Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The end...

...until you click the link at the bottom of this post.

Dear readers,

I apologize for my absence these past several weeks.  It was a period of big decisions and new ideas and one of the main issues was this blighted, wonderful blog of mine.
I have decided to expand, to move on, to run off to brighter, greener pastures.
That being, a NEW WEBSITE.

Yep!  This blog is MOVING!!!!!!

So please say goodbye to sheconsiderslightandheat.blogspot, and say hello to


xoxo, blogspot, old friend.  you've been loyal and true, and I won't forget you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mama's here and today we go to Croatia!  I am sorry I haven't written lately, we've just been in a

This weekend was the festa del'uva (WINE), and then la mammina arrived monday and it's just been one thing after another.

We should have some down time over the next couple of days, so I'll get a good chance to blog.

Until then...

Ciao!  and whatever it is that means "bye!" in Croat!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

teenage wasteland

am calm.

took the early afternoon to walk to town in the drizzling rain, listen to Bon Iver and get my hair cut.  Have returned home, taken a hot bath and sipped chamomile tea while flipping through Vogue Italia.  It is about to storm, during which time I will do yoga.  see?  am calm.

If I am going to be fair about the situation, I will admit that I become a raging MONSTER when I don't get my proper sleep.  When woken at 6am by shouts and thumping bass...when kept awake late into the night due to the pop of firecrackers being set off outside my bedroom window...when unable to enjoy a comfortable, booze-free evening at home (I say "booze-free" because I was being super good and drinking only sweet tea until my nerves turned into electrified jellyfish tentacles and I demanded a glass of wine) due to an F-ING RAVE going on in the woods behind my house...I get cranky.  Really, really murderously cranky.  I say this because the (idioticmoronicdisrespectfulhoodlumdeginerate) teenagers who use Bosc di Sot as their personal landing pad for dirt bike racing, acid trips and the like were, it seemed by their wide eyes, surprised when I opened the window at 8am this morning and screamed SHUT THE FUCK UP.  Perhaps they didn't understand the English, or perhaps they are just 17 and confused in regards to how it is appropriate to act on a Wednesday night/Thursday morning, when normal, decent, responsible people (...) have to go to work and stuff (and stuff?).

I have been at the end of my wits with those kids for a couple of days now.  They don't have school or anything till the end of September, so in the meantime they haunt our neighbors- the kid's grandparent's- house.  These are not the kind of grandparents one fears and reveres...the old man is just decrepit and I've never heard a word out of him.  The old lady is sweet enough and sort of spooky, but I doubt she's the type to lay down the law.  As far as the teenage boy is concerned, the place is paradise: no supervision, ample space to ride his motorcycle and light fires.  I mean, I was 17 once.  I get it.  I also get, in retrospect, that I myself was a bit of a hoodlum and in need of a smack upside the head from time to time.

Poor, sweet FL.  He's so damned peace-and-love about everything he just doesn't have it in him to break up a good party ("I remember 17 so well, and I can tell you that I was even worse," he said once) or yell at anyone.  I can see our future now: I'm gonna have to be the bad guy, the mean mom, the buzzkill...

We went and spoke to the kids and their mom last night at 11 o'clock, when we feared our windows were going to shatter due to the incessant pounding of bass coming from the woods.  The mom looked at us empathetically, but said only, "oh, I know, he's a handful..." before dismissing us with promises that the party would be over by midnight.  I think she might have been drunk.

Midnight came and went...we finally fell into an exhaustion coma around 3...only to be woken at 6 by a blood-curtling scream coming from right outside our window, followed by gales of laughter.

My heart stopped cold- it sucks being woken up by something like that- and I guess it scared the piss out of FL, too, because he did something I'd never seen before...

He went to the window and YELLED.  He yelled at them!  He lost his temper!  It was great.

I plotted the teenagers' extermination all morning, until I thought my brain would explode, and then I decided to go out.  As fate would have it, I ran into the grandmother in the drive way, and boy, did I give her a piece of my mind.  Really let her have it, my wobbly Italian fueled by injustice and headache and lack of sleep and shattered nerves.  I wasn't mad at her, was not at all angry or disrespectful, but I told her strait up, calmly and firmly:  enough is enough.  basta.  no more parties, no more motorcycles, no more fireworks, no more music, no more bar-b-qs, no more cars blocking the drive ways, parked in our grass.  They had blown it, lost all their neighborly lee-way, and the jig was up.

I'm pretty sure this is what I said, in Italian:

"This is not a bar of the locals," I told her.  "This is not an empty field of corn, a road made for bikes that ride fast in dirt, a warehouse abandoned.  This is our home, Bosc di Sot.  This is a place we share, and where we have peace.  If those boys forget their respect, leave their respect at their own house, but do not bring their respect here, then for me they are not so welcome.  Not here- at Bosc di Sot."

Something like that.  I think it sounded rather fine.

I ended by informing her that the next "tiny piece" of noise I hear from those kids will be enough for me to call the carabinieri.  She said she completely understood.  And then we hugged.  And she went inside to yank her grandson's ear and holler a bit and make lunch.  And I went downtown and bought myself a Vogue.

So, anyway, that's that.  We'll see what comes of it.  In the meantime...

The hunt for English schools is looking rather dire, as most all the websites clearly state that one must already have an Italian work visa in order to work.  Which just makes no effing sense.  But there are a few that I feel good about, so this afternoon I will call them and pester them and plan a time to go in in person and speak with them.

This weekend is the Festa dell'Uva, the wine festival in Cormons which welcomes in the harvest season in Collio.  Should be a blast.

Tomorrow I will recount for yall last Saturday night's great event, which was: an Italian wedding!  It was fab, primarily because all of my dreams came true and my heart exploded with joy the moment the waiters brought in PROSCIUTTO TOWERS for every table.  Almost cried.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dirty Hands

FL came home for lunch looking like a chimney sweep.  He wouldn't let me photograph his sweet, soot-sodden face, but I snuck a snap of his hand.  On days like this his work is tough, and there's nothing nicer than to be able to make him a delicious, filling plate of pasta (oggi: aglio, olio e pepperoncini) and a fresh salad.  My efforts are very much appreciated, and I feel so lovely-Italian-wifey as I give him a kiss goodbye for the afternoon, skoot him out the door, then return to whatever the hell it was I was up to before the clock struck noon, which today was...unbedazzling the pear tree.

I felt bad about that poor old pear tree out back, like I had dressed him up as an aging queen, with strings of sparkly blue tinsel hung all about his bows and limbs.  The look just wasn't working for either of us.  He looked mortified and droopy, so I decided to move the glitz inside and give the old man a chance to regain his dignity as a truly masculine tree, bearer of great, green pears.

So now my staircase is covered in tinsel.  This house gets more and more festive with every passing hour.

I have relocated into the bathroom today, using the spacious area in front of the sink as my office.  The weather is just spectacular, and from this vantage point, perched high on the second floor of my Italian farm house, I can see the castle and church tower over on Mt. Quarin, hills full of rolling, lush vineyards and the tiny people working tirelessly to harvest the grapes, and a yard full of kitty cats down below.

What more could a girl ask for in a work space?  The mind just blossoms with creativity and graciousness.  My spirit itself feels bedazzled today.

Am a bit cranky with self, however re: have not done my yoga in 3 days time, nor have I taken advantage of this suddenly fresh, cool weather that has washed in to Friuli over these past couple of days.  Yesterday I was so very ill and exhausted after last week (re: last week of La Baia, Porchis pool, meaning FL and I each averaged about 1,000 spritz a night) that I had to force myself to LIE DOWN.  My throat was closed and tight, my muscles aching, my temples pounding, my nose running.  I forbade myself chores,  jogging,  plundering about the garden and tending to weak, ailing kittens (furbi, these kittens!  They always know how to get a morsel out of me).  I permitted myself a hot bath and a novel and, once evening came, an hour or two on my feet in the kitchen.  I made Tuscan peas with sage (not nearly as good as mama's) and a spicy chipotle chicken soup.  The protein and peppers did the trick, and, after 10 hours sleep, I awoke bright, fresh, good as new.

FL and I are on this wonderful program right now entitled: Operation 50 Euro Budget Till September 10th.  We've had to cancel all of our social engagements (we actually had a lot this week...no one ever asks us to do anything until we are too poor to say yes) and face the fact that we will be living on peas and rice (yum!) and figs from the garden and will have to dine al fresco to save electricity and forgo wine (thank God, something had to intervene, and it might as well be our bank accounts) and pricy cured meats (FL's parents house and refrigerator are always open, though, so no worries) and will have to spend all week holed up at Bosc di Sot playing Briscola and taking walks and doing other sorts of things that require no cash.

I am, honestly, thrilled.  My homebody-ish-ness has reached an all-time high but I've stopped trying to make myself feel weird about it (civilization, what?  Human contact?  Why?).  Instead am embracing having such an incredible little corner of the Earth all to myself (ourselves) to do as I please and be at peace.  This is, as Marion puts it, "the boondocks" and I am reveling in it.  Gardening is such a joy when done in lingerie!

Saturday we spent the day remodeling and buying odds and ends for the house (ergot the empty bank accounts).  The guest room needed some serious pizzaz if it was gonna be good enough for la mammina all next month.  We shopped about at some local boutiques and house good stores, and eventually made out way to the Ikea, where we got a great lamp and a new rug (20 euro!).  Pretty canvas curtains were hung and some photos were framed and voila!  The cutest guest room ever.

And, yes, I did draw that "frame" with chalk...

I think the copper light looks smashing!  T'was a risk, but I followed my gut and said, "no, Ikea...faux copper fixtures are not only for the kitchen."

Sunday FL and I took Marion and Kallah up to our favorite little hideaway on the Natisone river.  We drove in their James Bond convertible, the wind whipping all two inches of my hair this way and that.  The air was significantly cooler this week than last, leaving the water icy long after we'd stopped being able to feel our legs.  After a short dip and a period spent reclining on the rocks like lizzards we set out to find a place for lunch.  FL and I knew a spot a ways up the road, on the bank of the Natisone.  We had eaten their once before, last autumn, and knew it to be delicious, charming and beautifully located.  The weather was nice enough for us to sit outside on the porch, overlooking the rushing river below.  We ordered plates of pumpkin gnocchi, tossed in a sage butter sauce and topped with nutmeg and smoked ricotta.

*fun fact: ri-cotta means "twice cooked"

For our main course we ordered whole fresh trout, slow cooked over a fire and swimming in it's own juices.  The waitress explained that they were seasoned only with parsley, garlic and a little salt.  The taste was beyond words, as those babies must have been plucked strait from the river just hours before, their little bodies still full of fresh, frigid Slovenian water.

Each trout cost just 7 euro.  7 euro for a whole, perfectly cooked, exquisitely fresh fish!  Friuli the Bountiful, case and point.

Our perfect day rounded out with an afternoon spent at La Baia, Porchis pool, the last of the season.  It was packed, and the crowd was happy, sun-kissed and high on...white wine spritzers.  Marion, Kallah, FL and I played a few hands of Briscola under the shade of the patio, watching the sun die down into the pool.  Night fell, and the stars came out, and the lucky citizens of Cormons waved goodbye to another amazing summer gone by alla Baia.

This place is a paradise in it's own right, and until next season, we will miss it.

Till then, however...there's always Porchis!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


FL's mother gave us a bag containing 4 humongous porterhouse steaks (beef).  She claimed that they were "pork" and that she had no idea what to do with such an over-the-top cut of "pork" and that she figured that I was used to cooking such things so I could have them.  They had been frozen almost too long, she said, so she'd thawed them out for me and recommended I get creative.

Awesome, right?

But 4 porterhouse steaks, that's a lot.  thought about inviting guests over, calling in for back-up, we'd have a cook-out...I mean, what does a couple do with 5lbs of beef that needs to be cooked immediately?

And then I watched as FL systematically devoured 3 of them in a matter of about 30 minutes.  All I could do was watch, mouth agape, and refill his glass with Merlot.

I don't think this is normal, or heart-healthy, but I love him all the more for it.

As I said, the garden is bountiful.  Grapes growing over the arbor perfume the air, sweet and sticky.  We've got the "American" variety, which basically means "food grapes" as opposed to the oh-so-elite "wine grapes".  Those with the knowledge, however, will use these grapes, not as innocent snacks to slip into an elementary school lunch box, but as the key ingredient in a delicious, highly potent home-made wine called fragolino.

Now, fragolino does not translate to "grape", but to "little strawberry", as the perfume and tastes of these grapes gives nods to the sweet summertime fruit.  Due to legal restrictions- I believe resulting from dangerous, sub-standard wine production in the past as well as the suspicion that the uva Americana grape was responsible for the phylloxera plague which destroyed practically all of the native grapes in Europe in the 19th century- fragolino is illegal to sell (but not to make) in Italy.  If you ever do see it in stores, it's probably just an alcohol made from fermented fruit, often times not even strawberries, just doctored up with "strawberry flavoring" and is, therefore, not a wine, just a big ol' mess.  How lame to drink a faux-flavored liquor pretending to be a wine pretending to be a fruit (a tonic that just SCREAMS hangover, in my opinion), instead of just drinking the real thing: a wine made from grapes that have a flavor so incredibly reminiscent of strawberries that they had no choice but to name it as such.

FL's youngest brother makes fragolino every year, and a glass at it's peak is a celebration in and of itself. I'll stuff as many of the sweet grapes in my mouth as I can and give the rest to him to do as he will.

The grape harvest is going to be uncharacteristically early this year in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, probably taking place either at the end of August or the very tip of September.  The grapes are just about ready, due to a wet, hot summer.  Alessio at the Azienda Agricola Kurtin says he tested his and found the acidity to be right on course...just a few more days for the sugars to bulk up, and viola'.  The citizens of Cormons will be running about like sun-soaked ants, clipping the grapes that they have so carefully tended all season.  La Vendemmia is the best time of year here in Cormons, a time for celebration, hard-work, and sighs of relief that their precious grapes have come so far, filled out so perfectly.  Am thinking that I will write my dear friend Simone to see if I can come give them a hand clipping the grapes at the experimental farm.

We have more tomatoes, figs, prunes, apples, pears, hot peppers and zucchini then we know what to do with.  I've been making incredible salads, home-made tomato sauces, and snack plates of fresh fruits and prosciutto-wrapped figs.

Ah, I promised yall a recipe.

Mezzi Paccheri con Pomodorini Ciliegia alla Marinara

-fine sea salt
-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-teaspoon red pepper flakes
-1 shallot, finely sliced
-2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
-1/3 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
-1lb mezzi paccheri or rigatoni

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil

In a large skillet, combine the oil, shallots and red pepper flakes.  Heat until the shallots become translucent.  Add tomatoes, parsley and a little salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to wilt.  Take pan from the heat and cover.

Cook the pasta until al dente, and, when draining, SAVE 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Toss the cooked pasta and the reserved water in with the tomatoes.  Return to a high heat, and let come to a soft boil till water reduces just a bit and the sauce thickens.

Serve with a pinch of chopped parsley and some grated assiago, season with salt and pepper...

This is recipe is tweaked a bit from that you'll find in La Cucina Italiana.  I like mine spicier, and I almost always prefer the taste of shallots over garlic...

I wish I had a picture, but we keep eating it before I remember I'm supposed to be documenting everything.  If you see this season's La Cucina Italiana: it looks just like that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mandi, Biele!

That's "ciao, bella", in Friulano, and is a phrase which will be part of the name for my new website just as soon as I can figure out how in hell a website is created.  Have decided to ditch good ol' blogspot in favor of wide-opener, greener pastures.  Hopefully I'll have that spot up and running in the next couple of weeks, but until then I'll keep writing here.

Is too terrifying (i.e. hot and buggy) to go outside, so I've spent the day in my magical bedroom, fiddling about on the internet while the portable fan blows directly into my back.  Have been back home here in Friuli for exactly one week, and I can say that this is the most confident, comfortable and exciting return to date.  Regular readers of this site may recall other "re-entry" blogs that detailed bouts of shock, hysteria and homesickness which took place during the car rides home from the Venice airport.  There was one gem of a moment when I demanded to be TAKEN RIGHT BACK TO THAT PLANE, and clawed at the car window as though FL were a kidnapper and not my patient, blindsided lover.  

This time, however, I was nothing short of thrilled to find myself back in Italia, in Friuli, at Bosc di Sot, in the loving arms of FL.  This summer sort of set me strait.  I had a chance to really get back into the groove of things in Georgia, in the US, and came to a number of conclusions, including the following:

- I do not have children yet, so I best run amuck and lose myself in vineyards and mountain passes as much as I can before there is anything in my life to worry about other than what varietal of wine to drink with supper.

- I do not ever want to deal with dating BOYS ever again, because from what I witnessed in the NYC/DC/ATL/ATH scenes it seems just beyond excruciating, all the more so because WE ARE NOT IN COLLEGE ANYMORE, PEOPLE, so really, I am just thanking my lucky stars and God and whatever else there may be for FL.

- I am doing just fine, better than fine, and need not worry about my lack of a "career", one of which I imagine would have to be either handed to me via charity or taken by force in the US right now, as everything seems pretty much in the dirt job-wise, and my response to the "what was your degree in, again" question was continually met with either an awkward silence, laughter, or the even more painful, "and how much did you pay for that?"  Instead have recognized the possibilities for me to create my own career over here because, good grief, this place is an anthropological/culinary/travel-adventure goldmine.  I am capable, creative, flexible, inspired, and under no sort of time-restriction what so ever.  So let the juices flow!

- If I lived in the US again, I would get fat.  This is just something that I am sure of, and I wish to avoid it.  So Italy it is.

How wonderful to come back to the language, to the food, to the smell of the grapes ripening on the vines.  I missed having pasta at lunch, and spending the rest of the day figuring out wonderful ways to burn off the carbs.  So motivating, especially when there are miles and miles of hills to explore right outside my back door.  

The garden is a mess, but it's late August, so I am both reveling in the full-blown, over-grown wildness that summer has produced, and not touching it with a ten-foot pole.  The mosquitoes, hornets, spiders and gnats are just brutal, and until they go away I'm not even willing to go pick the vegetables without first slathering myself in Off and putting on a protective bee suit.  

Outdoor activities that I am not opposed to at the moment include mornings at Porchis pool, riding the hills of Collio on my new vespa (!!!!!!!!), and weekend trips up the river Natisone...

About a 20 minute motorcycle ride from Cormons is the town of San Pietro Al Natisone.  More of what one might refer to as a "hamlet" than a town, it is a charming place to stop for an espresso or a bite of fresh-caught trout before finding a secret little inlet, and taking a dip in some of the cleanest, shiniest, clearest, coldest waters I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

There are deep spots, and shallow spots...pools where the waters are calm and vast, deceptive in their depth as one can see the rocks clear as day even 10 feet down...and areas slight enough to recline on the smooth stones, letting the water trickle over your shoulders, your mouth an eyes free to breath and see...

On Sunday FL and I went up early in the morning and scouted out our own little private bend.  As there is nothing and no one for miles near the Slovenian border, we spurned our bathing suits and went in the river as we were the day God made us.  FL splashed and spied on passing trout, and I reclined on a particularly smooth bed of stones and let myself get clean.  In the afternoon, just as the sun began to scorch, we got back into our there-are-other-people-in-the-world-who-don't-want-to-see-this clothes and rode back down the mountain, fresh as a couple of blissed-out daisies, hankering for some grilled trout.

Tonight I am making supper for Marion and Kallah, who have come to Cormons for vacation.  I am excited for them to see the house, all the improvements that have been made since March when they first saw it, and also excited to teach them to play Briscola, the Sicilian card game which FL and I are both obsessed with and pretty decent at.  Will make, now for the 3rd time, the pasta dish which is featured on the cover of this season's La Cucina Italiana.  If you have an opportunity, and the cherry tomatoes, try the dish at home!  It is simple, quick, and unbelievably delicious.  I think the key, actually, are the really really ripe tomatoes, and the important-but-often-ignored tip to put some of the pasta cooking water into the sauce.  Makes such a difference!  Will post pictures and the recipe for the dish tomorrow, for those of you who don't have $6 to spend on a magazine.