Hello friends!

What day of the week is it today?  Are you losing track?

I am.

I find myself wondering – the days are blending together and it’s a little like Groundhog Day around here.  Even more so this week because it’s “spring vacation” from schools in Hanover.  Normally we’d be deeply immersed in some cool destination at this very moment (in fact to torture myself I’ve left in all of my cancelled travels in my calendar – today we were to be at Nayara Tented Camp in the Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica. Ugh!)

Spring vacation during the pandemic actually seems a bit worse than a regular school week because my kids have fewer demands on their time = more time on their screens.  I’m trying to channel zen thoughts.  If you haven’t checked out our guide and calendar for a “No Screen Spring Break Survival Guide,” now’s a good time – there are some fun ideas to enjoy at home, whether it’s spring break or any other day.

WHAT I KNOW…

Learning new things makes my brain happy.
In addition to the upcoming risotto cooking class (see below), this week I signed up for a subscription to MasterClass.  I’ve been intrigued by this for a while, and now seemed like a good time.  I asked each of my kids to pick something new and random they are interested in.

  • one picked Interior Design (and has since changed to the Art of Negotiation by a former FBI hostage negotiator-perhaps this is not a good idea, as I may be at a disadvantage in the future)
  • another picked bartending (18 years old is of legal age in NH – I’m encouraging her to develop her “mocktail” skills so she can actually try her creations)
  • and the other picked Designing Sports Logos on another platform, Skillshare.

Sadly no one picked learning How to Make Mexican Al Pastor Marinade by acclaimed Mexican chef, Gabriela Cámara.  I’ll have to do that on my own (which will be delightful!).

LOOKING AHEAD…

Next week I have organized the second in what I hope to be a series of international cooking classes – this one with my friend Tiziana, Tizi for short, who lives in Milan and whose family is from Sicily.  Tizi and I met years ago when our daughters went to sleepaway camp in Maine together.  Her family has since visited us twice – once in Hanover and once in Madrid.  And we’ve visited them in both Milan and Sicily.  In Siciliy, Tizi and Danilo invited us to stay in the guest house of Aunt Nerina and Uncle Pippo, in a little town called Nicolosi near the base of the Mt. Etna volcano.  We shared many wonderful experiences– visiting Isola Bella, hiking Mt Etna, visiting ancient ruins in Siracusa, chartering a boat off of Giardini Naxos (where we were a speck next to the yachts with helicopters on top), staying afloat in the Gorges of Alcantara, dodging fireworks that were way too close at the town festival (picture above with Pippo, Danilo, Trevor, me, Tizi & Nerina is from moments before) and of course eating and drinking amazing wines.

I just remembered our “induction” into Sicilian life – the night we arrived in Sicily they suggested we go out to dinner – at 11:30p.   When we arrived at the outdoor terrace of the local restaurant it was full!  Full of Italians eating pizza and drinking wine until well after 1am.  Even though I’m used to Spanish hours, this was one step beyond.   And for those of you who know me, you know it’s a stretch for me to be up past 10pm.  But to paraphrase, “when in Italy, do as the Italians do!”

At one point during our stay, Pippo invited Jason into his wine cellar – and it is about as classic as you might think an ancient wine cellar underground in an old Italian family home could be – coated with dust and a few cobwebs, and full of 100+ bottles of vintage Italian wines.  (It’s worth noting Jason speaks no Italian and Pippo speaks no English, but somehow they figured out how to communicate well over the week).  Pippo hand selected the perfect wine for each meal we were having.  Oh and the setting – we ate meals and drank wine together on the garden terrace between the main house and the guest house.  I can feel being there right now as I think about it.  It was glorious.  Tizi and Nerina made the most delectable creations – white lasagna, risotto, fresh salads, home-made cannoli.  Hours of preparation went into these meals.  And we ate and ate and ate.  It’s impossible to say no to being offered “just one more bite” when you are guests of Sicilians.

Those memories just gave me a fun trip down memory lane.  I just got lost for an hour going through our photos from the trip to include some here and decided there are just too many.  So many memorable moments just from this one trip – I will do a separate post.  I am now even more excited for next week…

UP NEXT – COOKING RISOTTO WITH TIZI…

Here are the details on our upcoming risotto cooking class…
invitation to risotto cooking class

Risotto al Parmigiano by Tizi

500 grams rice (arborio or carnaroli is best) (18 ounces=2 ¼ cups)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1,5 liter of vegetable broth (~50 ounces=6 ¼ cups)
50 grams butter (~3.5 Tbsp)
150 grams parmigiano or other cheeses. (~5-6 ounces)
1/2 a glass of wine

Tizi’s recommendation for type of wine is: “Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay would be fine. Then, to drink after it’s cooked, the ideal would be bollicine, so Francia corta (which is a white) or spumante.  If you’d like a red, a full bodied one like Barolo or amarone. ? Those are just examples to give you ideas but obviously any type of wine similar to these is good for drinking with the risotto.”

  1. Put the chopped onion with olive oil in a large pot.
  2. Brown the onion until it becomes yellow gold, now pour the rice in the pot and toast.
  3. When you hear sizzling add the white wine and simmer until liquid reduced.
  4. Add little by little the broth (make sure to add it only when the rice has absorbed all the liquid) mix always
  5. After about 15 minutes the rice is ready.
  6. Turn off the pot and add the butter and the cheeses.
  7. Mix well and wait 10 minutes before you eat it.

You want to have a medium pot and a small pot.  The small pot will be for heating the stock.  I look forward to cooking with all of you!

Here are the Zoom details:
Zoom
Meeting ID: 742 300 3741
Password: 020827

MEMORABLE MOMENTS – Beth Santos

This week I am continuing our Memorable Moments series with Beth Santos and her trip to São Tomé Príncipe, a Portuguese island off the west coast of Africa.  This was a trip that changed the direction of her life.  I only learned of this place two years ago, from a young man from São Tomé Príncipe who was visiting Dartmouth for the Mandela Washington Fellows Program who stayed with us for several days.  It sounded like a beautiful country that is very OTBP (off the beaten path).

The beginning of Beth’s story….
What are 3 words that describe or are important in the way you travel?

  • cultural
  • experiential
  • slow

Check out the full version here.

Stay healthy and have a great week!
Mimi

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