Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Notecard Full of Memories

Pumpkin Bread is probably my favorite dessert on earth, or at least one of them.
This recipe is the only recipe that I have been using for decades without changing a single thing in the recipe. I make it any time of the year, but especially around the holidays when pumpkins are in season.
I guess there's one thing I've changed: I use fresh pumpkin instead of canned. Initially because I couldn't find canned pumpkin in Italy, and more recently because I don't use anything other than fresh.
I've never transcribed this recipe onto my computer or my recipe database. Instead, I pull out the note card with the recipe from a little recipe box I still have and use that. Over the years, the card has yellowed and it's gotten little bits of pumpkin and other ingredients stuck to it. I've halved, doubled, tripled and quadrupled the recipe in pencil. But it's still the same handwritten note card I was given years and years ago.
I first had this pumpkin bread, fresh out of the oven with butter and cream cheese, at my college boyfriend's mother's house (his name was Basil) and it was delicious. Basil's mom wrote the recipe out for me and I've been using it ever since. I look at her handwriting and think of her each time I make the pumpkin bread: a delightful, loving woman dedicated to her husband and sons. And a great baker.
And now I'll share this recipe with you, even the notecard....

Pumpkin Bread

Makes 4 loaves

Preheat oven to 3500 F (1800 C)

4 cups sifted all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup oil (I use olive oil)
14 1/2 oz pureed fresh baked pumpkin
2/3 cup water
4 eggs

Make well in sifted mixture of all dry ingredients. Add oil, then water and pumpkin. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour into four well-greased loaf pans. Bake for about an hour, but check after 35 minutes. Large loaves may take more than one hour.
Serve warm or at room temperature with butter, cream cheese or plain.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Italian Recycling Crisis & Recycling Tips

If you're a food professional, a home cook or are just passionate about food then you should be just as passionate about recycling. The two go hand in hand.
Recycling has reached crisis proportion in Italy, particularly in Naples and the entire Campania region. In classic Italian style the issue is only being addressed now that it has become a critical issue. But at least it's being addressed.
Flavor of Italy is located in the Rome province and the various towns within this province are all approaching the recycling issue differently. For the most part towns have recycling bins along the side of the road for residents to use, but this has not proven to be the most effective recycling approach.......and it's unsightly. The mayor of San Francisco CA has invited Rome's mayor Alemanno to visit San Francisco and see first hand how one of the world's best recycling programs functions. The invitation was extended close to a year ago and the visit has yet to be made.

Recycling Problems Exist Worldwide....
New York USA...............................Naples Italy

The fact is that very few people really understand what items should go into what bin, in part because it's not always clear. For example, shredded paper should not go into the paper bin. Honestly I can't say I know why myself and I follow the recycling issue pretty carefully. While experience has shown that recycling with roadside bins doesn't really work, what has been proven to work is door to door collection. In most countries that means plastic collection one day, glass another, etc. This allows for individual accountability, residence by residence, and correction where improper recycling is taking place.
A few recycling tips:
*Try to purchase foods with as little packaging as possible. Usually this means you are purchasing fresh, local and sustainable foods. Take your own shopping bags and containers to the market.
*Take the time to understand what items should be recycled in what container. It's not always as straightforward as it seems. (Case in point, shredded paper).
*Reduce and reuse. The part of the vegetables you don't consume might make a great broth....or at the very least a good compost for your garden.
Contaminated items (greasy packaging or packaging with food particles): don't discard it! Throw it in the dishwasher and de-contaminate it.