Sunday, February 17, 2008

Back from Italy

On Friday we returned from a two week trip to the Tuscan region of Italy. We spent most of our time in Florence, but also took a daytrip to Pisa, another to Parma, Maranello and Bologna, and then spent the last day in Venice. Italy was our favorite place so far. The food was fantastic, the scenery beautiful and the people were for the most part welcoming and lovely to us. Everyone made comments about our “huge” family, and wanted to be assured that we were “finito” (finished). We ate the best ice cream in the entire world almost every day because we couldn’t get enough of it. Fresh pasta, perfectly grilled meats, cheeses, and pungent olive oil were part of nearly every meal.

I was so inspired by all of the good food, that today I made my own fresh pasta for dinner. I made a black pepper pasta dough based on Mario Batali’s recipe from his book Simple Italian and it was quite good, if I do say so myself (and I do).

I also found a recipe on for Tuscan style biscotti. I baked them a little too long so they're a bit hard, but the flavor is perfect. I'll post recipes and pictures for both later.

I’m working on getting all of the pictures uploaded and organized in Flickr (photo hosting site that allows us to put pics up on this blog), so for now here are some shots of Lavella right before we left, just being her cute little self.
As the boys did at her age, she’s going through an “organize the fridge” stage. The only trouble is when she tries to actually climb inside of it.

Another favorite thing is laundry.L1000867

Give her a basket, clean or dirty, and she’s all about it.

She made this much mess in about 10 minutes.

Lavella crawls all over the house now, following the boys around. She spends a lot of time playing with them, and they keep surprisingly good care of her. I check on them all often, but for the most part things are ok whenever I poke my head in to wherever they are. They like to build train sets together, block towers for her to knock down, read books, and drive cars in “Hailey’s” room.

Aunt Susie and Sarah D., I have not forgotten about the brussel sprouts question from Christmas, but I wanted to do an entire post on it to include recipe and photograph. I will still probably, but for now, here’s the general idea: cut each sprout lengthwise and toss in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put cut side down on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at high temp (I think it was around 450) for about 45 minutes without stirring until they are dark brown and the outer leaves are crisp. You can then toss the hot sprouts in a light vinegrette or just serve them as is. I make a Vietnamese style dressing, and I will post the recipe whenever I find it. It is spicy and includes fish sauce and dark brown or palm sugar. Sorry that I didn’t post about that sooner!