The next best thing to being in Italy
Hello from the dark depths of Tropical Storm Beryl, or as I like to call it the hypothetical- storm- that- forced- us- to- cancel- our- weekend- kayaking- and- cycling- trip- and has- yet- to- produce- one- freaking -rain -drop. I’m not bitter. Not at all.
We have power. Blue skies. A little wind.No rain. And a whole lotta food. It’s been a cooking week here on the urban farm. I am up to my neck in squash and tomatoes in our garden, which I feel so blessed to know came straight from the dirt we cultivated and has no pesticides in it. It’s yummy!
The past week was truly special because I had the pleasure of attending a cooking class on Mediterranean fare by chef, Robin Asbell….right after a stomach virus, so the food tasted extra delicious because I was starving! The timing could not have been more perfect, because lately I cannot stop daydreaming about my trip 2 years ago today to Italy with all of these fresh tomatoes, basil, rosemary, and zucchini around the house.
For the next few weeks, I will be cooking up Italian dishes because Thursday night’s class with Robin brought back so many memories of my own . It inspired me to not only try a few of her recipes, but re-create a few I learned myself at an Agriturismo in Tuscany and Cinque Terre. Love:-)
Robin Asbell and I are so much alike in a myriad of ways. Of course, I contained my excitement in the class with a serious face, but I was secretly jumping around on the inside. That’s just how I am. My emotions are much better put on paper…
Not only is she a whiz on food history and politics (my senior project in college was about the effect of the Industrial Revolution on our food system in the U . S. ..Go food nerds.! ), but she is a proponent of eating real foods. And if you have read this blog lately, that’s my cup- of- tea, my passion ,and my forte.
Other similarities between her and I include baking with sucanat and coconut oil , cooking with grass-fed butter, and memorizing random food facts that most people would never know. And what recipe did I just post on my blog a week before her class?!
A recipe that includes grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and sucanat.Whoa.
She is a famous chef who writes for Clean Eating, and I, well, I write to keep my sanity and to keep Larsen from falling asleep at the dinner table whenever I am telling him about what is in the dish I just cooked and the entire history of it. And you know what, she admitted that is why she writes, too?
I feel almost normal.
As Robin pointed out and I agree, simple foods that po’ folks eat and grow is usually the healthiest. In sleepy Tuscany,where agriturismos grace the landcape, old grandmothers churn their own butter from their grass-fed cows , pick only a few, fresh ingredients and turn it into something flavorful and healthy, just as their grandmothers did, and are able to create a dish from whatever is on hand. Where did this knowledge go in the U.S.??
Oh yes, that’s right, we have factories and food scientists that make our food now. And fast food joints. And chain restaurants. Boo.
I prefer the Italian way of life, which takes quality ingredients straight from the ground, includes Omega 3′s,vitamins, and minerals, and requires just a touch of preparation to be transformed into a flavorful meal.
Let’s get to the food already, specifically Robin’s ”Chickpea Fritters with Romesco Sauce”.
Oh, dear God , who would have thought you could elevate a chickpea to that level?
I love chickpeas. I eat hummus everyday, but never had I imagined what a bit of romesco sauce could do when set into bed with a chickpea. A union of the Gods.
I made a few changes to her recipe today, sauteed ’em up, and served them to the man. He could not contain the groans of delight. This recipe is low-cost, easy, and delicious!
I bought Robin’s book The New Whole Grains Cookbook and could not be more satisifed with the recipes. A cookbook comprised of dishes made only with whole grains, and no white flour in sight? I’m in heaven.
She also has a few other cookbooks including Big Vegan and the The New Vegetarian, both of which I plan to order in the next few months. Lastly, Robin has a blog, called Robin Asbell’s The New Vegetarian.
I tweaked her recipe to include fresh feta, coriander, and fried capers! Enjoy!
And look for Italy Part I & II cooking class stories in the near future on 2 Blue Eggs .
If you care at all about what is going on in the agriculture world or about the future of GMO’s, I just read an informative and interesting article by Mother Earth News.
If you don’t know what GMO’s are, we can’t be friends. OK, just kidding..Kinda.
To Your Health and Fitness,