Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

As I have said before, I read many, MANY blogs from around the world. I spend at least an hour everyday reading blogs about food, traditions, painting and genealogy.  Those are my interests, what can I say.
So often, a blog will be perfect....something that rings a bell, says exactly what I wish I had said....or teaches me something new
Today, I woke up to a new posting from Dianne Hales of Becoming Italian, Word by Word. In her blog, Dianne teaches us how to speak, or at least understand, the Italian language.  Her posting today explains how New Years came to be.....leave it to the Italians! (or should I say, to the Romans!) I hope you enjoy this excerpt from her blog.

Buon Anno! Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve as we know it was an invention of the ancient Romans. In 153 B.C. they moved the start of the new year from the Spring equinox to January 1 and dedicated the first month of the year to Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings, who looks back toward the old year and ahead toward the new one.

For six days, Romans celebrated by hanging lights, preparing lavish banquets, and decorating their houses with boughs of greenery, including holly and mistletoe (considered magical plants because they bore fruit in the dead of winter). The Romans gave each other glass jars filled with dates and dried figs in honey so the new year would be sweet and full of good fortune. These offerings, called strenne from the Sabine goddess of prosperity, Strenia, were the predecessors of the presents we now exchange at Christmas.

Italians refer to New Year’s Eve by its liturgical name, la Festa di San Silvestro, the feast of St. Sylvester, a fourth-century pope. Traditionally families and friends share a huge dinner called il cenone (literally the big supper). Lentils, symbols of prosperity because they resemble coins, are almost always on the menu, often served with pork, another symbol of the richness of life.

Tuscans eat lentils with cotechino, a big pork sausage cut like coins. Italians in Bologna and Modena eat them with zampone, or pig’s trotter. In Piedmont, rice symbolizes money, so a cenone is sure to include risotto. Raisins, another symbol for coins, appear in desserts throughout the peninsula.

In a relatively recent tradition, couples give each gifts of red underwear—a color that wards off the malocchio (Evil Eye) and a symbol of love, prosperity, and fertility. Traditionally Italians wear these special undies only once and throw them away after New Year’s eve.

That’s not all that Italians toss out. In order to make room for the new, they once literally threw old brooms, dishes, even furniture out the window. (Kay here....can you say "Redecorating Time!") Regulations now prohibit this dangerous dumping, but the practice continues in some parts of Naples and the South.
After the evening feast, most Italian cities throw a big party under the stars with music, dancing, and fireworks. Italy’s equivalent of Times Square in New York is the Piazza del Popolo in Rome. Huge crowds gather for an outdoor concert and a magnificent midnight fireworks display. The favored drink is spumante or prosecco, Italian sparkling wine, for a toast (brindisi) when the clock strikes twelve.
Whether public or private, il Veglione di Capodanno (the New Year’s party) typically lasts all night. As they head home at the dawn of Capodanno (New Year’s Day), weary revelers watch the first sunrise—and look out for the first person they see in the newborn year. According to ancient traditions, an old man or a hunchbacked person carries good luck, while a child or a priest brings bad luck in the upcoming year.
Words and Expressions
Il conto alla rovescia -- the countdown to midnight (meno 10, meno 9, meno 8, meno 7 ...)
I botti di capodanno -- New year’s firecrackers and fireworks
“Anno nuovo, vita nuova” -- new Year, new life (let’s make a fresh start)
i buoni propositi per l’anno nuovo -- New Year resolutions, such as smettere di fumare (to stop smoking), mettersi a dieta (to go on a diet), and iscriversi in palestra (to join a gym).
Dianne Hales is the author of LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.
Please visit her blog!

I suppose I should pass on one more recipe for the year. I've thought it over and had trouble narrowing it down to just one. It has to be a recipe that screams CELEBRATION! That made me remember the greatest New Year's Eve I ever had. It was just Arch and me, at home, fire in the fireplace, Ella Fitsgerald singing softly in the background, tv on mute waiting for the ball to drop. On our plates?  Arch's now famous Blackeyed Peas and warm corbread dripping with butter!  So, once again, here it is....the only way for me to celebrate New Year's Eve......
Arch's Blackeyed Peas with Ham Hocks

6 Servings

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
3 cups water
3 meaty ham hocks
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
additional salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
· Sort the peas, removing any broken ones or rocks; rinse well and place in a large saucepan.
· Cover with water, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.
· Let the peas sit for at least 1 hour; drain.
· Return the peas to the pan and add the water;
· Bring the peas to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until the peas are almost tender, 1-2 hours.
· Add the remaining ingredients and simmer covered until the beans are very soft and tender, checking periodically to make sure there is enough water.
· About 15 minutes before serving, remove the ham hocks from the mixture; remove the meat from the hocks, chop, and add back in to the peas.
· Taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground pepper if necessary.
· Simmer for about 10 more minutes, then serve.
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

For those of you who know me well, you will laugh at this next recipe.  Those of you who do not know me personally will have to understand I am "addicted" to Cheetos.  When I saw this recipe on the Saveur Magazine's blog, I had to laugh. Can you imagine Brocolli with Cheetos? Me either, but here it is!

Broccoli with Cheetos

2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. minced shallots
6 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups grated aged Gouda
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt, to taste
1 1/4 lbs. (about 2 large heads) broccoli, cut into small florets, stems cut crosswise into 1/4″ slices
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 cups original Cheetos, crushed by hand

Make the cheese sauce: Heat cream, 2 tbsp. garlic, shallots, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in cheeses until melted, and season with salt. Set a fine strainer over a small saucepan and strain sauce, discarding solids. Set aside and keep warm.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add broccoli and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain broccoli, transfer to a bowl of ice water, and let chill. Drain and transfer to paper towels to dry; set aside. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining garlic and chile flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add broccoli and cook, stirring often, until just subtly browned, about 6 minutes.
To serve, spoon cheese sauce evenly among 6 warm serving bowls or small plates. Top sauce with broccoli and a generous sprinkling of Cheetos. Serve immediately.

Here are my personal thoughts.....I would eat that sauce on everything!  I would even add the crushed cheetos to it......maybe. As for the broccoli, I can't eat it, so, no broccoli. But, I have to admit, I can see this happening...strange, but true!

Here are several of the reviews of the recipe from Saveur:

"Seriously? A recipe with Cheetos - out of the bag - puts a dent in Saveur's credibility "

"The inventor of Cheetos has to be lovin this one!!! So if you haven't tried it don't knock it. It was absolutely delicious :>) "

I'll be darned! Visit the Saveur webpage for wonderful recipes, including those with Cheetos.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Country Club Plaza Lights

    Merry Christmas from Kansas City!

 Writing a food blog has several advantages, one being you are read by other food bloggers and are accepted into a sort of sorority of foodies.

This week, I have received so many Christmas greetings from around the world, each wishing me a Merry Christmas in a foreign language. I received 7 from Italy wishing me a Buon Natale! 2 from France with messages of Joyeux Noël! A Spanish wish for a Feliz Navidad, and I must not forget
a Munter Jul from Sweden!
I realize this recipe is a little late, unless you read this blog tonight and just happen to have the ingredients and the evening free. The dough needs to be refrigerated overnight, so you will bake them tomorrow! (I've added some American equivalents
where needed, they are in red)

Swedish Pepparkakor
("Pepper cakes"...these cookies contain black pepper)
1 cup (2 dl) water
1/2 cup (1 dl) syrup (molasses)
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of ground cloves
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon of bicarbonate (baking soda)
10.5 oz (300 gr) butter (1 1/3 cups)
2.5 cups (5 dl) sugar
7.5 cups or about 1 lb. (1.5 liters) flour

HOW TO DO IT: Mix butter, sugar and syrup. Add spices and bicarbonate, then water and finally part of the flour.
Mix in the rest of the flour.

Let the dough sit over night, wrapped in foil in the fridge.
Roll the dough as thin as possible using flour.

Cut out figures - preferable Christmas figures, hearts, stars etc.
Bake in oven for about 5 minutes at 200-225 degrees C (400-425 degrees F).

Watch it! They burn fast once they start.
You can get about 300 cookies, depending on how big you make them. It is nice to make some quite big hearts, decorated with frosting and maybe hang them up in the window.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Help Save Kansas City Jazz!

December 23, 2011.Time  7:00pm until 11:00pm..Description Kansas City's talented musicians have recently lost three music venues in the last few weeks. Let's come together this Friday to support the important live music scene in Kansas City. You are invited to enjoy the debut of Jazz & Wine in the Castle with the Steve Cardenas and Stan Kessler Quartet.

Dec.23, 8pm, Two shows

Renee Kellys' Caenen Castle , 12401 Johnson Dr. Shawnee Ks.

$5 Cover--Doors open at 7pm

Sponsored by Chef Renee Kelly and Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery

Steve Cardenas-Guitar, world renowned KC native

Stan Kessler-Trumpet

Gerald Spaits-Bass, KC veteran & 1st call musician

Brian Steever-Drums, brilliant young talent

See yoy there!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tonight is the night!
Opening celebration of a show of paintings by David Gross and yours truly.

I would love to see you at ARTichokes Gallery tonight between 6 and 9PM
if you are in the Kansas City area!
Please join us!
106th and Mission Road, Leawood, KS

I have 10 paintings hanging and 2 paintings that David Gross and I did together.
The other artists include Becky Pashia,
and Kristin Goering

I must admit, I'm a little nervous,
But all should go well once I am there.
And I can't forget there will be wine from
my favorite vineyard and winery,
Somerset Ridge! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

In 2009, Jasper Mirabile and I held our first dinner, dedicated to pork of all kinds! We called it "Pig 101....from Snout to Tail".  After the big success and requests for more of the samr, last year we held "Pig 102". Well, time flies; It is time for "Pig 103"!
The photo was taken by Jasper as I was tying the last 3 hog jowls we are curing for Guanciale. We dry rubbed 30 pounds of them today! Don't I lead an exciting life? Actually I do! Cooking with Jasper is such a treat for me! It brings back my days as a chef at Milano at Crown Center.

Jasper and I discussed our menu for the dinner which will be held at the restaurant on January 30.  Every item on the menu will have pork as one of the ingredients....wait until you see what I am making for dessert!
Stay tuned for more news on the event....there will be some surprises!

This weekend is the Somerset Ridge Painter's annual painting exchange party! Each of the 9 of us paint a painting that represents our own art and style.  The only requirement is they must fit in a brown grocery sack! We arrive at the party with our painting stapled up in a sack, put them all together in a pile and then we draw numbers.  Starting with #1, we each choose a bag from the pile....It is so amazing to see all 9 paintings in one room! Everyone is HAPPY! Even the spouses and significant others have a great time....but of course, there is lots of food and wine involved!
Winnie and Tom Davis are hosting the event this year and she is cooking a couple of beautiful briskets, so I volunteered to bake homemade breads.  I was going to start today, but as luck would have it, painters showed up to paint 2 ceilings and 1 wall that had been damaged by water due to a hail storm wiping out my roof. One of the ceilings was my kitchen! So, maybe I will start the bread tonight! I'd better!
One of the recipes I am going to make is  for Brioche Slider Buns, They are small, beautifully shiny,tiny little buns with just a hint of sweetness and a glorious aroma. My whole house smells like heaven when I bake them, I can hardly wait!
I got the recipe from another food blog...Crepes of Wrath.  Check it out!
Here is the recipe.

Brioche Slider Buns

For the sponge:
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (this is usually the size of 1 packet)
1/3 cup milk, 110 degrees F
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1.5 to 2)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
For baking:
1 egg, beaten
sesame or poppy seeds, for garnish

1.Mix together 1 egg that has been lightly beaten, 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 cup all-purpose flour, and 1/3 cup of milk, heated to 110 degrees F. Over all of that, sprinkle another 1 cup of all-purpose flour - this is going to "sponge" the mixture (see photo above). Let it rest, uncovered, in a large bowl, for 30-40 minutes. When the sponge is ready to go, the flour will have cracked and it will truly look like a sponge.
2.Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 4 more lightly beaten eggs to the sponge. Using the dough hook attachment on your mixer, mix on low for 2 minutes until the dough begins to come together. Add in another 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, and continue to mix on medium for 15 minutes (yes, it's a long time), stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go.
3. The dough will be very, very sticky while you mix it, so if it looks too wet and soft, you can add up to 3-4 more tablespoons of flour to the dough. The dough should start to wrap itself around the dough hook and slap against the sides of the bowl.
4.After 15 minutes, continue to mix on medium speed while gradually adding in your 3/4 cup of butter to the dough, a few cubes at a time, allowing a minute or two between each addition so the butter has a chance to incorporate itself into the dough. Continue to mix the dough as you add in the butter - the dough will look strange, but just keep going. The dough should again start to cling to the dough hook and slap against the sides of the bowl.
5.Grease a very, very large mixing bowl with plenty of butter. Transfer the dough from the mixing bowl to the greased bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours. We put our dough on our window sill (with the window shut, obviously) in the sunlight. After it has risen, deflate it gently with your hands. Using new plastic wrap, cover the dough again and chill it for at least 6 hours
or as long as overnight (I do ours overnight). After it has been refrigerated,
you are ready to bake your slider buns.
6. Lightly flour your hands and shape the dough into 25-30 balls by rolling them in your hands, but still working quickly because the dough is best when it is still cold. Place them on a lined or greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten them slightly with your palm, then cover the dough again with some towels and allow to rise for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
7.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Beat 1 egg, and brush the egg over the buns to give them a nice sheen. Sprinkle some sesame seeds or poppy seeds over them for a garnish, and brush them with a bit more egg to keep the seeds in place. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the sheets once through the baking time, until golden. The buns are ready when you tap them and they feel sort of hollow inside. Allow to cool, slice open, and fill with your favorite slider fare (meatballs, hamburgers, pulled pork, etc.). You can also freeze them after the cool and use them on another date.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Baby, Its Getting Cold Outside!

I’m not sure if I am a true believer in “old wives tales”, the Farmer’s Almanac, or, for that matter, the weatherman. I will tell you this….

1. Today, all of the cattle between my house and my studio in Paola were lying down. (a sign of an approaching change in the weather)

2. Johnson County, Kansas is home for thousands and thousands of Canada geese, and today they were all heading south. The sky was full of huge waving Vs as they were fleeing the area before the stuff hits the fan! (that’s what geese do….head south)

3. I just saw a woolly worm in my garage….he looked like he was wearing his mothers mink coat! (they say that only happens when we are going to have a tough winter) A researcher actually tested the woolly worm for accuracy.....results?  80% right!

4. As for the weatherman, he is predicting yucky weather.
(Okay, I usually don’t pay very close attention to him, I think I'll stick with Mr. Wooly Worm.

All things considered, I think our beautiful autumn is over here in the Midwest! We may have snow by Sunday. I’m very glad I hung the wreath on the front door when it was in the mid-50s…the temperature is going to drop like a rock!

I suppose it is foolish to hope for a mild winter…they are very rare here in Kansas.
So, I am prepared to spend the winter close to home. I’ve moved into my studio here at home….I used to refer to that room as the kitchen! But I have found the aromas of a pot of simmering soup and bread baking is quite a creative stimulant. I love being in my kitchen, …cooking, baking and painting!

I am delivering 10 paintings to ARTichokes Gallery next week in preparation for the show opening on the 16th (PLEASE COME!) My latest painting is of a small village on the shore of Lake Como in Northern Italy, in the state of Lombardy, the home of my ancestors.
So, it seems fitting for a pot of Pasta e fagioli, or what you might call “pasta fazool”, to be filling my studio/kitchen with the aromas of this famous soup. I hope you enjoy the recipe! Stay warm!

Pasta e Fagioli

6 cups of chicken broth                  
4 to 6 clove of crushed garlic
2  15oz cans of cannellini beans
2  150z cans of crushed tomatoes
1 onion chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of Somerset Ridge Flyboy Red wine
1 box of elbow or ditalini pasta

Saute onions and garlic in a pot. Add the broth, wine and tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a boil.
Add beans and reduce heat and let simmer for around 15 minutes.
Add pasta and simmer for ten minutes, until done.
Cover and remove from heat and let it thicken up for around 30 minutes.

Serve with Flyboy Red wine and bread or nice toasted garlic bread.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Morning! Here it is, 2 days before Thanksgiving your menu complete? Is the table set? How many trips to the grocery store have you made?
Exhausting, isn't it? Well, I am about to give you some tips that will make your day go more smoothly and generally help you out in the kitchen. 
These tips aren't mine, but I am going to direct you to the guy with the answers. His name is David Lebovitz, a resident of Paris, a chef, cookbook author, and a wonderful food blogger.
Please click on the link below and read his posting from today.....great tips are worth a million! Enjoy....oh, and while you are there, you can sign up for his blog to be delivered straight to your email mailbox. Good stuff!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I know, 2nd blog today...what can I say, other than "sorry'?  But I had to share my gravy experience with you! As I said earlier today, I had my turkey wings in roasting in preparation for Thursday's gravy.  So, they roasted for awhile, but then, this wild side of me came out and  I did not follow my own directions!
The original  recipe calls for removing the wings from the roasting pan and putting them in a stock pot. That is the way I've done  it in the past....but ALAS! Not today. Instead, I left everything in the roasting pan and added the chicken broth and thyme to the whole thing. I covered it with foil and cooked at 300 degrees for 2 hours.
Foodies, let me tell you, I had the deepest, richest broth ever....probably in the history of cooking! And it was from a small list of ingredients! Of course, I couldn't stand having it in the house without making a small pan of gravy, after all,  I had to do a quality check, right? Naturally, gravy requires mashed potatoes, so I, of course, made some.  Mighty fine dinner I am having!
So, since I changed my procedure, and rudely told you to look in the archives  if you wanted my gravy recipe, I am thinking I  need to type it out, right here, right now. Here you go.
Totally Fool Proof, Excellent, Never Fail Gravy
4 turkey wings (about 3lb.)

2 med. onions, peeled and quartered
1 c. water, or if you are me,  Somerset Ridge white wine, either Chardonel, Reisling or Oktoberfest
8 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. chopped carrot
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
and for your roux:
1 cup butter
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 400. Have ready a large roasting pan. Arrange wings in a single layer in pan; scatter onions over top. Roast 1 and 1/4 hrs. until wings are browned. Put wings, onions and carrots in a 5 to 6 quart pot.  No, DON'T! Leave themin the roasting pan! Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Add water (or white wine) to roasting pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on bottom.  Add all 8 cups broth and the thyme. Cover with foil and return to the oven and continue roasting for 2 hours.  Remove wings and when cool pull off meat. (can save meat for other use, I made some turkey salad for my Mom) Strain broth into a 3 qt. saucepan, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables; skim fat off broth and discard. (By the way, I had very little fat)
In a small skillet, melt the butter and when foaming stops, add the flour, whisking as you add. Over low heat,let roux cook for several minutes. Meanwhile, bring broth in pot to a gentle boil. Whisk in the roux and simmer for 3-4 min. Taste and correct seasoning, for you have not added any salt, as of yet. Serve, or pour into containers and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 6 mos.
See, simple as, well , buying a pie. Certainly a whole lot easier than baking a pie!
So, what have we learned today?  Gravy is nothing to panic over, and that I am very flexible!
The holiday cooking has begun! Grocery stores are packed, with both food and shoppers. Big fat turkeys are flying out of there! Fortunately, I did my shopping several days ago, and today, the turkey wings are roasting in the oven in preparation for making the gravy. My house smells heavenly and so far it is just the wings and onions, and the carrots and broth that are cooking. Don’t you just love the aromas of Thanksgiving?

I remember as a small child loving every moment of the day. My parents would prepare dinner for everyone in the family. It was an art! They both had 8 to 5 jobs, yet, they were so prepared, and usually calm. And, the food was always divine!
Mom wasn’t stuck in the kitchen, all alone. No, my Dad loved to cook and was so good at it. Together, they treated the entire family to a heavenly Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, there was the Thanksgiving Day that Dadwoke at  4 AM to put the bird in the oven, only to realize they had forgotten to pick up the turkey! Grocery stores were closed for the holiday, besides, large chain groceries didn’t sit on every corner. This was in the early 60s. The original Hen House, which is now a major chain here in Kansas City, was located about 83rd and Wornall. We lived in Kansas City, Kansas….quite a distance away. My dad jumped in the car at 4 in the morning and when he arrived at the store, one lonely custodian was holding down the fort, mop in hand. He opened the door for Dad and after much negotiating (Dad was a car dealer!) Dad was on his way home with the one, the absolutely ONLY turkey left in the store! Dinner was slightly delayed, but not by much. Thankfully, that one lonely turkey was not frozen!

Povitica, a holiday must in Kansas City!
It was a day to be thankful, to be joyful, to be hungry! Mr. Tom Turkey was accompanied by Minnie Florence Ogg’s Cornbread Dressing, Mom’s Green Beans that had been cooked for hours in her big thick, heavy pot we called “the green bean pan” with lots of country ham and onions, and the creamiest mashed potatoes on the face of the earth! Mom always made individual frozen Cranberry Salads, as well as her Fruit Salad with pineapple, grapes, bananas and apples with a few marshmallows to thrill the kids. Sometimes she made her Red Hot Applesauce Jello that always hit the spot. As for the rolls, they were usually good old brown and serve, out of the package and into the oven. Pumpkin Pie was the dessert,  but we also had slices of Povitica, a Northern European holiday nut bread, very common in Kansas City, Kansas. Early settlers came from Poland, Croatia, Germany and Russia to work in the meat packing plants. Today, many of their ancestors and recipes are alive and well on Strawberry Hill overlooking the Kansas River. In fact, there is a Strawberry Hill Povitica Company that you can order from on line.
Go to and check it out. Start a new tradition for your family this Thanksgiving.
The photo above is from a webpage called  There, you will also find their recipe that has chocolate included!  I think I will be trying it soon!
I just checked on the turkey wings and they are browning beautifully. It is just about time to start turning that wonderful brown stuff on the bottom of the pain into the perfect gravy!
Next, I will go to Somerset Ridge to pick up the perfect wine for our dinner. They are releasing their new Norton today! The winery is on many lists of things to do today….we need the perfect bottle to go with our perfect meal!

Did you see Doug Frost’s article on local wineries? Go to

For my gravy recipe, and the recipe for my grandmother’s cornbread dressing, go to my archives. They are there! For the challenge of making your own Povitica, go to

Next week is going to be a busy one, so may I take this opportunity to wish you a perfect Thanksgiving. Please, be safe, and remember, you may not remember what you had for lunch today, but you will always remember the perfect holiday meal...aromas and all!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, da Vinci was a very smart guy! There are drawings, paintings, and papers that prove what a genius he truly was.

The part of his genius that hits home with me comes through some of his quotes. There are numerous Leonardo da Vinci quotes that I find very useful, and very true. There are a few that hit home….usually in a painful way. For instance....
Even though my painting is going very well, for now, I have to lament over the wasted years when I painted what I thought the subject SHOULD look like, not what I was actually seeing. Leonardo said it this way:
"There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.”

Do you know how depressing it is to find out you have spent years not seeing! But thanks to painters like Ada Koch and David Gross, I have moved to the second group…”Those who see when they are shown.”

The series of paintings I am working on for the December show at ARTichokes,  is a group of large canvases with memories of my trips to Europe. Therefore, I am referring frequently to photographs I have taken. As I work on a painting, the photo is right there, and yet, I catch myself not referring to it, but rather painting what I think it should look like. Guess what….I am almost always WRONG!
Now that I am painting at home, I can stop, lay down my brush, walk 6 feet and bake cookies. 30 minutes later, I can walk back, pick up the photograph and study what I have painted, compared to what I should have painted. My mistakes stick out like sore thumbs! Dear Leo, what was I thinking?
As I work on this problem of not seeing, I am trying to deal with another weakness (besides eating all of the cookies I bake while I am working on my frustrations)…..That of quitting, giving up. I have been known to throw up my hands, and toss my painting in the trash….sad, but true.

Those moments are fewer now, thank heavens. That is when I remember another Leonardo da Vinci quote….a really good one. A quote that makes me realize why David Gross has dozens of "unfinished", absolutely beautiful paintings. A quote that makes me know it is okay for me to take the painting I am working on, down to the basement, turn it towards the wall, and walk away.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
That abandonment may be for a day or two, a year or two….maybe forever, but it is okay. It will be there waiting for me, if and when I think I am ready to  continue on. Who knows,  someday it may be my Mona Lisa!
Stick with me Leonardo, I need all of the help I can get!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Major Change

Today, I moved paints, brushes and canvases home from the studio in Paola....not all of  them, but a good amount of them. Why? Because I was stuck at home for many months last winter due to icy weather and  an injured knee. I was miserable the entire time.  It was so good to get back to the studio in Paola and to my good friend, David Gross....and of course, it was spring!
The National Weather forecast is saying we are going to have another long, hard winter. Oh JOY!
So,I am taking precautions. 
The big question is, will I be able to paint? 
I guess we will see.
I set up an in-house studio once my basement. Great spot, great light with two large windows. It simply did not work for me. So, this time I  am setting up in my kitchen! What room makes me as happy, makes me feel creative? My Kitchen, of course!
I have purchased a new easel which arrived yesterday.  I brought home my paints, my brushes. I have sparkling white canvases of assorted sizes. I have a gallon of terpentine that is odorless. Now, I just need to paint! 
The show at ARTichokes Gallery is just a month away. I need 2 or 3 more paintings.  I have some ideas with layouts.  Now, I just need to paint!
Tonight, I will put a sparkling white canvas on my new easel....then,  I just need to paint!
If it doesn't work, I can always cook.

 Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Are you ready? Have your menu all figured out?
The drive between the vineyard and the studio in Paola is a beautiful drive through rolling hills covered with herds of cattle, beautiful Wea Creek, fields with recently harvested corn stalks scattered about. Today, I was thrilled to see huge flocks of wild turkey dining among the stalks. We won't be dining on wild turkey, but we will have a big, fat bird to feed a crowd. Of course, my mind immediately goes to cornbread dressing and turkey gravy and desserts.  That is exactly what I want on my plate!
A few years ago,I compiled a cookbook for my high school class 50 year reunion.  One of the recipes that was submitted was for make ahead perfect turkey gravy. I questioned how that could be...make ahead?
I am going to give it to you now, so if you hate making gravy, don't like that last minute panic over getting the gravy done right before everyone sits down at the table,  try it.
It just might make you enjoy the day!

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

4 turkey wings (about 3lb.)
2 med. onions, peeled and quartered
1 c. water
8 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. chopped carrot
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 c. flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Heat oven to 400. Have ready a large roasting pan. Arrange wings in a single layer in pan; scatter onions over top. Roast 1 and 1/4 hrs. until wings are browned. Put wings and onions in a 5 to 6 quart pot. Add water to roasting pan and stir to scrape up any borwn bits on bottom. Add to pot. Add 6 c. broth (refridgerate remaining 2 c.) the carrot and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 and a 1/2 hrs. Remove wings and when cool pull off meat. (can save meat for other use) Strain broth into a 3 qt. saucepan, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables; skim fat off broth and discard. Whisk flour into remaining 2c. broth until blended and smooth. Bring broth in pot to a gentle boil. Whisk in broth-flour mixture and boil 3-4 min. Stir in butter and pepper. Serve, or pour into containers and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 6 mos.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One of my duties as a blogger is to read as many blogs as I and art blogs, that is. After my posting last night, I knew I needed to give you more recipes, particularly desserts. This morning I dived right into the project....but, my goodness, do you have any idea how many recipes I have for favorite desserts?
I settled in for a long elimination process.
I use MasterCook software to organize and control my multitude of recipes. I can set up an unlimited number of speciality cookbooks, each holding an unbelievable number of recipes. This definitely comes in handy, especially this morning.
There I was, reading glasses perched on my nose, laptop in front of me, Diet Coke with Lime within reach.
Just as I was about to click on if a gift from above, there it was...Martha strikes again!
Her daily email had just arrived in my inbox.
Yes, I do recommend Martha frequently....the recipes are crisp, clean, easy to read and understand....and if there is a misprint or mistake, it is corrected quickly. You can make comments, or ask questions, which are answered.  Of course, I understand she has a team of hundreds working for her....I am just me. But I am comfortable  passing on a recipe that sounds heavenly to me. And today's recipe is dreamy and I will be fixing it for Thanksgiving.
Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears (doesn't that make you drool?)
Maple syrup not only flavors this luscious cheesecake, but it also is brushed on thinly sliced pears that are broiled to create a very unique decoration atop this festive dessert.

Everyday Food, November 2010

Serves 6 to 8
2 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 Easy Press-In Pie Crust, made in a 9-inch springform pan with vanilla wafers
Nonstick cooking spray
2 medium pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett, sliced lengthwise 1/8 inch thick

1.In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup maple syrup; beat until smooth. In a medium bowl, beat cream and sugar on high until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, stir about one-third the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture, then fold in remainder. Transfer to crust and refrigerate until firm, 3 hours (or up to 1 day).
2.Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange pear slices in a single layer on sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Roast until pears are soft, 20 minutes. Remove from oven and heat broiler. Brush pears with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and broil until browned in spots, about 4 minutes, rotating sheet frequently. Let cool. To serve, arrange pear slices, overlapping slightly, on cheesecake.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baking for Thanksgiving

I suppose I am a baker at heart. I love kneading bread, rolling out pie dough, baking hundreds of cookies. That must mean I am a true baker, right? This time of year always makes me want to dive into flour right up to my elbows. The aromas of yeasty bread, warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, autumn fruits bubbling away under flaky pastry, all drive me crazy! I want my house to be filled with these aromas 24/7.

The opportunity to share your wonderful  baked goodies is right around the corner....Thanksgiving! If you are the holiday meal preparer in your family, or if you will be a guest at a loved one's table, let the treasures from your oven be a part of the day.

I will share a few of my favorite recipes here today, and I want to encourage you to visit several of my favorite baking blogs. But first, I want to let you know about an outstanding baking product that you should definitely use for your holiday baking. I have mentioned King Arthur Flour's web page more than once and here I go again.
They carry disposable baking pans that make giving your baked goods as gifts a snap. Check it out....go to and click on "shop'. Next, click on "bake and give" and just like magic, there they are!  I discovered these pans 2 years ago when I wanted to make Italian Panettone. Now, two years later, they have loaf pans, 9" rounds, cupcake cups....everything you might need. I hope you order some for your holiday baking....they make life so much nicer! And, they are attractive! recipes.  (by the way, King Arthur has some doozies!)
Let's start with bread and rolls... I realize many of you grew up with the crescent rolls that chubby little doughboy advertises, but listen to me....homemade is so much better! This recipe can  be made the day before. Therefore, they are called Refrigerator Rolls.

Refrigerator Rolls

You can prepare this dough and keep it in the fridge for up to a week, making as many rolls as needed on a day-to-day basis for your family's meals.

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 1⁄2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 7-gram packages active dry yeast
7 cups flour
1⁄4 cup butter, melted

1. Grease a baking sheet (or several of your new baking pans!) with 1 tbsp. shortening; set aside. Put remaining shortening, sugar, salt, and 1 cup boiling water into a large nonmetal bowl and stir to dissolve shortening; let cool to lukewarm. Add eggs and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
2. Put yeast and 1 cup warm water into a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Add yeast mixture to shortening mixture; stir to combine. Add flour and stir, first with a wooden spoon, then with your hands, to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface and knead gently until dough forms a smooth ball, 1–2 minutes. Clean out bowl, place dough inside, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out into an 8" × 15" rectangle. Cut out rounds using a 2 1⁄2" round biscuit cutter. Brush tops of each round with melted butter (reserve leftover butter), then fold each in half to form half-moon shapes, pressing down gently on edges to secure shape. Arrange rolls on the prepared baking sheet, spaced evenly apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to let rise until doubled in size, about 1–2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 425°. Uncover rolls and bake until golden brown and cooked through, 13–15 minutes. Brush with reserved butter; let cool.

Another delicious roll for your Thanksgiving table...also excellent in the disposable pans

Parker House Rolls

3/4 cup milk, heated to 115°
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. barley malt syrup or dark corn syrup
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into
1/2"cubes, softened
1/4 cup clarified butter, for greasing and brushing
Fleur de sel, to garnish
1. Stir together milk, yeast, and malt syrup in a large bowl; let sit until foamy, 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt; add to milk mixture along with butter and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 5–6 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour. Uncover and punch down dough; cover and let sit until puffed, about 45 minutes.
2. Heat oven to 325°. Portion dough into fourteen 1 1/2"-diameter balls, about 1 1/4 oz. each, flatten each slightly to an oval shape. Using the handle of a butter knife, crease ovals slightly off center. Fold at crease. Arrange in rows, slightly overlapping, on buttered baking sheet, with shorter side facing down. Allow at least 1/4-inch of space between rows. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Brush with clarified butter and bake until puffed and pale golden brown, 20–22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and brush with more clarified butter; sprinkle each roll with a small pinch of fleur de sel and serve warm.

Lets move to desserts!
what is Thanksgiving without Pumpkin? But it doesn't have to be pie!

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter,
softened, plus more for pan
2 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground mace
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée,
preferably Libby's
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1. Heat oven to 375°. Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans lined with parchment paper cut to fit; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and mace; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until smooth. Add half the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add pumpkin and milk, and then add remaining dry ingredients; mix until smooth. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with a rubber spatula; bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes; unmold cakes and let cool.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat remaining butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Increase speed to high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy.
3. Place 1 cake on a cake stand and frost the top with 1/3 of the frosting; stack second cake on top and frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Refrigerate cake; let cake sit for 1 hour at room temperature before serving.

Will there be kids at your table? Young and old kids?  Here you go, check this one out.

Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground fresh nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup canola oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk to sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop healing TBSP of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling. They will look more like mini cakes then cookies, so don’t panic about that.

Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Filling
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese an beat until combined.
Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful no to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure.
To assemble:
Turn half the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe filling (about a TBSP) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoppie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Are you doing a traditional Turkey this year? Last year on November 20th, I gave you a recipe for a turkey rubbed with lots of herbs and spices....heavy on the smoked paprika. It was pretty good! I haven't decided how to fix a turkey this year, or if I will fix beef. My family has always prefered beef, we used to do a Prime Rib for Christmas dinner. It was wonderful, but there were no leftovers! I think that is the one thing that keeps the cook on her/his feet, knowing after the cooking marathon, there will be food  left for several days!
In case you are roasting a turkey, here is a great web page to keep your family safe. No one wants food poisoning!

Well, to end this posting, I feel I have to give you my Grandmother's recipe for her Cornbread Dressing!
Minnie Florence Ogg  was a farmer's wife and could bake like an angel! Enjoy!

Minnie Florence's Cornbread Dressing
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup butter
8 cups cubed white bread
12 cups crumbled cornbread
bacon drippings
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Saute the onion and celery in the butter until both are tender and soft. Do not brown. In a large bowl, blend the breads, parsley and seasonings. Beat the eggs with the cool bacon drippings, and stir into the bread mixture. Add the celery, onion and butter , mix well. Put into a well buttered casserole and bake
in a 350 degree oven until golden brown on top.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Christmas is coming!

It is hard for me to realize that in about 50 days, Christmas will be here! Where has the year gone? There was a time when I had my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. That hasn’t happened in years! But, there are those who are working overtime to produce all sorts of “stuff” on which you might spend your hard earned money!

The following is from an email I received from an old friend. I contacted Jack to ask if he was the author, or if not, did he know who did write it. So far, all I know is it is from an unknown writer. But I can also tell you he/she makes some very good points and has some excellent ideas. Read and see what you think.....

“As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year should be different. This year Americans should give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

Yep, there is! It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificate from your local American hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.

Remember folks, this isn't about big National chains --this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice  BIG TIP! You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.
THIS should be the new American Christmas tradition.
This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?
And lastly a New Years Resolution: Support Green Energy. Well, Green and Energy. --- Keep the green in your wallet and save yourself a lot of "real" energy in 2012 because we need both, to defeat our energy and treasure sapping government.
God Bless You and God Bless America!"

Well said, whoever you are! Now, readers, wherever you live….there are hard working Americans in small individually owned businesses all over our beautiful country! Seek them out. There are amazing gifts out there for those you love.

May I suggest a few of my favorite places to shop and dine? All are locally owned by outstanding Americans and I recommend them to you without reservation!
ARTichokes Gallery, Leawood, KS for excellent art work, jewelry, pottery, etc.
Molly's Table Restaurant and Catering, Paola, KS for gift certificates for dining and catering 
Jasper's Restaurant, Kansas City, MO for award winnng Italian food
The Tortoise Gallery, Paola, KS for paintings,jewelry and pottery
and of course....
Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery, Somerset, KS for award winning wines and wine related gifts
Happy Shopping!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My dear friends, Becky Pashia and Laurie Barling of ARTichokes, are holding their annual Ladies Night Out
on Tuesday evening November 8th! Last year I found several important gifts for friends while strolling around the gallery. It is a great opportunity to buy one of a kind works of art for those special friends and family members.
I know many of the artist's who will have their work there that evening, it is going to fun! Maybe I will see you there? 

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to return to ARTichokes on Friday, December 16th for the opening celebration for David Gross and me and our show of paintings! David and I are looking forward to a great evening...lots of Christmas Cheer, lots of friends, lots of fun! ....I want you there!
I am painting like a wild woman for this show....
I have set my goal pretty high and I am determined to reach it. 
So, by December 16th, I will be ready to have a party!
As for David....he is plodding along at his own pace, he is calm,
he is in control, he is painting amazing things! Seems unfair, doesn't it!
I think it is going to be a good show....please come!
I will be blogging about the show as we get closer to December,
but I know how busy the Holiday Season gets....
so mark your calendars now....I'd love to see you there!

Monday, October 31, 2011

My friends feel that if I should happen to hit PowerBall, I would be on the next plane to Italy. I am afraid they are absolutely correct! I might call my kids to see if anyone else could have their bags packed and be at the airport before the flight left the ground....or maybe I would just call them from Lake Como. My passport is good until  October, 2012, so I must remember to have it updated....
you just never know when PowerBall might hit! I need to be prepared!

There has been sad news from Italy..."Italians open investigation into flooding of Cinque Terre
An investigation has been opened in Italy into whether floods that devastated a World Heritage-listed coastline were the fault of official negligence and illegal building."Sort of sounds like New Orleans, doesn't it?
The headlines have been..."Villages all but wiped out as storms batter Italy's 'Cinque Terre' "  and
"Five people have been killed and another six are missing after storms and torrential rain caused extensive floods in northern Italy."
 Five fishing villages nestled into the steep coastline of the Ligurian Riviera make up the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best way to discover the Cinque Terre is on foot. As you walk along ancient walking trails clinging to the steep cliffs, you are amazed at the terraced vineyards and enjoy the tranquillity of the pine and chestnut forests of the Cinque Terre National Park.

Known as Italy’s “Flower Riviera” the Ligurian Riviera is a delight for all the senses. Waves crash below coastal footpaths, wild flowers and vineyards surround you, the smell of fresh coffee tempts you into local cafes. The five fishing villages of the Cinque Terre have remained almost untouched by modern developments and are an idyllic walking escape. Until the last few days.....

Vernazza,before the mudslides
The 5 villages are Monterosso, Vernazza, Cornilia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Today, Rick Steve's, noted travel expert, reports "Flash flooding, triggered by unusually heavy rain, ripped through Italy's Liguria region and inflicted serious damage on the Cinque Terre towns of Monterosso and Vernazza. In these towns, flooding was accompanied by landslides, filling streets with rocks, mud and debris up to 12 feet deep.
Along Vernazza's main street, the ground floors of buildings are still completely buried, and the harbor is filled with mud and rocks. Several fatalities have been reported, and a few people are still missing."
I have a feeling the people of Cinque Terre will bring their home back to normal as quickly as possible. They have the upcoming winter months to prepare for next springs tourist season. As tough as that job may seem, the Italians are tougher.  During World War II, many young men from the Cinque Terre fought for the resistance against the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, and the subsequent Nazi German occupation of Italy. Not all Italians had that fighting spirit, unfortunately. But the men of Cinque Terre most certainly did.
I certainly hope the smell of the sea rising up the steep cliffs with vineyards clinging to their sides, the aroma of herbs growing wild and the scent of flowers ornamenting the narrow shelves will return. The vineyards and olive groves were everywhere on the hills, let's hope wine and olive oil will be present on the tables once again.. When it is time to go to the table, the fragrance of the typical Pesto sauce, fried fish and anchovies, vegetable casseroles and fish with aromatic fillings is so enticing, all you want to do is enjoy your food
while sitting perched on the terraces overlooking the beautiful seascape of the famous Gulf of Levanto, La Spezia and Portovenere
Some of the most famous foods of Cinque Terre that you will remember forever are  the dry wine (d.o.c.), simply called Cinque Terre ;Sciacchetrà, rare and vintage strong sweet wine, made from dried grapes ; the pesto sauce of the region; salted anchovies in Monterosso olive oil ;all of the many fish specialities and of course, last but not least, Limoncino, a liqueur made from lemons (lemons are celebrated during the Feast of Lemon on Pentecost)

Limoncino, also known as Limoncello in other regions of Italy.

The lemons are organically produced,picked early in the season, selecting only the best fruit from the venerable lemon grove to ensure a high essential oil content.
BURANCO Limoncino is made the way it always has been in Monterosso. Wafer-thin yellow lemon skins are peeled by hand and combined with alcohol and sugar. Its flavours and aromas speak of fruit slowly matured on the bough in sun-drenched lemon groves.

I think it is only fair that we all go buy a bottle ot two to help the people of Monterosso get back on their feet.  Besides, I love to cook  with it! You can make......
Limoncino Cheesecake Squares

12 to 16 servings

Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces purchased biscotti
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained, at room temperature
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar1/2 cup limoncino
2 teaspoons vanilla extract4 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.
Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the limoncello, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, and pulse just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour (the cake will become firm when it is cold).
Transfer the cake to a rack; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into squares and serve.
Remember, we are eating this cheesecake for Cinque Terre! Al kidding aside, Cinque Terre is an unbelievable spot on this globe. Let's hope they can come back and thrill the world travelers with there beautiful vistas once again.
Lift a small glass of Limoncino in a toast to Cinque Terre!  Cin Cin!

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