Friday, April 3, 2009

Apparently there are readers out there - armchair travelers - who are reading this blog. I know it's nearly impossible to comment - my apologies for that. It's nice to know that these thoughts aren't just going off into the ether though, so thank you for stopping by.

We are knee-deep in plans for our next trip - to BC and Alberta next month with the kids. I have to say that I'm slightly reluctant to get planning another trip so soon. We normally don't travel often and so I have the opportunity to both anticipate and to savour a trip. I like that a lot. It reminds me of the contrast between a beautifully presented meal on an enormous white plate, where the exquisiteness of the food can be savoured slowly, and going to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Now, don't get me wrong - buffets can be wonderful - but Italy was definitely something you savour for a long time.

A friend asked me this week what "best practices" I had brought home from Italy with me - rituals or new habits that had stuck with us. I was kind of stumped at first. I bought Cabbage Rosewater from the perfumeria in Florence and I use it nearly every day on my face. I also bought a bar of violet soap and stuck it in my underwear drawer. The other day, I was working and I could smell this wonderful candy-like smell - and I suddenly realized it was me. (Have you ever noticed how much real violets smell just as sweet as candy? Or apparently how much I do?) I've been making Italian food a lot - I've given up on all prepared salad dressings and now I simply drizzle lettuce with red wine vinegar and olive oil, separately, and then sprinkle it liberally with salt. Delicious! I've also been baking what we are calling Nun's Cake. Everyone loves it. I found the recipe on the Internet (under Tuscan cakes) but it tastes exactly like the cake the nuns at our convent served us. Here's the recipe:

Nun's Cake
1/2 cup butter
almost 1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (I use 1/2 cup regular milk with a splash of lemon juice)
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

Mix it all together. The eggs make it look sunny and yellow. Pour it into a pan - I use an 8" round pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 40 minutes or until it's just golden. Take it out. Thump it out of the pan and onto a plate. Let it cool a bit or completely and serve.

It tastes like a cross between pound cake and angel food cake. Simple and delicious.

What else? Dave and I are enjoying hanging out together more than usual. We kind of got used to it, I guess, when we were away together.

And, I wish. I'd like to go back to Italy some day and I have no idea whether I will. That's not what I wish though. My wish is for something like the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day: I'd like to be stuck for a good long while in the midst of the trip we had. I don't want to try to recreate or relive it - I'd like to still be living it. This is not to say I'm unhappy with my life. I'm very happy. It's just that it was kind of magical. A gift.

Sweeter than violets even.

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