Posts Tagged With: sourdough

Discovering the local volcano and other things…

Buongiorno a tutti,

How is everyone? Apologies for being a bit quiet for a while! I’ve been having issues with WordPress who host my blog. Anyway, it’s all sorted now (at least for the time being!) and I’ve got quite a bit of updating to do from the last month or two. I’ll try and summarise!

The first update is that my poor Batfink lost his fight a day or two after the last blog post. It’s been horrible. We were a good little team. It’s always heart wrenching losing a pet; they’re like members of your family aren’t they? But I think we had quite a special bond, us two in particular given everything that we’d been through together in the last year or so. I miss him.

A few days after Batfink passed away, I heard meowing coming from a hedge by the gym. I eventually located it to a tiny black kitten. To cut a long story short, I ended up adopting her, despite my better judgement. She’s not got a name yet – I’m a bit nervous to give her one lest I get too attached and something happens to her. In fact, she went missing for 4 days a week or two back and I was convinced she’d died too but I was thrilled to be proven wrong.  Anyway, I’m pleased to report that her and Rusty Carrot (he’s gained a name) have finally bonded after an initial settling in period which involved a great deal of hissing (Kitten isn’t much attuned of social cues and so didn’t let it upset her).

So that’s the cat update. I’m very much hoping further cat updates will be less traumatic, at least for a bit!

IMG_20170713_155016553

Rusty Carrot and Kitten

Meanwhile I’ve been out and about as ever. There’s a continuous string of festas here during the summer and it’s difficult to justify being at home when I could be seeing jazz, or blues, or dancing or seeing medieval games, or going on walking excursions or painting excursions or eating cheap pizzas etc. I used to think London was hectic with things going on all the time but I don’t think it’s a patch on Le Marche in the summer months.

The weather has been absolutely roasting too and the countryside has been spectacular with sunflowers and hay bales stretching across landscapes as far as the eye can see.

 

In other news…

  • I had a lovely evening with the Dezi family who are a big name locally in the wine industry. They are only a couple of minutes up the road from me. It was lovely to meet some of the locals, and their wine was great! If anyone is interested trying the wine, they run some good value tasting events.

IMG_20170703_195439217

  • I went on a long walk in the mountains with a friend that’s not from the area. I’d been meaning to do this walk for a long time and I was quite chuffed I managed to get us where we were supposed to be going within the timescales I was supposed to! There’s lots of scope for error and there are hardly any sign posts but I’m beginning to know the local mountains quite well so it’s not the daunting prospect it once was!
  • There’s an organic farm, Indaco Foods in a town very close to me called Monsampietro Morico. They run what they call a “Dining club / Social Event Organisation” offshoot called La Bibioteca. Some friends of mine have been keen to go for a long time, as have I. I thought the food was great with some very original recipes. They run a variety of courses too in things like Sourdough breadmaking and I’m determined to do their beekeeping course.
  • I’ve been on a few painting excursions to Torre di Palme (Towers of Palms),  Lago di Gerosa (Lake Gerosa), Lago di San Ruffino (San Ruffino Lake) and Montefalcone Appenino. All are worthy trips with or without painting equipment! I’d certainly recommend Torre di Palma, a hill top town overlooking the coast. It’s very quaint with lots of little restaurants and nooks and crannies to explore.
  • I saw the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian equivalent of the Red Arrows. I was really pleased as I seem to always miss airshows so I’m glad I didn’t miss this one.
  • I went to a concert to see Paola Turci in the  mountains organised by RisorgiMarche, a set of concerts dotted around the Sibillini’s to show solidarity to the people of the area and help breathe life into some of the villages hit by the recent earthquakes. There’s a lovely vibe at the concerts. Paola Turci is a big name in Italy and is often in the charts. It was just her and her guitar, singing a few meters in front of us with us sitting on our picnic blankets and singing along to all the songs. It really had a great atmosphere and it felt quite special to be a part of it.
  • I went to see one of my favourite festa’s of the year, “Artistrada” at Colmurano. It was sad to see some of the town blocked off presumably after the earthquakes but we still had a great time.
  • Then there was the Opera ‘Turandot‘ at the Sferisterio in Macerata. The Sferisterio is a spectacular building so it’s always special seeing something there. It was the first time I’d seen Turandot. I wasn’t bored stiff like in my first attempt at opera last year. I think what helped was just how very odd it was – the princess was writhing around in a glass box filled with ‘blood’ after getting off her polar bear (I told you it was weird!!)  It did have the song Nessun Dorma in too which helped.  Alas, now I understand the context,  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to listen to that song again without getting annoyed at how pathetic the character who sung it was.

I finally went to see the Roman Theater in Piane di Falerone. It’s just 10 minutes down the road from me so it’s been on my list a while. It’s difficult to get to see it – it’s open Sunday’s between 4pm and 6pm (sometimes) and costs 3.50 euros.  You can organise a private appointment to see it by asking a woman in the local newsagents who knows a man who knows how to get someone there to open it. There are events there occasionally and so I’d recommend trying to tie in your visit with that so you get more out of it and there’s slightly more chance it’ll be open!

  • Then there was the Sibillini Swing Festival a week or so back. Riccardo Foresi and his band were playing the night that I was there. They were great and played for two or three hours solid! Sadly none of the Italians are big on dancing to swing so the dancefloor was taken over by about 15 English people. I suspect they thought we were nuts!
  • I’ve been to 3 plays in the last month or so in various places. A couple were in dialect resulting in a rather challenging hour or two trying to understand exactly what’s going on! Thankfully my previous neighbour has given me a good grounding in dialect words so I wasn’t as lost as I could have been!
  • In other news, near the house there is a volcano. I’ve been meaning to go and see it for ages and finally a couple of weeks ago I went with a friend. I warned him it might be a bit of a walk – I’d seen the trail outlined in a tourist map at the parking area. So we put on our walking shoes and were done about two minutes later! The volcano is less of a volcano and more of a muddy patch and there were no trails! If you would like to attempt to find a trail yourself and learn more about the patches of mud, visit this site for more information.
IMG_20170723_170907054

The Volcano (admittedly I’ve since discovered it’s called Vulcanelli di Fango – little volcanoes of mud, but still I think even that’s a bit of an overstatement)

So that sums up the last couple of months. Sorry it’s been such a long update, hopefully the blog issues have now been resolved and I shall be able to write a bit more frequently!

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog attacks, the abandoned village and gigs!

Buongiorno a tutti!

Well it’s been a very mixed couple of weeks here.

Generally I thoroughly recommend being an ex-pat. Living abroad and learning a different language and about a different culture is eye-opening. Every day is exciting because there’s always something new, something weird on the TV, a strange festival you’ve never heard of or a new phrase to learn. I don’t know whether that lets up at some point after years in the country, but at the moment I find it just as refreshing for the soul as ever almost three years on. However, being an ex-pat does come with its down sides. The most difficult thing by far is being away from friends and family and rather than it getting easier with time, it gets harder as everyone, including me rather depressingly gets older and frailer. It’s only a 2 hour flight to get back to the UK from where I live in Italy but it takes a full day by the time you take into account getting to and from airports etc. Then of course it’s difficult to drop everything in your new country because you’ve built a life there – work commitments etc. And herein lies the heart of the matter, deciding to live away from family and friends because the weather is nicer and it’s just more exciting, seems an inherently selfish choice! It becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile that choice when something bad happens at “home”. Last week, my grandmother died. So, it’s been a sad few days but I feel somewhat cheered that she fully supported my life over here. Despite being almost ninety she used to always read by blog and when I came home was full of questions.

On a far less depressing note…. I finally got to go to a place I’ve been meaning to for the last few months, Laturo. Laturo is a little village in the middle of the Abruzzi Mountains. In the 1950’s there were 50 families consisting of about 200 people living there. By the end of the 1970’s the last family had left and the village was left to go to ruin. It really is in the middle of nowhere, there are no roads to get there. I had attempted to come here with a group a couple of months back but I mistook directions. Now some of the houses have been bought, vegetable patches have been planted, a new church has been built and other aspects are all slowly being restored with the help of a group called Amici di Laturo (Friends of Laturo). We met a few other walkers/explorers whilst we were there and were offered a beer with them! I hate beer. I know that people’s tastes change over time and I’ve actually grown to like olives and coffee when before I would have thought I was being poisoned. So every so often, I try beer. Usually I’m left wondering why beer manufacturers go to such lengths to make the stuff when the dregs of my washing up water probably taste the same. Anyway, in Laturo, drinking with some random men, I discovered a beer I actually like. But it was a local artisan beer that the guy had bought with him that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find it again! Anyway, what nice people you can meet out and about 🙂

Laturo (1 of 1)

Overlooking the  mountains…

I also went to see an Italian / Irish music band last week at a pub in Civitanova. You might remember a few weeks ago I went to see an Italian / American Country music band and was gobsmacked at how authentic the music and accents were. This time was the same – authentic even to the point of not understanding half of the words.  Anyway, that was a lovely night and I discovered that the pub does a good veggie burger meal!

C360_2016-01-08-23-00-54-465

The Green Mussels 🙂

IMG-20160109-WA0010

And my doodle of them on a place mat!

Weather wise it’s been a very interesting week! At the beginning of the week there was so much wind I’m surprised it wasn’t called a hurricane! One tree blew over by the house blocking one road and a big branch fell down blocking another. It’s been good for wood collecting though to top up my supplies which I’m a bit worried about to be honest! Yesterday we had our first snowfall and today it continues! Hopefully I’ll be able to get out and do some snowboarding this week.

In other news, I’m just in the process of getting house insurance. Buying insurance here isn’t a simple case of going online to one of the comparison sites. I can only think of one here and it gives you about 3 very expensive options.  You can go to specific companies and they might be able to give you a quote but even that’s rare. It seems an absolutely archaic way of going about things, actually having to SPEAK to someone! Still, I braced myself and contacted my Insurance Man who sold me the car insurance. I told him how much I paid last year and what the policy covered (that was an online thing but for stupid reasons, I couldn’t renew it this year) and he came back with a much cheaper and better policy. So perhaps this archaic way of going about things isn’t really all that bad.

I’m on a “making bread stocks” mission at the moment. I’ve just made several sourdough loaves and next up is pita bread, hamburger buns and pizza bases. I’ve also resolved to make a new recipe every week so working my way through my new Christmas recipe book as we speak (thank you Mum & Dad!).

C360_2016-01-16-10-45-00-250

And this morning I narrowly escaped (in my opinion!) being mauled to death by four angry dogs. There’s a breed here local to this part of Italy, Pastore Maremmano. They protect sheep flocks from wolves so they’re pretty vicious when they need to be. And very, very protective. I went for a walk this morning nearby. I could hear the gentle jingling of sheep bells but didn’t think much of it. When I turned a corner, two of these large dogs came running at me, teeth bared.  I thought that was the end of me! They slowed down and followed me up the road and then another one came running behind me barking. Then there was another one up ahead that had thankfully just veered off the road so I could at least head back home and then another one joined in at the side to ensure I was properly scared away (I was, I was!!). I shall not be walking here on my own for a while.

I think that about sums up the last couple of weeks here. I hope you’ve all had good weekends! I’ll leave you with a photo I took on the mountain above the Garulla Rifugio last week…

Laturo (9 of 9)

xxx

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Methane Cars, Zumbing and the Free Time University!

Buonasera a tutti!

How is everyone? I’m pleased to report that I’m doing well! I’m finally feeling settled.

I have bought a car! It’s a little nippy Fiat Panda like my old Nanmobile. It’s called Nanmobile 2. It runs off methane! METHANE!!!! Imagine!!!! My experience of methane comes from scientists years ago worried about the effects of global warming caused by the release of methane from cows. However, in Italy they run cars off the stuff (I was half expecting the methane filling station to be overrun with cows but not so). And it’s great! Rather than spend 50 euros on petrol, I spent 10 euros for the same miles per gallon. Bargain.

The car buying process in Italy is an exemplary demonstration of Italian bureaucracy  – at its worst though. It’s also not easy to find a decent car, or certainly not in the area where I live. I have ‘brain dumped’ my lessons learnt here for anyone interested in buying a car in Italy! On a less specific car purchasing experience front, my nerves are only now getting back to normal after what has to be the most stressful car buying experience ever. Alas, my mother/editor has warned me about ‘ranting’ on this blog on more than one occasion so I shall leave it there 🙂

I have enrolled in a zumba class! I’m on a mission to try and be svelte and fit at the moment. I’m exercising lots and eating healthily(ish). However, since my mission started a fortnight ago, I have put on weight. It really is very annoying. Anyway, Zumba is amusing. Generally I seem to sort of chuckle my way through getting all of the moves wrong whilst everyone else seems to do it all with serious looks (which usually makes me chuckle even more!).

I have also signed up to do some teaching. As many of you will know, I dislike teaching. However, I’m actually excited about it this time around. I’m going to be teaching adults as part of a set of courses for “l’universita’ del tempo libero”. But because they pay a pittance, I get to go on as many of the other courses as I want free of charge. I LOVE COURSES! I’m going to do them all!!! Well maybe not ALL of them but I’ll try. I’ve also signed up for an online drawing course and of course there’s still my nude person drawing class starting at who-knows-when in November to look forward to.

It’s absolutely freezing here at the moment. The house needs a bit of warming up so today is going to be this years “stufa” (wood burner) inauguration day. I’m really looking forward to it but unfortunately I only have about two weeks worth of wood left at the moment to last me for the next few months.

In other news:

  • I have finally checked out the local swimming pool  (I love it, it’s absolutely empty!). It was embarrassing though – the lifeguard asked me if I had a helmet. I laughed thinking he was joking of course. I mean, who wears a helmet swimming? Who wears helmets indeed… what he actually asked is if I had a swimming cap.
  • I’ve been to a couple of lovely new restaurants and investigated another cinema nearby.
  • I’ve been making bread.
  • I’ve been scavenging for nuts and fruit.
  • I’ve been going for walks.
  • I’ve been commissioned to make an old damaged mirror look marginally better!
  • And taking pictures of the stars.

Here is the evidence…

C360_2015-09-26-13-34-19-160

So I have discovered several walnut trees and a hazelnut tree near me and a sort of abandoned apple and plum tree. And the green stuff is called mentuccia (a sort of minty oregano). It took me hours to shell the walnuts. I was just getting to the end when my neighbour gave me a million more. I made a hearty apple & plum crumble with the rest. There’s something cockle warming about foraging I think.

DSC02300

This is Lago di Fiastra taken from a new angle for me – I’d never been to this side of the lake before a week or two back.

DSC02336

This is the Lame Rosse. I went on a great organised little hike to it with a group from Jesi 🙂

DSC02511

And I found a new walk from the house with some great views of Sarnano and the mountains.

DSC02517

And THIS little church was built on top of this rock in Roccaporena where Santa Rita used to go regularly to pray. From what I can tell, Santa Rita is famous for such miracles as having spineless roses that never die and a slow-aging corpse.

DSC02554

And this is the church in Cascia where Santa Rita lays in a glass box. Not wishing to cast doubt on the slow-agingness of the corpse, but I would have found it useful to have a regular corpse aside her for comparison purposes.

DSC02566

And look at this little goat from Cascia! Cutie. Though I do worry about the ethics of a chained up goat gimmick.

DSC02574

And this is the main piazza in Cascia. It was a cute little town all in all.

DSC02581

And there some fabulous views in Cascia too.

DSC02591

Including this one…

C360_2015-09-26-09-03-15-972

Sourdough mission complete.

And this was the commissioned pimped up mirror to cover some damage at the bottom of it.

And this was the commissioned pimped up mirror to cover some damage at the bottom of it.

Astro1

My first attempt at trying to get star trails! Since that night it’s been cloudy very frustratingly!

I think that about sums up my last couple of weeks. I shall leave you with this picture of my cat looking sweet.

C360_2015-09-23-22-58-15-287

Batfink is not allowed in my bed. He knows this. We’ve been through it. Generally he’s an obedient sort but after a mystery disappearance following a bath last week, I managed to locate him. He wasn’t told off on this occasion because he’s been having a bad time of it with his dad, poor puss.

Hope you all have a good week!

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Snowboarding, Gazelles and Dog-led tours…

Ciao a tutti!

How is everyone? It’s been fairly quiet and sedate here in the last couple of weeks. Here’s an update…

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snooooow!

We have snow! The weather has been so dull and dreary for ages but on Monday it finally snowed and whilst we were here (the last time was at Christmas when we weren’t) and it was an experience!

It turns out there’s a whole bunch of things you have to do when it properly snows: Leave your gate open lest you can’t open it the following day, get your snow shovel out and somewhere accessible, don’t put the handbrake on the car lest it freeze over and leave your car unlocked in case the lock freezes over (I assure you the last two pieces of advice did not come from a car thief, though it does seem like they could have). Then there’s a whole technique to snow shoveling. And then did you know icicles are quite nice to eat? We had an baptism of fire with the immediate neighbour giving us heaps of advice about what to do and not to do before we went off in force up the road in order to clear it with the other neighbour. It had quite a nice little community feel and if it had been feasibly possible for 4 people to snowshovel the same bit of road without getting in each others way and being told off, I would have quite enjoyed it! We had a mistra (lethal aniceed drink) laden espresso at the end to finish off – all’s well that ends well.

IMG_5635

This is our terrace – we should probably put the table and chairs away :-s

IMG_5639

And this is Sarnano at the moment taken from the front garden

Snowboarding

Then, because it was an absolutely stunning day and it had been snowing, we thought it might be an ideal time to go snowboarding, so up the mountain we went. Perhaps only in Italy would the ski-lifts be closed because of, well, snow. There was one horrible lift open though – not those nice chair lifts that you can sit on and admire the scenery as you go up, but button lifts where the lift guy shoves a bit of plastic between your legs and you’re dragged up one by one by your bottom (they should be called bottom lifts perhaps).  The next day was much more productive and all the lifts were open again so that made for a much more entertaining day. The slopes are fairly short and there’s a very limited number of them but it’s just brilliant having them only a twenty minute drive away. We got a cheap hire deal on snowboarding stuff – 10 euros a day and it was 11 euros for a day ski pass. What an absolutely bargain!

PANO_20150202_152232

The piste. As you can see, it’s absolutely packed. Full of people.

Woofer Guided Tours

I’m on a mission to track my walks and write up guides for tourists so on a day where it wasn’t so grim we went for a long walk around Sarnano. We were met by a random collarless dog (they all are to be honest) who led us for most of the walk. We decided he might make a reasonable tour guide – he could pick up tourists at 11am on Sundays. Alas, he was easily distracted and ran off after an hour so we didn’t get an opportunity to discuss the details.

Woofer the Tour Guide meeting us at the start of the walk

Woofer the Tour Guide meeting us at the start of the walk. We did worry a bit that perhaps he was trying to lead us to little Timmy who’d fallen down a well.

IMG_5606

We found some unstable looking hunting shacks during the walk

IMG_5627

Italy is dotted with old houses that have fallen into ruin. I want to rescue them all! It’s very sad. On the plus side, they do make for good photos.

Batfink the teenager

Batfink is going through a teenage phase. He’s not washing (well he does, but he still smells), eats all the time, sleeps all day and when he isn’t, he just acts up. He was quite funny in the snow the other day though so that made up for it. He doesn’t like people throwing snowballs at him.

 

The cat didn't walk through the snow but leapt like a gazelle.  Very elegant.

The cat didn’t walk through the snow but leapt like a gazelle. He was very elegant.

Bread experimentations

I’m still making bread though I’ve calmed down a little. I think I’ve nailed regular loaves of bread that taste ok and have a good texture and look so I’m focusing my efforts on sourdough bread.

C360_2015-02-08-10-54-08-641

Latest sourdough bread attempt – I think it looks quite pretty. I can’t stop marvelling at bread – it’s just flour and water and salt. Amazing!

Sewing machine inventions

I bought a new sewing machine a week or so back so I’ve been experimenting with that. So far so good though I’ve recalled why I get fed up with sewing. It’s not the sewing per se, it’s the ironing which seems to be an integral part. The iron is surely the most futile invention known to mankind. However, it seems to be essential for trying to sew straight seams so I’ve managed to locate an iron for the purpose of that and my sewing project has thus been delayed by several days due to my lack of ironing motivation!

C360_2015-02-05-08-38-24-295

I don’t really have much of a clue about sewing but I’m steadily learning! The prototype didn’t go too badly – hopefully I’ll finish another three in the next week.

I think that about sums up the last couple of weeks. Have good weeks the rest of you…

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Chicks, pizza and TV watching cats…

Ciao a tutti!

How is everyone? All good here…

Cutie chicks

I’ve been feeling very rural. The next door neighbour has been rearing cutie little chickens. I’ve been watching them hatch. It’s like `One Born Every Minute` but for chickens (and with less screaming, and instead of an epidural my neighbour gives the mum sherry or vino cotto which I think is basically the same thing!).

IMG_5492

These chicks are a few hours old.

Bread & Beans

When there’s a quiet moment here (most moments), my thoughts turn to bread. I am in the process of making a sourdough ‘Starter’ and I’ll have a go using that later this week to try and make some bread that doesn’t have a massive hole in the middle like my last attempt at bread making. But regular bread has been going very well. Today’s efforts look reasonably professional (at least one of them does, the other two are completely burnt – note to self: don’t put bread on the top shelf of the oven)…

C360_2015-01-28-21-14-40-296

Look at my “crumb” (that’s what the professionals say!)

C360_2015-01-28-21-13-32-590

And what a pretty loaf I made!!!!!!!!

In other bread related news one of the neighbours brought me some of the dried yeast I’ve been searching for here, though it says on the packet it’s only for pizzas and focaccia (how does the yeast KNOW that?! If you put it in a normal loaf will it stubbornly decide not to rise?!). The pizza went reasonably well I think too.

C360_2015-01-27-19-55-17-200

Apparently the base wasn’t crispy enough and the tomato sauce was too sweet. Some people can never be pleased. I very much look forward to Pane Caldo’s efforts.

I have produced a reasonable interpretation of Heinz Baked Beans. They have to import the genuine article here and it’s a rare find and only ever in the big supermarkets. They’d be more readily available and probably cheaper if I hired an actual Heinz Baked Bean chef to be on permanent stand-by, hence trying to make them myself.

C360_2015-01-28-19-47-50-648

Not very Italian this dish…

The Science of Happiness

I’ve found a course! Continually doing courses is something I’ve missed greatly about not being in the UK so I was thrilled to find this font of free online courses at http://www.edx.org. I’ve picked what seems like quite a fluffy course: “The Science of Happiness” but it’s founded in years of research and studies and it’s absolutely fascinating. So now, in between thoughts about bread, I’ve been posing myself in-depth philosophical questions.

Walking

It’s been miserable weather here pretty much all of last week – overcast and constant rain. Yesterday there was a small break in the clouds so I went for a walk. One of my new year’s resolutions was to write up my walks – and so I have. I’m  hoping to translate it into Italian and see if the local Tourist Information Office would be interested. Some photo’s from the walk…

IMG_5548

It’s quite a remote path, demonstrated by the cute little birds nests in the hedges along the path.

IMG_5528

Beautiful countryside. This house has a couple of dogs outside in a not very clean cage all day. I’m considering mounting a “Free Doggy” campaign.

IMG_5521

Pretty woodland

IMG_5526

And pretty mountains.

Monte San Martino Forgetting that I’ve already been to Monte San Martino, I decided we should go to Monte San Martino. It’s a quaint little hill top village with beautiful views of the local area. Unfortunately we went there during one of the constantly rainy days so we didn’t see as much as we’d hoped.

C360_2015-01-26-15-09-38-635

Narrow cobbled streets…

C360_2015-01-26-15-26-14-710

And wider cobbled streets…

 

Animal watch

I know animal watch has been a bit quiet of late. Here’s the resident animal watching the film ‘Ice Age’ (ignore the mess!). He doesn’t usually watch TV but I think he quite likes animations!

C360_2015-01-24-21-14-20-429

The cat took a liking to Ice Age and spent a few minutes doing his meercat impression. I think if he was a cinema goer, he’d go straight to the front seats.

C360_2015-01-24-21-44-00-724

We gave him his own little chair so he could get up close and personal but not so much he would feel inclined to jump on the TV

 

C360_2015-01-24-21-18-53-388

And then it got a bit scary so he retreated to the sofa for comfort.

I think that about sums up this week. I’ll report back next week – probably with with more bread updates !

x

ps. it’s been rather pretty here in the last week with our first “snow” (or at least that we’ve experienced). Here’s a picture…

IMG_5588

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Breaks, Bad Bread Baking and Batfink

Ciao a tutti!

Happy New Year! Apologies it’s late. I hope you’re all getting off to an excellent start 🙂 It’s been somewhat slow here having only got back to Italy earlier this week. It’s been good to have a break and lovely to catch up with friends and family in the UK though I never get around to seeing everyone I’d like.

So what have I been up to? Well, apart from contracting what I think must have been the Plague over the Christmas period, I’ve been travelling around the UK a bit seeing some lovely areas…

C360_2014-12-28-10-35-05-136

Langston Harbour in Hampshire

C360_2015-01-01-12-05-26-542

Rhossili Bay in Wales

 

C360_2015-01-06-15-19-26-963

Belton House in Lincolnshire

I missed Sarnano a lot but my lovely neighbour sent me lots of pictures…

IMG-20141219-WA0001

I’m gutted I missed the snow! It was all gone by the time we got back. Hopefully it’ll snow again before Spring.

IMG-20141219-WA0002

Sarnano looking like a postcard… There’s still snow on the mountains now but nothing like this.

IMG-20141219-WA0010

She even took pictures of my Batfink waiting outside the door looking very regal

Last Sunday we flew back to Italy via Bologna and had a nice afternoon and morning wandering around there before heading back to Sarnano the following day. I was expecting a house full to the brim with mould but actually it wasn’t too bad as I think the neighbour had been in and out every so often to air it.  Batfink was beside himself on our return.  I’ve never seen a cat overjoyed before but this one certainly was when we came back. It’s nice to feel missed!

C360_2015-01-12-18-24-18-610

Batfink requesting permission to come along next time.

Since we’ve been back I’ve been on a bread making mission which to all intents and purposes, has been a disaster. This mission came about because I find the yeast situation confusing over here (it comes in little refrigerated packets that look like blocks of butter rather than the dry stuff I’m used to) and the local bread is quite expensive (not to mention tasteless). So I’ve been experimenting with sourdough. Sourdough is weird. It’s made with yeast that’s been collected from the air. You basically make a flour/watery gunk and leave it for a few days until it looks disgusting. This is called a “starter”. You feed it with flour and water to keep it going. It’s like having an invisible pet. Then when you want to make a loaf of bread you take some of the gunk, add some flour and water and spend hours and hours alternating between kneading the thing and waiting for it to rise. Then, once you bake it, it comes out like a very unattractive lead weight with a massive hole in the middle (or at least mine did).

C360_2015-01-16-09-34-46-698

Gunk. Otherwise known as a “Starter”.

C360_2015-01-17-15-59-02-721

After decades (I might have to work on my patience) of kneading the dough and waiting for it to rise it was ready to go in the oven…

C360_2015-01-17-19-28-49-145

Whilst in the oven, the promising looking loaves were replaced with these horrible looking things. My oven must be haunted. It’s the only explanation.

C360_2015-01-17-20-03-18-531

But hey, perhaps it was ok inside I hear you cry? No. No it wasn’t. Stupid bread.

This year, I have resolved to focus on things and get good at them rather than my usual tact of not focusing on anything and being bad at them. So. I shall not be defeated. Tune in shortly for more bread updates. Meanwhile, I would encourage you all to try making sourdough and post comments of your disasters too (I am not interested in hearing if your bread has gone perfectly) so that I have some moral support.

I think that about sums up the last few weeks.  I hope you all have a good week or so!

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.