The other morning we woke up with a message from Mt. Etna. She must have been talking all night because everything was covered with a dark layer of lavic sand. Cars on the street were black and store owners were busy sweeping the sidewalks. I was told that this was nothing in comparison to a few years back, but for me it was wild. Click on the title and you can see a live webcame of Mt.Etna.
The harvest of the grapes is over and the wine has been sitting in a cool dark place for almost two months. The day of Saint Martino, November 11th, is the day when people have the first tasting of the wine. It is customary to accompany the wine with roasted castagna(chestnuts) and bread. I have to say that this years harvest was a good one, our wine has a nice taste. Every meal from now on, we will enjoy the flavour!
The other day Mary, my soon to be sister in law, gave us a big bag of Cotogna. Antonello’s mother then searched in her cupboards to find her grandmothers molds, and we went to work. Cotognata
is a thick paste that people enjoy spread on bread. Once the mold is completely dry, it will conserve for months.
2 kilos of cotogna (quince)
3-5 lemons sliced –
• we learned from the bakers wife that the more lemons you use the brighter color the paste will become. Usually, the paste becomes dark, but after trying her advice, our Cotognata became a beautiful golden colour.
1 kilo of sugar
In a large pot add the cotogna, lemon slices, and fill with water. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, discarding the lemon slices.
Core the cotogna and pass them through a food mill. Place the puree back in the pot and add the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. ( You may add juice of a lemon if the mixture it too dry.)
Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly. Cook until the puree is very stiff and shiny, about one hour.
Wet the molds and pour the puree into them, and leave to dry for 4-5 days. When the paste pulls away from the sides of the mold, unmold and invert to dry the other side. Dry in a cool place for one month then wrap in wax paper after that.
Mario enjoys the first serving of Cotognata on bread!
On November 12, we were on our way to Calabria. Our packed bus left Fuimefreddo at 6am for a Mass service in the village of Paravati, a Province of Calabria in the southernmost region of Italy. There, we were to see Natuzza Evolo, the renowned Italian medium, healer, bilocator and stigmatic. Every year thousands of people attend this ceremony and to be a part of this event was touching.
Last night I had the pleasure of going out with our friends Carmelo and Flavia. In Catania, the night was alive! On every corner sat a packed bar with live music, and the streets were full of conversation. We started the evening with a delightful meal in the Trattoria del Cavaliere. I finally had my Spaghetti con Nero di Seppia! It’s not a plate for those concerned about their appearance, as your mouth turns completely black. However, the taste is completely worth it! Carmelo and I shared a plate of frutta del mare marinata, and for our second plate we shared a riciola cooked in aqua de mare. This fish was mouth watering, and the broth was perfect!
After dinner, we spent the night strolling the streets from one place to another. Enjoying the atmosphere and most importantly, the company.
I know, I have a lot of catching up to do! This week has flown by and I haven’t had a chance to update this. I have been searching for “the dress” all week. I think I might have found it! These pictures are from the dress store in Giarre, can you get an idea of just how nice shopping in Italy is?
November 6th is the day the town of Mascali celebrates their patron Saint, St. Leonardo. Mascali is a town nearby, just down the road a bit. We questioned weather or not to go, being that it was 12 degrees Celsius outside. But, we just bundled up and went. The whole weekend was dedicated to him, and everyone came out to celebrate. The streets were lined with vendors selling a little something of everything. We stopped by a Torrone seller and bought a bar to enjoy as we walked.
It felt like summer all over again! There were rides for the kids and a large stage with a live band playing. No one was threatened by the temperatures, for all of us in Mascali, it was a pleasant night.
The new lights are on in the main square! And just in time. Last night, outside the church, everyone from Mass gathered in the square, and remembered the people who had served in War. Both the Priest and the Mayor of the town spoke in memory of them, while the marching band played the Italian National Anthem.
Polenta with Onions
The first time I ate Polenta was in the town of Linguaglosa at their festival during Natale. There we had it served with a thick meat ragout, but polenta can be served many ways. Today we had it with sweet onions, but you can add any vegetable. It is ridiculously easy to make.
2 liters of water for 500 grams of Polenta
In a separate pan, cook down the onions in a little water.
Bring a pot of water to boil and gradually add the polenta flour. Continue stirring until mixture reaches a think consistency.
• Our polenta was gurgling like melted lave, but I was told this was normal.
Add salt to taste.
We also added a small amount of butter.
Once the mixture is ready, transfer to a baking dish.
We then layered the polenta with grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese.
On the top we sliced soft cheese as a garnish and baked in the oven for 45 minutes.
Asparagus and Egg
Today we also had the asparagus we picked in the garden the other day.
Rinse and clean the Asparagus.
Place in a pan and cook covered until tender.
• You won’t add any water to the pan, the water on the stems is enough.
Add one or two eggs to the pan and stir until the egg covers all the stems.
Yesterday was All Souls Day, a day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. We began at the main church and followed in a large procession through the streets of the town to the cemetery. Once there, I was amazed with the amount of people already there waiting. There were cars everywhere and police directing traffic, trying to keep things in order. The scent of flowers welcome us as we entered through the main door. Inside, it was nothing like I’ve ever seen. People sitting in chairs next to departed loved ones, as if having a peaceful conversation. Every grave was remembered, it was beautiful. Mass was then held in the open air followed by blessings of the Priest.
There is a custom here that the dead leave gifts for the children. So, once we returned home from the cemetery, the kids were busy at play.
I know, I forgot my camera again, and it would have been a great photo! Yesterday, after lunch, we went to the hillside to collect greens. It was just that, a beautiful, untouched, hilly landscape covered in green. We were serenaded by the ringing bells around the necks of the lambs in the distance eating. I felt like I was in Ireland. We went right to work, bent over, cutting what seamed to be weeds to me, the same plant that you see above. Honestly, if we were to eat what I collected, we would have been eating just bread. I’m still learning!
But, as the day progressed, I was getting better at recognizing the leaf that we were searching for. Once I came home, I looked online and was shocked! This leave has the same shape as dandelion. Check out the link attached to the title of this entry and you too will be amazed of all the benefits this pesky weed has! You might rethink trying to kill it in your lawn.
Today was the day we remember the saints of the faith- both recognized and unknown. A day when all things close, schools and businesses.
This day we visited the cemetery in preparation for tomorrow, All Souls Day, by placing flowers next to ancestors and friends that have passed. Walking through the pathways, it is so moving to read the messages on the tombs. Besides the beauty and artistry of their tombs, there is something else that always mesmerized me about the cemeteries here. Adjacent to each name is a photo. It is so touching and personal, that you feel like you’re being introduced to that person.
I’ve been hearing stories about people with Mamma and this history is something that I do not want to loose. These people are not forgotten.
I have been carried away to a world that stops to taste the sweetness of the land, and admire all the treasures that their rich black soil provides. Now my journey begins as we enjoy the simple pleasures of the life! We came from different worlds, spoke different languages, but that didn’t stop us. We have our home in Sicily, and many adventures await us. Sicilia is our home!
Sailing across the Gulf of Mexico, I had the pleasure of meeting the most amazing man. Little did I know that he would eventually become the love of my life and would change my world. We were both working aboard a cruise line at the time. He, an Italian Engineer, and I, the featured headlining Vocalist, met at a crew party and the rest is history. Our beginning... Wedding Pictures...
Towns around Mt. Etna
Take a trip around Mt.Etna and visit all the small towns along the way here. Relax and enjoy the scenery on the Ferrovia Circumetnea Train that travels around Mt. Etna.