
2/3 cup cinnamon sugar ( KT...Use 3 to 1 ratio when making cinnamon sugar. 3 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon)

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup boiled cider* (KT...I used thawed frozen apple juice concentrate)
small pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon milk or cream, optional, if necessary to thin the glaze

*Substitute 1/3 cup honey, if desired; or 1/4 cup thawed frozen apple juice concentrate, or maple syrup

To make the crust: Whisk together the Perfect Pastry Blend Four, salt, baking powder, confectioners' sugar, and buttermilk powder.
Add the shortening, working it in till the mixture is evenly crumbly.
Cut the butter into small (about ½") cubes. Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don't be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones.
Add the 1 teaspoon vinegar and 4 tablespoons water, and toss to combine. Toss with enough additional water to make a chunky, fairly cohesive mixture. It should hold together when you gather it up and squeeze it in your hand.

Divide the dough into two pieces; one should represent about 40% of the dough, the other, about 60%. If you have a scale, this is easy; the smaller piece of dough should weigh about 8 3/4 ounces, the larger piece, about 13 1/4 ounces (if you've used about 7 to 8 tablespoons of water in the dough). If you don't have a scale and/or aren't good at math, eyeball it: the bottom crust needs to be larger than the top crust.
Shape each piece of crust into a rectangle; you're going to be rolling them into rectangles, so might as well give yourself a head start. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes, till thoroughly chilled.

Take the larger piece of pastry out of the fridge, and put it on a floured work surface. Roll it into an 11" x 15" rectangle. Don't worry about the ragged edges; they'll disappear under the top crust.
Place the crust in an ungreased 9" x 13" cake pan. Patch up any holes by pushing the pastry together with your fingers, or adding a pinch from the excess on the sides. Push the pastry up the sides of the pan a bit, to make a shallow pastry container for the apples.
Put the crust in the fridge while you get the apples ready. Start preheating your oven to 350°

Spread the bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes evenly over the crust.
Spread the sliced apples atop the crumbs.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the apples.
Roll the remaining piece of pastry into a 9" x 13" rectangle. Again, don't worry too much about ragged edges.

Lay the top crust over the apples. Yes, apples will poke through. Seal the edges of the two crusts as well as you can. There'll be places where they don't quite meet. That's OK. If the whole thing has become warm and sticky and hard to work with, pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm it up.
Just before baking, slash the crust 6 or 8 times to allow steam to escape.
Put the slab in the preheated 350°F oven, and bake it for an hour. Remove it from the oven; it'll be golden brown, and the filling should be bubbling. Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze: Combine the confectioners' sugar, boiled cider, cinnamon, salt, and enough milk or cream to make the mixture "drizzlable." Don't have boiled cider? Use plain milk or cream, maple syrup, honey, or thawed apple juice concentrate. Start with 1/4 cup of any of these; if you've made this kind of icing before, you know it's easier to add more liquid, than to try to take it away. Add enough liquid to make the glaze pourable.
Drizzle the glaze atop the slab.
Yield: 16 to 24 servings, depending on size.
KT.....if you are making the day before, do not cover or it will turn into gooey glob.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Have you ever felt like a complete fool?  I have....just last night. And all because  of Halloween.
It all started about a year ago when the cutest family moved in next door.  Mom and Dad and two of the most beautiful children I have ever see in my entire life! At the time they moved in, I had just gone through my 5th Halloween night without even one cute little Trick or Treat-er. I live in a rather quiet, fairly new area that seems to attract older, more sedate when the little family moved in  next door, I knew that Halloween 2012 would bring costumed, joyful little folks to my front door!

Two days ago I made my way to Target to purchase the candy. I had considered making my sugar cookies, but pictured them smashed into a  crumbly mess in the bottom of their loot bags, so decided to buy candy instead. I bought a giant bag of M&Ms,
Reeses and Snickers. all individually wrapped in bright colors.
Yesterday afternoon I chose just the right basket to artfully arrange the goodies in. I placed it on the table by the front door and Zeus and I sat down to wait for the doorbell to ring.
Right at 5:30, like my Grandmother Ogg's mantel clock striking to announce the half hour, the bell rang. Zeus was off like a streak, so thrilled, jumping with joy at having someone at the door.
I opened the door and there stood my two little, adorable next door neighbors, dressed in beautiful American Indian costumes. Smiles went from ear to ear, light danced in their eyes...oh my gosh, they were so precious!
Zeus greeted them with much vim and vigor, dancing around like a crazy dog, while I reached for the basket of treats. As I turned back towards them, it hit me like a bolt out of the blue! Every last treat in that basket had PEANUTS in them! How could I be so stupid? I asked the two little Indians if either of them were allergic to guessed it....sadly they looked up at me with such sad little faces and said "yes". I know my face was just as sad as theirs.  How could I do that to children? I know about the allergy to peanuts! Why didn't I think of that at Target? Why didn't I make sugar cookies?
I had intended to take their photograph, but in my sorrow at seeing those two children looking so sad, I didn't have the heart to say "Smile!"
Yes, I feel really stupid!
Today I  am making them a batch of sugar cookies.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I suppose some people hate to see the autumn leaves floating to the ground, a sure sign that winter is coming soon. While the autumn reds and golds fill my imagination with plans for some future canvas, I too dread the winter. The crisp winds, making those leaves crackle under foot, make me walk faster during my morning walks with the Mighty Zeus. They chill me to the bone; they make me dream of warm, comforting foods as we scurry back  home. How I would love to open the door to the aroma of fresh baked bread,  bacon sizzling on the griddle,  warm maple syrup....but alas, we go to the kitchen and I bring out the Kibble and Bits while Zeus does  his version of the River Dance around his little bowl. What can I life is exhilarating.

As for that fresh baked bread, the sizzling bacon, the warm maple syrup....what I really wanted after this evening's last walk of the day,was a bowl of warm creamy polenta. You know how you have a special food that just fills the bill, no matter what that bill might be? For me, it is warm creamy polenta. It always makes everything okay.

I know many people who want a comfort food from their childhood...something their mother made for them. Others want a traditional or regional food. I know a man who wants cornbread crumbled in a bowl with buttermilk poured over it. It must be an Alabama thing; I personally can't imagine that concoction making anyone feel  anything but nauseous,certainly not comforted!
Curiosity got the better of me, so I started asking around "What is your favorite comfort food?" I, of course, got the usual answers...."my Mom's potato salad", and "meatloaf and mac and cheese" and "fried chicken"....but I also got such answers as "A simple rice bowl dish called oyako donburi. It's just chicken and egg over rice, with onions and a light broth" from a Japanese woman and how about "Jaeger Schnitzel"? German, of course. So, I suppose geography has a lot to do with it. I wonder how many people here in Kansas City would answer with "Barbecue!"
What was the number one answer? You probably guessed it.....
            Grilled Cheese Sandwich  
           and Creamy Tomato Soup!
Here is a great Grilled Cheese recipe for you so when you are cold, lonely, down in the dumps, try it. It is from a blog out of  Canada
  It's called Closet Cooking.
Jalapeño Popper Grilled
Cheese Sandwich
A jalapeno popper inspired grilled cheese sandwich with roasted jalapeno peppers, cream cheese, jack and cheddar cheese and crumbled tortilla chips for a bit of crunch
2 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
  2 slices sour dough bread
  1 tablespoon butter, room temperatur
  2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
  1/2 cup jack and cheddar cheese, shredded
  1 tablespoon tortilla chips, crumbled

1.Place the peppers on a baking sheet with the cut side facing down.
2.Place the baking sheet on the top shelf in the oven and broil until the outer layer of the skin has blackened, about 8-14 minutes.
3.Place the peppers in a zip-lock bag or other sealable container, seal and let them cool until you can handle them, about 20 minutes.
4.Remove the skins from the peppers. The skins should easily "pinch" off.
5.Butter the outside of each slice of bread and spread the cream cheese on the inside. Sprinkle half of the cheese on the cream cheese of one slice of bread, top with the jalapenos, crumbled tortilla chips, the remaining cheese and finally the other slice of bread.
6.Assemble sandwich and grill until golden brown and the cheese has melted,
about 2-3 minutes per side.
Darn! I'm still thinking about Polenta!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why do they treat little old ladies like little old ladies? My 6 year old PC is about 5 year old laptop is getting more stubborn everyday. So, when I heard about the new Microsoft Surface, I thought maybe I should investigate. Well, it looks just as technical as the Apple products! You know what that means don’t you? This little old lady is going to have to learn some new tricks. I hate that.  I’ve just mastered the art of texting (almost, sort of,  except for the strange abbreviations...I'm just not clever enough) . Now I have to learn that thing with dragging things around the screen, stretching it, shrinking it, ......I’m nervous.... It seems to me that if I save and budget for several months to be able to pay for this new computer, it ought to be simple to use. Maybe I will just nurse these old Dells along for a month or so.

Great News!...the Somerset Ridge Painters are self-publishing a cookbook! There are 9 of us and I can’t imagine a more inventive bunch of women. Our intention is to publish a series of cookbooks. I think I’ve gained 10 pounds just typing the recipes! We are working fast and furiously to have our first cookbook ready for the shelves before Thanksgiving!
I can’t say any more....but stay tuned, I will tell you more very soon.

Happy Birthday Mom!
My Mom just celebrated her 94th birthday. Lots of get-togethers and some of my favorite relatives came to help her party. My sister Ann and her husband Bruce, came from North Carolina. As usual, genealogy crept into the conversation. I mentioned the old cassette tape with the interview of my grandfather saying his “mother’s people came from the Lake Como region in Northern Italy”, but that I had no luck in finding who was the first Estes to leave Italy. Ann said she remembered hearing the part about how an Estes had left Italy for Scotland after trying to invent dynamite back in the 1800s and accidentally blowing up the village there by the lake. He had to flee not only the village, not only the region, but apparently, the country! I figure if he actually blew up the village, he must have indeed invented dynamite....but credit for the invention was given to Alfred Nobel (of the “Nobel Peace Prize”) stating it was the first safely manageable explosive stronger than black powder. Ahhh, I see the difference......Just think, if he had been more careful, they would be awarding the “Estes Peace Prize”!

So, if you had just blown up a village on Lake Como in 18-hundred would you flee Italy and escape to Scotland? That is a long way to walk! Looks like I have my work cut out for me. Too bad I can’t go to certainly would  be easier.

The Tyrol

When my ancestor left Lake Como, he left behind some of the world’s greatest food. Northern Italy isn’t known for tomato sauces....not in the land of butter and cheese! The hills and mountainsides around beautiful Lago de Como are dotted with herds of dairy cattle. To the east across Northern Italy is the Tyrol, a beautiful area with an amazing blend of Italian, German and Austrian foods.


One of those foods is a smoked ham known as speck.
This recipe features pasta, speck and heavy cream.....heavenly!

Creamy Tagliatelle with Speck                       serves 4
3/4 pound fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine (store-bought is fine)
4 scallions, including some green part, cut into thin rounds
1/4 pound speck thinly sliced, and the slices chopped (see note)
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Set pasta water to boil, and when it does salt it and cook the pasta.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet and saute the scallions and the speck briefly. Stir in the cream, check seasoning, and keep the sauce warm until the pasta is done.
Drain the pasta when it's done, and turn it into the skillet. Turn the heat up to high and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Serve at once.
Note: purists will frown, but you can use either lean pancetta or bacon (thinly sliced, and low in sugar) if you cannot find speck. If you use bacon, crisp it briefly and drain away some of the fat before adding it to the scallions because bacon is fattier than speck.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker