About Beth

Beth
Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene
Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah
Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug
Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy
Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi
Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan
Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry
Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma
Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim
Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« "Amarcord" From the Tuesday Pomodori | Main | Cindy's Final Thoughts »

Notes from a conscript

I was not a volunteer on the Pomodori e Vino blog. Rather, I was conscripted by Deborah in May 2010 when an original member had to drop out. I had already made comments on the blog revealing that I possessed a copy of Marcella's book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I was intrigued by the project; had already met Jerry, Sandi, Jan and Palma at Slow Travel GTGs in Toronto and North Carolina; and thought it would be a great way of expanding my culinary horizons.

But I must confess that I was a bit intimidated. I had only prepared one of my assigned recipes previously and several of them called for unfamiliar ingredients or implements. I would never consider myself more than an enthusiastic cook and I knew that at least some of my cohorts are very accomplished and expert in the kitchen. Plus, I wasn't really a great fan of Italian cooking. Most of my travels in Europe have been based in France, that most civilized country - and my culinary interests, such as they were, centred around French cooking.

Early on, I decided to conclude my account of preparing each recipe by addressing three issues:

1. What I liked about the recipe.
2. What I didn't like about the recipe.
3. Would I make it again?

I thought such an approach would keep me honest about the recipe and might be of some assistance to followers of the blog. It was the best decision I could have made.

How is my life different from having participated in this project?

• I don't skip over a recipe because it might seem a bit complicated or call for a novel ingredient.
• I am a familiar face in some specialty food stores in the Ottawa area.
• I do more shopping at butcher shops.
• I assemble all the ingredients for a recipe in front of me before starting.
• I plan my garden with specific recipes in mind.
• I prepare many more meals than before.
• I use the "Defrost" setting on the microwave much less often.
• I am much more confident in the kitchen.

Those are a few of the more obvious changes, but I know it goes deeper than that.

Recipe prepared most often:

Stuffed Spaghetti Frittata with Tomato, Mozzarella and Ham. This is a great recipe, a favourite with friends and family - quick and easy and delicious. Everybody asks for the recipe.

Biggest surprise:

Sunchoke and Spinach Salad. I had difficulty obtaining the sunchokes - Jerry came to my rescue. I have planted sunchokes on my property. This simple recipe was my favourite salad.

Forever favourites:

Shrimp with Tomatoes and Chili Pepper. Easy to prepare with my favourite shellfish as the main ingredient.

Fricasseed Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon Juice. Now I much prefer starting with a whole chicken, fresh from a butcher shop, rather than parts wrapped in plastic and laying on a styrofoam tray.

Veal Scaloppine in Parchment with Fontina Cheese. Sure to impress, this is the first recipe I prepared that I thought approached a professional standard.

Tuscan Meat Roll with White Wine and Porcini Muchrooms. A big leap up from the humble meat loaf - economical, easy to prepare and a great result.

Crisp Fried Zucchini Blossoms. A seasonal treat not to be missed. The main reason to plant zucchinis in my garden.

Eggplant Patties with Parsley, Garlic and Parmesan. Another summer treat using fresh produce from my garden.

Diplomatico - A Chocolate Dessert with Rum and Coffee. A great dessert, as good or better than the best you can recall. Guaranteed.

Frozen Tangerine Shells Filled with Tangerine Sorbet. This takes a while and requires an ice cream maker, but the final result is well worth the time and effort.

When I joined this group I owned Marcella's book, but I had never really heard of her. I had no idea of the place that Marcella Hazan occupies in the pantheon of cooking icons. A couple of weeks ago I read her memoir, Amarcord and got a better understanding of the person behind the inspiration for this project and her generally positive comments on this blog.

Thank you, Marcella, for your faithful attention to our efforts.

And thank you to all those who have contributed comments.

And thank you to Beth, Irene, Cindy, Sandi, Jan, Jerry, Palma, Kim - my fellow travelers on this journey.

And thank you, especially, to Deborah who invited me along for the ride.

Comments (7)

And thank YOU, Doug. As we dragged you into the deep end of the pool, you graciously accepted the challenge.

I totally agree about your choice of report format. It was an inspired idea.

jgk:

Thanks for coming to our rescue!
You've done a fabulous job.

Mindy:

Doug,

I smiled reading your post just now. I have enjoyed your 3 question summary after each recipe. I agree, great way to put your thoughts in perspective and share with your fellow bloggers/readers.

Thank you (again and again) for your time and dedication in this wonderful project.

Bravo!

(I think I'll try my hand at growing zucchini this summer). :)

Ray Anne:

Bravo, Doug! For your courage and honesty. Also, your photographs and inspirational garden.

David:

Doug I really enjoyed your posts and honesty. I'm jealous of your garden. If you enjoyed the chicken then I recommend the chicken with olives and cherry tomatoes from Marcella Cucina. It really looks as though you got a lot out of this.
david

Doug, I have enjoyed your posts. I love your photographs of the assembled ingredients, but I LOVE your descriptions of your garden and what you grow there. What I laughingly refer to as my "soil" is clay and rock on a steep hillside. But gardeners are optimists by nature don't you think?

I also appreciated your challenges procuring ingredients, something which I used to take for granted, as I can easily procure most ingredients within a 5 mile radius.

Thank you for giving me so much pleasure and bravo!

Irene:

I admire your gardening skills. It has been nice to watch the fruits of your labor go from ground to table.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 8, 2011 6:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was "Amarcord" From the Tuesday Pomodori.

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