My January started off a little rough (everyone has the flu, things stopped working and now it’s -27 degrees Celsius here with the windchill. ugh). So it wasn’t the best month to start of something new, like a resolution. I think resolutions are too hard to keep and not keeping them is just an eventual disappointment. So this year, I have new years themes: what I want the year to be like based on my hopes and theories of what might make this year a bit more enjoyable than the last. One of these themes is to “go easy” on myself. I have a tendency to want to fill everyday, actually every minute, with something productive. Ask me to sit and watch TV, and I’ll do it while making a list in my head of everything else I should be doing or what I’ll be doing next.
It’s tiring. And I’m tired of it. It’s not that I want to do less either, I have a whole bunch of goals I want to reach, but I want to take time to enjoy reaching them and enjoy the time in between “doing stuff.” Maybe it’s the Canadian lifestyle in me and I have to admit what I’ve lost touch with in my Italian blood is “la dolce far niente”, that Italian lifestyle of enjoying the idleness of life.
Dolce Far Niente literally means “sweet doing nothing” = “Delicious idleness.” Sheer indulgent relaxation and blissful laziness, being deliciously idle.
If you’ve ever been to Italy you know just what I’m talking about: stroll along city squares, sitting in a café just because, enjoying the view because you can. And the best part about it is appreciating the fact that doing nothing isn’t bad at all, it’s part of life, probably a necessary part of life. I used to watch my grandfather enjoy it all the time (in his retirement at least), taking in the view of his garden from his patio chair as the day turned to evening.
We need something to snap us out of this icy winter, don’t we? So far this January I’ve learned about, and experienced, ice storms, a polar vortex and frost quakes. I think that’s enough of ice and snow. Around this time of year I also start to miss all the fresh food from the garden and all the produce options from local farmers. I need something fresh and light to brighten up this grey January.
Last year, I shared a recipe for Limoncello, an intense Italian liqueur, that to me embodied everything fresh, bright and exciting about spring. Well, it’s time to get that feeling back, but with a twist. I’ve tried out the same recipe, but with limes. The result, another vivid and crisp flavour that you can serve up as an after-dinner drink or use in desserts (the friends I’ve shared this with agree that well-chilled, it is wonderful over ice cream).
Make sure to pick out the best, shiny limes for this recipe. While you only use the zest of the limes, don’t waste the juice! Use it to make lime-ade (like lemonade), vinaigrette for salads or granita (Italian ice dessert).
12-14 good quality limes
1 litre of 90 proof alcohol
900 grams sugar
2 litres of water
I’ve got to be honest. I’m a little drained from the holidays. Too much to do, too much shopping, too much shovelling and too much illness (did everyone catch the flu?). That and I’m tired of it being dark so early at night and dark when I wake up in the morning. I’ve got the January blues. This weather, and this feeling, calls for some Italian soul cooking. The good filling stuff that keeps you warm and is easy to throw in the oven. That means last weekend, I threw together some baked risotto for dinner.
This baked risotto recipe is a specialty from my grandfather and my aunt. Cheesy and gooey on the inside, crispy on the top and sides (that’s a requirement), this is winter comfort food at its best. If you have some sauce to use up, it’s a great alternative to pasta. And the leftovers, crisped up even more in the toaster oven, are great the next day.
Baked Risotto with Peas
4 cups cooked abrorio or short grain rice
2 cups meat sauce (ground beef or shredded pork and beef are great options)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup parmigiano cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (add more if you love cheese!)
1/3 cup fresh or frozen peas
Happy New Year’s Eve! This month has been a crazy one with family events, cooking, baking, Christmas and more. I almost haven’t been able to keep up. I hope we all go into the new year enjoying our time with family, friends and a lot of good food.
This month, the Italian-Canadian buzz online has been about recipes, family and eating. A lot of eating. Enjoy….see you next year!
It’s been one year of An Italian-Canadian Life blog and I’m asking you – should I continue?
Two years ago, I considered doing a blog about being Italian-Canadian. The reasoning was intensely personal (you can read about that here) but I put it off for quite a while since I work in the online content world, I didn’t want to do more of the same. Last year, I needed a change in my life, so I thought starting the blog might give me that. Launching An Italian-Canadian Life came with some rules though: I would post at least once a week, preferably twice, and I would do it for one year then decide if the project was successful enough to be worth continuing with. The error in my rules was that I didn’t set out what “success” would be defined as in one year, but truthfully, I had no idea what success should look like. Who says how many visitors to your site is a success? And who would have known how many other opportunities would have sprung up because of the blog?
So here’s my one year evaluation. I’m sharing it with you all as a means of openness but also for you to evaluate too – is the blog worth continuing?
Here’s what An Italian-Canadian Life has managed to do (as of today):
– attract 36,500+ views and 100+ comments
– publish 98 posts…99 in a couple of days
– be featured in print by Il Postino Canada, a monthly Italian-Canadian newspaper based in Ottawa
– be selected as one of Lidia Bastianich’s Favourite Bloggers
– be nominated for the Ninjamatics’ 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards
– get recipes featured on Foodgawker and TasteSpotting
– connect me with many like-minded Italian-Canadians/Australians/Americans and others around the world (Loving my new online family!)
– give me an excuse to document, measure, save and treasure my family’s traditions and recipes and learn new ones from other Italians
To be fair, I need to do a “con” list too. The blog has been a challenge to my time management – I had to learn how to fit in doing the writing I’ve wanted to do for this blog. When I cook or bake and want to take pictures along the way, it definitely lengthens the process (testing the patience of my mother, husband and guests!). Because I’ve been so enthusiastic about this blog, I have dedicated time to it which meant taking time away from finishing a university certificate I’ve been working on, and I’ve got an upcoming deadline for that certificate that is now a crunch.
Above all though, I’ve had an a year of fun with this, a year of learning and connecting with family, friends and new friends. I had no idea how much I would learn about being Italian and about connecting online personally. I had no idea how many people were looking for a turdilli recipe or a colluri recipe either, and I’ve been glad to give that to them. I also would have never guessed how many personal messages I would have received from readers thanking me for writing about An Italian-Canadian Life. It’s been a good year.
I’m leaning towards continuing with the blog, it’s probably just too much fun to give up, but I’m also open to suggestions, changes, ideas for the future. Let me know in the comments!