"Whatever your hands find to do, verily do it with all your might" Ecclesiastes 9-10

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The recipe

Some friends emailed me for those sun dried tomatoes recipe,
so I'll share my "secrets" with you.
Everything I know, regarding Italian cooking, comes from my sweet Mother-In-Law, Chiara, whom everyone named "La Nonna" (the grandmother).
La Nonna was a very simple woman from Southern Italy, mother of 6, and a genius, creative cooker who was aiming to feed her family with few money, but LOTS of taste.
As a young bride (37 years ago) I spent hours in her kitchen and have learned so much, from the basic ingredients, to her mantra :
"You need to cook joyfully and add a pinch of your heart !"
I consider as an honour to pass on what she taught me, from the basics, to comfort food and preserving, and I'm totally convinced that good cooking is part of happy family gatherings, and even a happy marriage !
Thinking about all this, I might consider creating a special file on my sidebar, under the label :
"Ricette della Nonna"
...what do you think ?

For approx. 4 x one pound jars
(you don't want to waste your time for one small jar only, do you ?)
Note : I prefer those smaller jars rather than big ones, as I will open them frequently, and also because the bottom would taste too hot in the end...
You will need :
1 liter (33 Fl.oz) good quality olive oil

1 liter (33 Fl.oz) white balsamic vinegar
(this is part of the secret : white balsamic vinegar will give that sweet taste, much less acid than with ordinary white vinegar. A little more expensive, but you won't regret it).

3 big garlic heads
(what would be Italian cooking without garlic ?)
finely chopped

A nice big parsley bouquet
finely chopped

1 kg (2.2 pounds) SUN dried tomatoes
(please don't use those oven dried tomatoes - there's a world difference in taste)

Your tomatoes will look like this : totally dehydrated and shrinked...
Important :
You will also need some small red hot chili peppers
finely chopped (don't touch your eyes with your fingers !)

How to :
1. You need to re-hydrate your tomatoes ---> put them in a big plate, and add the white balsamic vinegar. Let them "rest" for approx. 45 minutes, stirring from time to time (use your hand ! They're the best cooking tools, besides white vinegar will give you beautiful hands)...
2. Then you'll use your muscles and twist the tomatoes, so that you take off as much vinegar as possible...
3. Sit down, have a cuppa', and start unshrinking/opening each tomato piece. You want to get them nice and flat. Take your time, no rush, have FUN chit-chatting ;>)
4. Your jars are ready on the table (rinsed with boiling water and dried), with the rest of the ingredients (chopped parsley, chopped garlic, chopped hot peppers, olive oil)
5. You will work in layers, like this :
- a) some olive oil + a pinch of parsley + a pinch of garlic + a (small) pinch of red hot pepper
- b) 5 to 6 half tomatoes, gently arranged to cover that a) layer
- and on, and on..... from a) to b).... Pushing on the layers, from time to time (use your hand---> olive oil is sooo good to them)
You also want it to be nice looking, of course, eating begins with the eyes !
- Finish with one nice layer olive oil at the top of the jar.
Then comes the hardest part : you'll have to wait for one whole month, before tasting your "jewels" ! (Have a check during first week : tomatoes will "drink" a lot, and you might need adding some olive oil).
Use :
- We like them simple, to accompany Italian cooked meats and bread,
- or chopped and mixed with warm pasta + chopped black olives and parmiggiano (Hmmmmm!)
- Try them on warm roasted bread + cream cheese (to die for!)
- or with mozzarella slices and basil (close your eyes : you're in Italy ;>)
- finely diced and mixed with green crispy salad
- on pizzas,
- as appetizers, rolled around some mozzarella cheese,
Note : when your jar is empty, don't throw away that precious perfumed oil ---> use it on your pizzas, or in salads, or even on hot pasta + ruccola and cheese...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Filling the Pantry....

First I wish to THANK YOU all, for your sweet, encouraging comments
on my last post. I wish I could have answered everyone, but life just caught me up.
Be sure that each and every word were so much appreciated
and filled my heart with joy...
No sewing this week !
We've come to that time of the year, when we start jarring,
and filling the pantry, together with my SIL's.
DH recently went to Italy, and brought back a whole lot of sun dried tomatoes.
So we spent some funny days, preparing these with olive oil, garlic, parsley, pimientos...
LOTS of work, but lots of giggles and singing, too !
I love my Italian family...

Next weeks, we'll work on eggplants, cucumbers, pepperoni, artichokes, etc.
Big job, but we'll be sooo happy by next winter !
Besides, those days spent doing that all together, are filling our hearts with
sweet memories for the future...
I'll be back soon, with quilty news.
In the meantime,
enjoy your sewing, dear friends !

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Flower Garden... 2nd version

Whew ! ... Just in time : it's midnight, here...
Well, my garden caused me some "trouble" and brainstorming, this week.
Actuallly, the more I was basting my hexies, the more I felt unhappy about these.

Though not being my usual comfort zone, I loved those shirtings fabrics - and still do -
Yet I was not feeling that quilt as "mine" and I kept trying different settings, etc...
no way ---> the fabrics didn't want to grow as a flowers garden !
Did you ever experience such thing ? I'm sure you did.
Some quilts want to master the process their own way....

So, before going ahead, I decided to step backwards and THINK (it happens!)

What did I really want ? ... Fortunately, I've got that habit to keep track of quilt pictures I really love , and I had seen this one hereunder in a magazine, in March 2009. Just a picture, no name, no pattern, no directions. I remember I even posted a picture of it on our Great Hexagon Quilt Along Group (Hi, dear Robyn !)

And then I had the lightbulb ;>) ---> this is what I want to do ! This is more "me" !
I quickly checked my stash, and discovered I had the right white, blue and yellow fabrics. Bliss... All I needed was the red one, so I jumped into my car and went to our local quilt shop
Here's my evening "planting" ...
I decided to ignore those tiny triangles on the original. Only hexies here, with the same setting
And isn't it all that counts, after all ?
Now I can see this garden growing week after week.
Note : the shirtings fabrics are back on the shelve. I've got some nice ideas for them... later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday, Flower Day...

In case you're listening to my music, then you can hear Nina Simone, singing
"Here comes the Sun"
and that's all I wish to happen, as we're still experiencing very chilly weather, here!

Anyway, here's a little blue hexie flower, to complete my sweet Mother's Day bouquet...

YET... I've been sidetracked with some OTHER FLOWERS !

However, I can't tell you more today, but I promise you won't have to wait long...

Until then,


Friday, May 7, 2010

Saturday, already ? !

How time flies !
Well, a little bit of this and that, this week, with...

7 new klosjes...

2 stitched blocks for the "Life is Beautiful" quilt...

The first Xmas "Wish Quilt" stitchery block completed, and the 2nd one started...

And a "homework" that I brought back from Cyprus
Actually, I was lucky enough to get some "private workshops" from Valentina, who decided I needed to practice machine piecing (you know I'm a handpiecer, don't you?)
-she's such a good teacher- and the first exercise was "Double Four Patch", a rather simple pattern but yet very effective. So, here is "Fields of Gold", as I named it (I love giving names to my quilts)... It still needs a border, and I chose a lovely rusty red fabric .

I'll piece that border very soon, Vali, I promise.
Next exercise is ... surprise ! HeeHee... My fabrics are ready for cutting,
and all I can tell you is the name for that one : "Murano".
Wait and see...
Until then, enjoy your sewing, my friends !

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Flowers Wednesday - (belated) update nr.2

Here's one flower from my growing stack of hexies...

I have noticed a tendency to keep basting hexies without piecing the flowers together, so I'll have to improve on that. However, one thing that will remain unchanged is the FUN I'm having, while piecing those cuties!