Sunday, August 20

Little Helping Hands in the Garden - Onion Picking

With a house full of Dutch kids that just loved the garden we couldn't help but put them to work picking onions for dinner! The boys got quickly to work picking & cleaning and the girls were soon to follow...

The kids were all eager to lend a helping hand, excited for what was to come next - a rich French Onion Soup - no one cared it was the middle of the summer during a heat wave - they were all lusting over the onions from the garden!

 Here's a sneak peak of the epic onion soup (topped with aged Dutch cheese) - four days in the making (for that rich broth!)... the recipe to come in the fall when it's more in season!

Tuesday, August 15

The Hunt for White Truffles

 The little known region of Le Marche, Italy has a secret worth a fortune hidden under old oak trees...

 Locals will proudly tell you more truffles are found in Le Marche than Alba - "we send them our extras," one old Italian truffle hunter laughs.  This Autumn visit the tourist-free neighbour of Tuscany & Umbria and discover the wonderful world of truffles! For the same price as a truffle dinner in New York (no joke!), spend three nights dedicated to tartufi in lovely Le Marche!

Arrive to a five course feast made with produce from our farm using local, seasonal & traditional recipes served with local Marche wine, at your request fragrant white truffles will be shaved over your plate! The next day as the fog lifts, head into the woods with an expert truffle hunter and his dog in search of the infamous "white gold" found under age old oak trees.

That evening with the fire ablaze enjoy cooking in our 300 year old farmhouse kitchen with a professional chef as your teacher - sharing more than just recipes but understanding how to build & balance flavors, knife skills and using proper cooking techniques (braising, sauté vs. sweat, etc).  

The truffle education continues with a tour of a cultivated truffle garden to understand more about how & where they grow! And the culmination of the 3 nights - the National Fair of White Truffles in our nearby village of Acaualagna with the smell of tartufi thick in the air wander the streets sampling truffles in all forms! 

512nd National Truffle Fair of Acqualagna,
Its centuries-old tradition of research, production and sale of the truffle has made Acqualagna a privileged meeting place for the promotion and trade of the tuber at both national and international levels. Acqualagna is the harvest centre of two-thirds of the entire national production of the precious tuber with around 600 kilos of truffle of every kind.

The entire town of Acqualagna offers its spaces to the event. The main square hosts the stands of fresh truffle dealers, and this is the traditional hub of the festival. The Palatartufo is the most important area of reception for the visitors to the fair who number over 200.000 in total. Walking around its 4.000 square metres, lovers of the food and wine culture can taste and buy the best that traditional Italian cuisine has to offer: products tied to the characteristic truffle of the area, the numerous delicious products and examples of food from other Italian regions. In addition, visitors can see the area dedicated to local handicraft of furniture making and the famous artistic working of the stone.

The Hunt for White Truffles 
27 - 30 OCTOBER & 2-5 NOVEMBER
500 Euro/person
Includes: 3 nights accommodations at our farmhouse inn, breakfast daily, welcome five course feast with local wine, truffle hunt with expert guide with aperitivo, half day cooking class with meal, wine & custom apron, tour of cultivated truffle garden, aperitivo at the White Truffle Festival in Acqualagna. Truffles are available for your dinner and cooking class by request at market price. (Package price based on double occupancy.)
For more details and booking:

An important note: We only work with truffle hunters that are humane to their dogs and respectful of others dogs. We also do NOT place the truffles before the hunt - there is no guarantee we will find any - its all part of the experience!

Monday, August 14

Podcast from Italy: The Latest Local Gossip

Ciao from HOT and dry Italy! We've had a heatwave for what feels like all summer but this Sunday morning was nice and cool after a steady soft rain so without watering in the garden to do - we fired up the mics to share the hottest local gossip in town! From an antique credit card machine to funeral fun and the hot topic of immigration/refugees. Jason shares his thoughts on his recent purchase of a KitchenAid and wonders when it went to sh!t?! And we comment on the new grocery store layout at Auchan and other Super stores...the prepared food invasion!! This week is a bit of a downer, we're not gonna lie!

Thanks for listening! Podcast from Italy #106 - Latest Local Gossip Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean

I don't know what the photo rules are for a funeral - but wanted to share with you the sweet little chapel and cemetery found at the end of our dirt's a peaceful place to be laid to rest.

Wednesday, July 26

The BEST Peach Crumble, Trust Me!

Trust me,  I've eaten my way through years of berry & peach pies, cobblers, tarts, crumbles, you name it! Growing up in a "pie family" with roots in Oklahoma and baking with lard & Crisco, I like to think I know what I'm talking about on this subject. Thanksgiving Eve is known in our family as "Pie Nite" where my aunts and uncles stay up late baking almost a pie a person for Thanksgiving, over the years it's grown into it's own holiday. (Jason & I even had two dozen homemade pies at our wedding instead of cake!) As much as I love a good flaky crust, I'm a sucker for a simple crumble because in the summer heat it's just so easy to make, versatile (use what you've got) and barely any time needed in oven.

I know this is not an Italian recipe but the stone fruit is local and off the charts sweet and juicy and just begging to be baked! Jason has tested and I have tried numerous crumble recipes through the years trying to find the perfect, crispy, crumbly, sweet topping I remember as a kid. Some were too buttery, some too sweet, some...just didn't come out right at all. That is until we turned to good ol' Martha Stewart. She has a ton of versions on her site but this one makes a finer crumble than others and creates the perfect crunchy top  We can't take credit for "Mrs. Kostyra's Streusel Topping" whoever she is her streusel topping makes the BEST crumble! (UPDATE: I was kindly sent a message that Mrs. Kostyra is Martha's mom! Well no wonder - !)

A peach/stone fruit crumble is perfect for two or a group of twenty for breakfast and/or dessert!
By the mix of photos you can tell we make this often at our farmhouse! I love the presentation in the individual mini pots but I must say carrying out the gorgeous oval copper gratin to the table and presenting it to the guests is a show stopper and serving it straight from the pan creates an instant feel of finishing your meal with family!

Crumble Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until fine crumbs form.

Using hands, squeeze together most of the mixture to form large clumps. The topping can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Peach Crumble
Peaches (and or any stone fruit)
lemon juice
cinnamon if you like

Slice the peaches and place in bowl with a little sugar and lemon juice and tiny bit of cornstarch. Add cinnamon as well if you like. Toss together & put in whatever you like: pie plate, individual pots, etc.

Top with crumble/streusel

Bake about 35-45 min. at 350/180 degrees until bubbly in the middle.

Let sit and cool. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or gelato or a big spoonful of fresh whipped cream!

Monday, July 24

Sunday Evenings in the Garden + Growing Heirloom Tomatoes, The Old School Italian Way

It was a quiet Sunday evening with a pleasant breeze and gorgeous light so we slipped on our clogs and happily spent the next hour together in the garden - collecting dinner, watering & taking photos with the cats playing at our feet.

This summer it's been hot! Hot and dry. Jason spends about 3-4 hours each day in the garden watering, pruning and picking. It takes a lot of work and dedication to keep it looking this good any season let alone one without any rain. The peppers love the heat but everything else is starting to suffer or grow slightly stunted. Each year its a new adventure and lesson in the garden!

I think today will be our first real tomato harvest and tomorrow we will begin jarring! Here's a look at a few of our 400+ tomatoes in 18 varieties - just amazing! Keep scrolling to the bottom of the post to watch our Facebook LIVE video we filmed at sunrise earlier in the week with a garden/tomato update and old school Italian growing tips!

Here's the video: Sunrise in the Garden

Jason explains it in detail in the video but this is the old school Italian way of growing tomatoes (Gaggi approved - actually it's considered the only choice) crossing bamboo and training the tomatoes up the poles, tying them as they grow.

How's your garden growing??
Next year we plan to do raised beds and have a drip water system - Jason's already busy planning the next garden...for a kid that grew up in the suburbs without a clue which way to plant a seed, he sure has taken to this country living and loves every minute of it!  His next big idea...a milk cow!

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