Single and Hungry, or How To Be Lazy & Eat Well

I am not ashamed to say it.


Now, I may not exactly be lovin’ it, but I can work with it. And that is what I’ve been doing since I’ve graduated.

I’ll admit, when it comes to cooking, I’m not exactly Julia. I do enjoy cooking – chopping vegetables can be a very zen activity – but when it’s just me, I tend to be lazy.

My favorite kind of meal is the one spent at the table for two hours, talking and eating with family and friends. The kind that I spend 2 hours making some new, crazy dessert I saw on Tastespotting that I know will make even the most persnickety dessert eater a happy diner. It’s the Italian in me, I suppose. In fact, I’m pretty Italian when it comes to most food-related things. Funny how that happens.

SanGimII - La Mandragola bruschette miste

Mmmmm, bruschetta.

Ahem. Back to my point. Dinner! Yum.

Because I have seriously upped my exercise lately, I’ve been doubling my efforts to get enough protein into my diet. Eggs and lentils and tofu, oh my!

Here’s my process. It’s been working really well for me so far, and it probably will for you to.

1. Heat up a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan.

2. Crush a clove of garlic and throw it in the hot oil.

3. Wait a few seconds – then inhale. Yes, I do believe that is what heaven smells like.

4. Add whatever veggies/protein you want to. Add your leafy greens at the end – they will cook down like WHOA pretty quickly, and you want to see some of that beautiful greenness on your plate!

5. Add spices and your S+P. I’ve been in either a curry/cumin/ginger/paprika (coriander would be good too, I’m just lazy) or oregano/sage/rosemary/any other Italian spices.

One of my favorites so far has been this curried lentils + tofu bowl:

tofu-lentil curry (1)

Add a chopped tomato to the pan with your cooked lentils (I used 1/4 cup – boil in 1 cup water for 20 minutes).  Add tofu and greens – here I used a little red swiss chard. Throw in your curry, cumin, paprika, ginger, & S+P. I just eyeball my spices. Start small – it’s easier to add more than to eat ridiculously overspiced food. Yes, I do know this from experience.

Other renditions have included sauteing lentils, tofu, spinach and some pasta sauce together. Tonight was lentils (hey, I’m on a kick, don’t judge) in a little dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, lemon pepper and dill with spinach and an egg scrambled in at the last minute. Yall – that was awesome. It looks crazy, but it was delicious. Especially with some sweet potato fries. (Slice, season w. rosemary/oregano/paprika/sea salt, bake for 20 min at 400F.)

No, none of my creations are necessarily restaurant-worthy. But damned if they are not delicious, super healthy and crazy easy. And that is what counts for this particular single girl. No apron required.

Follow it up with a little toast and a piece of dark chocolate and you’re good to go. Buon appetito!

charleston 5-7-11 (54)


The BIG Move: Part II

From this…

to this:

From this…

To this:

And this:

To this:

We have arrived.

During my freshman year, it was announced that my class – 2011, holla! – would be the first senior class to live in the senior apartments. If there was no other reason to stay, this was it (but there were plenty others – I ❤ my college!).

Ready for the grand tour??


My room looks out at that fountain. I will never need one of those “gentle sound-making machines” – I have the real thing!


Welcome to our house!

First things first:

Please meet Otis, the house plant. He says hello. (He gets whiney when he’s not introduced to the guests.)

The living room, where one of my roommates got another one and me addicted to Alias. We’ve almost watched the entire first season in 2 days. It’s a problem.

The kitchen – obviously, my favorite part. And yes, that apron hanging in the corner is mine.

Now walk with me down the hall…

To my room 🙂



And a view. Not too shabby, no?

Of course, the necessities:

Bathroom – note the 2 sinks. I have never, ever, EVER had my own sink. After about a week, I highly recommend it.

The amazing hotel-like shower that I have used every night. Because I can.

I promise a more in depth tour of the kitchen is to come! But now, let’s get to the good stuff: food.

The inaugural bowl of oats:

Espresso-spiked chocolate banana scottish oats. Oh yes.

1/4 c. scottish oats

3/4 c. almond milk

1 T cocoa

1/4-1/2 tsp. instant espresso

dash of sea salt

1 banana, sliced

Espresso really brings out the richness of the cocoa – I use it in ever chocolate thing I bake! But for the love of all things caffeinated, do not drink instant espresso. That is just not what it’s for.

My first apartment-cooked meal involved one of my bulk bin purchases from Whole Foods:

French lentils. Aren’t they pretty?!

A quarter cup of those into a pot with:

About 1/3 of a zucchini, half of a carrot, some white onion, and

a cup of frozen kale. Add some sea salt, pepper, and herbes de provence, and bam!

Lentil stew with a side of whole grain toast. So blissfully far from the limp salad I ate daily in the dining hall, I could cry with happiness.

I am slowly gathering all my necessary baking supplies together. My reusable silicon cupcake lines arrived in the mail today.

Time to go preheat the oven. It. is. ON.

This, That, and Gelato

Having class on Friday completely threw me off. I had no idea what day it was. But regardless of the day’s name, it was a pretty good one.
My Food & Culture class was taken outside of the classroom and into Mercato Centrale for a little taste of some on-field research! We all were sent off to walk around the market and surrounding streets and take note of what the market is selling, who is shopping, who is selling, how they are marketed, what ethnicity products are of, etc. We had to interview a vendor, which made me sooo nervous. I’m such an introvert. BUT, I interviewed a fresh produce guy who did NOT speak English and I conducted the whole thing (um, all 2 minutes of it…I couldn’t think of many interesting questions) in Italian. Woohoo! It was a really interesting experience, and I really enjoyed the time to just walk around the market expressly to study it closely. Such a fascinating place. SO touristy. It’s really a shame, it gets treated essentially like a museum – just another site to see for tourists. Because of Florence’s traffic situation, getting to the market for non-locals is a huge pain and often just too inconvenient. It’s so sad, because supporting local businesses & farms is SO important, but convenience prevails. It’s definitely an issue in the U.S., but awareness seems to be growing bit by bit. It’s quite the money-saver too; the amount of produce I can get at the market for about $5 is enough for most of the week for me. And I think it’s so much cooler to be able to buy an apple from the person who grew it–just takes the experience of eating to a different, more personal level.
In between classes, I stopped at my favorite cafe for the best cappuccino EVER. The perfect between-class activity!
My music class also took a field trip! We went to the Accademia (home to the David) to see their special exhibit of musical instruments collected by the Medici (Ferdinando specifically, I think). It was pretty cool; there was an elderly gentleman playing one of the harpsichords! It was nice to go with my professor to, who is so knowledgeable about everything music! But, about 3/4s of the way through my body started whining at me for having 2 classes mostly on-foot and no food. Being the clever gal that I am, I went to my sandwich place between classes and snagged a sandwich, which I scarfed down the minute I got home from the museum (which is literally 2 blocks away from the apartment). No picture – it disappeared before Frida could get a word snap in edgewise, but it was the same thing as last week (with some added arugula…mmm!)
It was another BEAUTiful spring day!! ‘Bout time, too. Alaina and I did a bit of shopping around town – I needed some batteries before our weekend travels! When she gets hungry, Frida shuts down. Literally. And a shut-down camera is just no good in Tuscany.
Dinner was pretty basic, mostly because it was what I had on hand:
Lentils + some kind of leafy green I bought at the market + garlic + pecorino. Simple and delish. The bread was wonderful as well – a kind of whole wheat sourdough we found at the market. Perfect paired with the lentils+cheese!
Later, after a long struggle with flakey internet, I got restless and talked my roommates into a gelato field trip! (It usually doesn’t take much talking 😉 I was dying to try Grom’s new grapefruit sorbetto, and I was definitely in the mood. To Grom we went!
Pompelmo rosso (red grapefruit) + Limone
The grapefruit was…well, grapefruit! Grom’s fruit flavors are incredible because it tastes like the exact fruit and nothing else. I looooved the lemon – like a tastier version of those Minute Maid push-up pops (which I also quite like ;)! Hit the spot.
Bit of an uneventful and low-photo post – but I promise, it is just in preparation for the weekend to come! Lucca for an olive oil tasting on Saturday followed by a soccer game back here in Florence (VAI FIORENTINA!!!!), and then a hiking tour of Cinque Terre on Sunday. Good thing I happen to be in love with Tuscany, no?

Back in Action

So, Spring break broke. But it was a good one! Lots of sleep, yoga, gelato, and gorgeous Tuscan landscapes. Perfetto!
Yesterday was mostly spent cleaning – swept the whole apartment! Eventually I got a little stircrazy and had to get OUT and enjoy the lovely spring weather! Had to complete the picture with some gelato:

Straciatella al caffe (coffe chocolate chip) + tiramisu. GREAT combo.

I went to Piazza Santa Croce and sat on a bench while I read the homework that I may or may not have forgotten about…It was so nice! The weather, the musicians playing, the CUTE dogs…wonderful way to get homework done. I took the long way home and walked by a church on my street and there must have been a wedding!
When I got back, my roommate wasn’t far behind! We decided to end Spring Break on a high note and go out to one of the many recommended restaurants nearby. We split a baby bottle of wine to go with our respective meals. I went with an appetizer + side dish, which I really like to do because the portion ends up being just right!
Crostini (toasted or grilled bread) with 3 different toppings

The one closest to the camera was a pate of sorts, not sure what animal, but sometimes I think it’s best to not ask questions. Above that was a tomato-onion something or other that included raisins – I wasn’t a big fan of that one, too sweet! At the top was an amazing smoked eggplant-garlic-oil thing that my roommate and I had NO problem polishing off. Mmmm, eggplant. I also ordered a side of cooked spinach – needed something to balance out the bread! I just love spinach. Especially in smoothies…it sounds weird, but you really can’t taste the spinach. It just turns the smoothie green and boosts the nutritional value. I miss those Green Monsters!
Today it was back to the grind. I got a solid A on my Food & Culture mid-term, yayayayay!! I love that class. And I better keep lovin it – I have a presentation and a 10-page research paper due for it this month! Eeek.
A good breakfast was definitely necessary to start back:

Banana yogoat float!
Sliced banana + raw oats + vanilla yogurt. Hard to go wrong when using good ingredients!

I went to the market after my Food & Culture class (my music class was canceled because we are going to 2 concerts this week) and picked up some necessities. 3 apples & 3 pears for 96 cents!!! So exciting. Also, yummy fresh bread:
Pane alla soia – soy bread? I like it a lot! It has an almost sweet(?) flavor…hard to describe. Other than…yum.
I picked up lunch (at Casa del Vino, of course):
Prosciutto and pecorino. Simple. Amazing.
Seriously, this took “ham and cheese” to a whole new level. It might even be my favorite, just because it was so simple yet soooo tasty.
I ate it on the steps of the Brancacci Chapel, on the other side of the Arno.

A lunch with a view!

I actually went in the Brancacci Chapel today! (I tried to go over Spring Break but it was closed.) It was lovely. So peaceful.

Frescoes surrounded the courtyard (you can see in the picture below this one).

A little sunny courtyard inside. I sat there forever, sunbathing and listening to the birds chirping. Made for a lovely afternoon.
Though the courtyard was my favorite part, the Chapel wasn’t bad either:

A pieta of sorts in the chapel entrance.

The chapel is currently being restored, so there wasn’t much space to walk around. That, and Frida was PMSing and losing battery power. Hence, the subpar pics. But it was pretty!

Yes, lots of camera frustration. What really bugs me is that I get so annoyed over the fact that ever single picture I get is blurry and unrecignizable, that I forget where I am — as in, I have to remind myself to step back and say “whoa. I’m in a centuries-old, beautifully painted chapel in Florence and I’m not even appreciating it. Put. The camera. DOWN.” And I did. Damned if I’ll let technology take away a what should be an enjoyable experience!

I walked home after that, enjoying the great spring weather – finally too warm for my coat!

I got hungry pretty early and whipped this baby up:

Lentils, a small onion, a couple cherry tomatoes, and a TON of spinach. I needed to use it up! Seasoned it with a little rosemary, sage, S&P and pecorino romano. A little boring I suppose, but I liked it! Especially after I added some dijon mustard for a little kick.
It’s harder for me to experiment a lot with cooking here because I don’t have many spices to work with – I adore trying different spice combos. It is so interesting to me how something so small can completely manipulate the flavor(s) of a dish!

I was very good last night about getting to bed. I am trying so hard to get in bed before midnight the nights before I have Italian because it makes getting up and getting through my day SO much easier. Unfortunately, very little actual sleep happened, so I’m pretty exhausted today. I came right back and took a quick nap before meeting the girl I practice Italian with, and then came home for breakfast/lunch. It’s grey and chilly today (I would love to know where that spring weather went!), but I felt quite accomplished yesterday, and so I’m okay with today being a little less active. I have yoga tonight and then it’s time for Ethnic Tuesday dinner with the roomies! I believe we are planning on Indian tonight – woohoo!!!

On my walk home yesterday, I had a moment where all of a sudden I thought “Whoa. I’m in Italy right now. Living here. How did this happen!!” It’s odd, I adapted to life here so quickly, I suppose it didn’t fully sink in. And maybe it won’t totally sink in until I am able to look at it in retrospect. I don’t know how exactly I got so lucky, but I do know that I am in total awe and gratitude that I did.
I’ve been asking myself a lot, “How do I leave this place?” I don’t just mean hopping on a plane; I’m talking about leaving the lifestyle here that I’ve become so happily accustomed to, the sights and sounds, the food. I’m so attached, I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to walk away. But, I know I will figure it out. And I suspect I will end up with a deeper respect for the cultures of both here and my home. It’s going to be interesting, to say the least.

I have a presentation (on CHOCOLATE!) due soon, so I think I will put my sleepy brain to work before yoga. A domani!


*Insert awesome quote from The Office here*

I have resurfaced from a massive Office marathon to say: I heart Spring Break! And also Jim and Pam.
Best couple since Ross & Rachel.
Yesterday was uneventful [hence the lack of post], but nevertheless satisfying. All days such as this begin with…OATS!
Remember my Candy Land addition? Here’s a new one – cinnamon oat shore + vanilla yogurt sea. Great for spoonboarding! (Get it?? surfboarding, spoonboarding….wow. Stop now Gillian. Just stop.)
Took my roomie to my Monday sandwich place – no photo, we had to walk-and-eat because we were busy shopping for…
The most beautiful handmade leather sandals ever.
And they’re all mine. Spring can start now – time to get these babies broken in!
Lunch, by the way, was as wonderful as usual – tuna with olive oil, fresh tomatoes, and “salsa verde” (literally green sauce – very similar to pesto, different in different places – basically a blend of green herby goodness and olive oil). Lots of people were in there (all locals!), and most of the just ordered whatever they wanted on the sandwich (not off the menu), so maybe I will try that next week!
Dinner was my own random little creation:
Lentils, yellow bell pepper, parsley, spinach. Topped with pecorino that got all melty and yummy…mmm.
Today was just lovely. The sun was out [mostly] and the temperature was up. I had the windows to the kitchen wide open all day.
1st stop was to the market for some necessities! I thought you might like to see the goods:
The best almonds ever.
Semi-whole grain bread (funky shape!)
I’ve seen this several times and finally decided to try it today – it’s called “Procorn”. I don’t what exactly it is, but it is a thick brown bread filled with different seeds. Here’s a close-up:
It’s incredible! Kind of buttery on it’s own, with a really hearty flavor…I’m in love.
Yellow apples – my current fruit obsession.
Pecorino Romano
Spinach + arugula
Dried strawberries/white grapes – YUM!
This is more than I usually get; I only need the cheese and the dried fruits/almonds every 3 weeks or so. The market is just a fun place to wander around – great people-watching.  
Came back and sat on the little walkway that leads to another apartment. I haven’t been able to sit out here yet because it’s usually taken over by the girls across the hall who, um…well, let’s just say, we don’t “mesh” well. Interpret as you will. BUT everyone is off exploring Europe (or at least its bars), and this little spot is all mine! Took advantage of a new sandal break-in opportunity:
[Please disregard the mostly-chipped-off nail polish]
Frida the camera came out to sunbathe with me:
I eventually got hungry and came in to make…seitan burgers!
Seitan falls into a similar category as tofu and tempeh as a vegetarian protein – I think it’s fermented wheat, but please don’t quote me on it. I will look it up and get back to you. Whatever it is, I LOVED it! Maybe not quite as much as tempeh (but I reaaaalllly love tempeh), but it was delicious. Very much like Morningstar Farm veggie burgers, which I also adore. Can’t wait to find more and experiment with it when I go home!
It was definitely a day for a passeggiata in Firenze! I walked for a looong time. 
Oh how I will miss these streets!!
First I found the street of the apartment that my parents are renting for their week here in April:
(No idea what number their building is)
Then I crossed the Arno…
I took this because if you squint you can see the sun beams through the clouds…it looked better in person 🙂
I was searching for the Bracacci Chapel. My wonderful major advisor said it was a must-see, and that is what  my spring break is for! Funny story – I followed my directions and knew exactly where I was, but I couldn’t find it. I did find some church-like building that was getting restored in the front, but no chapel. I walked around in a BIG square and when I came back to where I started…I found the chapel. It is part of the church getting restored. Clearly, I was expecting the chapel to come to life and formally introduce itself. Nope. Slight setback done with, I went up to the door…and read the sign that said “Tuesday–Closed.” Figures. It was a great walk though!
I chilled for a while just soaking in the feeling of being in my apartment in Florence with the windows wide open, letting the breeze and sunlight in…it’s a nice feeling.
My poor roommate is sick! She just returned from Ireland and feels awful. Send her feel-better vibes! I considered going out to dinner alone, but kind of chickened-out. Lunch I have no problem with, but dinner is harder. However, I have a looooong list (Excel spreadsheet, actually – don’t hate!) of places I “need” to eat at, so I picked one of the other places rumored to have the “best sandwiches in town” and was off! On my way, I passed a gelateria that I have heard highly recommended, but whenever we try to go, it’s closed. We have seriously tried 3 different times. Quite frustrating. And I’ve always been a supporter of eating dessert first, so…
Almond gelato. MMM.
This place has “Sicilian-style” gelato – I honestly have no idea what that means/why it is different from the rest of gelato in Italy. It was good, but I didn’t find it anything more special than others – Perche No! still has my heart.
I found the sandwich place, “I Fratellini” (The Brothers) – it’s actually a teeny wine bar, a literal hole in the wall. I got the vegetariano:
There’s a hole in my bread! Actually, I really liked it, made it easier to eat I think.
Light on the vegetables – mostly just eggplant & olive oil.
It was good, but not amazing – I’m not sure anyone will beat my beloved Casa del Vino. I did love this roll though, nice and crunchy like french bread. Man I love bread.
–We interrupt this post for a random rant from the author–
Wanna hear something funny? I don’t gain a BIT of weight eating the “Italian way” – oats and fruit for breakfast, and either a light lunch if I’m going out for dinner, or vice versa – all washed down with some gelato and extra fruit here and there. It’s a fantastic way to eat – completely satisfying and no deprivation at all. It’s when I fall back into “bad habits” such as making my meals smaller to “reduce calories” – the funny thing is, making smaller meals sends a message to my brain that I “can” snack more, and it’s when I get into snack after mindless snack that my pants start feeling a little smaller. It’s a sick cycle, really. And I’ve been falling back into my snacking rut and feeling it, and I don’t like it (even though most of the pants I brought are STILL too big!) SO, all that to say with all you wonderful blog readers as my witness – I am going to become a more mindful eater. Gelato, wonderful bread, and amazing pasta will NOT be excluded, and this is NOT a “diet.” I am simply going to focus on eating what my body wants and needs – more paying attention to actual hunger, less snacking on crackers because “they’re there.” The other problem with snacking, for me, is that I enjoy the food so much less – I’m not eating it for fuel or flavor, just for something else to do. And that is taking all the fun out of food! Really, this rant is my way of holding myself accountable – if any would like to join me, feel free to comment and join the fun!
In case your eyes started to glaze over and drool got dangerously close to the keyboard when you started reading this, I will sum up: Eat real food mindfully and be happy.
Only an English major takes a huge paragraph to say 7 words.
–Now back to your regularly scheduled post–
I am planning on a trip to the Uffizi tomorrow…and other than that, who knows?

Fun, Sun, Duomo

The Internet has returned! A little late…but at least it’s back. I’ll bet you missed me so!
Two massive mid-terms today – LOTS of writing. Food and Culture was ok – 6 essay questions of me rambling about exactly what we talk about in class. There is really no way to know how I did, so it’s a waiting game until after spring break. My music one was all essays as well. I wrote everything I knew, and I hope it suffices. I’m more concerned about that paper…eek. But this is Italy, and there is no stress about academics here. I’m determined to make that true
What’s under that schiacciata? Another brilliant sandwich from Casa del Vino, of course!
Mackerel and artichokes drizzled in olive oil. So simple, and yet so delicious. It was especially good after that midterm. Writing so intensely for so long just sucks the energy right out of me.
Came home and blogged in celebration of the return of the Internet. It was a GORGEOUS spring day today, and I went on a lovely walk/hunt for a health food store. I found it, but the door was closed 😦 The schedule said it was supposed to be open, so the owner must have been taking an extra-long siesta. No matter, I will return! Mondays I am in class all day and can’t get to the market before it closes, and if I can’t buy local, I try to buy organic. In my opinion, it’s worth the slightly higher price. Your body is your temple – keep it shiny!
Took some pictures on the way back, just ’cause it was such a loverly day:
Spring is in the air!
We toyed with the idea of going out for dinner, but tomorrow is Ethnic Tuesday and I didn’t want to spend more money, so after debating, we just threw our hands up and stayed in. Lentil-y goodness ensued.
Red lentils, celery, tomato, pepper, basil, plus sage/rosemary/s&p. See the melty bits of pecorino on there? I was happy.
I love red lentils, because they actually turn yellow when cooked and make it such a bright, happy-looking dish! And soooo tasty.
I have been NOT writing my composition for Italian due tomorrow. I suppose I should hop on that. To all my peeps in Massachusetts – I’m sending sunny, warm weather wishes!

Wandering Wednesday

Despite our little heart-to-heart, Florence still continues to torture me with bitter cold. The sun came up for about 2 hours though, which was much appreciated.
It was one of those days that just felt infinitely long. I didn’t sleep last night – just couldn’t get sleepy, and after Italian came right back and napped on the couch for a while. The breakfast that followed was Yum with a capital Y:
cocoa powder + raspberry yogurt = Chocolate Raspberry Oats!
This brightened my day – almost as much as did the little Jack Russell terrier whose owner runs a shop on my path to class. I will have to take a picture of him sometime; yesterday he was frollicking with an empty water bottle, and today he was “attacking” a bike going by, as only a dog who comes 6-inches off the ground can. He reminds me a lot of my own dog – he has a lot to say and will run after something very gung-ho, but should he actually ever catch anything, he’d probably have no idea what to do. I adore him.
I went to the market and wandered around a little. I love the guy who I buy my almonds & dried fruit from; he recognizes me now and I’m sure he knows I’m American but he always speaks Italian; leaves with so much hope! I spent a pretty [euro]penny there today, but I don’t mind spending a little extra when I know it’s going to someone I like. Plus, the almonds are to LIVE for. Love me some omega fatty acids!
I went to my Wednesday lunch place, Sergio’s. I was going to meet a friend but problems arose and she couldn’t meet me. It was a nice quiet lunch to myself though, and I spent it writing. Mostly scribbles, but good brainstorming. Speaking of lunch:
“Fagottini” di pasta fresca nel brodo della gallina – Fresh pasta in chicken broth.
I had no idea what “fagottini” were, but I saw the pasta fresca part and was sold – you can NEVER go wrong with fresh pasta!
This was a filled pasta wrapped up in an almost candy-like shape. Here’s an example (just a Google image, but mine looked the same):
It was…whoa. I don’t even know what the filling was – I just know it was GOOD. Very intense – that little pocket of pasta held a TON of flavor! It was some kind of meat, my guess would be beef or pork (but I’m really not a good judge of red meats) with an incredible cheese. It was very sharp but smooth; pecorino didn’t seem quite right but it could have been a kind I haven’t tried. Oh, so good. As was the bread basket, which I also demolished. I’m a Tuscan bread fiend.
Went for a walk before I had to get back to the apartment to let one of my poor keyless roomies in. It turns out she called just in time though, because on my way back the clouds came full force, accompanied by the nasty mean ole wind and some very cold drops of rain.
And then I took another nap. I was too tired to focus on work and I knew coffee wouldn’t do it, so I just gave up. It wasn’t a long one, and I did yoga after getting up. I was craving the stretch! I can feel how out of yoga-shape I am though having not practiced it for a while regularly, but I will slip back. You can always go back to yoga; it’s really what I love about it. No matter where I am physically or mentally, I can just hop into my “yoga bubble” and find peace.
I was craving a big bowl of fresh veggies, and that it what I had – with a twist, of course!
That would be arugula, tomato, bell pepper, and pecorino topped with lentils cooked in…get ready…GREEN TEA! I was reading an article about how cooking things that are normally boiled in water can be cooked in tea for an added level of flavor, and this sounded exactly like something I would do. Unfortunately, I was a little heavy-handed with the rosemary and combined with the varying flavors in the salad, I couldn’t detect much of a difference. BUT I’m most definitely going to try it again – oh the possibilities!
And then the procrastination bug bit with a vengeance. I can’t stand feeling so sleepy all the time, it just makes things like papers so much more difficult! In all honesty though, I’m not too concerned yet. Of course, I want to do well and know I have the capability to do so. I, however, am all too talented at getting waaay overstressed about school work – sometimes to the point of health issues, and I made a promise to myself that this semester would be different, because it had to be. I am a perfectionist and it is a part of who I am, and I can accept that; but I think a big part of accepting it is learning how to work with and around it so that I am still able to live. And I mean ‘live’ in every aspect of the word.
Cooking class is tomorrow – I’m EXCITED!!!

Women [and aringhe] RULE

You know you love a class when Monday morning rolls around and you’re actually excited to go. Sometimes I’m so geeky, I laugh at me.
We talked a lot about traditions and the definition of ‘cuisine’ – referring to that of any group, from nation to family. It’s funny, but as I was thinking about it, I don’t feel like my family has a “cuisine.” We have some classic foods – lemon bbq chicken, mom’s wonderful salads – but no outstanding, “trademark” way of preparing or seasoning. I think that’s actually kind of cool, because it left me totally unbiased and more willing to try anything. And we know how much I like my experiments!
Oops, forgot breakfast – not to eat it, of course!

Blueberry yogurt + muesli soaked in almond milk. Love me some muesli 🙂
Lunch today was AMAZING sandwich number 2 (same place I went last Monday). I almost ordered the same thing, but I really wanted to try something new, so I crossed my fingers and ordered “aringhe affumicato con verdure fresche.” I knew that it was something smoked (affumicato) with fresh vegetables, and since the “well 75% of that looks yummy” method worked last week, I went with it again. A VERY good decision.
mystery delicious smoked fish
Aringhe, it turns out, is herring – it tasted just like trout, but when I came home and looked it up, my trusty online dictionary corrected me. OH MAN this was delicious! I’m still trying to decide which I liked better, this week or last week’s anchovies…hmmm…the jury’s out on this one yet. I looked up the rest of the menu (it’s quite short, which made it thankfully easy to remember), and I’m very excited for next week to try the next new thing! There is a tripe sandwich which I’m not so keen on – really cow meat of any kind does not interest me, much less the stomach – but it is a Florentine staple and I’m thinking I’m going to HAVE to suck it up one of these days and get it…eek. I have to stomach the stomach! If it’s as good as their other sandwiches though, I’ll survive 😉
Came home and did…um…nothing. It’s SO cold – the wind is just nasty – and it puts a real downer on going outside. I started to look at my spring break plans and Italian transportation is being its usual uncooperative self. I know I want to do Livorno and Bologna; possibly Volterra, although getting there is a pain in the butt and I haven’t decided that it’s worth it yet; and the hill towns of Pienza, Montepulciano and Montalcino, which were recommended to me by my beloved major advisor. Those last 3 are the main source of my travel headache, because I can’t get a clear idea of how exactly to go about getting there and back. Bus schedules are hard to read, and they all involve getting to Siena before I can even think about getting to the towns themselves. This is the only time having a car here would probably be the easier route. We’ll see; maybe I’ll just show up and hop on the bus that seems right and see where it takes me!
Dinner was another roommate collaboration – lentil stew! I’m a BIG lentil fan  – India got me totally hooked. We soaked the lentils and threw a ton of veggies in with garlic, basil and spices. It was very basic, and tasted as such. Not bad, just not really anything else. After my sandwich experience today though, dinner wasn’t going to measure up either way.
Bread makes everything better.
Today is Feste delle Donne – International Women’s Day! The U.S. is not on the ball and doesn’t celebrate it 😦 In Italy, women are often given sprigs of mimosa flowers and apparently there is a special cake called a mimosa but I didn’t see any…and you know I wanted to. I was in class all day and didn’t get any flowers, but I like that the day exists 🙂 In the immortal words of the Spice Girls – Girl Power!
I realize that I mentioned yesterday that this would be an exciting week and today was, er, not so much, but I promise – the best is yet to come!