Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fresh Pasta Recipe

“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”  Julia Child

Whether you are missing Italy, wishing you could be there or just really hungry, do not despair, a  dish of fresh pasta will have you instantly feeling happy or like Italians say: Felice.  This post started with my dissatisfaction with the the local spaghetti found at my grocery story.  After living in Italy for three years and coming back to America, it was hard to even have the courage to try Italian food here and be disappointed.  So, after the all-Italian U.S. Open final (tennis, for those who don't follow the sport) I was ready to celebrate with an Italian dinner, simple but good.

As in many other times, where I wasn't able to find the food I craved in a strange country (read bagels in Sri Lanka or pizza in China), I decided to try to make fresh pasta at home.  If you are interested in eating clean or un-procesing your food give making home-made pasta a try, it's not that difficult.  Here is how to do it:

You can make as much or as little as you want.  For each egg, use 100 grams of flour.

1. Start by pouring the flour on a clean surface and making a volcano.
2. Crack your eggs in the hole of the volcano you just made.  Add the pinch of salt.
3. Take a look at your volcano and strengthen the sides that are too thin.
4. With a fork, start by gently whisking the eggs incorporating the sides of the flour volcano, bit by bit.  There are tons of videos on how to do this.
5.  Once the wet egg/flour mixture starts getting harder to move, drop the fork and start mixing the ingredients with your hands.  Make a ball of the dough and start kneading for 15 mins.

6. Let your ball rest for 30 minutes covered in plastic wrap.
7.  Take you dough and in a floured surface use a rolling pin to start flattening it until you reach a 1/2  millimeter thickness.  Or use a pasta machine to roll your pasta out to the desired thickness (use small chunks of dough, not the whole ball).  Let your final pasta dry for around 20 minutes after sprinkling a little bit of flour on top and covering it with a plastic wrap.

With the sheets of pasta, depending on what you do with them, you can get, lasagna sheets, tagliatelle, fettuccine, ravioli, even bow ties (make a small rectangle and pinch it in the middle).

That day I made baked lasagna and it was over before I could take a picture of it.  I hope you give this recipe a try.  I messed up the first batch letting my eggs escape the volcano too soon, the second time I did better.  Don't give up, the results are super yummy!

Arrivederci for now,

Friday, September 11, 2015

Small Little Victories

“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”  Anthony Trollope

The life of an Expat family is full of surprises.  Sometimes they are nice surprises, sometimes they are not.  At the end of the day one thing is a constant: change!  This summer it was my time for change.  Picking up all your belongings and moving them across oceans is no easy task but for us expats, it's just part of life.  I often get blank stares when I talk to non-travelers and I even get remarks like: "are you crazy!?" "how can you do this to your kids", "it must be so difficult!".  Truth be told, I've always enjoyed my moves, and thinking back on all the adventures I've experienced with my traveling family, I wouldn't change our lifestyle for any other. 

The post of today is all about settling in a new place.  The laws of settling-in apply exactly the same no matter where you go.  Since I just went through the process, or better yet, since I'm in the middle of it, I thought I would share one very important tip about moving to a new house.  Here it is:

"Small little victories"

Remember that phrase!  When you move, there's a million things you have to think about: school for the kids, vaccinations, registrations, shipments, boxes.  There is no planner big enough for the flood of tasks we have to face when moving to a new destination.  On top of it all, you don't have your "stuff", until you finally get it and with it comes the chaos of reorganizing a home for your family.  So, take it easy.  Choose one important task a day and tackle it.  If everything else falls apart in the mean time, fudgetaboutit

A couple of weeks ago, when I was overwhelmed with boxes from past lives and some from my latest life in Italy, I decided, eating was really important for my family so I forgot about everything else and concentrated on cleaning one side of the kitchen so I could have counter space on which to prep meals.  Maybe for you the "task of the day" is to have the desk space clean to be able to telecommute.  Maybe it's to schedule your internet connection so precisely that you will not be one second without an on-line presence.  Whatever it is, concentrate on one task at a time.  It will help you keep your sanity.  

Some days, just organizing one single drawer will feel like a victory, a small little victory.  And step by step, little by little, you will continue putting everything in its new place.  And like my friend Monica says, some days you just have to close the door and go for fresh air.

If you moved or are moving this year, I feel your pain.  If you have another tip that will help the expat community, please share it with us.  We'll certainly appreciate it!!

Arrivederci for now,