Tag Archives: garden

Italian Breakfast of Champions

13 Apr

This page is a testament of Love to my Mother, Netta.
“May the lamp of all souls shine her light upon us”

Every morning before school, my Grandfather would take me by the hand and walk me to the chicken coop at the back of his garden. His eyes would twinkle as he handed me the freshest egg from a nest. I carried this warm present in my hands very carefully past the grape vines and fig tree to Grandfathers wine cellar.

In the cellar, he opened a bottle of his homemade wine and poured some into a little glass. I handed him my egg to which he broke the shell and let the egg fall into the glass of wine. Then, he instructed me to drink this down quickly. After I drank his elixir, I felt rosy warm glow come to my cheeks.

This was our custom every day. Nobody in the rest of my family even knew we were doing this. To this day, I credit my Abbruzzese Grandfather with helping me on maintaining my health and wellbeing.

I have never heard of anyone with a similar life story until I found this wonderful article which I post here for you today.

Salute’!

Italian Breakfast

Benefits and tradition are in a glass of red wine (and a fresh raw egg)

From: L’Italo Americano

Grandparents knew value of good red wine for everyday celebration.

As we raised our glasses high, Papa’s words sang out over the dining table, “Saluté per chinto Anno,” his deep, rich voice as hardy and pure as the red wine he held in his glass.

“Good luck, for a hundred years,” his dinner guests echoed back.

I remember how Papa’s face beamed with pride at these joyous occasions and how our meal never began until each family member had repeated the traditional dinner toast and sipped from our small glasses of red wine.

Wine was always a part of our family’s holiday meal. I was introduced to its flavor, as well as its medicinal benefits, at an early age. As each family milestone occurred–baptisms, first holy communions, confirmations, birthdays, graduations and marriages–another bottle of Papa’s homemade red wine was uncorked. Bottles were also poured on Sundays, holy days of obligation and all national holidays–there was always cause for celebration in Papa’s house.

Grandma often put the benefits of red wine to good use as a medicinal cure. It was administered in moderation as a remedy for arthritis and to purify the blood, cure anemia, alleviate stomach cramps and prevent infection. During World War II, when cases of trench mouth and whooping cough reached epidemic levels in the U.S., Grandma administered the rich red wine to each grandchild as a preventative mouthwash and gargle. It must have worked because none of us ever contracted either disease. We did, however, develop a profound liking, in later years, for chianti, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

Grandpa often walked me to the chicken house to get my fresh egg. He then cracked the egg in a glass, poured in his wine and watched happily as I drank my breakfast. Can you imagine a child today going to school with the smell of hearty burgundy on his or her breath? I shudder to think of the consequences.

As a teenager, I recall the looks of astonishment on the faces of my non-Italian friends as they watched Papa fill my dinner glass with wine. To those who objected, Papa would simply say, “Wine is served in church at the communion rail, is it not? And it was served at the Last Supper.” End of discussion.

Papa’s house was a peaceful one and a place where he felt happiest. He eliminated the extraneous and engaged in living a simple and satisfying lifestyle. His home was well-balanced, filled with the practical things he needed and the people he loved. He had his own quiet corner to which he retreated after a robust meal. It was his belief that the soul sighs after eating a large, traditional dinner and that one should spend time in contemplation and reflection. Papa reflected at least an hour after every meal–the sound of his snoring vibrated though the house.

October has always been my favorite time of the year, when the air is brisk and leaves turn a vibrant rainbow of colors. Papa looked forward to this autumn month, too, but for a different reason. October is the traditional time of year for winemaking. It was then that he assembled paraphernalia and ingredients for the making of his hearty burgundy.

Winemakers on the East Coast had to wait for good winemaking grapes like malaga and zinfandel to come in by rail car from California. But this valley’s winemakers, like Papa, were lucky enough to have the plentiful grapes of the Napa and Almaden valleys practically in their back yards. They only had to arrive in their pick-ups to local vineyards to buy boxes of the finest grapes. Some old-timers nurtured their own tiny grape vineyards for the express purpose of making homemade red wine.

Devoted winemakers, like Papa, usually owned their own grape-crushers, while others rented or borrowed one each fall. After the crush was finished, the juice was poured by funnel into the huge oak barrels that had been cured with sulfur smoke.

Here’s where the talent for good winemaking would come in. One mistake and the winemaker’s barrels would be filled with vinegar instead of wine. But, like Papa, most winemakers had inherited their skills from the Old Country and rarely made a bad batch.

My favorite memory of winemaking was how the family gathered together at the ranch house to help Papa make the wine. The hub of activity was usually in Grandma’s kitchen, where the ladies were hard at work making homemade pastas, sausages, raviolis and hot tomato ketchup, in preparation for a grand October feast. The aroma of roasted bell peppers wafted through the air from Grandma’s hot oven every fall, filling our nostrils with their wonderfully pungent smell.

In the fall, the men in the family gathered in the cellar to cure the wine barrels and to help Papa set up his wine press. Some of the men helped Papa haul in the grapes, others set up the grape-crusher and some cured the oak barrels.

As a child, I remember hearing Papa and Nonna speak of the renowned vineyards of Brolio Castle, the baronial estate of the Ricasoli family, an area famed for its chianti. It is said that wine has been made in this region of Italy since 1000 CE. It was this revered standard of chianti that Papa tried his best to clone.

Years ago, Mama and Papa never had to call in a baby-sitter to watch the kids. There was always an older family member available for this chore. One of my favorite of these family baby-sitters was my great-grandpa, Vincenci. When it was his turn to watch the kids, he’d begin by telling us a long, colorful story of his days as a Cavalry soldier in the Italian army. Along with Granddad’s story, we were also treated to a hot wine drink, similar to zabaione. To keep us occupied after supper, grandpa gathered us all around a crackling fireplace, and as he told his story, he handed us each a large cup. In the cup he placed a raw egg and a teaspoon of sugar. We were then instructed to whip the egg until it was very frothy. By the end of great-grandpa’s exciting tale, our eggs were ready for the boiling water and jigger of marsala wine. After drinking down this rich zabaione toddy, we kids–and great-grandpa–were all ready for a good night’s sleep.

Today, America is having a love affair with wine. And authorities tell us that drinking a glass of red wine a day can increase longevity. But Papa and Nonna, who lived well into their 90s, knew of these benefits early on.

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Arugula – Rocket Power

23 May

Arugula – Rocket power your own protean transformation to a healthy vibrant life.

Chance favors the prepared mind – Louis Pasteur

Last winter we scattered chance seeds in our garden.

Chance seeds being the variety of seed that defies titles and demands that us gardeners employ our curiosity and bestowe our gift of providence upon them. We obligingly plant them in our garden without the slightest notion of what?? they are.

Weeks of precious water, manure tea, and a few zany dances around their plot; upbeat big 80’s dance music like ABC or Culture Club works well in this situation (Karma Chameleon, yeah!). Why? Because plants love happy gardeners.

Soon, they revealed themselves. Spiky, thin, dark green leaves with a pungent, sweet and slightly sweaty aroma. It’s unmistakable: wild Arugula, a.k.a. Arugula Selvatica, has taken over our garden.

Wild Arugula
Our beyond Organic Arugula
“Maybe arugula can only compensate
For all the cards you were dealt at the hands of fate”

(we took artistic license with “How to Be a Millionaire” lyrics by ABC)

This is not your common supermarket variety Arugula (Eruca sativa) . Selvatica has an intense and potent flavor. This taste alone may elevate your spirit to a higher plane. You laugh,but we dare you to try it for yourself.

We love to infuse extra virgin olive oil with our wild arugula.
We also eat copious amounts of arugula in salads, burritos, with dutch oven chicken, and as a main ingredient in pesto.
Wild Arugula Pesto Wild Arugula, Boy George, Mr T

  • 1/2 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves of our Beyond Organic Elephant Garlic, peeled
  • 2 Cups Wild Arugula
  • 1/4 cup toasted Pinon Nuts
  • 2 Dashes of Tapatio hot Sauce
  • 4 TBSP Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup freshly grated, parmigiano reggiano (*see note below)
  • 1 dash of Kelp granules

Mr. T Says, “I Pity the Fool who don’t eat Arugula!”

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
It will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator, although we prefer to eat it fresh.
Eat this twice a week and soon you will realize that you are well on the path to happiness.

Wild Arugula Salad

  • 1 Cup Wild Arugula (10 + leaves)
  • 2 TBSP Italian Parsley (diced)
  • 1 Cup Cilantro (diced)
  • 4 to 5 Yu Choy leaves and stems (chopped)
  • 1/2 large Cucumber (sliced thin)
  • 1/4 sweet onion (diced)

Salad Dressing

Blend the following:

  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP White Miso
  • 2 cloves Garlic (grated)
  • Dash of Black Pepper

Heres the background info:

Arugula is known by many names: Brassica Eruca L. Arugula, Eruca vesicaria, Eruca sativa, Arugula Selvatica, arugula sylvatica, garden rocket, aeruca rocket, eruka psevnaya (Russian), oruga (Spanish), jaramago (Spanish), rocket gentle, rucola gentile(Italian), ruchetta (Italian), rucchetta selvatica or rucola selvatica (Italian), rockette (French), krapkool (Flemish), roketa, Roman rocket, ruke (German), salad rocket, sciatica cress, shinlock…

Arugula has been cultivated since Roman times. The Romans used the leaves in salads and used the seeds to make aromatic oils. Arugula seed has been a frequent ingredient in aphrodisiac potions since the first century.

Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, containing cancer-fighting phytochemicals called indoles. Arugula is also good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese.

Informative Links:

Arugula Selvatica

NOTE*: Our original pesto recipe included Locatelli brand of romano cheese.
We’ve been informed that Locatelli is a well known italian dairy giant with lots of chemical issues in the past. We have NO idea what they could concoct for US export. It’s been suggested that they would make the cheese out of evaporated excess milk stocks.
We now use certified 100% Parmigiano Peggiano cheese. NOT Grana Padano brand; it’s way toxic. Even though it’s more expensive, real Parmigiano Reggiano is made with raw milk, grass-fed cows and limited drugs and hormones. All the “lookalike” Parmesans like Grana and such collect all the pussy residues of the mass dairy market.
If you love Romano cheese and want a healthy alternative to Locatelli, real Pecorino Romano comes in a black peel (goat’s milk) and can be found in cheese specialty shops.