Wednesday, December 02, 2009
This is my home made cheese. Looks a lot like those made in abruzzo by handy housewives with a farming background, but it is absolutely different. It is no ricotta, as it may seem, but labna. Tastes lots like a stracchino made from yogurth.
The following recipies are as strange to Abruzzo as you can imagine, but it is my village youth in Ofena and Tortoreto, I believe, to get me the feeling for self production. It all started with the discovery that at a 10 minutes drive from my hous in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) there was an organic farm. For all romantic fall pictures please see here.
Had I known of this when my mom found out in Ofena that the lady keeping sheep and goats (and winning every year the contest of most beautyful ram of the region) could provide us with raw, fresh milk. We used to bring her a 1,5 liter recycled ice-tea bottle, as it had a larger opening that regular bottles, and she had a goat who made daily just about that quantity. Back then I was giving my baby goat milk from the supermarket, because I suspected him of being sensitive to cow-milk.
Raw milk is now becoming a trend, and what I love about Italy is that more and more farmers do get a milk-tap machine, and install it in different crowded paces, so you can go day and night to pick up you own milk in your own bottle. They recommend you boil it to about 72 Celsius before drinking, but we don't, and so it tastes so much better.
To make yogurth you need any amount you like of milk (supermarked milk is OK too), a starting colture of yogurth (can be bought the first time, or you can save everytime a cup for the next batch), a pan with a good fitting cover (I use the pressure-pan as the cover can be closed perfectly) and an old blanket, sleeping bag, sweaters, whatever you want to keep the pan warm.
You start by boiling the milk and then let it cool down until you can keep your kand in it and count to 10 without burning yourself (about 45 degrees Celsius).
Than you add the yogurth (about 3-4 cups per gallon), mix, cover the pan, wrap it in the blankets and put it to rest in a quiet place. Usually I put it under my bed so that nobody will be bothered by it. You let it stay for about 12 hours, so I usually start warming up the milk while cooking dinner, and have my yogurth ready for the next breakfast. you might want to mix it when ready.
I know of people making yougurth in a thermos, and thus saving themselves all the trouble with blankets etc. but I use it to make chesse as well, so I need lots.
Take any quantity if yogurth you want to use, considering that the volume of the cheese will be at least 4-5 times less than the volume in yogurth. Add salt to taste (if you use little salt, and Americans usually do that, compared with South-Europeans, add more than you would consider OK). Mix well.
Prepare a strainer, rinse with lots of water a clean white cloth (otherwise your cheese will taste of softener, which you don't want. Ideally you wash your cheese cloth only with hot water), put the cloth inside the colander and pour your salted yogurth in it. Hang the strainer on top of your sink or put it inside a bowl deep enough to collect all the water leaking from the cheese, without having it hanging in it. Consider that lots of water will come out.
My kitchen used to be unheated during the day, so I did it just on a table. you might want to hang the hole thin in th fridge. In this case, don't use the colander, but tie well the cloth and hang it above the bowl. I know someone who bought especially for the cheese a clean white cotton sock (if you can find unbleached cotton, than you deserve the organic-housewife of the year award), as it avoided mess and it hung so much more easily.
After a few hours all the excess water left. ;eaving behing a creamy cheese. I scoop it away from the fabric with a spoon, press it in a small bowl, and keep it in the fridge. Before serving I turn it on a small plate or saucer and serve it. The one in the picture was made with 3 lt. milk and had a diameter of 15 cm at the base.
I eat it spread on bread or crckers, and as a lean alternative to sour cream in soups or other dishes. Keep in mind that it is salty, so the dish should not have much salt on its own. I love it with pumpkin soup, but should try it with corn soup or any other sweet vegetables (how's about sweet potatoes, or carrots?).
Friday, June 26, 2009
I have no time to translate it completely but I trust you can follow quite well the artist's names and the dates. For info on the workshops you can contact the addrees at the bottom.
Domenica 23 Agosto ore 21,30 Abies alba - Musiche e canti dal Trentino
Lunedì 24 Agosto ore 21,30 Quintetto Martin - dell’Orchestra di tango di Roma
Mercoledì 26 Agosto ore 21,30 Xarnege - musica tradizionale della Vasconia –
Giovedì 27 Agosto ore 19,00 Gruppo giovane emergente selezionato a “laMarca eurofolk 2009”
6° concorso internazionale di musiche e danze della tradizione
Giovedì 27 Agosto ore 21,30 Massimo Ferrante - E JAMU JA
Venerdì 28 Agosto ore 18,00 PULCINELLA MON AMOUR Incubi lazzi e sogni di Cetrulo Pulcinella
Venerdì 28 Agosto ore 21,30 La notte del tamburo
Il tradizionale corteo musicale attraversa le vie del paese
Sabato 23 Agosto ore 21,30 Te l’ho portata la serenata - Serenate e canti d’amore nella piazza del mercato
con la partecipazione dei Fratelli Mancuso e gli allievi del laboratorio sulla voce “Disolavoce”
Ingresso agli spettacoli libero e gratuito.
Martedì 25 e Mercoledì 26 Danza popolare “Saltarello di Amatrice” con Anna Cirigliano
Giovedì 27 e Venerdì 28 Organetto con Massimiliano Morabito
Giovedì 27 e Venerdì 28 Tamburi a cornice con Andrea Piccioni
da Giovedì 27 a Sabato 29 Disolavoce – Laboratorio sulla voce con i Fratelli Mancuso
I corsi sono a numero chiuso. Necessitano della sola iscrizione preventiva (10 Euro).
Orari stage Mattino 10-12 - Pomeriggio 15-18
Ogni forma di divulgazione è gradita
Per informazioni 0773 – 484955 - 339 2327810
Monday, April 27, 2009
Last Thursday, 23rd April, we held in Amsterdam a charity evening for the victims of the earthquake in Abruzzo. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) participated in this event in order to collect funds to help the academic life in L'Aquila to start again.
We could use their beautiful Aula Magna, located in the Old Lutheran Church in the centre of Amsterdam, and the president of the University, dr. Karel van der Toorn, held a short speech (starting in an excellent Italian) and one minute silence for the victims.
The first part of the evening was called: A trip to Abruzzo, a short show with literary readings, opened by singer Carla Regina who sang three pieces that talked to everybody's hearth, under the projection of the moon's picture you see above, made by Antonio di Maggio.
Dancer Margherita Bencini followed with an improvisation on the theme of the earthquake, accompanied by the pictures Dario van Houwelingen took in Abruzzo on Easter's day.
Followed a piece I wrote especially for this evening in Dutch (parts of it you read already here and in my Italian blog Mammamsterdam, with a musical intermezzo of Luciano Maio.
Willem Kroonberg ended this trip with three poems of Gabriele D'Annunzio in Dutch.
After the break followed the auction of some of the pictures Antonio di Maggio made (you see here the three that are still available. If you buy one of them, you will bring money to the fund for the earthquake).
But also artists Lidia Palumbi, Roberto Caradonna and Gino Calenda di Tavani generously gave some of their best works for the acution. My husband surprised me with one of the chalkworks of Roberto, an artists I always admired.
I will leave you with this last picture (the first two, you might have recognised them, are the Fountain of the 99 Cannelle', and the Spanish Fort in L'Aquila) which has been taken by Antonio by Fontecchio.
It symbolizes in my eyes that nature will prevail on manswork, always. Either by an earthquake, or by flowers growing on the ruins.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Provincia di Teramo: Arsita, Castelli, Montorio al Vomano, Pitracamela e Tossicia.
Provincia di Pescara: Brittoli, Bussi sul Tirino, Civitella Casanova, Cugnoli, Montebello di Bertona, Popoli e Torre de' Passeri.
This is the list of 49 towns that have been declared eligible for extraordinary subsidies t help reconstruction after the earthquake. They have all suffered damages calculated as more than a degree 6 earthquake according to the Mercalli scale, which is the most used in Italy.
The Mercally scale has for each earthquake a 12 points descriptions scale, which goes from 1 (a quake perceived only by instruments) to 12 (total distruction).
Of course in the past days there were lots of discussions on which towns were eligible for the list. Because towns not included will get no special benefits, but might have still suffered minor damages.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I was reading the online papers this morning. First baby to be christened after the earthquake today in one of the camps around L'Aquila. One to come to light any moment. All good news, because children and new life can give a perspective of future even in the darkest moments.
Insurance companies are sending inspectors and detectives to collect cement samples and information on the collapsed building. Their motto: be prepared.
One of the dams in the lake of Campotosto has been build in the 70ies just above a fault line. Nothing wrong with the dam at the moment, by they are working at simulation models at the moment, just to know what could happen, should weird things occur.
The mayor of l'Aquila is all the time on all net with perfectly crisp shirts and freshly ironed clothes. His fellow citizens, taking a shower once a week from the tnt camp, cannot quite follow what he is actually talking about on future plans for their city, but say they would appreciate if he would pop by and talk to them too, every now and then. At least to ask him the adress of his laundrette.
And last, but not least, I read of an earthquake in East Afghanistan, 5.1 Richter. And I callen my friend Mariam to ask if she had any news of her family there. She didn't know, just like we didn't know a couple of Mondays ago, when friends start calling to ask how things were going.
"We are sisters in quake" I told her. Because Afghanistan might be a little farther away from my backyard than Abruzzo, but a quake is a quake, and the misery it causes is the same under the stars. She hung quickly up to turn on TV.
PS: another of the L'Aquila Pictures of Antonio Di Maggio. Hier the facade of the church of San Bernardino (now damaged by the earthquake. My grandma used to go and play in the big stairs oing down, when she was finishing her elementary school in L'Aquila with her sisters. In Ofena they had only the firts three clsses, so first Amelia and Filomena were send to live in with their uncle Antonio Silveri. The young girls were already able to run a household and cook, so the idea was that they could help their uncle in that sort of chores, and he would chaperon them in the big city, as he was also working in education (he ended up his career as a school inspector and a writer).
Later the other Silvestroni girls followed. My gradmother Peppina regretted her entire life that she did not make most of her education chances, but when TBC broke up in her boarding school, her mom took her home and she never completed schooling.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Antonio is one of the best photographers I know and he is particularly gifted with portraits. This time it's mostly landscapes, but you will notice his eyes for the details and his gift of catching unique moments, before they go forever.
Here you see Vicolo del Forno, behind Angelo Delfino and Maria Teresa's house. I remember I used to play in this building as a child, because back then, though roofles and abandoned, it was still standing. A few years later it collapsed, totally.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Here a picture made in L'Aquila by Marianna Sansone, who now is in Pescara and does all she can to help the escaped friends from L'Aquila who lost everything.
I recognize this urge of doing things, now. I feel exactly the same. Doing, just to avoid any too negative, alas realistic, thinking.
But it's not about that.
What I invite you o consider is how new houses may be damaged. Modern building entails a skeleton of concrete, and in most houses of this type the skeleton held all very well. But especially in the lower floor, you may have this sort of holes.
And if the instability affects staircases, you have exactly the situation Raffaele Cantera explained me yesterday on the phone. They live at the fourth floor (third would we say in Italy) and their apartment is apparenty intact, but because the first staircase between first and second floor collapsed, they cannot go easily home. They managed to go a couple of times to collect the bare necessities, but have been sleeping outside the last couple of nights.
They just moved to Ofena, but I just heard from Stefania De Luca that there they are also staying as much as possible outside, because you never know if anything is going to fall on your head, should a shock occur.
So I imagine that all the places in between, like Barisciano, are very much in the same shape.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Here is a picture of zia Vittoria my cousin Dan Emanuele send me. It is so very much her, with the typical Silvestroni features (yes, that's where my nose comes from). And typical her in her terrace, bursting of pots, plants and flowers (remember the picture of her house in the previous post? In the broken down part you see her big agaves's).
Today I decided to get into some healthy action. All this reading, writing, organizing the fund raising, talking to people, being filmed by the TV, enough. Some Easter cleaning seems the best reaction. I still have a house to clean after all, and for the first time in my life I realize how blessed am I for this.
Then I crawled again behind this screen. Luckily friend Monique is coming by, so now I have a extra good reason to clean at least the table. Yesterday, when the TV guys came, there was no decent place ti film, except before the bookshelf, but they filmed also a wooden plank with some chese and salami I left there for the childre.
They had to take care of themselves after school, yesterday, which they certainly did. All the chocolatey and yogurthey things in the house are gone.
This tells a lot on the healthy survival instinct of small kids, when mom is busy. I just don't dare to tell them what actually happened, it's not really necessary at this age and Elianto would get real worried and scared, if I know him (and Luca is already in one on his phases, so no need to get him behave even weirder than he is).
But it is hard. I read the papers on the net when they sleep and hide when I feel like crying. All I wanted until yesterday was to crawl in a dark corner with a blanked on my head and cry myself in sleep. I only managed to sleep one and a half hour before dinner, while my kids where freely watching all of Tom and Jerry's cartoons on youtube.
Which explains why, when yesterday I asked them to decorate with the alphabet stamps the placemats for the school Easter breakfast, Luca wanted to stamp Tom and Jerry. He is training to get totally indipendent from bigger people when digiting it on the keyboard. Oh, I guess that's how modern kids learn to write, these days.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The earthquake in Abruzzo has kept all of us busy the last three days. But I knew from my friends in L'Aquila that already for a couple of months they felt weekly some small shocks. Point is, nobody ever talked about this. In Italy people are discovering only now how bad the situation is.
You get an idea from the picture above, it is the helft of the house of my aunt Vittoria. She slept in the broken down part, they recovered her body yesterday.
Miss Kappa is one of my blogger friends who was rescued from under the ruins of her house by her husband and neighbours. At the moment they are living in the emergency tents camp in l'Aquila. She and her family lost everything, except the will to tell the world that the authorities are lying now on the actual nummbers (they claim 200 dead, she thinks is more 1000), and they refuse to take responsability for not warning the population on time.
I can imagine now that the situation is horribly confused and that the prioritites are finding people still alive under the ruins (just now the saved a young woman after 42 hours under her house) and curing and sheltering the survivors. Communication is therefore not ideal, which is a bit ironic if you think how the global media have been covering the event those days.
I am not even sure if they already have plans to bury the dead, and if there are going to be proper funerals, if the families have to organize this, of is there a masterplan for this sort of acts of god.
We only know we lost my auntie Vittoria in Onna, the last of the matriarchs of the Silvestroni family from Ofena. In the coming days I will try to post daily all info I can collect, especially for you guys overseas. For me it is quite unreal to watch these pictures of ruins and recognize places where I used to live, to study and to work. May this is the difference: I can name most of these pictures (luckily, not the people I've seen in them).
The church of Santa Maria a Paganica above is one of the many ruined monuments. I used to sit often on the staircase right. I hope, and I will work on this, that in the future, once the most urgent problems are solved, that I can help restore as much as possible as it was.
How arroganrt, really, of Mr. Berlusconi, to claim as a first thing that we need nobody's help to recover from this drama. We must gratefully accept all possible help. Because this is the place I want my children to call theirs. Their home in Italy.
Credits pictures: I took them from the website of de Spiegel, if I am breaking any copyright law, please contact me and I will take them away
Saturday, February 14, 2009
My other favourite market in the area is the daily one at Piazza Duomo, in l'Aquila.
I thought it wasn't a good idea and told her so, but she was very assertive, so I let her go her own way, and helped other students instead. The salad turn out to be horrible, I kept my mouth shut, and the rest of the course went wonderfully, wth lots of experimenting and good food.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Here the most simple and delicious of dressings: your best olive-oil from Southern Italy, which is the oil from Ofena as far as I am concerned (see also my previous post on olive oil from Abruzzo) and lemon juice. A bit of lemon zest if you are really doing your best. Sea-salt.
We like keeping things simple, as long as the ingredients you choose are the top of the market.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Next to it, since I am officially a sommelier at AIS (Italia sommeliers society) I can integrate this competences in the cooking courses I give.
But I am especially glad to start again, because cooking, showing others how easy it is and eating are, actually, my favourit things in life (+ a couple of others I am not mentioning here).
And cooking with a group is much more fun than on your own.
But the best thing about my cooking courses in Abruzzo is that I can share with others an experience belonging to my childhood: cooking with and for a big bunch of people in the house in Ofena. It is a lifestyle I can experience only there.
The house used to be a trattoria, run by my great-grandmother Annina Silvestrone. It has always been full of people, family (she had 9 daughters), friends, patrons. I still have somewhere her bookkeeping notes, with the prices she paid and got paid for all sort of goods and services.
Here the details of this course:
Period: Weekend Fri-Sun (leaving Mon morning) 31 July- 2 August. Extra group on 7-9 August
Location: Old family home of the Silvestrone (used to be a monastery) within the old city-walls of Ofena. the village lies within National Park of the Gran Sasso, between L'Aquila and the highway Rome-Pescara A25.
Accommodation: Two large rooms with balcony facing South (the view is fantastic), antique furniture and a good, modern bed 180x220cm. If you want to share it with children I can easily add 2-3 extra beds or a bunkbed, and it is still spacious. Other two rooms are small and cosy, for singles or a very much in love couple (bed is smaller, 140X220). A simple, modern bathroom with shower is to be shared with the other rooms. The bathroom is cleaned 1-2 a day.
In the village are available other accomodations, and outside the village there is a camping with a swimming pool (open also to other guests) and a decent restaurant with good home-made local cuisine.
Kitchen: where the old kitchen of the trattoria used to be I made my own cooking school. It is mostly furnished with the stainless steel professional interior of my parents' hotel kitchen, together with all the nostalgic stuff that has always been there, the old flour cases and utensils.
Cooking workshop: Friday afternoon and Saturday morning we are going to cook and learn together. You will learn a number of basic recipes, which you can cook home with all sort of variations. Typical local recipes as well the most popular Italian dishes. we will decide together on the definitive program, as I cook the traditional way with the best ingredients at hand and they vary with the seasons. I use preferably organically or traditionally produced vegetables and meat. Abruzzo is the European region with the highest biodiversity, so we have a very large choice.
Think of dishes such as self-made pasta, risotto, veggies in all manners, salads, cakes, tiramisu etc. seizoensgroenten en salades, tiramisù, taart etc. After the lesson we will eat together with the others. This way we can stay inside during the hottest hours of the day, and explore the village and the surrounding nature in the fresher hours.
Wine-tasting sessions: thanks to my background as a recognised sommelier at AIS I will hold two lessons on wine making and wine-tasting, so that you can learn a few things on the most famous Italian wines, how to combine them with dishes, how the Italian approach sometimes differs from the French and how a professional wine-tasting session works.Extra: if you like participating when we make with the neighbours sweets and cookies, tomato-bottles or other products to store for the winter, you are very welcome to join.
You can also visit the local wineries and buy wine there, or the local bottega, the grocery store, go outside and pick wild herbs, nuts and fruit, which we will use for cooking.
The nicest market in the neighbourhood is on Thurdsays in Popoli, so if you are already there let me know and we can go together.
Costs: € 550 for two include: 3x nights B&B, 2x cooking lessons, 2x wine-tasting with small dishes as aperitivo 2x lunch and dinner cooked during the lessons, all ingredients and drinks during lessons, meals and wine-tastings.
The cooking course alone, if you have another accomodation, is € 180 per person for a group of 3, and € 150 in a larger group.
I can send you a detailed flyer in English or Dutch per mail. You can contact me at: barbara(at)madrelingua.com
Cooking with your own group? I am available foor fod & wine lessons for private parties in:
Amsterdam, from 3 to 80 persons, all over the year
Ofena, max. 10 cooking, 20 eating, 50 wining from Easter to October
Abruzzo, larger groups: 30 cooking, 100/150 dining and wine-tasting in several locations about 45 minutes from Pescara-airport, all over the year.