When teaching himself how to cook, Stephen King (of all people!) said, ” as long as you go low, slow, and gently, you pretty much can’t mess up anything in the kitchen”. I’ve been thinking about that alot. Most kitchen mishaps come about when I’m rushing, chopping too fast, turning the heat up too high, trying to take shortcuts. Inevitably something goes wrong. And then it occured to me- dear Stephen, that is a great philosophy for life, too. (What. Did i just get a life lesson from Stephen King!? lol. Save me. lol.).
But really. Low. Slow. Gentle. How many projects do we start, how many conversations do we jump into, how many new things do we try to learn where, Low. Slow. Gentle. would fix so many of the problems we inevitably encounter?
Exactly. Now if only i could figure out how to stick to it.
For these two lunch dishes, low, slow, gentle, works. You get the maximum flavour and best result. I remember reading somewhere that the best chefs wield heat with the same precision as their knives- knowing that the subtle changes elicit very different cooking reactions and thus very different final results.
So lets get on with cooking. These recipes are not true paleo, more primal, because I use nightshades.
Fagiolini con Tonno (tuna green bean salad)
NOTE: Please, please do not use tuna packed in water. please, please splurge on an expensive bottle of tuna filets packed in olive oil- you can get them at any Italian grocer or in the ‘international’ aisle at your grocery store. The flavour is totally different, and since this is a simple recipe, you will need to have the best quality ingredients you can.
- 2 generous handfuls of green beans
- half tsp dried basil (optional)
- 1 finely chopped sundried tomato (optional)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small can or jar of tuna packed in olive oil
- juice of half to 1 whole lemon, or to taste
- Bring a pot of water to boil. While you wait, wash and trim the ends off the beans.
- Cook the beans in the water until they are bright green (blanch them), – test one to see if its to your liking. Depending on the age and type of green bean, anywhere from 3-8 min.
- Drain and submerge beans in cold water.
- In a sauce pan, heat the finely chopped tomato with the basil for a few minutes on low heat- just to soften up the tomato a bit, and add in the tuna.
- Toss with the green beans and lemon juice. Season to taste. Done.
- 2 sausages (or however many you want)
- 1-2 red or yellow peppers cut into pieces (red is best)
- spoonful of olive oil
- Prick your sausages only once or twice, you don’t want them to lose all the inside juices. Add them to your pan on medium-low heat with the olive oil.
- Also add your peppers skin side down. You want them to char before turning them over.
- Turn over your sausage only once, when its dark and caramelized on the bottom. This dish needs patience (about 20-25 min or more on medium-low heat), but its delicious.
- If you find your peppers aren’t cooking fast enough, just sprinkle the barest hint of salt over them to help draw out the juices. They need to be soft and floppy and sweet when they are ready.
- Serve with a green salad or fruit. Done!
- I still have no love for Naples. Gomorrah is only the half of it (you must google it to read about the documentary book, oh, of course there’s a movie. but read the book.). There’s really nothing quite like that pervasive feeling of being unsafe, all the time.
- If you order any kind of seafood dish, even risotto, do not, under any circumstances, put parmesan on it or request any kind of dairy product with it. Its seen as total blasphemy. You’ll freak out the chef.
- If you come here and the grocer tries to convince you to buy one of those over sized basketball-round lemons, telling you it will last you a week, Walk. Away. You’re being had. (I should have known by that slightly mischevous smirk i got from the old lady as i walked away. I kneeeew something was awry and she was 5 EU richer lol). I found out they are so not edible! I opened mine up and it was all pith, and sprouting seeds. Yes the lemons are huge naturally. But basket ball sized? Leave those ones on the shelf lol.
- Travelling with multiple intolerances sometimes means being a bit stuck at tourist traps. When you’re trying to check out monuments and there’s only sandwich stands as far as you can see, and you’re hungry as heck, buying that salad or risotto on the main strip kinda costs alot. I’m working on planning around that a bit more- i’m bleeding euros! lol
- Lovely- there are “Forio” nights here- Sunday nights and Thursday nights, all the locals come to the town of Forio to socialize and hang out . I guess there are other ‘nights’ for other towns? I kinda like that idea. Everyone knows to gather in a particular area to socialize and go out.
- If you are a foodie, i highly recommend travelling with a cookbook that features recipes from at least one of the areas you are travelling in. It makes the experience so much richer! Currently I am loving Gennaro Contaldo’s “Passione”. (For fun, look up “Two Greedy Italians” on Youtube. Epic).
- The castle in Ischia was fascinating. In the catacombs underneath were a series of cement chairs with a round hole in the seat. Apparently, when royalty died, they would sit the body on the throne. Every day the king or ruler would go down to pay their respects to their ancestors and pray. As the bodies decomposed, the flesh and bones would fall through the round hole and be collected at the bottom when decomposition was completed. CRAZY. Talk about connecting with the circle of life already. I don’t know if I’d want to daily greet the decomposing faces of my parents after they pass away. But thats just me lol.
- I keep seeing eggs unrefrigerated in grocery stores here. Freaks me out. I don’t get it.
- Uhhh there are some terrific stores here. Promod and Intimissimi, i’ve waited 10 years to shop there and maaan. Such pretty things.
- Ate dinner at the host family restaurant last night. Beautiful. I ate with my lovely English friends i met up with the other day. I must say they are terrific dinner company- i never would have gone to the restaurant alone. We talked food and chitchatted for hours. I had grilled vegetables and a sample of some prosciutto (funny how roasted red peppers come insanely alive when paired with prosciutto, but on their own without salt they are flat. amazing). Then mussels steamed in white wine (such strong white wine- it was wonderful, i could still taste its deep heady flavour while dipping into the mussels), with roasted potatoes and rosemary. Oh, and hazelnut and chocolate gelato for dessert. :D Happytimes.
- Went shopping for groceries today and the oranges i bought were right out of her garden. This thrilled me. The olives were her own too- and she preserved them herself! They were delicious- big, round, meaty, dark, firm, slightly spicy. Fantastic.
Thoughts on life so far
- This great south. This big sea. These lovely people.
- I find myself only today, honestly settled into the slow pace. Its taken 7 days for me to actually fully mentally relax. I had no idea it would take so long to completely detach. I go for a walk in the morning to explore the port area a bit- the morning air is very fresh and breezy. I find in the absence of any stress I crave exercise. I wake up, my legs itching to wander to explore to burn through the morning. I usually haul along my heavy camera, grab a few pictures, pick up some groceries, head back before lunch, make something to eat. Go to sit in the sun in the afternoon. Stare blankly out at the water. Since its a monday, there are way fewer people here and the water is much calmer and cleaner in the absence of movement. I was able to stand still enough, long enough, to watch small fish swim around my feet. I allowed myself to finally ask the question- ok, where do i want to be this time next year? 2 years from now? 5 years? I know what i want to achieve, but until now I haven’t been internally quiet enough to really, silently, mull over the plan of how i am going to get there.
- This trip, more than anything else, has had the purpose of figuring that part out. I’m just at the beginning of it.
- Btw, how much would i love to just get paid to cook, blog and eat. lol.
- I find when i travel, i have less and less to say as the trip progresses. Its an internal settling down, i think. I don’t know.
- Today i read Life of Pi. I never actually read beyond the intro chapters before- i think its because i find Martel’s prose a bit heavy (sometimes downright plodding) and too caught up on self-important details for my impatient reading pace. Plus, i really liked re reading his main character’s thoughts on religion in the intro- i found it lovely (“What of God’s silence? I think it over. I add: An intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and of ultimate purpose”. Life of Pi, p 70) .
- I just deleted all my thoughts on the novel because i’ve finally finished it and totally changed my mind about it. and its late at night and i don’t feel like writing more so i’ll just cut and copy a few quotes that stood out to me. i must say though- i detest yann martel for his tendency towards the shocking macabre. he’s an asshole that likes to play god and make the reader step into a false lull before he horrifies them. Its not funny, i’m not a fan. Although, its nowhere near as bad as Beatrice and Virgil. I dare say that novel almost made me vomit from the atrocities. So, now i’m over it. i’m over yann martel. i now know his game. 3 novels later, (ok, not on purpose- i read Self about 10 years ago very quickly in the bookstore, beatrice and virgil i had to read out of the big brouhahaha that was going on about yann coming the ottawa writers festival, and life of pi i just never managed to finish so i had to plow through it at SOME point.), his big kick is to shock the reader. thanks alot yann. moving on. I’m not one for enjoying being shocked by the atrocities of human misery. i’ll pass. although- i must say, he did an awful lot of research for the book, and his use of magic realism was masterful.
- “I have nothing to say of my working life, only that a tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he’s not careful” (life of pi, p6)
- “The first time I went to an Indian restaurant in Canada I used my fingers. The waiter looked at me critically and said, “Fresh off the boat, are you?” I blanched. My fingers, which a second before had been taste buds savouring the food a little ahead of my mouth, became dirty under his gaze. They froze like criminals caught in the act. I didn’t dare lick them. I wiped them guiltily on my napkin. My hands trembled “. (p8)
- “No greatness without goodness”. (96).
- ” He’s married. I am bent down, taking my shoes off, when i hear him say, “I would like you to meet my wife.” “Hello,” she says, extending her hand and smiling. “Piscine has been telling me lots about you.” I can’t say the same of her. I had no idea. ….After a quick kiss… she’s off on a working Saturday. … He’s a shy man. Life has taught him not to show off what is most precious to him. ” (89).
- “Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.” (187).