Italy and Potato Kale Stir-Fry

I feel a bit silly, having written such an inspired post at the beginning of the summer and then neglected to post a single thing until the end of July.

To be fair, most of July was spent in Italy.  After our usual visit to my dad’s parents’ house in India, we met up with my mom’s sister and her family in Rome.  We explored the city for two days, then drove down to the beautiful region of Abruzzo, known for its stunning views and its wines.  Then we drove further south to Puglia for a few days, after which we visited Pompei, spent a few days in Positano, and returned to Rome for a day and a half.

It was a beautiful trip–the weather was perfect, the people were friendly, and we ate some wonderful food.

This last picture is of an appetizer we ordered on our last night in Rome.  It was a sort of stir-fry with potato, kale, onion, tomato, and an egg.  Simple as that sounds, it was delicious–so I decided, as soon as I got home, to attempt to recreate it.

You’ll need…

1 potato

1 tomato

Two to four handfuls of baby kale

1 large onion

1 egg

olive oil, salt, and pepper

rosemary

oregano

About three servings

Place a pan on the stove and turn the heat to high.  Peel and chop the onion into long, thin slices.  Reduce the heat to medium and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Place the onions in the pan and let them brown, stirring every few minutes so that they cook evenly.

Chop the baby kale into fine chunks.  Once the onions have browned, add the kale to the pan and stir.  Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper (you can taste and add more if necessary).  Meanwhile, peel your potato and chop it into either small chunks or very thin slices.

Cook the onion kale mixture for a few minutes (the kale will not need to cook as long as the onions), then pour the kale and onions out of the pan and onto a plate; set aside.  Add more oil to the pan and place the potatoes in the pan.

You will need to stir the potatoes often and well so that they do not stick to the pan.  Add another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and sprinkle the rosemary and oregano.  When the potatoes are browned and soft to touch, add the onion and kale back to the pan.  Stir, and taste to see if you need more salt.

Now turn the heat off (but leave the pan on the stove).  Dice the tomato and add it to the mixture, then crack the egg over the pan.  Stir, and remove from heat.  Voila! This makes an excellent side dish or a yummy lunch, and you’ll be eating like a Roman.

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Yes, I’m still alive…

I’m an irresponsible blogger.  There’s no getting around it: my behavior over the last year has been absolutely inexcusable. Not a single post!

In my defense, I haven’t had a proper kitchen, nor have I had the time or resources to do much cooking other than my coffee and morning oatmeal (with apple and cinnamon–very yummy, but hardly blog-worthy).  But all of that is about to change (temporarily)! My freshman year of college is over–yesterday was my last final (you’ll be pleased to know I got an A), and as we speak my parents are in the car, drawing ever closer to the college of St. Olaf.

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Me with my good friend Lucia

Now I guess I’d better talk about college.  It was a great year!  I know this sounds incredibly cheesy, but I’ve made friends who have become like family to me.  I’ve loved all my classes (except for chemistry, which is too difficult and should never have been invented, and psych, in which I had a very boring professor) and learned a ton!  I know more about Medieval theology than anybody in their right mind would ever want to, I can produce a literary analysis paper en francais, I’ve become quite the expert at B.S.ing my way through psychology exams,and if you need someone to balance a chemical equation, I’m your girl.

And now I’m heading home to Iowa City, which I have never truly appreciated.  I always thought Iowa City was kind of boring and quiet, but I’ve missed it this year.  And I’ve also missed my kitchen.

Now that I’m a responsible adult (ha) I’m trying not to eat so much dessert, so you’ll notice that Vivre will be transitioning from a baking-centered blog to a blog about proper cooking.  I’ve done my fair share of cooking with vegetables, grains, and soups, but I want to work with meat! That is my personal goal this summer: get good at meat.

Let’s see–what else has happened in my life? I got a haircut (ten inches off and I hate it. Note to self: do not cut hair short. Ever) and am now impatiently awaiting the growth of more hair.  I’m probably going to major in political science, and I think I’ll be doing pre-med.  Now I’ve got to finish packing the ridiculous amount of stuff I brought with me to college, so I’ll stop writing now and end with some pictures.

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From left to right: Poonam, me, Megan, Monique, and Monica

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Gretchen, Megan, me, Monique, and Maddy

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Mint tea and graduating

I can’t believe how late this post is–it’s already mid June and so much has happened this summer! I graduated from highschool, my grandparents from India visited and I got a job (yes, I know it’s out of character). 

 
So long West High! 
  
Well, what with preparations for my grad party, a housefull of guests, yardwork to be done and working, I’ve sometimes been in dire need of a de-stressor. So I thought, why not try herbal tea?

We have no shortage of mint in our garden (actually, it’s quite invasive) so mint tea it was. I picked two stalks of mint (taking only the top half so each stalk would grow back) and rinsed them. Then I poured a mug-full of water into a pot over the stove and brought it to a boil. Next I added the mint leaves, reduced the water to a simmer, and covered the pot. After three minutes I poured the tea over a strainer and into my mug.

  
Mint tea doesn’t have a very strong flavor, but it’s calming and comforting and supposedly eases stomach pain! Plus, it makes your breath minty fresh. Enjoy!

  

Spring Break: what I’m eating

 It would have been nice to be able to enjoy the weather during Spring Break. Alas, this was not fated to be–thus far the week has been snowy, snowy and snowy. But of course, snowy days mean more time spent indoors cooking–and eating.

Here are a few of the things I’ve eaten so far this week:

Mayan fish salad at Moonrakers

 

my favorite things: waffles, berries and strong black coffee

 
 

Sardinian roasted and stuffed eggplant

 

blueberry hand pies

Chicago and Hamilton

If you haven’t yet listened to the Hamilton soundtrack, you must. Ever since I first searched it up on Youtube last September I’ve been obsessed. From the genius polyphany to the witty lyrics, Hamilton is truly a masterpiece–a masterpiece that, I thought, I would not be seeing any time soon (it isn’t cheap).

And then, lo and behold, my parents surprised my brothers and me with my graduation present:

  

Did I squeal? Maybe. 

Out of the blue we took a day off and drove to Chicago.

  
Upon arrival we stopped for Sasha’s favorite lunch: sushi.

 

Then, my day got even more magical as we visited the Art Institute (I just love the Impressionists). After a quick coffee (essential, you know) it was time to get ready. Our dinner reservation was quite early since the show began at 7:30. By 5:30 we were comfortably seated at Avec, a cozy Mediterranean restaurant run by the same people who own one of my favorite Chicago restaurants: Blackbird.
 
  I’ve just been waiting for an excuse to wear opera gloves 😉

 
  So maybe I’m pretending I’m at Downton Abbey

  

Cod brandade

  
Paella

  

Chocolate mousse

And then came the show. It was phenomenal, beautifully done and beyond comparison. I just have to say: my parents are the best. I could never have asked for a more fantastic gift.

 

Crete

Hello all! It’s been too long since my last post, but I’ve been travelling and the internet has not always been strong (or existent) enough to access my blog.  My family started off our trip this summer in Kerala, India, visiting my dad’s family.

After a little over than a week, we packed up our bags and flew to Athens, Greece, and from there to the beautiful island of Crete where we have spent the last few days.  We’ve been visiting ruins, beaches and vineyards, taking twelve-mile hikes through the Samaria Gorge, hanging out in the pool and (of course) eating.

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So far my impression of Cretan food is that nothing is extremely striking or life-changing, but most things are hearty and flavorful.

This is Dakos, one of my favorite Cretan specialties.  It consists of a rusk topped with tomatoes, herbs and goat cheese.  And like everything on Crete, it is positively saturated  in olive oil!

 

Sea bass from a beach-side restaurant

Seafood risotto

One of the highlights of the trip for me was visiting a traditional olive oil farm, Biolea.  The process of making olive oil was fascinating, the tasting delicious, and the experience was also enlightening.  We learned that so-called “pure” olive oil is actually refined, meaning that unsavory chemicals are used in the making of it.  Most of “pure” olive oil is actually made using the waste products, the unsuitable leftovers that respectable olive oil companies would never use.  The three things you want to look for when purchasing olive oil are that it is (most importantly) extra-virgin, cold-press and stone-ground (this last requirement is the least important and most difficult to find.  The olive oil we use regularly is extra-virgin and cold-press).

Gemista, tomatoes stuffed with rice and herbs.

At the bottom of the Samaria Gorge–nine miles down, three to go!

The view from our villa 🙂

The temple of Hephaestus in Athens

  

 

 

Sunday Brunch at One Twenty Six

Of late my dad has been very busy working with his head chef on a Sunday brunch menu for his French-inspired restaurant,One Twenty Six.  For a while he was quite stressed, but opening day proved that it was all worth it.  The menu is fantastic–frittatas, omlettes, croque madames, even house-made waffles (complete with crème fraiche and a berry compote!)…

This Sunday was opening day, but we were dismayed to see that the temperatures that day were literally below those in the North Pole.  Worried that nobody else would show up, my family and some close friends decided to come and try out the menu.  Amazingly, the restaurant was actually quite busy! I suppose the temptation of fresh waffles was just too much!