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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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November 14, 2010

What I've Been Up To

It's Sunday evening and I'm sitting here listening to some lovely music realizing I don't turn my stereo on as often as I should - I love having it around me.

I just finished trying a new pasta sauce recipe and thought while I wait for it to be time to eat, I'd write a little.  It's a roasted red pepper sauce and I took a few pictures just in case it turns out yummy.  It smells pretty good, so that's hopeful.  I'm in a cooking kind of mood and meant to get more done today, but ended up running all over the place looking for mini pie pans!  So, hopefully I will have some good results to tell about soon.  I took some pictures of the preparation process...

 First step is to saute onion and garlic in olive oil, and then add (gasp!) an anchovy.  I don't know why at some point, I decided to muster up my courage and try a recipe that called for anchovies.  I started out using the anchovy paste that comes in tubes and then decided to be bold and use actual anchovies.  And they do just sort of disappear when you cook them like this, but they make the dish much richer and add a real aroma.  So, try it...you may like it...

Then you add some tomato paste and red wine and let it cook down a little...

dump in the red peppers and let it cook for a little while...

and then puree the whole thing in the blender.  To me, it sounds good and interesting, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I've been extra good eating wise this past week.  One of my lunch buddies was out of town all week, one was crazy busy at work where they were waiting to see if the union would be going on strike, and the third one was getting sick.  So I had one lunch out all by my lonesome and chose Hillbilly Hotdogs again and chose another good day.  This time both Sonny and Shari (his wife) were there and they are such nice people but SO crazy!!  They have a goal to renew their wedding vows in every state in the union and I forget how many they're up to now, but I asked Shari if they had gotten married recently and she said as a matter of fact they had - Chicago in October.  Plus she told me that there is talk of creating some kind of reality show around their restaurants which I can't quite imagine and told her I hoped that didn't mean they'd have to be real nasty to everyone and she said no, it would be more like the TV show "The Cake Boss" which I've never seen but apparently is a show that follows a family in Boston or somewhere who run a bakery.  She said they wouldn't go along with anything that was one of those screaming, angst-ridden (supposedly) cooking shows.

It was such a beautiful day that I walked back from there via the river thinking maybe there would be a nice big barge I could get a picture of and by darn, there was!  So I took a couple of pictures...

The pictures are with my phone so not sure how they'll do and I had to be so far back from this in order to get it all in, that it's not real easy to see.  But the tug is over on the far left and there are 5 barges in front and they were doubles!  Quite a load although I have no idea what they were transporting.

See what I mean about a beautiful day?  The whole week was pretty like this and finally this morning (and all day now) it was raining and cold.  But that's nice too when it's not been going on for a long time.

Oh, and I almost forgot again.  In my last post I said how I should have been writing things down as they happened cause I knew I'd forget some and sure enough, going to the river Wednesday reminded me that my last visit to the river (probably the week before) I got to witness one boat rescuing another boat.  I had gone down there to eat lunch and noticed a boat (I mean just a personal boat) sitting out in the middle of the river bobbing around and the longer he sat the more I began to wonder if there was a problem.  Finally, a slow-moving houseboat type boat came along and the person in the bobbing boat started waving a white towel and, sure enough, he apparently had run out of gas, or for some other reason couldn't get his motor going.  So the houseboat maneuvered all around and finally got him secured to their boat and towed him close enough to be boat ramp that a couple of people there caught the ropes he threw out and got him secured while he went to get his trailer.  Big excitement, right?  I've seen a lot of strange things down there, including one time when I was still working and Jamie and I took our lunches down to the river where one day, we watched as a man came out along the pier where people dock their boats, got to what was hopefully his boat, and proceeded to bash out the bottom of it (small boat) until it slowly sank out of sight!!!  Crazy...

In addition to being good and not eating out a lot, I also made a pot roast for Sunday dinner which was quite disappointing but then during the week I made my pot roast hash which was fine and a nice big batch of chili which I had twice and then froze the rest.  Then I made some "hoppin' John" - black-eyed peas, rice and smoked sausage - and had that twice and froze one more serving of it, so I'm feeling pretty noble.  Also spent a fair amount of time cross stitching.  Pulled out a piece I hadn't worked on for way too long and made some good progress on that.

And yesterday, I actually got the urge to do some house cleaning - something that doesn't often happen.  Well, I mean things like vacuuming all the baseboards and outside windowsills, vacuuming my couch, which since it has a black background, I have to remember that it will eventually show dust just like my dark wood furniture so I finally break down and vacuum it.  Anyway, I don't remember what all I did but I managed to spend a good portion of the day doing it.

Now I'm about ready to heat up some water to cook whatever pasta I'm going to cook for my new sauce.  The recipe said bowtie which I don't have (I don't think - I need to check...).  I do have some small size gnocchi which I think might be kind of good with it.  It's going to be a thick sauce I think and possibly quite robust so I think it needs a nice sturdy base and not something slippery like noodles or spaghetti.

I'll finish this post after I've eaten tonight and if I like it, will post the recipe in my recipe collection.  And hopefully, I'll be writing about some other recipes soon.  I have a vodka sauce recipe, a butternut squash recipe (which I finally managed to find some frozen butternut squash),  and I'm going to try making myself a tart-sized pumpkin pie using Libby's recipe.  I may cut it in half (the recipe, not the pie) but even that will be too much for one mini pie, so I'm going to try freezing the remainder of the raw filling and see what happens when I thaw it in a week or so to make another one.  Plus which I've thought of an idea I'm going to try for the crust instead of standard piecrust.  So, out of all those different things to try (oh, and I found a bunch of recipes for Tuscan style beans which I'll be trying soon with some of the beans I bought in Perugia), I'm really going to be disappointed if none of them are any good!

All right, now it's around 9:00 p.m. and the jury is still out on the sauce.  I had a fair amount left over and will try it again.  It wasn't bad but it was very strongly roasted red peppers tasting and I don't think the gnocchi was the best thing to use.  I remembered after I ate it that the recipe said if the peppers weren't sweet enough to add a little sugar.  And that made me remember that it  was supposed to have a little hot pepper in it and, if desired, some smoked paprika.  So, I added some truffle honey (not much), a sprinkle of cayenne, some smoked paprika, a little more salt and I had also forgotten to add black pepper so I'll try it again and see if that changed things at all.  I toasted a piece of good bread to munch along with it and it tasted better on the toast than it did on the gnocchi.  And, unfortunately, I think probably the "fresh" herbs that are available in stores here are probably not all that fresh, because I didn't taste sage at all and, based on its not very strong odor when I chopped it up, I put in a fair amount more than the recipe said.  So, right now I'm calling it a recipe with possibilities.


vrmichie said...

Well, I'm impressed. With the recipe (it looks so good no matter how it tastes); with the river (makes the Connecticut look like a creek); with your seeing the crazy man who sank (his?) boat; with your knowing people who aim to get married in every state (do they do one a year? will they live long enough to do them all?); with your major house-cleaning (it's what I should be doing); with hoppin' John; with beans from Perugia. Holy cow!! Oh, and cross-stitch too!! You be awesome! xoxo

January said...

The sauce sure does *sound* good! I hope the retweaking helps it, because it would be a shame for something that nice sounding not to be. And good for you on the housecleaning! I need to do a cobweb sweep, and can't quite seem to get up the gumption - maybe you'll inspire me! :)

Christopher said...

Yes, it sounds fantastic, actually... makes me hungry! If you get your housecleaning gears in full tilt, you can always come back for more here, after your hugely successful closet purging for me!! :)

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