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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Valentine's Day Cooking School for Lovers at the Gritti

Valentine's Day in Venice, cooking with Aphrodisiacs and 24k Gold
Part I


The Gritti Palace Hotel was built in 1525 as the residence of the Doge of Venice, Andrea Gritti

Gritti's School of Fine Cooking Introduction
"The best things in life are immoral, illegal or they make you fat"

Our bedroom at the Gritti

Cooking with Club de Doge Executive Chef Celestino Giacomello

Assistant Chef, Gene and Executive Chef Giacomello

Partridge and black Truffle Quenelles in Consomme
Yes, we did eat the 24k gold

Shopping with Chef Giacomello at the Rialto Market

Gene flirting with Carla Coco, our expert in gastronomic history, guidebook and cookbook author who guided us with expertise and charm through the history of Venetian Food.

Veal Fillet Medallions in Foie Gras Pastry Case, Toasted Hazelnuts with White Port Sauce and Vegetable Brunoise

We also learned how to prepare:

White Chocolate Heart with Passion Fruit Jelly
Terrine of Giant Prawns in Curry-Flavored Pastry Case with Pumpkin cream
Banana Mousse with Chocolate Heart and Caramel Sauce
Saffroned "Chiche" in Truffle-Flavoured Robiola Cream served in Parmesan Wafers
Duck's Breast in Honey and Chili Peppers with Whisked Potatoes and Ribbon-shaped Vegetables
Champagne Mousse
Veal Fillet Medallions

Note:  Should you have a hankering for anyone of these or all of the recipes,  I will only be too happy to send them on to you.

After each cooking session we would take a break and reassemble in Gritti's beautiful Dining Room to enjoy the same dishes we had learned to prepare a few hours earlier.   Only this time our meal was prepared by Chef Giacomeli's assistants

In the lower right picture, our interpreter and guide, Antonia

Each day and after each sumptuous meal we would go for a 4-hour stroll through the back streets of Venice visiting historic sites or just walking and admiring. Our wonderful guide and interpreter, Antonia,  took us on a different route and every day, we had a new experience.

Part II to follow

Happy weekend, my dear blogging Friends


Today I'm linking to  http://nominimalisthere.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"French Country Home Giveaway"

The most gifted and the most talented Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home  is celebrating her one-year anniversary of blogging.

Sharon's blog is special. It is the one blog I go to first thing in the morning.  I think that you will be pleased to discover Sharon, if you have not all ready.   

Hop on over and see her fabulous giveaways, featuring a different artist every day.  To the giveaway I have donated a "Bakers Dozen" of my little cotton drawstring bags. They are perfect for holding all kinds of lovely treasures.  The small,  all cotton bags,  are printed with my original Italian Renaissance Ceramics designs.

Sharon has posted instructions on how to enter and how to win this giveaway here 

Good Luck

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award


A few days ago I was given an award. The Stylish Blogger Award.
Mark Ruffner from Allthingsruffnerian has bestowed upon me this great honor.  Thank you Mark.  I didn't even know that you were reading my blog.  That is what is so remarkable about blogging...we have Friends everywhere and that is what keeps us blogging.

Happily I accept this honor but there are a few simple rules:

1)  Thank and link back to the person giving you the award

2)  Share seven things about yourself

3)  Chose 10 of your favorite blogs and contact those bloggers and tell them about the award

Seven things about myself:

I'm grateful to my parents who made the decision to emigrate to the Great United States of America when I was a very young girl

I have been blessed with a positive disposition

My husband wrote these for me:
ability to make something happen
unending ideas
creative stylist
having fun in creating
committed to improvement

I would like to give The Stylish Blogger Award to the following bloggers

Tongue in Cheek

My Castle in Spain

Aged and Gilded





Pas grand-chose

Georgianna Lane


The difficult part of choosing only 10 favorite blogs is that there are so many more I would like to honor.  So instead, I will add just a few of my favorites.
My French Country Home
From the House of Edward
Casa Dulce Hogar
French Kissed
Cote de Texas
The Essence of Frenchness
A Gift Wrapped Life
Belgian Pearls
La Dolfina

Thank you my dear blogging friends.  I have learned so much from each and every one of you.


Monday, January 24, 2011


I was raised by parents who came from East Prussia
That is where I was born, by the Baltic Sea

It takes discipline to paint like this and even more discipline to complete it

My family emigrated to the United States when I was a very young teenager.  I was on my own when I was 17 years old.
I loved the freedom that I sensed American teenagers enjoyed

I have painted since I was very young.  My Father took me on many painting expeditions

I spent many years working.  Later in life I decided to go to University where I received a degree in Anthropology and Art History

All along my husband and I traveled

Right from the start I was drawn to Italian ceramics, known as Maiolica (Majolica)
After taking many lessons,  in Italy and other parts of Europe, I now paint ceramics in the 600-year-old Italian Renaissance Tradition

It takes patience (something I didn't have when I was young) and discipline to complete one of these pieces.
I'm grateful to my parents who taught me discipline and how to be patient.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Monday is Wash Day, Tuesday is Ironing Day

That is the way it was in our home
Every female had to take turns ironing

In my home I iron by the kitchen window
Where orchids are blooming in the middle of winter

Where I can see who is coming down the lane

I don't iron by hand, I have a Miele ironing machine

When not in use it sits in a broom closet
and unfolds and snaps into place when I need it

And then it goes to work
All I have to do is step on the foot pedal and guide the cloth through the machine

I only iron twice a year
Mostly napkins

I paint many of my napkins.  This one is hand  block printed with acrylic paints and shapes cut from old computer mouse pads

Even large and fancy tablecloths are a snap

Wish you could have one too

Happy weekend, my dear blogging Friends


Therese Long of the fine Blog La Dolfina is looking for an Ironride for her Mother.   Her readers would like to see a tutorial.  The above is on a different machine but I think that all are very similar.   

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Do you like sweaters?

I do.
I love hand knit sweaters.

When I was a very young girl, my Mother, my Sister and I would knit sweaters like the one you see pictured.  We would sell or trade them in our village of East Germany.   Sometimes I would knit the sleeves or one of the fronts.  My Mother would assemble the pieces and we would finish the sweater with embroidery.  We always had some kind of cottage industry going on in our house.  We made beautiful leather millinery decorations, we sewed pieces of pre-cut fabric to make little girls' dresses.  Often, we were without power and one of us would turn the wheel on my Mother's sewing machine by hand. What I never liked was when we had an order for knitted wool socks.

Years later I purchased this sweater in Austria.  It was very plain.  Before boarding the plane for the long flight home, I purchased a little colored wool and embroidered the sweater.  It made the time go much faster.

While in Munich, Germany, Gene bought this lovely sweater for me. The knobby part is crocheted.  Wish I could find the shop again.  The shop sold beautiful handmade items.

On the next trip to Europe, I spotted this sweater in the window of a shop in the Burgenland of Austria.  This sweater goes to Europe with me every time we make a Fall trip.

And then I discovered a shop in a small village in the South of Tyrol, Italy, Toblach or Dobbiaco as it is called in Italy.

From the same shop inToblach (Dobbiaco) the next year.  If you knit you can see that all of these sweaters are knit on No. 2 needles.  That is why they are so indestructible.   

 My last trip, my last sweater purchase.  Next time I'm in Toblach I will most likely visit my Tyrolean Stuebele.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gooseberry Pie and Sauerkraut

That is what we had for dinner

Homemade Sauerkraut with Wiener Wuerstel and Gooseberry Pie,
a perfect combination to introduce our friends, Christine and Steven, to a part of the world where such delicacies are de rigueur.

We are planning our trip to the Alsace region of France, the Black Forest of Germany and the South Tyrol of Northern Italy. 
Christine and Steven will meet us here and there

The Gooseberry Pie was made even more delicious by adding a little Schlagsahne (whipping cream) laced with a bit of sour Cherry  Liqueur


After visiting the Alsace wine region we will hop over to the Black Forest and have lunch at the Brenner Park Hotel in Baden Baden

Then over the Brennero Pass and to one of my favorite cities, Bolzano,  Italy.
 In the town square you will find the most colorful market and at the top of the street the fine South Tyrol Musem housing the most remarkable exhibit of Oetzi, the Iceman.

We will take the funicular  to Soprabolzano and board the waiting narrow-gauge railway to Klobenstein.  In September the wine harvest will be in full swing.

More planning next week at Christine's and Steven's country house


Monday, January 10, 2011

Alto Adige Gardens

The much loved Farmer Garden in the Tyrol
"Vielgeliebter Bauerngarten"

No matter how small, a Bauerngarten always includes a few flowers.

Gardens of the South Tyrol,  Northern Italy,  are the pride and joy of the Farmer's wife

 There is a distinct division of labor, she is in charge of the "House, Garden,  Spinning and Feathered Animals".
He is in charge of "Field, Forest and Barnyard".

All Tyroler gardens have one thing in common; No matter how small or how large they are always surrounded by a fence, usually a picket fence.  Free ranging chickens, rabbits, goats  and deer make quick work out of a newly planted garden.

Gardens are not planted until the "Three Ice Kings" have come, usually around the middle of May.

Space is limited and so is the diversity of plants.  Seeds are saved from year to year.  One thing you won't find in a Farmers Garden are benches or unnecessary decorative objects.  You will, however, find a barrel or some other container to collect life-giving rain water.

 If the terrain allows, gardens are either square or rectangular in shape.  They are never attached to the house but are always nearby.

And sometimes gardens have to be cultivated where the terrain is difficult.

From the book by Brigitte Griessmair and Anneliese Kompatscher "Vielgeliebter Bauerngarten"

My vegetable garden is open to occasional marauders.  I'm thinking about enclosing it with a picket fence.

What do you think?