Friday, August 18, 2017

Virtual Ragusa, Sicily

Built on the top of a hill between two deep valleys, to fend off outside invaders, the city of Ragusa. The city itself divided into two sections. Upper Ragusa and the older town of Lower Ragusa.

Upper Ragusa is known for The Ragusa Cathedral dedicated to John the Baptist.


Lower Ragusa is home to several cathedrals as well. One interestingly named
Church of the Souls of Purgatory 

There are a number of these skulls with assorted hats and such decorating the outside.


Ragusa also is home to the Hyblean Gardens with a perfect view of the Hyblean Mountains. video available.

A charming (but very small) Sicilian town just outside of Noto.

More Anon...

Ragusa at Night

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cheese-making: Soft Cheeses- Feta, Mozzarella and Ricotta

While exploring Sicily and wandering through the pages of Cucina Siciliana (...a recently bought Sicilian cookbook...)

I found a plethora of soft and hard cheese recipes. Since recently trying my hand at Goat Cheese (very good)

and because I am making a complete Sicilian Brunch soon for a good friend, I decided to try my hand at making all the cheeses I will need as ingredients.

For the anti-pasto I am preparing Green Olives Stuffed with Feta


1/2 gallon whole milk (can use grocery milk...not ultra-pasteurized though)

1 tablespoon Greek Yogurt (any plain)

1/4 Rennet Tablet (I am using Junket Rennet)

Warm milk to 89 degrees or until it it lukewarm.

Add tablespoon of yogurt and stir well.

Dissolve rennet quarter into 1/4 cup cool water and add.

Cover and let sit overnight.

The next morning cut curds with stainless steel knife.

Gather into muslin or cheesecloth ball to strain whey. Reserve whey for Ricotta later.

After ball has stopped dripping

Place on plate in refrigerator to firm.

Once firm you can press into a mold for a square or rectangle of cheese or crumble for Feta Crumbles.

Brining Solution

1 cup water

5 tablespoons 

Feta requires brine for its particular flavour.

After molding or crumbling submerse and store refrigerated) in brining solution. Drain and rinse before using.

My Feta Crumbles before the Brine. To use for stuffing my olives and also to top a mixed-green salad.

Since I am planning to make Petoni (Sicilian Meat,Cheese and Vegetable Hand-Pie) I will also need Mozzarella Cheese.

Mozzarella Cheese

1 Gallon Whole or 2 Percent Milk

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 whole lemon)

1/2 Rennet Tablet

Heat milk to 99 degrees or very warm but not boiling.

Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat. Cover for 3 hours.

Cut curd and replace on heat. 

Bring curd (and whey) to 108 degrees and hold at this temperature for 3 minutes. Stir curds gently and do not let scorch or boil.

Drain and reserve whey (can add to Feta whey) to make Ricotta.

Gather Mozzarella  in cheesecloth and drain until dripping stops. 

Add 1 teaspoon of salt to curds and mix it in well.

Put in microwave proof bowl and microwave on High for 45 seconds.

Remove and let cool until you can touch it, but still quite warm.

Stretch cheese like pulling taffy. This is what gives Mozzarella its stringy quality.

Then shape into a ball and submerse in ice water.

Can be kept (after draining)  in a zip-lock plastic bag in the refrigerator.

(stock photo: Hand-pulling Mozzarella)

And finally...Ricotta.  Mine will be used in the Cannoli I am making for dessert.

Ricotta is the leftover crumbs of cheese, really.

Ricotta Cheese

Use all of the leftover whey from your cheese-making.

Boil whey in a large stainless steel pot for 5 minutes. You will see tiny curds forming throughout. 

Strain through cheesecloth...what you have left (grainy) in the cloth will be Ricotta Cheese. 

Add Confectioners sugar to sweeten if you are using it for desserts.

Add salt, herbs or something savory if using in a meat dish like lasagne.

Home-made Ricotta Cheese

Hard to imagine that these tiny bits of leftover cheese- can end up sweetened and stuffing these!

But that is a recipe for another time!

More Anon...

Shelby-Cat Greeting the Day

Sunday, August 13, 2017

North Korea...America...The President...and Other Stuff

A week that began like this....and ended like this...

One hardly knows where to begin. 

Two mammoth egos (and mouths)...both spewing doomsday rhetoric....and "We The People"  (oh...and the 200,000 American citizens of Guam) caught in the cross-fire.

We've known since day one of Kim Jong Un's ascent to power that he rattles sabres with the best of them.  Remember when President Obama was tested. Refused to engage. And inevitably, China yanked the leash on "their dog". As expected.  Good Times.

President Trump is handling the situation very differently.

You know I have heard his base and the

"Nuke them till they glow, then shoot them in the dark" 


They feed on the President's words of

"Fire and Fury"

like they have on so many of his words...but I'll GET to that.

All the civilians (N.K. South Korea, Guam, Hawaii, California, and around from the east side New York) who could die immediately in such a stupid move...probably have other plans for the rest of this year...their lives...and since Trump  didn't WIN Guam  or the three states mentioned...I can't help but have the sickening feeling that somewhere inside he is thinking

"Screw 'em, they didn't VOTE for me, anyway."

He has no concept of proved by his belittling of some of OUR allies. France...Germany and England come to mind.

All the while, not taking into consideration that China and Russia are North Korea's allies.

In short...these two hot-heads could conceivably touch off a Third World War. 

And EVERYONE is okay with that?????

Although in Charlottesville,Virginia where there was actually a NAZI flag being paraded through the streets, Confederate flags...and a group last night gathered with (...god-as-my-witness...) Tiki is difficult to believe this is America 2017.

The Mayor of Charlotte has already said it...but it bears repeating

"These Are Trump's Supporters. The Race he Ran and his Rhetoric gave a VOICE to these people."

No, he didn't build them.

They have always been out there hiding in shadows, beneath rock and in dark alleys. They occasionally marched. First Amendment and all...but  this was FAR from the norm. Decent people shunned them. We had evolved.We were better than the lunatic fringe of our society. We were overcoming the hate.

Trump just turned over the rock. 
Welcomed them (and their hate) back into Mainstream America. 

The guy carrying the Nazi Flag...face it...he is far too young to have known anything about the Nazis except what he has seen in books or cinema. Can you imagine what a WWII Vet might feel if he was watching this abomination paraded through his streets?

It is beyond disgusting.

This morning the deaths of a woman and two State Troopers.

When are we going to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH.  How much further are we going to let this President drag us back into the 1940's.

His slogan should be

"Making America Hate Again." your job. 
This is what the 25th Amendment was made for...


And to everyone who is shocked and stunned that The President has not condemned these hate groups and their actions...get a clue.  These people help make up a large part of his BASE.
Don't hold your breath.

Moving on...

 My honorary great-grand-daughter- Amelia Rose. Nicole's daughter, Brittany and Baby Bump ( future honorary great grandson...possibly Brantley Ryan...) So excited!

He will be here in September!!!

Nicole and James sporting new tats.

Nicole's Amazing Hand Tattoo.

And always one for a good laugh...James new tattoo.

Just above the waistband of his boxers.


Talked with Idgy...and we may be getting another together while she is up...from James' To-Your-Door tattoo guy!


more days and about 398 Gazing Balls to our "Artists Getaway" this year! And a stack of fruit, cheese and chocolates with one candle each to wish on for our combined birthdays!

Just finished Jo Nesbo's "Thirst".

Excellent read!

Tried to watch the Emoji no...don't do it. 

Save Yourselves. 

Not a kids film. Not an adults film either. Not sure what demographic they were targeting with this one.

Working on the last few chapters of my first draft of The Plan...pulling it all to its conclusion. More difficult than it sounds. Have narrowed it down to three possible endings. Will post more of it as soon as I decide which direction I am headed with it. 

Also have most of the Olive Grove Painting on canvas now...working on the background (further away leaves)...then one of the Ancient 900 y/o giants in the foreground. Happy with the progress.

Photo soon.

Although I said  I was going to wait have started The House of Cards semi-binge watch...yeah..I lied. on EARTH did I miss this!

So good.

And, of course, like The Rainman- it is 3 and a half hours to of Thrones!  Can't wait!

When last we left Jamie Lannister he had been shoved out of dragon's-fire way by Ser Bronn and was swirling through the watery depths in full body armor. Most of his troops had been crispy fried. Tonight we will see if he makes it. Or not.

I know!

More anon...

Monday, August 7, 2017

The RETURN of The School Bus (or: How Can I MISS you, if you won't Go Away)

Swallowed up by the Giant Yellow Bus...not to return for HOURS.

Yeah, I remember the first day back when all the boys were in school.

Them leaving the house in new everything...up at the crack of dawn...anxious to go and us...waiting until the bus pulled away.

The husband-person would always take the day off and we celebrated most of the! 

Good times.

Summer is wonderful...and we would always have a great time with them and usually one really good family vacation somewhere...but then it was

"How can We MISS you...if you don't Go Away!"

Got a text from Nicole about  an hour ago that simply said

"OMG...I'm only shopping with one child!!!!"'s the little things!

Speaking of things not missed...

Apparently, Donald Trump is on vacay for the next 17 days.

Things are starting to heat up with Team Mueller and his cast (of a thousand give or take) lawyers. A Grand Jury Impaneled and Subpoenas are starting to arrive.

And Trump still wearing his Alfred E.Neuman smile

So maybe he is THAT dumb.

After a couple of Tweetless Days he is back with a vengeance. John might want to appears he has chewed through his muzzle again.

This time attacking a Vietnam Vet who also happens to be a Senator.


Dear Draft Dodger....after 5 (count'em five) deferments one of the things you DO NOT  get to ever do is to criticize anyone who actually Orange Buffoon...

And did anyone catch the cover of NEWSWEEK this last week...OMG...I thought it was a parody is REAL!!!!

And (hands down) the best bit of creative vandalism I have seen for a long time.


I only wish I had been the one to come up with it!

Wow...Game of Thrones is heating up as well!

With four episodes down and only 2 to go for this can that be right????

Sansa and Ayra and Bran reunited at Winterfell.

Jorah who is now healed of grayscale and on his way back to his queen.

A spoiler from the Red Witch that both She and The Spider will die in Westeros.

Jon who seems to have noticed that Dany is a babe...but much too busy mining dragonglass to act on it.

Dany who took a dragon and decimated a large part of the Lannister Army.

Crispy Critters.

And a dragon gets very very very pissed off when you have the audacity to shoot it down with a cross-bolt.

We will find out next week whether Jamie made it.

Now House Frey, House Tyrell, The Sand Vipers are out of the picture.

But just as I was getting twitchy about the imminent end of this season a buddy of mine asked me if I had ever watched the House Of Cards series with Kevin Spacey.

When I answered "no" he sent me the first episode.

OMFG...being the Kevin Spacey fan and political animal that I am obviously did I miss THIS???

So I now have ALL the seasons...and am going to start it as soon as Game of Thrones is over!

Something to look forward to...

Well something other than Trump's Impeachment, I mean.

Ended my busy Monday this afternoon with an "Ice Cream and Politics" Brunch with friends, Kara and Barb! Together we solve a lot of Washington's Problems...sadly they never call and ask our advice.

And quite possibly the most AMAZING sundaes, ever!

(...there is a chocolate brownie beneath all that...)

More anon...

Addendum:  About Shelby...

My fuzzy flat-mate has made herself home...and is pretty much running the show!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

(Virtual) Noto Sicily

Located at the foot of the Iberian Mountains it is known as Val di Norto. 

Noto is considered one of the most beautifully built towns in Europe. It is one of the finest examples of Sicilian Baroque Architecture. 

Tour of Noto

More anon...

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Saladino Lineage

This is Saladin.

He was born in the area which is modern-day Iraq. In 1169 he was chosen as a replacement for Shawar (Egyptian Vizier who he conveniently had assassinated) and Saladin became the new Vizier.

By the end of the 12th Century his name was on everyone's lips as the conquering leader of the Muslims (Sahl-lah-din) besting Richard the Lion-Hearted in England and Phillip 11th of France as well as a large portion of the Middle East.

The origin of the Saladino name in Sicily begins with a single family.

The family surname  of Navarra. A nobleman from Spain. After defeating Saladin in battle the Navarra family adopted the surname "Saladino" to commemorate this victory.  

The rest is history.

In 1393 a family member (Umberto Saladino) a Knight of King Martin of Aragon moved to Palermo, Sicily.

This is the Saladino Family Crest

All of the future Sicilian Saladinos, including my long ago lover,  are related to this Knight directly (genetically) ...which is kind of neat.

And may explain a!

In Sicily, the surname Saladino means "A fierce warrior".

More anon...


Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Welcoming the last month of 


And it has been a beautiful one.

The Frog Bog teeming with activity now...the herb basket and plants in full swing and my sunflowers growing quickly. They will be beautiful for Fall.

So pleased. I have learned to make Goat Cheese and Soft Farmer's Cheese (and soon Mozzarella)  Nothing to it!  And I can now have fresh cheese whenever I want. The Farmer's and Mozzarella can even be made from grocery
store (homogenized)  milk instead of requiring raw milk. And it is delicious.

Have a ball of fresh Farmer's Cheese dripping this morning!

(...realized that now I can make wine, bread, cheese and jam...and hand-dipped chocolates...who really needs anything else???)

A Cinderella Day today...getting the place tidied for visits and company from the end of the week to Mid-October. Late summer and early Fall are busy times for me.

Have been trying to follow the activities under The Big Top the past few days...

but realistically...who can???

And, sadly, Scaramucci learned in 10 days what Trump's Loyalty really means (in the big picture)

Yes...after selling his company...missing the birth of his child...getting divorce filings from his wife...and basically sucking up to Trump so completely he became the human equivalent of an Electolux...

That is right.

The Mooch is the last in the growing line of White House Beheadings.

Thrown under the bus.

Mooch we hardly knew ya.
And we still don't know who will be replacing you.

Now a NEW Chief of Staff joins us.

Yep...they have called in The one Marine...this guy

John Kelly.

(...and WHY, when I look at this guy, do I see Ed Harris in "The Rock"?)

If ANYBODY can whip this White House and its current staff into something that
resembles organization, it will be this guy.

His MO is one of "Not Suffering Fools"
(hence the quick dismissal of Scaramucci)

So it will be interesting to see how he deals with President Trump.

 John Kelly:  "Sorry Don. I'm going to have to ask you to leave. It's not's just business."

A "leak", apparently from one of this three golfing buddies, now has President Trump referring to The White House as "A DUMP".

Let's take a moment.

President Obama used to refer to The White House as "The People's House".

President Trump is now calling it "A DUMP"

Maybe is has something to do with the current occupants? 

Just saying...

And maybe it is time to  #takeoutthetrash

(...just shaking my head...)

The midterm elections can't come fast enough, for me.

If he is this frustrated when he has both the House and the Senate...just imagine how he is going to be when it all shifts.

That (and IMPEACHMENT,of course) is my Happy Thought.

More Anon...