Sunday, July 12, 2009
"Dolce", which means "sweet" in Italian, is Gnome's favorite word right now. We're trying, weakly, to learn Italian for our trip to Umbria in September. We'll be away from big cities, and less people will know English well. We're using Living Language, which came with a phrase book, four CDs and a book. I think at this point we just want to know our numbers, directions, how to make a reservation, how to be polite, how to greet people, and the difference between "apricot" and "eel" to avoid some rather ugly menu choices.
Speaking of dolce, I made a simple cake to go along with our Saturday night dinner based on Edna Lewis’s Busy-Day Cake from her book, The Taste of Country Cooking. It's similar to pound cake, though not as rich and with my beloved freshly-grated nutmeg. Elizabeth brought some ready-to-eat strawberries, which we knew would go along with the basic, unfrosted single-layer cake, but we also drizzled our plates with the ginger syrup that was leftover from the gimlets mentioned in yesterday's post. These happy coincidences seem to happen all the time in our kitchen. I hope that they're also happening in yours.
We had my brother-in-law Erik over for brunch this morning. He brought us back the crockpot that we thought we didn't want anymore. After Gnome had my sister's slow-cooked pot roast last week and I had the oven on for almost two hours last night, we decided that we needed to learn how to use it. He made a spicy, mouth watering chili very loosely based on this recipe. We have an abundance of canned beans, a huge steak bone from the bistecca the other night, garden tomatoes, and leftover penne, so that's basis of what he used to create Casetta del Sudore Chili con Manzo. It made us sweat, so that's why we're calling it Sweatlodge Chili with Beef. Why do people in hot climates seem to enjoy spicy foods when it seems like they'd want a popcicle instead of hot sauce? I'm not sure why that works, but Gnome thinks it has something to do with the capsaicin expanding your blood vessels which helps our bodies dissipate heat.
I had a nice quart of giant blueberries from Earthfare, so I made us some Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes, scrambled eggs with Monterey Jack, bacon, cantaloupe and strawberries. I love these pancakes. Why had I never thought of the sweetness of corn to go along with the different kind of sweetness of blueberries? I substituted lowfat organic vanilla yogurt for the buttermilk, with a splash of milk for consistency. And don't skip cooking them in butter. I use a non-stick pan, so I only need it for the first round, but it would be yummy to keep adding for each round, too, like we used to before we worried about such things.