Monday, October 26, 2015

The Mixed Up Signs Game

Today we invented a new game. Like our alphabet game from last winter, it involved taping bits of paper to things in our living room.

There is a series of books about a character called Mr. Pine. He is a sign-painter, and in the book Mr. Pine's Mixed-Up Signs he puts up new signs all over town even though he has lost his glasses! As you can guess mayhem ensues, until the townspeople and the mayor find Mr. Pine, he finds his glasses, and he puts the signs where they belong.

Today I played the part of Mr. Pine. I made signs with the names of objects. I also added little pictures so that my younger daughter could participate. I then taped them up in the wrong places. The kids then ran around finding the signs and putting them in their correct places. The silliness of finding them in the wrong places really appealed to my kids, and Alessia enjoyed reading the words.




Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why I Studied and Continue to Study Italian

I first studied Italian, because it is the language of my father's parents. They came here as children, and they didn't speak Italian with their own children (I can only imagine that WWII had something to do with that). I grew up knowing that my dad regretted not knowing Italian, and when I got to Smith College I enrolled in intensive beginner Italian with the goal of spending a year of my undergraduate studies in Italy. For most of my 20s and early 30s, I didn't use my Italian much. When my first daughter Alessia was born, I decided to try to speak a little Italian with her every day. Now I learn Italian with my girls. I keep studying Italian, because it is the language of my grandparents, and because of the ways that English and Italian words relate to each other. My English is richer with meaning, because of my Italian.
A parasol is for the sun (per il sole) and my umbrella makes shade (ombra). When water falls (cascare) it is a cascade, and when a man falls (cadere), he becomes a cadever. A porter brings (portare) my stuff. When my hunger (fame) is big, I am famished. My hands (mani) get a manicure, and my feet (piedi) a pedicure. With my arms (braccia), I can embrace someone. The nurse holds my wrist (polso) to take my pulse. My bellybutton (ombellico) is what is left of my umbillical cord. A jellyfish (medusa) is beautiful and mythic...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sauce (tomato and apple) with an Immersion Blender and a Freezer

This year I am making tomato sauce and apple sauce. I don't have much time for these types of projects, but I like having a stash of local foods to eat in the winter. I have a new process that involves less hands-on time than the traditional methods and results in less waste.
I cut out the cores and coarsely chop the fruit. I cook it all down, skins included. With the tomatoes I even leave the seeds. Once the fruit is cooked down enough, I turn off the heat, and then blend it all smooth with an immersion blender. If the sauce is too thin, I cook it a bit more. Then I put the sauce in freezer safe containers (sometimes mason jars and sometimes plastic containers depending on what I have on hand). I let it cool on the counter or in the fridge if it's already late in the day, and then into the freezer it goes. That's it.
The tomato sauce has texture. I don't know that I will use it for a plain marinara sauce, but I've been using it in stews, chillis, and pasta sauces that include beans and vegetables. Amongst the texture of the other ingredients, the texture of the tomato sauce isn't noticeable, and it's so healthy with the skins and seeds included.