Monday, July 21, 2008

Last night: Festa della Madonna del Carmine

The bells rang, and confetti danced in the air, while Mother Mary and baby Jesus exited the church last night. They were taken on a procession through town on their way back to the intimate little church, Chiesa del Carmine.

Fireworks marked the end of a very beautiful night!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Buon Compleanno Fred

Isi created this banner for the special day!

Last night we celebrated Fred's 80th birthday. Fred, Isi, and I met a few years back when I was still living in the states. I would search on-line for information on Sicily, and one day I came across his picture blog. We started emailing and discovered that he lived in the nearby town of Linguaglossa. They both helped me with information on the documentation for staying in Italy. From then on, we chated from time to time and it's always a pleasure to meet up with them. Yesterday, being the big birthday party, I had invited my friend Susan to join me, knowing that there were to be many English speaking people attending. Turned out that a few of Susan's friends were also attending Fred's party. Small world... There were many new faces for me and those of which I hope to see again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Festa della Madonna del Carmine

Last night, the Mother Mary statue was transported from the Chiesa del Carmine to the Chiesa Madre for this holy period. This very intimate church has has standing room only, with lines out the door every morning, as mass has been held at the Chiesa del Carmine leading up to this day.

People from the town followed in a procession behind her, on her way to Mass.

Our choir sang for this special Mass...
Much of the original gold adorning this statue were given as gifts from those who received blessings from the Mother Mary. Women who prayed for their husbands to return safely, mothers who prayed for their children's health, would offer what little precious items they might have. The crowns you see here were gifts from my Sister-in-law Maria Elena's Mother and Grandmother more that fifty years ago.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Buon Compleanno Maria Elena e Teresa

What a nice night we all shared last night.
Maria Elena and Teresa prepared a grand feast for everyone. First the table was full of antipasto, then pasta salads and vegetables prepared in so many ways, and finally the table was full of desserts. Later, after the presents, they cut the cake and we celebrated with bubbly spumante.
Padre Salvatore, our priest, brought his karaoke machine that entertained us all.

Our choir was all there and we sang into the night!

Hmm, can you tell they are sisters?

At least I took a picture of the desserts I made while they were in the fridge. Once they hit the table they were gone. These people were piranhas! Once I got my camera out the table was empty...

Sweet vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting. At this point they were still missing their sprinkles.
This was a beautifully dense lemon pound cake with lemon frosting.

This little guy may look strange, but I received many compliments. Mocha Hazelnut cheesecake with Baileys.
I have had many requests for this recipe from friends, so I will post it here. Please forgive me if words are incorrect...

Torta di formaggio fresca: Mocha, nocciola
4 (250 g ) philadelphia formaggio
310 g zucchero
3 cucchiaio farina
4 uova
100 ml Panna dolce
3 cucchiaio Baileys o Kaluha
150 g cioccolata bianco tagliato
1/4 cucchiaino sale (pocco)
(se vuoi, biscotti cioccolata mollica <250 class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_28">nocciola mollica <250 class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_30">Forno: 160°C
Mischiare philadelphia, zucchero, farina, e sale. Quando leggero basta.
Aggiungere uova e mischiare.
Aggiungere Baileys e panna, mischiare.
Piega cioccolata bianco.
Versare dentro forma. Aggingere biscotti e nocciola sopra, come vuoi.

Dentro forno per 70-80+ min, quando fermo raffredarsi fuori per 30 min ritto. Allora, raffredarsi dentro frigo per 2 ora, ancora dentro la forma. (Meglio per la notte)

Hai bisogno chiarificazione, mi invia il e-mail! :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hazelnut Biscotti

Biscotti are twice-baked cookies: the dough is shaped into a log, baked, and then sliced and baked again to produce a delightfully crunchy texture.

As I sit here, nibbling on one, I can say that these biscotti are very good. Last night I thought of making something tasty and light, to bring over to Rita and Carmelo's house for lunch. Now, all wrapped up in a nice little package, I think they are a sweet gift...

These cookies can be made 3-5 days ahead of time stored in an airtight container. Recrisp if necessary in the oven at 120°C. Enjoy with your morning or afternoon coffee...

Hazelnut Biscotti
390 g, 2.5 cups flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
125 g, 1/2 cup butter
250 g, 1 cup sugar
3 eggs
juice and zest of one lemon
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
315 g, 2 cups toasted hazelnuts coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 165° C (325°F)

In a bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the sugar and butter using an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs. Beat in the lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and almond extract. Reduce the mixer to low and add in the flour mixture, one third at a time. Then, fold in the nuts. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and divide in half. Roll each half into an oval log and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let rest until cool to the touch. Once cool, cut each log into slices. Then arrange each slice on the baking sheet and return to the oven. Bake until the biscotti are toasted and the edges are golden brown. (I prefer them to be crunchy, but if you want just a toasting, lower the temperature to 120° C and bake for 10 minutes.) Let cool on the pan or wire rack.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chiara's Dance Recital

Last night Chiara had her dance recital. They all did a great job, but unfortunately each picture was out of focus. They just never stopped moving! :) The hip-hop section was my favorite!


Calcetto means little calcio, or little soccer. During the fresh summer nights, many of the towns people gather in the square where there is the nightly soccer match. Some watch, while others catch up on conversations with friends and family. The children, however, bring their bikes and play in the big open space. During the early evening, the little players play against each other. Being that it's little soccer, the game usually only lasts for thirty minutes. Our nephew Mario enjoys the game and playing with his friends.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sunday at the Sea

Bright and early this morning we were on our way to the beach, hoping to beat the crowd. Sundays are notorious for being crazy busy. We were fortunate, however, we found a parking spot and away we were.

The fresh sea air!

Alfio found a friend when he went diving for fish. Cute little guy...

It was a great day, that is until it was time to leave. The town of Calatabiano should be ashamed! We have to pay to park here and look at what we were up against when we tried to leave. I wrote an email to the town mayor with photos and copied it to as many email addresses I could find online. I realize nothing will change, but this can be managed much better.

Yeah, there is plenty of room to get by...!??! No more will we be going to the beach on Sunday, unless we get there early and spend the whole day.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Sicilian Horse Carts

There is beauty all around. Antonello and I often take the back roads and find hidden treasures along the way. This hard worker was taking a rest in the shade...

The cart creator's art is almost a lost one, kept alive by the diligence and dedication of just a few talented craftsmen; at once carpenters, iron smiths and artists.
These colourful panels represent more than another era, they symbolise a way of life, and in centuries past, these works of art were everywhere in Sicily.