Gardening 2020

Hello everyone!

It’s been some years since I last started to learn about vegetable gardening. Growing vegetables in a small space, applying the method of companion planting and in some way helping the environment. I also learned a lot about plants and the pleasure it gives just by seeing them grow.

Sowing and reaping.

Kale, Chards, Calendula and Borage
Swiss chards
30 sq. meters and 3 plots (18 sq. meters) with at least 3 kinds of plants each. Tomatoes, Borage, celery, some onions and some strawberry plants.
Not only vegetable plants but flowers too! flowers attract useful insects and helps them too!
Tomatoes…
Corn, squash and beans… an experiment 🤔
Cucumber plants, pole beans, tomatoes and eggplants…

Someone said “The love of gardening is the seed once sown that never dies“

Wishing everyone a beautiful and restful weekend!

Lockdown

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Mahonia Aquifolium 2020 – MANUAL PRIORITY MODE – ISO 100 – 40mm – f/11 – 1/125 s

These past few weeks here in the north (Veneto region) of Italy, with the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging like a hurricane in the lives of the people living in a secured and peaceful part of Italy, the days were filled with new emotions and new experiences too! It is really incredible how a submicroscopic highly contagious agent could change the lives of millions of people. As for me, it gave me a lot of thoughts to ponder on like:

  • I never really imagined that at one point in my life I would find myself in the midst of a pandemic. I realized, there is no point in complaining due to closed shops and limited mobility, what is important is to help solve the problem.
  • “Smart working ” is the term that is being used here to indicate those who work at home. What an experience! This opportunity to work at home made me realize that this new (for me) mode of working is not only time saving (you don’t lose time due to the traffic), energy saving and at the same time,  it is environment friendly too! It is a car less (emission and risk less!)  on the road. It’s a great opportunity but it is also means big responsibility.
  • Gardening and nature. I like to observe my environment and listen to the sound of birds chirping and yet, this time during this Lockdown, it seems like until now, I have not  observed nor listened really enough.
  • Due to the news about the havoc  and suffering brought by Covid-19 in Italy, especially in the northern part, but it seems to bring continents closer. Everyone that I know who are living outside of Italy showed their concern and sent their prayers. But what is more important is feeling the essence of family ties and friendship. This is amazing!
  • Relationship. It is for some, seeing for the first time in years the true value of the good things and persons who were always there.
  • Loss. It is not easy to understand how in a moment, a once stable, certain  and well defined aspect in life could change.

Of course I am afraid but at the same time, I hope and I believe, that very soon,  a vaccine will be found and finally give everyone…a sigh of relief and live again!

Wishing everyone a peaceful Easter Sunday!

 

Cison di Valmarino (TV), Italy

A small, interesting and historical town to visit in the province of Treviso, Italy.

Castelbrando… A medieval castle built on top of a limestone rock overlooking the city of Cison di Valmarino, province of Treviso, Italy.

The streets decorated with these red Christmas trees…

An old well..

A Nativity…

A red “500” car and a sign ” Uno dei Borghi più belli d’Italia” – part of an association of towns of historical interest founded in 2001 on the initiative of the tourism council of the “Associazione Nazionale Comuni Italiani” with the aim of preserving and maintaining villages of quality heritage.

Article 13 “Personal liberty shall be inviolable”

Article 11. “Italy rejects war as an instrument of aggression against the freedom of people and as a means of settlement of international disputes…”

Article 4 of the Constitution of the Italian Republic.

Article 3 of the Constitution of the Italian Republic.

Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to read everything but I took some pictures of some articles of the Italian Constitution written on wood.

Oh! I actually saw three houses with slogans during the fascist regime in Italy which really made me think…was it really important to restore (making it legible) those slogans? What was the true purpose of making those slogans clear and easy enough to be read by anyone? 🤔

It’s already January 6 here in Italy and it’s a national holiday. Epiphany – the feast of the Three Kings, “La Befana”- the old Witch who brings toys/goodies to children who have been good during the year and “Carbone”- a candy which looks like charcoal for those who have been naughty during the past year.

and…

“Panevin”- Bread and wine (celebrated on the 5th of January). A tradition in the Veneto region who used a bonfire to evoke the sun. Another tradition of Panevin is a crop forecast (I think, the town of Arcade, in the province of Treviso, Italy, best represents this tradition!). “Falive a mattina, tol su el saco e va a farina – When the smoke goes east, take a bag and go begging. ” Se la falive le va a sera, de polenta pien caliera” – When the smoke goes west, the crop will be good, the pot full with polenta.

What would be this year’s forecast? I have to read the newspaper tomorrow to know it!

For those who are Christians, I wish you Happy Three Kings! For those who are not, wishing you an amazing day! 😊

Direction

It is not about having everything to start the journey through life well. I think it is most of all about where I want to be and what I am willing to pay just to reach my goal. I imagined a boat, with me controlling the rudder, I start to sail but without a definite direction, my boat, in the sea of life will just keep on moving, maybe reaching a land where I don’t want to go to, or worst, I continue to sail, looking for that “island”, but without knowing really what I want and the willingness to make sacrifices, I will surely be like a boat without a destination that when the storm comes the probability of sinking is very high. With this thought, I promise to myself to live today to the fullest with all the most beautiful and positive feelings, to reach my goal, a step at a time.

Venice, a boat and the island of Torcello. October 2019

Burano, October 2019, Venice, Italy

Wishing everyone a beautiful Sunday!

A fairy garden to light up my day…

Companion plants….

I like gardening and it is really fun and very fulfilling when I can see my plants grow well even in small plots. One thing that I have discovered this summer is how the technique of companion planting (planting together 2 or 3 kinds of plants together) can really help in protecting plants from pest and keeping them healthy, meaning, you don’t need a big piece of land to have a vegetable garden and to have a good harvest. Coincidence or…

Effects of planting together: Eggplants + tomatoes + stringbeans and celery.

And…

Tomato sauce (tomato sauce + olive oil + garlic, oregano, salt. Sauté for 15 minutes) + grill the eggplants + cut in small pieces the mozzarella.

Baking tin + spread a layer (3 tablespoons) of tomato sauce + a layer of grilled eggplants + tomato sauce and mozzarella. Do this procedure until you have utilized all the grilled eggplants. Top with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot.

Oh! The original recipe is with fried eggplants.

The joy of sowing and harvesting…

Sunday

A day = 24 hours

A day = 1440 minutes

A day = 86400 seconds

If I spend 44 hours/week at work this would mean:

44 hours = 2640 minutes

44 hours = 158400 seconds

I have 168 hours a week so:

168 hours – 44 (work) = 124 hours

124 hours – 49 (sleep) = 75 hours

75 hours – 65 (family and friends) = 10 hours

10 hours … Physical activity + Read a book + Meditation

Thinking about the value of every day, every minute and every second of my life in a week helps me to understand that if I organize my time I could really do a lot of things. Life is a journey and time is a precious and vital component to make it worthwhile.

“FRITOE”…

Fritters…it is in this period of the year, that this very special sweet is being prepared here in Italy. Like “Biko” during Christmas time. I think that “Carnevale” without these fried specialty is less interesting and lively…maybe this is only my particular way of associating certain foods with certain occasions…and just in case somebody living abroad would like to try this truly fantastic delicacy, here’s the recipe:

FRITOE VENEZIANE

500 grams all purpose flour, sifted
2 cups milk
2 eggs
130 g raisins( soaked in warm water for at least 1 hr and then drained)
80 g sugar
40 g brewers yeast to be dissolved with a tsp of sugar and 3/4 cup warm water
1/8 cup “grappa”
Rind of a lemon
40 grams Pine nuts
2 ml vanilla flavoring
1 1/2 liter of peanut oil or oil for frying

Eggs + sugar + flour, to be added gradually + raisins + lemon rind + pine nuts + grappa + vanilla + pinch of salt. Mix well for at least 20 minutes( fortunately my kitchen Aid is doing the mixing for me!) + add the yeast . Mix well and let the dough rest for 4 – 5 hours. Fry batter (use 2 spoons to drop batter into the pan) , turn the “fritoe”, do not overcook! Remove from the pan after 5-6 minutes or when both sides are brown . Roll over sugar and serve. I think this is best eaten when it is still hot…

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SHAKOY…

a typical Filipino delicacy. I think that this is the Filipino version of the Italian “frittelle”, the only difference is that the dough is very simple. You don’t add raisins or pine nuts and “grappa”. After a trip to Iligan in 2010, I had the luck to buy from two very young vendors some “SHAKOY” and since that time i’ve always dreamed to make some of this sweet, though not so good for health(because it’s fried!), here in Italy. After so many attempts, I think i’ve found the recipe though I substituted butter with olive oil. For this recipe I used my bread maker to prepare the dough for me. This is the recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup water, lukewarm
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
7 grams yeast
1 tsp. salt
extra sugar- for coating
oil- for frying

Directions:
1.) In large bowl combine flour, sugar, yeast, salt and olive oil. Mix well.
2.) Add the egg into the mixture and lukewarm water and start mixing together.
3.) Knead the dough in clean floured surface until smooth and elastic. Let is rise for 1-2 hours.
4.) Divide the dough into 8 pieces, or more. It depends on the desired size of the “SHAKOY”. Start rolling dough into cigar and twist it.
5.) Let it rise for 20-30 minutes. (Enough time to heat the deep fryer on medium low)
6.) Fry it for about 1-2 minutes each side. Let cool. Put in the plastic bag with sugar and shake it.
7.) Best when serve hot along with your favorite drink.

If you want to use the bread maker,

Water + oil + flour + salt + egg + sugar + yeast. Use program 10. I am using the KENWOOD BREAD MAKER.

After the machine has finished processing the dough, follow stage 4 of the instructions above. Happy cooking!

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Auntie Sonia’s Biko

Christmas is a time when we get to hear some warm wishes from friends and relatives living in other countries and just before christmas, I got a call from a very special aunt living in one of the countries here in Europe and so we get to talk about bygone days spent with relatives at home and the different dishes being prepared during christmas and the new year and we started talking about BIKO. Biko is a very important sweet delicacy for most Filipinos. For me, it’s one of those dishes which reminds me of merry gatherings with friends and family. As far as I can remember, Biko was always prepared and offered to visitors or relatives during christmas, New year and All Saints day at home. I’ved always thought, ” no Biko, no party!”. For this christmas, my auntie Sonia shared to me her Biko recipe. Well, the only difference from my recipe is that she added dash of aniseed.

AUNTIE SONIA’S BIKO RECIPE

800 ML OF COCONUT MILK
750 GRAMS OF BROWN SUGAR(MASCOBADO)
1/2 TEASPOON ANISEED
1 KILO GLUTINOUS RICE
1LITER AND 800 ML OF WATER
COOK GLUTINOUS RICE + WATER. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE RICE(USUALLY YOU NEED 20 MINUTES TO COOK IT)

PREPARE THE COCONUT SAUCE:
POUR THE 2 CANS OF COCONUT MILK INTO A WOK OR A WIDE BRIMMED TEFLON PAN AND BRING THE MILK TO A BOIL
ADD THE BROWN SUGAR. CONTINUE STIRRING UNTIL SAUCE BECOMES A LITTLE BIT DENSE(MORE OR LESS 45 MINUTES)
REMOVE SAUCE FROM FIRE.
ADD THE RICE + ANISEED. MIX WELL.

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