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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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December 08, 2008

Strata: A Savory Custard

From the book "The Pleasures of Cooking for One" by Judith Jones. 

The actual recipe:

1/2 c. stale bread torn in small pieces, remove crust if tough
1/4 c. milk
A slice of ham, enough to cover bottom of your casserole)
3 spears cooked asparagus
1 large egg
1/4 c. mix of milk and cream or use half and half
Fresh ground pepper
A couple fresh sage or basil leaves, torn (optional)
1 generous Tbsp grated cheese (parmesan, cheddar, swiss...)

Soak the bread in the milk for about 5 minutes and then squees through your fingers to dissolve the crumbs.

Butter your casserole (she used a 1-1/2 cup ceramic dish which is probably about what mine was) and then lay the ham slice on the bottom. Lay asparagus on top of that. Spread soaked crumbs on top and salt lightly. Beat egg with the milk cream mixture, add a little salt and the pepper and pour over everything. Arrange torn leaves on top, if using and sprinkle on cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Let set about 5 minutes after you take it out.

Okay, now I've made it twice, liking the second one better so here's what I think.  First off - use any veggie you like, although I'd suggest green or red just cause of the colors.  And any that are fairly moist should be sauteed a little first so they don't release a bunch of juice into the strata.  The big thing I did differently this time was to mix everything together - I didn't soak the bread crumbs first.  I beat my egg, poured in the milk, added the bread crumbs, added the veggie I was using (this time sauteed zucchini slices and a tiny bit of scallion), chopped up ham (instead of a slice on the bottom) and added salt and pepper.  And then, since I didn't have any cream, half and half or whole milk, it seemed like it was looking pretty thin, so I beat up another egg and mixed that in too and also added in a tablespoon or two of good grated parmesan-reggiano.  I think this is very much one of those recipes where you can pretty much do what you want.  And I do think this method of mixing everything together is much simpler and just as effective.

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