Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Cooking in Tuscany

Hello, Dear Friends! In my last post I promised to share 
an authentic Italian 
meal with you! 

My son hired a chef to come to the villa and give us
a fun and interactive lesson on how to prepare 
a simple and delicious meal. 

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience."

- James Beard -

Before we begin, I wanted to share a few more views from the villa. 
I zoomed in here to capture some intriguing scenes. 

This was another village across the valley. 
I think it was Sienna, but I'm not sure. 


Our chef has arrived! 

Here, she begins with a lesson on how to make home-made pasta. 

Daughter-in-law, Jen kneads the dough. 
Daughter-in-law, Erica enjoys a laugh
behind her. 

Son, Dustin offers wife, Jen encouragement. 

"Wine that maketh glad the heart of man."

- Psalms 104:15

Rolling out the dough. 

Son, Gabe and his Dad having a good time. 

Love those smiles. 

Daughter, Jennie and new husband, Steve. 
They were on their honeymoon! 
They went on to spend a few days in Venice
after their stay at the villa. 

The two Jennifers. 

Learning to cut the pasta. 

Gabe takes a turn. 

"Everything you see I owe to spaghetti."

- Sophia Loren -

The recipe. 

Steve cooks the pasta. 

"Italy is like cooked macaroni - yards and yards of soft tenderness, 
raveled round everything."

- D. H. Lawrence -

Recipe for the sauce. 

"The olive tree is surely the richest gift of heaven."

- Thomas Jefferson -

Steve helps prepare the main dish. 

"A smiling face is half the meal."

- Latvian Proverb -

Crostini is a delicious appetizer in Italy. 

Preparing dessert. 

I found this recipe for Limoncello in one of the cookbooks at the villa. 

"If I had to say what one ingredient I must have in the kitchen, it would be the lemon
because the flavor, both assertive and enhancing, is like liquid sunshine." 

- Frances Mayes, Bella Tuscany, 1999 -

Two time zones. 
Montici and the West Coast. 
The owner of the villa lives in Seattle. 


"Wine is bottled poetry."
- Robert Louis Stevenson - 
" I am beauty and love;
I am friendship, the comforter;
I am that which forgives and forgets.
The Spirit of Wine."
- W. E. Henley -
"In vino veritas." (In wine is truth)
- Pliney the Elder -

My sweet grandson 'reading' a book. 

Appetizers go first. 

Cucumbers, fresh-picked from the garden! 


Mom, Erica entertains while we wait. 

Pasta with ragout. 

"Spread the table and contention will cease."

- English Proverb -


"At a dinner party, one should eat wisely but not too well,
and talk well but not too wisely."

- W. Somerset Maugham -

Chicken piccata. 


"Every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, 
it is the gift of God."

- Ecclesiastes 3:13

Coffee and photo-sharing. 

A precious moment. 

A wonderful celebration. 

"There is nothing to which men, while they have food and drink,
cannot reconcile themselves. "

- George Santayana -

The next morning, while everyone was sleeping in, 
I decided to make a sketch to commemorate
this pretty scene. 

All the colorful bowls, the morning light, the ripe vegetables...

So perfect for a 'still life'. 

Daughter, Jennie caught me at work. 

Here's my sketch. 

I wanted to capture the details. 

I didn't quite finish, but it's enough to remember it by.


The morning light was beautiful. 


Captured on a cherub's face. 

I also sketched the beautiful bedroom balcony one morning.  
It was a challenge depicting the angles of the tiles, but 
it was great practice! 

I tried to capture the view, too. 

I didn't finish all of the greenery, so that is something I 
 will do some rainy day, and also, more shading in the landscape. 

There was another chair facing this one, and a little table, 
but I didn't have enough time, so I kept it simple. 
I just wanted to capture the essence. 

I have a travel sketchbook that I have added to over the years. 
It's relaxing to stop and focus on a lovely scene
in the midst of a busy trip. 

This was my favorite cookbook in the breakfast room library.
When I got home, I ordered it from Amazon. 

Although it is a vegetarian cookbook, the recipes are so 
simple and adaptable that you could easily add 
a bit of prosciutto, Italian sausage, fish or chicken to 
any of them. 

In case you are interested...

Books in my library. 
'Under the Tuscan Sun' and 'Bella Tuscany' by Frances Mayes, 
are the memoirs which inspired the wonderful movie starring Diane Lane. 

This book is a charming memoir. It has recipes, too! 

'Italian Cities and Landscapes' is an inspiring sketch journal. 

Arrivederci, caro amici! 

Until we meet again! 



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