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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween Pumpkin Soup

My mother in law taught me how to make this Italian style Zoppa di Zucca, pumpkin soup, so what better night to make it than Halloween?

I found the most perfect, cutest little mini pumpkins, British I may add, that would make an ideal size for Bambina.

All you need to do is chop up the pumpkin into small diced pieces, chop up a few sticks of celery into small bits, add a finely chopped onion and a small diced potato.

Throw that into enough boiling water to just about cover the veg and leave to simmer slowly for about thirty mins. Remember to not leave the pan to boil dry (like I did the first time I made this!).

As this was for Bambina’s supper, I didn’t add salt but did add a pinch of ground black pepper. To make it for adults you can add salt and garlic for flavour and for a twist on a meat version, add crispy pancetta. Delish!

Once all the veggies are soft, mash them down with a fork and stir in a good splash of olive oil.

Serve into a bowl and grate some fresh Parmesan ( like one we brought back from Italy last weekend, nothing like parmesan from a Lattaria!) to make the soup creamy. Enjoy with grissini or a nice piece of focaccia.

What could be more simple? Buon Appetito!!

Happy Halloween (btw, this is Bambina’s first ever scary craft! #proudmummy)

Have you got any pumpkin recipes to share? Do tell.

X-O-X

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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in London

 

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Food For Thought

A friend of mine, who works in food PR, recently told me about this amazing project she’s working on for a client. The project involves Joe Public posting food memories on to the companies Facebook page for the chance to win a Holiday worth £5k!

Now this post isn’t about that company, nor is it about wanting to bask on a sun drenched beach (well ok, maybe a little!). It’s more about my food memories. It had never occurred to me before that, like music and particular songs, we relate food to certain events or times in our lives.

So, here’s my life, mapped out as a food memory:

I don’t recall what my first ever food memory was but when I was a little girl growing up in Liverpool, I think of eggy fried bread and black pudding breakfasts with my grandad. I think of my grandmas roast dinners with indelible gravy made out of water and cornflower powder, not a spot of Bisto in sight! I think of my mum baking coconut loaf and up side down apple cake. I think of her trying to trick me that liver was red chicken! Yak!

I think of ten pence sweetie bags from the mobile shop and 99’er ice creams with strawberry sauce dripping all over my fingers. I think of summer days when a blob of vanilla ice cream was dropped into a cold glass of American cream soda lemonade.  I think of Wham! bars (ok, sweeties aren’t actually food but as a ten year old Wham! bars, Highland toffees, Black Jacks, cola cubes… they were all part of my staple diet!).

As I grew older and our fortune changed, I think of trips to china town with my mum and Grandma for duck pancakes and hoi sun sauce. I think of cold winter evenings warmed up by a hot bowl of Scouse (Liverpool stew) and crunchy buttered bread. I think of minted lamb chops and mash and treacle pudding.  I think of stinky fingers from Butterkist popcorn and luminous tongues from traffic light lollipops.

When I left home and moved to London, I was introduced to a whole new world of culinary delights.  I think of Indian curry, made by an Indian, not out of a jar! I think of fish & chips on Brighton pier.  I think of 3am drunken chicken wings and fries dipped in ketchup.  I think of posh dinners out with my friends to Michelin star restaurants, tasting menus and celebrity chefs.

When the world called my name and I stepped on a plane, I think of black beans in Brazil, cerviche in Peru, grasshoppers in Thailand and crickets in Cambodia.  I think of the best steak in the world in Argentina and poor girls super noodles in Sydney.

And then I met my man who introduced me to a cuisine that I had snobbishly turned my nose up at.  Italian.  I think of my mother in law teaching me to cook tomato sauce from scratch, my husband teaching me how to roll pizza dough without ripping it, my husbands Nonna teaching me how to make beef stew. I think of the delicious food I tasted for our wedding; porcini risotto, slow cooked stag with polenta, speck parcels and pink grapefruit granita.  I hated Italian food but now I have grown to love it, to appreciate it.

My most recent and probably most treasured food memories are of me making food for my daughter.  I think of her first taste of apple, of mashed sweet potato.  I think of pouring over baby recipes to make her palate more enriched.  I think of chicken and apricot curry, aubergine and basil pasta sauce and roasted lamb stew with rosemary.

You don’t have to be a foodie to create a food memory.  Think about it and the flavours all come flooding back!

This has been a really thought-provoking trip down memory lane so I am going to tag some fellow bloggers, 1) because im nosey and want to know what their food memories will consist of and 2) well, why not?!  Over to you:

A Mummys View

Mummy Glitzer

Mother.Wife.Me

Slummy to Yummy Mummy

Sharing My Italy

Emerald Pie

Dutch Goes Italian

Go on, share your story!  If you do, dont forget to include the links… oh, and whilst you’re there, why not enter the comp, you just never know if you might win!

Memories…. it’s what the best dinners are made of!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in London

 

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Bambina Mia

Foto

We have just returned from a rushed weekend to Italy to bring my mother in law home from hospital.

At 30 weeks pregnant I had to get a medical certificate to fly but thankfully everything was ok. I had contemplated not going at all but how could I not, under the circumstances?

Anyway, enough of the dreary tone.

The Italian booked me wheelchair assistance as our flight out was at 6.30am. What a genius idea! It worked a treat and is actually a service provided by Ryanair. We were taken straight through controls and escorted all the way to the aeroplane steps. Brilliant!

Having woken Bambina from her slumber at 4am I half expected her to have a tired tantrum or two. No. She was a delight. She sat in her pram just watching the early morning world go by. She didn’t utter a word or a groan.

As we were boarding the plane, Bambina got excited and squealed at the sight of having her own seat belt and pull down tray. I was so proud of her, so well behaved.

She sat on the Italian’s knee for take off, all buckled up and holding on tight. As the engine roared and the plane took flight, her little green eyes looked at me to confirm everything was ok. I smiled a reassuring glance and she happily nestled her head of curls into daddies chest, closed her eyes and went to sleep.

She woke up when the captain announced our decent. The lady that was sat behind the Italian tapped him on the shoulder to tell him what a wonderfully behaved baby we have. She was amazed at how Bambina hadn’t created one ounce of fuss. The Italian beamed and rewarded his good girl with a big kiss on the forehead.

It’s a lovely feeling when strangers pass comment on how wonderful your child is. It makes me/us feel like we’re not doing that bad a job of raising a good little person. I couldn’t have been happier that my little Bambina Mia had taken the early bird flight in her stride and as always adjusted to her surroundings. She’s just amazing!

Grazie Bambina for being absolutely adorable… Mamma loves you!

What things do your little ones do that just melt your heart? Do share.

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2012 in London

 

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Wedding Belles

I had never really thought of what kind of wedding dress I wanted. I had never thought of what wedding I wanted to be honest. I was never one of those girls who obsessed over ever frilly detail and knew the exact requirements before I had even found Mr Right.

Given I was marrying in Italy, I decided on something old style Italian and based my dress ideas around vintage Sofia Loren. Vintage but classic.

The dress is such a huge and personal decision. It’s worn for one day and looked at in photos forever more. The dress choice required a lot more decision-making and dedication than I had ever imagined! Couldn’t I just wear my jeans and flip-flops?

As an only child I couldn’t do my mum out of the privilege of seeing me dressed like a bride and although I made a fuss at the dress fittings because I felt like a transvestite in fancy dress, I actually did feel really special on the day.

Here are a few of the ideas I came up with and styles that I liked, from my Pinterest board, La Mia Bella Matrimonio.

Absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the fish tail silohette on this Oscar de la Renta dress and the veil is just stunning! Foto

I’m not one for massively long trains but as usual Style Me Pretty have come up trumps with this just right lace train, dress by Donna McMahon.  The back is beautiful for a summer wedding and bronze exposed skin but do avoid if there is an ever so tiny hint of a back boob! Thats not a good look for backless dresses, especially on your wedding day! Foto

Again, Elegant Elegant Elegant Love Love Love! This style of dress is ideal for any woman wanting to show off an hour glass figure. Foto

Im not one for getting my arms out! Let it be said, there is nothing hollywood vintage glamour about a bingo wing is there?! I am also not heavenly endowed in the cleavage department so whilst the arms on this dress are perfect for me, the sweetheart boobie affair is not.  Still, im totally in love with Italian lace so with a bit of tweaking, this idea was top of my list! Foto

So with a few drawings and a bit of dabbling in lace and cotton thread, I came up with some ideas that would fit my Sofia Loren style, vintage Italian wedding dress theme a treat.  Keep up with the next post to found out what “the dress” turned out like!

Puffball or pleats, basque or bodice, wedding dresses are a personal choice.  What does yours say about you?  Do share!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in London

 

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The Colour Purple

I think I have mentioned previously that I was never one of those girls who by the age of five had their whole wedding mentally figured out.

I had never really been too bothered about it. Of course, I had always believed in the depths of my mind that I would get married one day but the finer details of the event were a haze.

Once the arranging of our Italian nuptials were underway, my friend kept asking me so what kind of dress? What kind of place? Church or hall? Summer or winter? What’s your colour scheme?. I knew about the dress but didn’t tell a soul about it, not even my bestie! I knew it would be a hall of some description and I knew I wanted it at the end of summer. It’s far too hot in Italy to have a July or August wedding and far too cold in December and November for a winter wedding!
About the colours, I had no idea at all.

Over a usual coffee and cake brunch with my bestie and made of honour, she grilled me, even forced me, into making a colour decision. Peach? No! Mink? No! Olive? No!

Every colour option just seemed a bit, well, obvious. Until she had a beautiful brain storm.

What was your Grandma’s favourite colour? As she can’t be there, choose that and you’ll feel like she’s involved in some way.”

Perfect. Purple it is!

My Grandma had passed away not long before and I was really upset at the thought of her not attending my wedding. This was a lovely sentiment and the fact that my bestie came up with the idea made it even more special (she knows me well!).

So the hunt for all things lilac and purple began. I only wish that Pinterest existed then because these pictures from my board, La Mia Bella Matrimonio, would have been my absolute guide and Bible. How lovely and rich does a purple wedding look?

Love how elegant lilac looks – so fresh! Well done Trendy Bride for putting this little collage together. foto

These delish purple cup cakes frpm Style Me Pretty are a delish alternative to a wedding cake and the setting looks exactly like where the Italian is from, at the bottom of the Dolomites! LOVE! Foto

Gorgeous outdoor weddings like this are so feminine, shame it rained.. and rained on my wedding day! Aixoo got it just right. Foto

Purple flowers, peacock feathers and candle light – absolutely gorgeous for a romantic setting.  Again, Style Me Pretty have outshone themselves! LOVE Love loooove. Foto.

And my very own wedding bouquet incorporating all my Grandma’s favourite colours and flowers!

What colour did you choose? I’m interested to know your sentimental feelings. Do share!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Italia

 

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Big Baby

I think it’s quite normal for a second pregnancy bump to be huge. I am huge. I feel huge. I think I look huge. In comparison to when I was expecting Bambina, I swear it looks like I’m carrying a football team!

A few weeks back I had to see my consultant about making a decision between a natural (give me drugs!) vaginal birth or another c-section.

Bambina was twelve days late so I was induced. Three times. It didn’t work. Eventually my waters were broken and although I had been having contractions, nothing else happened. The Italian almost electrocuted me from playing with the knobs on the TENS machine but nothing else happened. After twenty hours, I had dilated two centimetres. After a further six hours I had dilated an extra centimetre and retracted to two again.  I also had an allergic reaction to the epidural.

I was insistent I didn’t want an epidural, or pethadine, or a c-section. I had all of it. I was exhausted. I don’t recall the c-section that well, except for my legs convulsing so much that they had to strapped to the table. I don’t recall seeing Bambina that well for the first time. I just remember a blurry image of white, whether that was the towel she was wrapped in or her still covered in mucus, I don’t know.

I don’t want that experience this time around. Bambina was stuck in the birth canal as she was so huge, 10lb 4oz. The consultant thinks that this baby could be bigger given the size of me now at 29 weeks.

So, I was offered a helping hand or the chance to go it alone. If your hand is willing to help me, I’m ready to bite it off! C-section it is.

I’ve just had a GTT (Glucose Tolerance Test) to measure the amount of sugar in the blood.  This is not just for determining pregnancy related diabetes but can also be a guide as to why some mothers deliver whopping babies.  My gut feeling is that my glucose is absolutely dandy.  If you saw the Italian and his father, they’re not exactly small framed people so I think that any baby that I have will be on the large-boned side of big.  Nevertheless, I did the test and we’ll see what happens.

As I’m now on countdown with only 10 weeks to go, I’m actually looking forward to the c-section this time. I know the date, I know the plan, I know I won’t be in pain (ish).

I know that my big baby will arrive in to the world, happy, healthy and huge!

The countdown begins… !

Was your baby a whoppa? Tell me everything!

Foto

 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in London

 

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The Big “C”…. Again!

I’ve been having a semi break from blogging recently, just too much important stuff going on.

I mentioned a while ago in a post for Clic Sargent that my mother in law had beaten the odds and recovered from Colon cancer fifteen years ago. Two years ago, the day before our wedding, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and after a two-year haul through chemo and radiotherapy, she beat that too!

However, the demon that is the “Big C” is determined for her to lose the fight as it has reared its ugly head once more. Three times?! How unlucky can one woman be?!

After a well deserved trip to Liguria a few weeks ago, my in-laws returned home with my mother in law complaining of headaches. The man of the house surely sent her off to bed with an aspirin and a hot water bottle thinking it was the change of weather having an effect.

The next morning my mother in law couldn’t stand. She had lost the use of her legs and all sense of balance. The headaches had worsened.

Numerous tests and cat scans at the hospital ensued and then the phone rang. My father in law, through choked back tears, told the Italian that the doctors had found three, not one, but three tumours on his mothers brain. We were stunned! Again? All this, again?!

As soon as you hear the words cancer and brain in the same sentence you automatically think negatively. The Italian, in his panic, wanted to get on a flight straight away but what could he do?

He is in the fifth week of a new job, I’m seven months pregnant and we live in another country. The feeling of uselessness is incredible.

I can’t begin to imagine what my husband is going through right now. I can’t imagine what my mother in law is going through right now. She’s sorry for the grand children, she said. Sorry for the grand child that I hope and pray she gets to meet in a few months time.

But that’s it isn’t it, time. Time. Far more precious than we give credit for.

I pray for time to stand still while the doctors do their tests. I pray for the time to hurry up while the doctors get the results and do something . I pray for time so that my mother in law meets her newest grandchild and that Bambina gets to kiss her Nonna again. I pray for time that my husband gets to say goodbye to his mother properly, if that’s what it comes to.

I pray that time will heal her… Again.

Related Articles:

The C Word (Tea & Biscotti)

Stand Up to Cancer UK

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Italia

 

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