A little break from the 'writing a cookbook' posts. Writing a book doesn't stop you (or shouldn't stop you) doing other things too! And then I also have two children, other work to do, and while I am in Italy I should also try to help my Aunt Alice in the country. I am in the north of Veneto, and this is the view from my Aunt's house. (The view, not my Aunt's house!)
Aunt Alice needed help with cutting the grass and raking it. I even found this old hand-made rake, a bit heavy really, the newer ones are better, but I liked the look of it, it reminded me the rakes my Grandfather used to make.
Raking is hard work, the grass need to be turned so that it can dry in the sun, then transported to the barn (with a wheelbarrow, and the land is very steep too), but in the end I was glad for a a bit of exercise outdoors, and for my children to learn about traditional farm work.
There are also 5 new chicks, they are still in the cage with the hen, I thought that they could go out in the courtyard by now, but Auntie looks after several stray cats (at present she has 17) and the chicks are safer in the cage.
Here are some of Aunt Alice's cats. Yes, in Italy cats also eat pasta!
The other night a fox or a dog or another animal went into the hen house and killed all the chickens.
Only the hen and chicks in the cage were safe (so it was good that they were in the cage after all!). So sad, there were 5 chickens and a rooster... Alice never eats them, she keeps them for the eggs, and when they are old they die of old age and get buried. So it was a pity. Let's hope that the chicks are not all male now!!!!
No eggs this week, but we got payed for our farm labour with other produce: here some lovely organic apples...
Then we picked the last tomatoes, for salad and sauces.
This zuccotto pumpkin is not ready yet, but I wanted to take a photo :-)
Not so many beans this year. The last ones are drying to be shelled,
The fresh (we call them teghe) are green and purple and lovely.
There are still a few white eggplants,
and the capsicums were huge this year! Here a photo when green...
.... And after a week of sun!
We cooked them like this:
Stewed Yellow Capsicums
Chop and onion, a carrot, a stalk of celery and 4 (huge) capsicums. Place in a pot with a little olive oil and sauté for a few minutes. Simmer on low, keeping the pot covered and stirring from time to time for about 40 minutes to one hour. The vegetables should have enough water and as long as you keep the heat very low you probably won't need to add water. I add the salt only halfway through the cooking. Usually we serve them with eggs, but as I told you before, we had no eggs... so we served this with chunky bread and cheese.
A part from capsicum Alice also has lots of zucchini flowers. For my favourite recipe, fried zucchini flowers, click here.
And then there are 'regular' zucchini, and round zucchini in Aunt Alice's garden. I like the round zucchini!
Here how the round zucchini look like sliced.
Lemon Sautéd Green and Round Zucchini
Slice the zucchini and cut the bigger slices into quarters. Sauté two peeled garlic cloves with a little olive oil, then add the zucchini, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. The round zucchini are softer and will mush a little, but they have a great taste. The round zucchini will 'almost' mush, but keep their shape and colour better (the round one turn yellow!). Add salt halfway through cooking. At the end add a tsp of fresh chopped Italian parsley and a few lemon slices (or the juice of half a lemon).