Friday, July 29, 2011

For my non-blogging friends....

If you're an "advanced" blogger or blog follower, you can just ignore this message. This is geared towards my friends where this whole blog business is completely new to them. The one question I always get is: "How am I supposed to know when you update your blog?".

To be honest, when I first joined the blog world, I had no clue how to "follow" someone or that there was a "dashboard" other than the one in my car. So for simplicity's sake, just use the "follow by email" box on the right and type in your email address. You'll receive a lovely email from "Toronto to Terni" when there's a new post. Simple enough right? If not, you know my number. Call me.

xoT





Tuesday, July 26, 2011

La Dolce Vita Series: A walk in the park.

Whoops! I'm a little late posting in the Dolce Vita series this week. Things have been pretty hectic as I only have a little under 5 weeks left in Toronto before I move. What I love about this series is that with my busy schedule lately, it forces me to sit down and remember some of the most beautiful moments I had while I was visiting Italy. One of my favorite, is the romantic walk in the park in Rome that I had with my, at that time, new "interest". One minute, we were in in the crowded streets of Rome, then the next, we found ourselves inside this immaculate park filled with beautiful fountains and gardens.

Villa Borghese park in Rome

It was a pretty hot & sticky day, however the park is filled with so many trees that it's not difficult to find a spot to cool off and relax under some shade...which is exactly what we did, while talking & laughing.What I love about that moment is that it was totally unplanned. We didn't even eat or drink --no distractions and no expectations. We simply sat on a small bench, getting to know more about each other. This is truly a moment that I cherish in our dolce vita.

xoT

Monday, July 18, 2011

La Dolce Vita Series: Pranzo!

Mondays are usually dreadful coming into work in the morning. However, this Monday morning I'm already feeling inspired and excited by the food images in this week's Dolce Vita series --the prosciutto, the fresh produce, i dolci.....mmmmm!

I am now remembering this amazing Tuscan lunch I had in Florence last year. As we were heading to Ponte Vecchio, my stomach told me to stop in my tracks and said "Pranziamo!" -Let's have lunch! (Well, it came out more like a big and loud grumble). I spotted this cute little deli across the street and suggested we check it out. My boyfriend responded, "Tesoro, I don't think they have tables. I don't think we can eat inside". As stubborn as I am, I said "Who cares, let's check it out anyways!". So we crossed the street, and as we approached the window......I couldn't help but have the "I told ya so" look on my face as I watched him acknowledge there were about 4 wodden tables and chairs in the back of the deli.


All I gotta say is, thank God we stopped. When we got inside, I was like a kid in a candy shop! We finally selected a variety of cured meats and antipasti served with a generous amount of fresh bread. We grabbed a table in the tiny back area where there were some local Florentines enjoying their lunch (How did I know they were local? My boyfriend could tell by the way they spoke apparently). Mmmmm. It was the best lunch I had while I was in Florence, and super inexpensive. I only wish I could remember the name of the place. I'll have to hunt it down when I'm back in September.

Il mio pranzo!

I guess living in Toronto, the only "deli" I really visit is the Subway shop across the street from my work. How sad. One thing I really appreciate about Italy is the amazing variety of wholesome and organic foods. It is something that really excites me since I love to cook. I can't wait to taste and learn more about Italian foods! Sometimes it takes something so simple such as stumbling across a little deli in a foreign city, enjoying a meal with someone special to appreciate how sweet life can be....

Until next Monday!
xoT

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Money woes.

As you already heard in the news, there's a little bit of an Italian debt crisis goin' on. Now, I'm in no way an economist or a financial analyst, however, I know that the word debt + crisis ain't a good thing. I had a bit of a freak-out when this was blasted all over the news recently, obviously because I'm moving to Italy. I was immediately taken back to the crash of the US market in 2008-2009 and how it impacted us Canadians. Maybe this is due to my lack of knowledge in this area, but some of the questions rapidly running through my mind were "What if I can't afford to live there? What if I can't find a job? What if we want to buy a home? Will the cost of borrowing be way too high? What if...what if...what if...".

The interesting thing was when I asked my boyfriend his thoughts, he was super relaxed and nonchalant about the whole thing. He said "It's ok, we'll be fine. Not to worry, we are not as bad as Greece". Um, I'm not sure if it's a good sign when you are comparing the current state of your country's economy to the worst in Europe.


How appropriate? PIIGS

So I'd like to ask my fellow expats in Italia to comment on this situation if you could. Are any of you feeling the impact of the current economic state of Italy? How are the attitudes of native Italians around you? Do you feel protected being non-Italian citizens? Maybe this all depends on your current lifestyle and financial situation, but I still like to hear opinions and stories of others. I think it'll help me decide if my freak-out is too premature, or if I should anticipate the worst.

An interesting article I found on the BBC News website: Italian debt crisis: Your stories

T

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

La Macedonia: Fruit Salad

Toronto summers can be sweltering hot. Lately, it's been crazy humid, sticky and hazy. Yesterday, I chose not to leave the house so as to not break a sweat. I guess the plus side is, I will be able to adjust to Italian summers just fine....well, actually, I take that back. Currently, I have the luxury of CENTRAL AIR. I'm not quite so sure I'll have A/C, or even a working fan once I move.

One thing I love about summer is that there are so many amazing fruits in season. Being located in Ontario, we have access to fresh Ontario peaches and strawberries. Another delicious summer favorite fruit is watermelon, of course, mmm!

My mom has always been preparing summer fruit salads for us since we were children. In the past few years, I've taken over and been making my own variations. Apparently, this is a popular summer salad in Italia as well, but they call it Macedonia. Here's a little simple recipe for a refreshing, low-cal summer treat that you can enjoy for dessert, or even breakfast. It makes for a great potluck dish as well!

La mia macedonia

Prep time: approx 30 minutes

The ingredients:
  • 1 pint of strawberries diced into pieces
  • 2 peaches or nectarines diced into bits
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • Approx. 1 quarter of a seedless watermelon, cut into cubes
  • Approx. 1 cup of sweet, seedless grapes cut into halves
  • 1 large cup full of ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup of Sucanat (raw sugar cane sugar or you can use brown sugar for another healthy option)

To prepare:
Take a large mixing bowl and mix all the fruit together gently with a large spatula until it is all mixed. Sprinkle the Sucanat evenly over all the fruit and continue to gently mix until it is dissolved and glazed over the fruit. For those of you who are skeptical about using this sugar, I guarantee it is equally as sweet, but much healthier. Remember, summer fruits are already naturally sweet, so adding white sugar doesn't compliment this type of salad in my opinion. Add the ice cubes on top and seal the bowl with saran wrap. Let the salad sit in the fridge for about 2 hours. The ice will melt and create a wonderful, sweet juice for the salad to sit in. Serves about 8 people, but can be stored for a few days in the fridge if you are making it fora smaller group.

Enjoy on a hot summer day!
xo T

Love all the colors!

Monday, July 11, 2011

La Dolce Vita Series!

Last year, when I was researching my move to Italy, I stumbled across a beautifully written blog called: Ciao Christy. It's about a young American woman who followed her dreams, sold all her things, packed up and moved to Florence, Italy. You can imagine how inspired I was! Through her blog, I found many others that I have been following since then. It was so encouraging to see so many young, independent women follow their hearts and dreams.

Thanks to Christine, she has started a new series called La Dolce Vita where all these women, including myself, write weekly about our sweet lives -la dolce vita. Please click on the icon below to read about these fabulous women and their journies moving to and living in Italia!


I still have another 7 weeks until my departure to Italia, so while I can't yet write about my dolce vita in Italia, I still appreciate and love my life in Toronto.

Lately, I've been so stressed being in the final stages of planning my move.  From applying for a visa, to learning Italian, to making packing lists, I was getting a little bit overwhelmed. However yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited by my sister's friend to her boyfriend's cottage. Living in the city is great, however sometimes it's nice to get a break. The traffic, the smog and all the noise....it can be exhausting. Torontonians love getting out of the city every weekend in the summers and we are lucky enough to have cottage country be about a short 2 hour drive north.

While I'm not your typical "country gal" (ie. I really don't like creepy, crawly insects and using a toilet that is actually just a hole in the ground), I do appreciate and love the calmness and tranquility of being up north. Being surrounded by family & friends, with nothing but a beautiful landscape to look at, can really remind you of what is truly important in life.

xoT

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tiramisu!

Ok so my first recipe post. Here goes...

I suck at baking. Period. Maybe it has something to do with me really disliking carefully measuring ingredients. That requires too much patience, something that I need to learn in the kitchen. But until then, I'm a total fan of NO BAKE desserts. And hello, what better no bake dessert than Tiramisu??

I always assumed that Tiramisu was made using lady fingers, until my Italiano started telling me one day about how his mother made the best Tiramisu in the world. So before he came to Toronto, I asked him to ask his mamma for the recipe so I can try to duplicate it. "Lady fingers, right?" I asked.
"E' schifoso!!", he replied (Gross!). Sorry, I didn't realize lady fingers could be "gross". He said mamma only uses something called Pavesini. Pave-wha?? Pavesini --They are these little Italian, lightweight-fluffy-but-cripsy cookie type things that are slightly sweet. So when he arrived in Toronto, he came with 2 packs for me. Then I discovered that I could actually buy them here at an Italian grocery shop for about 4 bucks a pop.





If this is your first attempt at Tiramisu, don't worry. You can't really go wrong. Remember, it's NO BAKING. So if you throw in a lil extra sugar, or forget to sprinkle extra cocoa powder on top, it will still be good!

Prep time: Approx 20 minutes. 

The ingredients:
  • 2 packs of Pavesini (You may not use them all, depends on how big your dish is. You can always keep the extras for next time or dip them in coffee for a snack. Yum!) --if you're in Toronto, you can get them at Grande Cheese
  • 4 large eggs 
  • One 250g container of mascarpone cheese
  • 4 generous teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 small cup of strong coffee
  • cocoa powder
  • A small chunk of any chocolate of your choice (I like to mix milk and white chocolate--Bulk Barn is cheap!)
Utensils:
  • a pyrex dish --for this recipe I would use a round one that's about 9" in diameter and 3" deep
  • egg beater
  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • a spatula
  • a grater
  • a sifter
To prepare:

my first time making tiramisu, not bad!
  1. Prepare a cup of coffee and let it cool in a bowl. Don't have a coffee maker? Go buy a cup! I ran down to Starbuck's my first time. =P
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks and place each in its own bowl. Tip: I like to crack the egg in half and let the egg white spill into it's own bowl. Then you can gently pour the yolk back and forth into each half of the shell until all the egg whites have fallen out. If it's your first time, don't worry, I messed up a few eggs and had to do it again and again. So keep a few extra eggs handy.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with the egg beater until they become completely fluffy and opaque. If you don't have access to fresh eggs, throw in a pinch of salt. When I first whisked egg whites, I got a little nervous because they didn't seem to fluff up. Don't worry, it doesn't happen in seconds. Takes a few minutes. They are ready when you can pick up the egg whites and they don't drip off the whisk.
  4. Add the sugar to the egg yolks and beat them together. Basically, you're adding one spoonful of sugar for each yolk. 
  5. Add the mascarpone to the egg yolk mix and mix it all together with the spatula.
  6. Gradually add the fluffy egg whites to the mascarpone mix. Tip: Fold the egg whites gently into the egg yolk mix. You want to avoid beating it all together, then the egg whites will lose their fluffy texture and the mix can become more runny.
  7. Take each Pavesini cookie and dip it in the coffee for a quick second then lay it in your serving dish. In and out, don't let it soak in the coffee otherwise it'll turn into mush. Repeat this until the bottom layer is covered.
  8. Take your mascarpone mix and spread a good amount of it on top. Sort of like icing a cake.
  9. Add cocoa powder in your sifter and gently tap it out so it sprinkles all over the first layer evenly. 
  10. Grate some of your chocolate on top for added chocolate goodness.
  11. Repeat steps 7-11 until you have 3 layers. The top layer of mascarpone should cover the entire dish, almost like it's sealing everything in.
  12. I like to get a little more generous with the chocolate shavings on the top layer --looks pretty.
  13. Cover the entire dish with saran wrap and leave it in the fridge for at least 5-6 hours. I usually make it in the morning to serve in the evening. Or you can make it in the evening to serve the next day.
This dish will serve about 6 people. If you want to make more, just double up. If you noticed, I skipped the traditional marsala wine that is normally added. I like mamma's version because it's simpler and it tastes damn good!

Enjoy!
xoT

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Simple Italian cooking.

I've been getting a few requests from friends to start posting recipes or cooking tips. Now, let me preface this by saying I'm not in any way a professional chef. I don't even really have my "own" recipes because most meals that I cook are variations of recipes I find either on cooking shows, online or even from friends & family. While I don't consider myself innovative and super creative in the kitchen, I can tell you that I have passion. I love to cook at home and if one other person likes my cooking, then I'm a happy girl.

I finally got to put my Italian cooking skills to the test when my boyfriend came to visit me. He actually said my dishes were as good as his mother's. Now, if you've ever dated an Italian man, you know that's a compliment! Or come to think of it, maybe he was just being polite...hmmm. Either way, I was pleased! I used to be the girl who bought whole wheat or multigrain pasta as an attempt to be "healthy" and ready-made pasta sauce in a jar right off the shelf.  Then I started buying Italian brands of pasta and whoa....the difference was huge. After watching numerous Italian cooking shows, youtube videos and reading some amazing recipe blogs, I learned how simple it is to prepare a delicious pasta sauce from scratch! Pasta from scratch? Not yet, but I'll be sure to blog my first attempt at it.... =)


some of my homemade Italian dishes

In my opinion, Italians really seem to have the right formula for cooking. Simple & fresh ingredients with a lotta love. I think the trick is not to over-complicate, then cooking doesn't seem as intimidating or frustrating! Here are a few interesting differences I learned about "Italian American" foods vs "Italian" foods. And please correct me if I was misinformed, perhaps some of these can be based on the region? We'll see...


Italians do not serve spaghetti with meatballs. It's usually one or the other. So if you put both together, you'll get a look of disgust from your Italian boyfriend. 


Italians do not put chicken in their pasta or on their pizza. But I will admit, I still like slices of juicy chicken breast in my fettuccine cream sauce.


We commonly say "mozzarella cheese" in North America. However, in Italy they have cheese (formaggio) and they have mozzarella. Mozzarella has its own category, because it's a "fresh" cheese that hasn't been aged.


In Italy, pasta is more common as a meal at lunch, rather than a main course at dinner where it's usually served as a "primi", the first course.


Anyone heard of any others? I just thought these were interesting. While I am going to be living in Italy soon, diving right into their traditional foods & culture,  I don't expect I will lose all my "American" taste buds. I will probably cook myself a nice hot plate of eggs and bacon for breakfast every so often, or throw some chicken in my pasta...but what I won't ever do is lose my passion for food!

xoT
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