My love of food and my occasional rant about food…

I have always been a little more adventurous with food than most. I keep the lactose to a minimum, have eaten gluten free and red meat free for a few years, experimented with the raw food concept and done a whole lot of juicing. I can also add many detox adventures to my quest to eat healthy at any cost.

Having personally experienced many different dietary concepts, I am ever curious about food. In fact when I travel one of my favourite things to do is go to grocery stores to see what interesting foods are available in different places. Many factors contribute to the selection at the grocery store, geographic location, weather, cultural norms, and dietary customs. Not to mention crazy food trends.

Since living in Italy, food products available in my city are disappointing. I will never understand why we think we need the mass quantities…of everything! This is when I reach my soapbox moment and miss the simple life in Italy. Seeing people shop daily for food and having only a small apartment and small refrigerator to store food. Now I read food labels with new perspective. A bag of flour here in Canada has so many ingredients on the label I swear my Italian is better than trying to pronounce all those long names of preservatives! UGH! This drives me crazy! We are our own worst enemy here in North America with our love of mass quantities and the I’m so busy badge of honour.

This spring I enjoyed a lovely vacation in California visiting friends I met while on a cooking vacation in Italy. One morning as we are driving to pick strawberries and talking about my time in Italy and food, I get on my soapbox with my usual rant about food and preservatives! This can be quite an amusing conversation at times. Phil says we are taking a detour to the bookstore, he knows of a book about food I am sure to enjoy. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan enters my life.

Simply put, the book explores the food chain to learn where our food comes from, both the commercially produced side and the old fashioned way. The commercial side are the things nobody really wants know about the food we eat. The old fashioned way was a walk down memory lane for me, cows grazing on the pasture, chickens wandering around and the farm dog overseeing it all.

As a kid I spent the summer months on the farm with my aunt experiencing the simple life first hand. I was a messy haired little tomboy who made sure to leave instructions not to go to the chicken coop without me in the morning! I did not want to miss out on the fun! The author’s description of the eggmobile is much like the fun I had as a kid. Every morning my aunt and I would let the chickens out and use sticks to turn over the cow patties and watch and listen to the chickens going crazy with delight indulging on all the fat worms wriggling under the cow patties! To a five year old kid who loved bugs this was awesome! Not sure who enjoyed the excitement more, the chickens or me?

Life was simple. Making food from scratch was how we were raised. Funny fact about me, my first dining experience was when I was thirteen years old, dining is an exaggeration since it was only a pizza restaurant. That year I also learned what a grilled cheese sandwich was, from the kids I babysat. This may explain a few things about my views on food.

The chapter about hunting made me smile. My dad always seemed to be hunting or fishing depending on the season. Fall hunting was my favourite, sure there was the occasional carcass of some animal hanging in the garage, but it was more about the food dad created. Wild meat was a part of life for us, deer sausage that my dad made was the best! I can still see the silver grey meat grinder secured to the white table and smell the spices and fresh meat being ground together to make the sausage. Next would come the smoke house which dad would set up on the driveway. Walking home from school in the fall, the smell of the smoke and fat drippings from homemade deer sausage being cooked filled the air! This was special, dad’s homemade deer sausage was one of our family favourites. Add mom’s homemade perogies, freshly baked buns and poppy seed chiffon cake and we were all happy! Makes me hungry just thinking about it!!

I often say grocery stores would go out of business if more people ate the way I do. I look into people’s carts in line at the cashier and inwardly shake my head at all the packaged foods they buy. Doesn’t anybody take the time to cook anymore? I mean really cook not pour the contents of a box or a can into a pot and add water?!? So funny, the topic of food always brings out my soapbox rants.

I am grateful for an upbringing that has taught me to appreciate the simple things in life. I enjoy growing a garden, cooking food from scratch and taking time for the little things that make me smile.

Thanks to my friend Phil for introducing me to a book that I truly enjoyed reading. I appreciate the effort the author put into his research and how well he described his experiences. I smiled and laughed out loud many times as the five year old in me continues to walk around the farm seeing cows in the pasture on my way to feed the chickens. πŸ™‚

Ciao ciao

A modern Mary Poppins with pizzazz…

My life is one adventure after another. Most people who know me know that I love to cook. My love of cooking has lead me down a new path. While planning is underway for my next international adventure…I have taken a job as a nanny for a few months.

My days are filled with schedules and keeping three kids on track. Cooking and washing dishes with fancy rubber gloves. Baking cookies and cakes and thinking of creative snacks, lunches, and dinners. I don’t know that my life has ever been this active. Activities ranges from reading books to jumping on the trampoline playing crack the egg and playing soccer on a wet lawn, life is go go go!

Afternoons are spent with the six year old, who is very curious and asks many questions. Over lunch one day we had a debate over canned mushroom soup, he is certain there are two kinds because the labels are different, while I tried to explain just the labels are different. As I am stirring the soup on the stove he pipes up and says, ‘Well maybe forty years ago there was only one kind of mushroom soup!’ I am still giggling at this comment. πŸ™‚ He is fun and keeps me entertained. I had not anticipated feeling second fiddle to an iPad. I much prefer the humorous comments of this little guy to the silence in the house when the iPad is charged.

The days are long, busy and filled with noise. My once quiet world has shifted into multiple hours of laughter, crafts and curious questions. I have to say I am enjoying every minute of it.

When I return to my quiet home at the end of the work day, I have new respect for solitude and the unconditional love of my cat. Once again I am reminded of being grateful for what I have and the wonderful people who enter my life and fill my days with joy and laughter.

Until the next adventure…
ciao ciao

Spring and gratitude…

Spring is almost here. As I keep busy with many things and clearing melting snow, my back yard has a small river running through it. Welcome Spring! Yay, it is time for rubber boots. This leads me to spring cleaning and dealing with ridiculous amount of stuff I have in my house. Whenever I have important tasks to focus on my house is the cleanest and most organized! My quirky gift to myself, just another one of my unique qualities.

I am having fun with my food challenge and using what is already in the house before buying new food items. The canned food cleanup was amusing, not sure what I was thinking when buying multiple cans of smoked oysters and sardines, among other strange items…most of which had expired between 2010 and 2013. Somewhere in those years I also went through a time of buying dried beans and lentils. My quest for black bean and lentil recipes continues…today I can’t stop thinking about black bean brownies. I imagine those will appear in my kitchen in the next few days. On track to simplify my life. πŸ™‚ I was very happy to hear that a friend I shared my food challenge story with is doing the same at her house.

Since returning home I have been thinking about where to donate items that I no longer use. Last week I happily sorted some household items and delivered them to two local establishments which help people in need in my city. This is something I will do more often instead of keeping things with a just in-case mind set. It feels good to give. I am grateful for all that I have and will continue to give to my community.

until next time…

ciao ciao

Sparkling Snow Angel…

Back in the land of snowy winters and making the most of it! Snow Angels! My work of art was quickly filled in with blowing snow. 

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While I work on the details for the next phase of life, I have given myself a new challenge. To use the various foods stored in my cupboards and freezer before buying new items, other than fresh foods. This challenge is exciting, I look forward to trying new recipes and being creative to use these items I felt I needed to have on hand…just in case…you never know when you are going to have a craving for smoked oysters!  πŸ™‚

After three months in a small apartment and living very comfortably with only essentials, I look around my house and realize I have way too much stuff! Unnecessary stuff! Time to purge! Donate or sell, whatever it takes to reduce the amount of stuff I did not miss and clearly do not need. Time for a simpler life. 

Thankfully spring is around the corner…okay I may be delirious on that thought. Regardless, I am going to enjoy the remainder of winter, more snow angels and walks along the beautiful river bank as the days get longer and the temperature rises. I may even prepare to have my first ever yard sale this spring. Oh my, what am I thinking, that is not my style. I think I will make donations instead, it is nice to think that the items around my home may add a little sparkle to someone’s day. 

Ciao ciao!

Leave a little sparkle wherever you go…

Three months. Can be a long time and in other cases it is not long enough! In my case it was not long enough! My love affair with Italy is only beginning! And yes I said Italy, the country!! Don’t jump to any ridiculous conclusions here!! As I am preparing to return to my darling cat, Vodka, and my lovely home in Canada…my mind is stirring about the next phase of my life. Details to be revealed soon…it is very exciting!

It has been raining daily for weeks now, yet the grey skies have not dampened my spirit nor dulled my sparkle. I laugh as I jump across puddles in high heels, the five year old in me is alive and well. Forget using an umbrella, I prefer a hood. Just don’t text and walk with a hood on in the rain at night…I walked straight into a planter on my way home the other evening. I changed course and completed my text message as I howled with laughter! Good thing it was raining hard and there was no one around to witness my graciousness!

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This little life experiment of mine has been great! I have enjoyed living a simple life in a small space with only the essentials and no car! I have been thrilled to live somewhere where I can walk and use public transportation! Wow never thought I would say those words. Wish I thought to use a pedometer to know how many kilometers I have walked in the past three months. Next time!

I have enjoyed learning about the Italian culture and experienced the kindness of people when I communicate with them in my attempt to speak Italian mostly with a big smile. Spent time with friends, made new friends and shared this experience with a friend from Canada, which was incredibly special. I have been asked many questions and given interesting predictions about where my life will go…my favorites being: Are you here for love? You don’t work? In 6 months you will be married! Hilarious! People make me laugh! I mostly enjoy the curious questions about Canada!

No matter where I live I will always be the same person and live life in my own unique way. πŸ™‚

I started this adventure with the mindset that opportunity is life’s greatest adventure! My adventure is only beginning and the opportunities are boundless!

I said in the beginning that I was a woman in search of her word…my word SPARKLE!

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Ciao Ciao!


Rain, rain and more rain…

It has been raining here for days. My lovely view of the valley and mountains is covered by fog and grey skies.

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So much water that it is running down the streets in streams. Creating waterfalls coming down from the mountain, crossing the roads, carrying with it soil and debris. Which reminds me of the power of nature and what a significant amount of rainfall can do. I am from the Canadian prairies and have not seen this amount of rain in my life. It is a little scary that is just keeps raining day and night.

Parts of Italy are feeling the wrath of this significant rainfall. Hopefully it stops soon.

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Ciao ciao