Castagnole di Carnevale, Mardi Gras a la Italiana

Castagnole ready to eat

Today, I was reminded it’s Martedi’ Grasso, Mardi Gras, on facebook. All my Italian friends posted pictures of the parties they had just attended and I felt left alone. So, I baked some deep fried goods.



1/3 cup of sugar

1 and 1/2 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

3 tablespoon of butter

2 eggs

the zest from 1 lemon

vegetable oil (I used canola oil) for frying

powdered sugar to dust the castagnole once cooked

How to prepare the castagnole:

Soften the butter and then mix all the ingredients together . Work the dough until a firm ball forms. Roll the dough on a working surface and then shape several thin logs. Chiacchiere dough

Cut the logs in small pieces and roll each piece between your fingers to make small balls.Gnocchi di chiacchiere

Chiacchiere crude

Meanwhile, pour the vegetable oil in a pan and let it reach frying temperature. Then, deep fry the castagnole for a few minutes until they are golden brown.Friggendo le chiacchiereChiacchiere cotte

If you have a dog, he’ll probably wait patiently behind you, hoping for some castagnole to fall on the floor.

Nero waiting for the castagnole to fall on the floor

Let the castagnole dry on a baking tray if you have one, otherwise get creative.Castagnole cotte al punto giusto

Dust the warm castagnole with powdered sugar and enjoy. Have a fantastic Mardi Gras!Castagnole ready to eat

Castagnole di Carnevale, Mardi Gras a la Italiana

Nero vs. Nature Calls: the baguette wins, although temporarily

Mommy, It wasn't me

When I think Nero has finished surprising me, he proves me wrong. As I mentioned at the end of my last post, a few nights ago, after eating my supper, I went upstairs to work on some editing. I was happily committing mass-murdering of the “thats” disseminated in one of my oldest manuscript—a project I’ve been writing and rewriting for the best part of the last four years—when I heard soft whining and crying. Wondering what’s Nero’s done now, I left my desk only to find him halfway through the stairs, still whining despite his mouth is full. Half baguette is still visible. I didn’t even bother to reprehend him. It was my fault after all. I should’ve removed the baguette from the table. It doesn’t matter it was lying at the very center of said table. Nero knows how to lower the tablecloth to bring food closer to his reach. Anyway, after dancing a little bit on the stairs, we went downstairs and still whining he tapped on the French door leading to the backyard. I opened the door for him and waited to see what he was up to. Normally, when he steals food from the garbage can he likes to go out to eat it. It was cold and he kept whining so I told him he could get inside and have his way with that piece of bread. Again, I should’ve known better. While looking at me with his big, liquid eyes, he squatted and pooped, baguette firmly secured between his teeth. Yes, nature called and he couldn’t let go of the baguette, so he went looking for me to have the door opened. Otherwise, I would’ve only discovered the baguette-napping by the mangled bread wrapping on the kitchen floor. Somehow, the whole experience must’ve been traumatizing because, for the first time ever, Nero didn’t eat the fruit of his bounty right away. He came back inside, went to his couch, gently laid the bread down and played with it for a while. The next morning, after a night of sleep, he went back to the couch and snatched the baguette with a vengeance, commanded to have the door opened, and then proceeded to finish what he had started the night before. Like a boss. On the same spot he had pooped. I guess he wanted to teach the baguette a lesson.


Nero and the French Baguette

Nursing the baguette

Nursing the Baguette

She made me do it

A Very Guilty beagle

Bad baguette, bad

Bad Baguette

That’s right

Eating Al Fresco

Nero vs. Nature Calls: the baguette wins, although temporarily

Lentil and Pearled Barley Soup

Zuppa di Lenticchie e Orzo perlato

Soups are among my favorite dishes. They are for the most part easy to prepare and rewarding both in taste and calories counting. Since my household has recently acquired a pescatarian, I’ve been trying old and new recipes to feed the repentant carnivore. Lentil and pearled barley soup was on the menu yesterday night.

What I had in the pantry:

1 cup and 1 quarter cup of lentils

half a cup of pearled barley

1 can of organic tomato sauce (Kirkland brand)


French baguette

extra virgin olive oil (half of tablespoon per plate)

How I prepared the soup:

I filled a pot with water and added the tomato sauce, lentils, and barley. I let it cook at slow heat for two hours until the soup was creamy and only then added the salt. Meanwhile, I cut the baguette in pieces and toasted them. When the soup was ready, I arranged a few pieces of bread in each plate, sprinkled them with the evoo and some red pepper, and finally covered with the soup. Delicious. *

Pane Tostato per Zuppa

*After finished eating, I went upstairs to edit some writing and forgot about the half baguette on the table. Nero happened…

Stay tuned for more details.

Lentil and Pearled Barley Soup

Friday Snippet #32

Not even 9:00 in the morning and I’m already done with my weekly appointment with X. I redeemed Boarderlands’ codes for my husband—someone has to do it. Called the vet because Nero can only drink warm water, otherwise he throws up.  I even went around the house and did some chores. It feels rather satisfying.

More or less, the view from my desk this morning:

The View Banner

From X:

Without moving a single muscle, she looked up. A kid was looking down at her. Big, blank eyes staring at hers. The boy didn’t express any emotion in seeing her. His face was a mask sharing nothing with the rest of the world. The absence of any recognizable reaction scared Allegra more than anything else. The moment stretched until it was impossible for her to maintain the lock on his gaze. She blinked. And then she recognized the kid. They had met yesterday. Or the day before. Or one hundred years ago. It was difficult to think. He was the boy at her house.

A subtle pressure on her side told her Julius had reached the same conclusion, probably several heartbeats ago. The boy kept staring at her, through her, as if she were nothing more than air. Finally, when she thought she couldn’t hold the scream inflating her lungs anymore, the obsidian eyes revealed consciousness. It was brief. No more than a breath, if she were breathing. A glimpse of recognition flickered behind eyes that were hazel and warm. Hope colored her hazy thoughts. Then, the blank stare was back. A blink later, the boy was gone.

Friday Snippet #32

Daydreaming While Dieting

This is what happens to me when I’m controlling my dietary habits, I start drawing about food. Yesterday, I was quite the prolific didlr. While listening to a funny podcast and waiting for my husband and son to come back for dinner, my mind wandered away. In so much wandering, the broccoli I was cooking slightly burnt, but the orecchiette and broccoli dish I eventually managed to serve was still good. Nobody is perfect.

Soup in the Country

Soup in the Country

Daydreaming While Dieting

Monday and Tuesday Drawings

One day late, but I’ll make up for it with three didls. After trying didlr on any device we have in the house, I finally draw something on my iPad. Somehow, the experience is different from what I expected. Not sure how is different, but I still had fun in the process.

Spring Fling

Spring Fling

Have a Fantastic Day

Have a Fantastic Day

Need a Sundress

Need a Sundress

Monday and Tuesday Drawings

Friday Snippet #31

The sun is shining upon this small stretch of Northwest. I’ve been dieting and exercising the whole week and I didn’t have a single headache. I haven’t checked my weight on the scale—according to the app I’m using, I’ll be three pound less in two years anyway—but I do feel lighter. Since the day promises to get better, after lunch, I’ll go out for a walk with Nero.

From X:

Allegra was already out of breath and looked at the steep climb with dread.

“To the right!” Julius pulled her out of the path and they fell on the ground and were swallowed by the tall grass. “Stay low.”

Heart pummeling against her ribcage, she kept her eyes on the brown dirt. “What is it?” Then she cleared her nose and the scent of the looters reached her nostrils. They were coming from the Royal Palace, but still on top of the hill. She was scared, but didn’t want her aura to show it. She forced her lungs to work and breathed in and out a few times before saying, “Did I tell you lately how thankful I am I got paired with an unseer?”

He squeezed her hand. “Of course you are.” If he had said out loud, “Good try,” it wouldn’t have been clearer.

The looters were descending, running toward them, but apart from the noise their shoes stomping on the ground made, no words were spoken. It was unsettling.

Julius pulled her closer to him. “They won’t find us.”

She smiled against his shirt at his attempt of calming her. A small pebble pocked her right tight and she focused on the discomfort rapidly morphing into pain. The ache grounded her in the moment and didn’t let her think of what would happen if the looters saw them.

“The grass is tall enough to cover us,” he whispered in her ear.

The sound of approaching steps made her heart skip several beats.

Friday Snippet #31