26 March 2009

One thing I like about living on the 'countryside' is the closer contact to the seasons. In the city, I had started to miss that.
I have vivid memories of 6 years of biking to school, 45 minutes in the morning, and 45 in the afternoon. No matter the weather, I almost always biked, as the next bus stop was a 15 minutes walk and the train station a 15 minutes bike ride. So I came to understand that west wind (most common in that part of the Netherlands) meant hard work in the morning and being pushed home by the wind in the afternoon. West wind was strong, not constant, bringing rain. East wind is a continuous force to work against, since it seemed it never worked in my advantage. It came from the land (whereas west wind came from the near sea) and was either bringing very hot or very cold weather. It meant being fast in the morning, but after a long day of school, fighting against the wind and the cold in the afternoon.
Part of the route to school was a long road through the fields. The road was very Dutch: flat, fields, windmills. All kinds of animals greeted me every morning: cows, horses, sheep. I miss biking this road in spring: flowers jumping out of the soil, little lambs jumping around.
Okay, before I bury myself in nostalgy, I jump to city life.
In Berlin, for instance, there is not much wind. Weatherwise, Berlin is rather boring. I think I have experienced 5 thunderstorms in 5 years.The lack of wind in Berlin makes for the famous stable grey sky that drives foreigners back home, or in my case, southwards.

Now, I live in the south and it has been strange. 100 Kilometers away is Rome, with a totally different climate than here. I, growing up below sealevel, had to learn what it means to live at 700 meters altitude. Up here it is 10 degrees colder than in Rome. One hour away, people walk around in t-shirts, here I see the fresh snow from last night.

Spring is waiting and I haven't been riding a bike for months! Shame on me. That will be different soon. In the mean time, I make bread and the last winter and first spring vegetables. I am working on an article about wild coffee, and will finish translating a big text. And spend some time waiting for answers work/career-related...

In the mean time, this is how you make gnocchi, as a father teaches his son who's wearing a cute apron! (Next time I know how to properly hold the camera, sorry!)

03 March 2009

Food is not completely under our control, fortunately. We may think otherwise, sometimes, using refrigerators to slow down the rotting process that is inherent to all living things, which all food once was (or should have been). Yet some things in the fridge strive hard for their survival and rise like a phoenix from the ashes. I pulled an bag containing rapette out of the fridge, expecting the sight of dying vegetables, but not this:

I honored this braveness by putting them in a glass, where they caught the last instances of February sun. It is March now, and the weather turned bad, but the flowers are still there.

Rain (=unwillingness to go to the bakery)+ongoing excitement about new oven=

My first bread in a while! Baked with Italian flour and homemade sourdough. Sourdough fascinates me. You just leave a mix of flour and water in the open air for a while. The mix catches whatever bacteria and yeasts are in the flour and air and starts to ferment slowly. Some care (consisting in stirring the mix and feeding it every day with some flour and water) and patience and after some 5 days you can bake with it. Then again some patience, because the bread does not rise as fast as with conventional yeast, so it has to stay in a warm place for quite long (overnight). But what turns out is a bread just consisting of flour, water and salt! It also tastes different from Italian bread, is more compact, and it keeps longer.
The sourdough does live a long life, either fed every day at room temperature, or spending its life in the fridge.