Saturday, January 12, 2008


Under normal circumstances, I would have already written about how much fun we had in the states, about how I indulged in some ‘only in America’ treats, and what special aspects of American life I really enjoyed. But these aren’t normal circumstances. When you’ve been sick so long that you start marking anniversaries, something’s wrong! Today marks the four week anniversary of whatever it is that has a hold of me. I’ve just taken the last of the second round of antibiotics, and although I feel hopeful, I’m remembering all the times in the past four weeks when I thought I was on the road to recovery. Apparently that road is as windy and curvy as the roads in Umbria!

As for what I enjoyed in the states, first and foremost would be the grandchildren. I didn’t get to spend as much time with Nick as I would have liked, but with school, hockey, my health, and his being a teenager, we just never seemed to connect. We did get to have a nice talk on Christmas Day, and I know we’ll be in touch via the phone.

M_016Because we stayed with my son’s family for five days, we did get to connect with the grandgirls, who continue to amaze me. Miss M, at the ripe old age of 3 ½ can count to twenty in Spanish so fast it makes my head spin, is already learning about the presidents of the United States (and can name quite a few of them), and has the sweetest, most endearing personality….except of course when she’s having a meltdown, which makes me think she’s perfecting the “terrible twos” into the “terrifying threes”.

S_0033 Our little redhead, on the other hand, continues to charm and to take charge. Six going on twenty six. Learning to read, excited about make-up, only too happy to put on an impromptu concert for her guests. Adorable, intelligent, amazing....the same things every grandparent says!

Winters here in Umbria are cold and gray, dreary and drippy. Visits to the United States remind me what a wonderful thing forced air heating is, and how much I love wall to wall carpet on a cold winter’s morning.

It seems that when we’re in Italy there’s always some item missing from my pantry….cilantro, or graham crackers, or grape jelly. Cheddar cheese seems to top the list of many, many expats as the thing they miss the most. And then we visit the states and all of a sudden I’m saying “Hey! I need some good pancetta!” I did take some new olive oil back with me… fresh, spicy oil that I couldn’t wait to share with friends! I guess I can find most of what I need in the states, but certainly not for what I’m used to paying for it! Even with the terrible exchange rate the cost of parmigiano, wine, and DeCecco pasta is double, maybe triple what it costs in Italy, because of course it has to be imported, but ouch!

While we were in the states my friend Judith wrote about her favorite new recipe of the new year:
FUDGE PIE. Honestly, you know I was sick just by the fact that I didn’t make this recipe until today! It would have been a perfectly yummy, easy-to-make-in-a-tiny-kitchen-with-few-utensils recipe, but since we didn’t want to infect our friends who might still be healthy, we didn’t entertain like we’d planned to.

Anyway, today after talking with Judith, I decided to try her recipe. After all, if I was going to be sick forever I figured I might as well indulge while I could. If you read the entire post, you’ll see that Judith substituted brown sugar for ½ cup of the white sugar, and since this is something I often do to make my brownies a little gooier, I decided to do the same. I also skipped the 1 teaspoon of milk, figuring that the extra moisture in the brown sugar would cover that missing bit of moisture. I also made one change to the recipe itself before I printed it out, and I’ll mention this one for all inventive cooks out there who make up new recipes: I listed the ½ teaspoon salt BEFORE the ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. I mean, it’s soooo maddening to be following a recipe line for line, ingredient by ingredient, and discover that I now need a measure of a dry ingredient AFTER that same measuring spoon has been used for a liquid ingredient! AARRRGGHH!

And how did we like this recipe for
FUDGE PIE? YUM! It was more like a bit warm (because of course we ate it while it was still warm!) gooey brownie than fudge, but let’s not get picky, okay? If it lasts long enough to have a piece when it’s at room temperature, I’ll let you know about that too, It’s just soooo quick, so easy, 2 bowls, one pie pan, 40 minutes (watch closely check it after 35 minutes just to be sure), and you’re ready to grab a spoon, snuggle up on the couch with the latest DVD you’ve rented and ENJOY! Let me know what you

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