Part 5 Italy trip

There isn’t much more to say about Venice because in this case pictures speak louder than words. It is a magical city, and with a great guide such as we had in Edward, you can know you have seen a side of Venice that is only open to “insiders”.

We will return –it’s impossible to think we would never visit again.  The life beat of Venice gets into your very soul-it becomes a friend you must reunite with.

Our next stop was Sicily. We flew into Rome and transferred to a flight to Palermo.  This was a very important visit for us because it is my husbands family ancestral land. His Grandfather came to the United States in the early 1900’s.  We wanted to visit the town they were born in-Termini Imerese.

ITALY — PART 4 A Cooking Day With Emanuela Notarbartolo di Sciara


After the pizza was well under control, the work area was set up for another true Italian specialty…TIMBALLO DEL CARDINALE





Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds. Place the halves on a baking sheet. In a food processor, combine breadcrumbs, herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil to bind.
Preheat oven to 180^C.

With a teaspoon, divide the breadcrumb mixture to each tomato. Bake about 30 minutes, until they are well dried.
Cut the mozzarella into one inch cubes and mix with the Parmesan Cheese.
If preparing scratch red sauce, add basil, salt and pepper to taste.
Line the bottom of the springform pan with a round of parchment paper. Arrange the stuffed, baked tomato halves to line the base of the pan, with the stuffing facing inward. Make a regular pattern and stuff it tightly. Continue lining the pan up the sides, pushing the tomatoes to help them adhere to the sides of the pan.
Cook pasta for 4 minutes, drain and add to the red sauce. Cook in the sauce another 3 minutes more. Add the cheese and gently pour into the tomato lined bowl. Take care to carefully pack the pasta so it is tight with no gaps and will hold its form when un-moulded.
Bake at 180c for 45 minutes. When cooked,remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving tray. Serve immediately.





Mix the pasta and cheese together and add to the tomato lined pan.
Mix the pasta and cheese together and add to the tomato lined pan.

Italy Trip part 3

As I mentioned in Part 2, El Pompiere was the best place we ate in Italy.

Before I continue, let me post this “Google” picture of the awesome restaurant we had lunch at when we were in Verona.  As I said, it set a high standard for all the other meals we had in Italy. And thanks to our driver from Sunny Tuscany for the great choice.

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After shopping the market for ingredients, we went to Emanuela’s home (a lovely flat tucked in a private courtyard in the center of Venice). I was so stunned at the views from any windows in her home, I had trouble concentrating on what she was sharing with us. In Italy most kitchens in older building are small. As we teach here in our classes, mise en place is essential to a well executed menu. Ours was Pizza, and a wonderful tomato timbale. I will share the recipe for the pizza in this post.

As soon as we entered the flat, we were shown the work area.  Mise en place was in envidence.

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Even though kitchens in Italian apartments are typically small and compact. The food that comes out of them is anything but small. I loved looking at all the different types of equipment that Emanuela had in her kitchen. She made the most wonderful espresso I have tasted.

Emanuela and her housekeeper prepared the sauce for the pizza. It needed to cool, so she started it before we went to the market.

IMG_3630 (1)Each ingredient was carefully measured. The dry flour was weighed, not measured from a cup measurement. The pizza dough was mixed, kneaded, and left to rest. The girls volunteered to slam it against the workbench (which helps develop gluten).


800g plain white flour

200g wheat flour (gran duro)

600 ml warm water

5 tablespoons olive oil

25g yeast

1 tablespoon honey

15g salt

for the topping

two cans of skinned & crushed tomatoes or fine chunks (or prepared sauce like Mutti).

350g mozzarella cheese

1 small jar anchovies

1 small jar capers


Dissolve the yeast in the water and add the honey, then gently mix in the flour and, lastly, the salt

and the oil.

Work the dough very well, beating it to give it elasticity – this means picking it up and pounding it

down on the board. A hundred times will do nicely.

Allow it to rest for two hours in a warm place away from drafts.

Lay the pasta down on a baking tray, extending it with your fingers. Spread the crushed

tomatoes/tomato chunks, anchovies and capers on top and place in an oven pre-heated to


The mozzarella goes on 5 minutes before the pizza is finished cooking.

The pizza should cook for about 20 minutes.


Tuesday Morning, OUR ITALY TRIP Part 2

The trip from Verona to Venice was beautiful.  Not only did we have an amazing lunch,

An amazing meal in Verona, and this was only the appetizer.
An amazing meal in Verona, and this was only the appetizer.
Lunch in Verona. It was wonderful
Lunch in Verona. It was wonderful
Of course, pasta.
Of course, pasta.

but we also saw some beautiful countryside.  I love the red tiled roofs of the little hamlets sprinkled among the neat tidy rows of the vineyards.  It is a symbol of the proud heritage of winemaking that is handed down from one generation to the next.  There are 20 major growing regions in Italy, including Sicily and Sardinia, with more than 2000 grape varietals.  Most of us have heard of Tuscan Chianti, but that is only one of many kinds of wine produced.

The beautiful countryside. The villages were breathtaking

It wasn’t harvest time yet when we were there, but our first trip 4 years ago was during harvest.  On that trip we took a car trip from Rome to Florence, and stopped at a winery near Siena.  We loved Siena, and if you are planning a trip to Italy, it is a wonderful town to add to your itinerary .  The cathedral in Siena is one of the most beautiful spots in Italy.

Venice was established in 421AD as a trading post.  Yes I meant to say 421AD.  It was built out in the lagoon as a way to prevent invaders from surprising the inhabitants.  It is a World Heritage Site, as are many of the towns in Italy.  We arrived at our meet point where we left our driver and met our Venice Guide, and our friend, Edward Smith.  As I mentioned in my first post, Edward was our guide on our first trip.  His contact is  If you want a guide who can get you access to places very few other can arrange, then Edward and Andrea are who you want.


Even though the temperature was well above 95 degrees most every day, it didn’t stop us from seeing the sites.  It just took a little longer for me to get there.  And a lot more Gelato to keep us cool.  I can’t imagine moving an apartment’s worth of belongings in a boat, but that is what Edward had done a couple weeks before we arrived.  An apartment change in Venice requires a lot of logistics, both wet and dry.

One of the things the girls wanted to do while in Venice was take a cooking class and learn to make REAL Italian pizza.  Edward arranged for us to spend a wonderful day with Emanuela Notarbartolo di Sciara.  She is a well known guest speaker and Chef in the Venice food scene.

Our day started off with a trip to the Market.  Then we returned to our hostesses home and proceeded to enjoy making Pizza, and an amazing tomato timbale.  Next post we will see the steps to the perfect Italian Pizza.  In the meantime, look at the photos and “dream a little dream with me”.   🙂

Oh how I wish it was available all year long here in Kansas City.
Oh how I wish it was available all year long here in Kansas City.
TRIMMED ARTICHOKE HEARTS. Merchants hand trim artichokes down to the heart, then place it in acidulated water.
TRIMMED ARTICHOKE HEARTS. Merchants hand trim artichokes down to the heart, then place it in acidulated water.


Everything you can want is in a stall or store in the market area. No box stores anywhere around.
Everything you can want is in a stall or store in the market area. No box stores anywhere around.
Love the streets and shops.
Love the streets and shops.



Sorry it has been so long since I posted.  I got really busy this summer and got really lazy too I think.

But, we did make it to Italy….and I have lots of news to share about the trip.

A few months ago I went to Italy and Sicily for two plus weeks. It was a return trip for myself and my husband and a first time trip for my granddaughter who graduated from high school this year and started a new exciting life at college. I hope that she came home with the same admiration of life in Italy that we came home with.  I wanted her to have a special memory of our time together.

We had a great travel agent to work with, she did all the tedious work that I had not been able to find time to do, Mary Ann Vandenberg, CCT, TRAVELS WITH TASTE, phone 913-648-0858.  If you are considering a trip give her a call, she is absolutely the greatest at getting just the right people, places and events scheduled.

Part of my granddaughter’s heritage is Sicilian, as is my husbands.  It will be in part a sojourn to  walk the same streets, visit the same church’s as their ancestors walked, to get the sense of belonging that only a tie to a long passed relative can give one.  I think we all wonder “where we came from”  “who were the hardy people who left Europe and their known life”, and came to America, in most cases with little or no money.  A strange land where people didn’t speak the same language, the customs were to be learned, survival on a daily basis very much at the front of their consciousness.  There is something very grounding and magical about being able to connect with one’s roots.

In an effort to spend as little time as possible on a plane, we flew into Milan, and from there took a wonderful guided car trip thru the countryside to Verona, the site of the magical Romeo & Juliet balcony.

Our guide took us to a little restaurant for lunch after we stopped to visit Juliet, and the food was spectacular.  It set a very high goal for the entire trip.  But the food in Italy is so different than our food here.  It isn’t processed, made weeks ahead from something shipped 1800 miles.  As we would see all through our trip, each town has it’s own fresh food market, and the locals buy produce, fish, meat, breads on a daily basis.  I am sure the nonna’s would be horrified to know that I have 7 refrigerators and freezers.

Being from the wide open spaces of America, it is amazing to realize that when in Italy I can get from one side of the country to the other in a matter of hours.  The trains and bus services in Europe are much more developed and friendly that the U.S.  

When we were in Italy 4 years ago, we had a fantastic guide while we were in Venice for our very quick stop.  We were fortunate that he was available for us this trip also.  Andrea Perego and Edward Smith are the best guides to have.  They live in Venice, in fact Andrea was born there.  I suppose no matter how much time I spend in Italy, I would always think it was too short.  But at least this trip we didn’t  have to leave and board a cruise ship.  While cruises are fun, it’s no way to see a country.

Venice is a magical city.  This year was the Biennale, which is a focus on art, dance, architecture, cinema and theatre.  Some building that are being used now to show art from all around the world are not ordinarily open to the public.  We visited the several building that housed exhibitions and the interiors of these homes was totally amazing.  I think the thing that sticks with me is that in Europe, building are saved, there isn’t enough area to just abandon buildings and go build new ones.

We went through the Doge’s Palace, St. Marks Cathedral, Peggy Guggenheim museum.  The hotel we stayed at is out on an Island.  Quite a magical place in itself.  The Cipriani Hotel is something to be enjoyed if you ever go to Venice.

Each week I will show you more pictures and share more thoughts about Italy, food and ancestors.


The End Of The Season
The End Of The Season

It is getting to the end of the local tomato, bean, pepper, cucumber and other locally grown produce season. Soon we will see pumpkins, squash of all kinds and other cool weather produce, but the soft flesh produce will soon be a fleeting memory until next year. I hope you have had time to put up a goodly store, either canning or feeling as many as possible. There just isn’t anything like it in the cold winter months.

I was fortunate enough to have stopped at a great local meat market, McGonigle’s, at 1307 W. 79th, a couple weeks ago and to my absolute delight, there was a produce stand set up in their parking lot selling some of the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes I have ever seen. While talking to the grower I was so impressed with his commitment to his product and the way he grows his plants. Check them out on Facebook, COBINSTEINZ FARM and from what I understand they will still be around for a few more weeks with some great looking produce for your eating pleasure.

For you RESTAURANT OWNERS you can contact them direct to place large orders. The number is on FB or contact me for the phone number. What a great way to show your customers you have the best to offer them.


Soup, It Reminds Me Of Mom


Soup makes me think of mom. She’s gone now, has been for a long time it seems. But I love soup and it makes me think of her every time I make it or see a really yummy pot that someone else has made. She was a very unique lady. I think as with all children, as we grow older and our parents have passed on, we look back on them and realize that we really didn’t know them as individuals or appreciate their lives quite like we do our own acquaintances or colleagues.

She could make a pot of the most delicious soup out of almost anything/nothing. But there were some hard times when there wasn’t a lot of money, so she just did her magic in the kitchen and we were all fed like royalty. She did magic every time she was in the kitchen. (I forget that she went through things like the Great Depression, and that she had a family to cook for during the same time many people could barely feed themselves, let alone a family. Somehow I bet her soup was still stellar.) Her food was simple, uncomplicated, and delicious. The best cornbread in the world came out of her old cast-iron skillet. I can still taste it, and because it was round, everyone got a piece of the wonderful crust. I remember watching her heat it up before she poured the batter into it to finish cooking in the oven.

My mom was an amazing woman. She was one of 7 kids born at the turn of the century in a very small town in Tennessee near the Kentucky border. Her mother died shortly after giving birth to the last child. I don’t recall ever hearing what took Grandma and I am not entirely sure anyone remembers that is alive today. People just sort of died in those days, and no one necessarily knew why, they just died. The youngest child was unable to walk, her little body short and boxy looking in the few pictures I have seen of her. Mother always said it was polio but I suspect that isn’t what it was. I would venture a guess that it was Scoliosis, having seen pictures of her frame later in her life. Mom was next to the youngest, so it was her job to take care of Maude, and cook, and clean and I guess anything else that a little girl shouldn’t have had to do, but since all the kids helped do whatever they could just to put food on the table, there was never any question that mom’s job was cooking, cleaning and whatever. Their father was a sharecropper. And until mom was probably about 7 or 8 there was an older couple who lived some distance away, that walked to mom’s house every day and helped take care of the family. Mom always said without out them she was pretty sure they would have starved. I suppose they are the ones who taught mom to cook. Sis says the lady’s name was Millie. And that she kept the house so clean that you could see your face in the floor. I never thought about it, but my grandmothet was gone, and mom was helping in the kitchen from the time she was able to walk, so I guess I have the two old sweet country caretakers to thank for not only making sure my mom was taken care of and I am sure loved, but also teaching her how to be a wonderful cook. I know they were poor as poor could be and that is surely where they learned to use as mom used to say “everything but the oink” on the pig.

When we were kids, and spoiled beyond anything my mom could ever have dreamed of, we had no idea what her childhood had been like because she was just not a talker. She never complained, never felt sorry for herself, never whined about hard times. She just kept on keeping on. She had a lot of funny hill sayings, some that were just so funny we still recall them with much laughter. When we or even our children would tell mom/grandma that we were bored, she would say “You don’t know what bored is. Bored is sitting in a bucket looking at the ass end of a mule for 8 hours a day while your father plowed a field”.

I have never been used for ballast, and am thankful that I was never in such peril that the only way to protect me and account for me during working hours was to put me in a bucket behind a plow. But apparently that was not an uncommon happening for mom.

They moved to southern Missouri at some point for awhile. I guess it didn’t work out, because they moved back to Puryear. The family was pious, and religion was important to them. I suppose as poor as they were, you better believe in something beyond earthly possessions. Mom said her Grandfather was a minister in “the church”. I never thought to ask what church it was, but later Grandpa moved to Independence because he chose to follow the promise of the “profit Joseph Smith” and the hope of a better life here. The family moved here via covered wagon. I cannot imagine what that was like. It must have been horrendous. Mary, Nina, Bobbie, Marian -who went by the name of “Tot” her whole life, Maude, Boy, Shep–7 kids and Grandpa. Wow.

Well, as with all stories, this one has a “OMG” moment. They were here for 2 weeks and their father became ill. He died. That left 7 very young children alone, poor, no money, alone in a strange town. Sometime I will tell you more about their life after their father died. Remember, this was the early 1900’s, before any kind of organized social care, government assistance or any other sort of organized help for that matter.

I think I am going to go look for something to make soup out of.