In order to preserve most food it is important to control the main elements promoting bacterial growth: water and air.  The traditional Italian method of preserving vegetables sott’olio (under oil) is ingenious really.  First the vegetables are thinly sliced and salted.  The salt draws out their water. The next day the vegetables are rinsed and then either…

What I feared might happen when I started this blog has, indeed, happened.  Our season has begun and I have not been able to find the time to write.  It’s a pity really, as there is so much to write about.  But spring is over a month late this year and there is an enourmous…

  It’s time again, the elderflowers are coming into bloom and we are making cordial.   This is a tradition that began with me many years ago when my neighbor Jeremy arrived one day with a bag of elderflowers in one hand and his recipe for cordial in the other.  I tried it out, got…

   A Gratin of Cheese and Potatoes from the Aravis Massif Once again, we are in the French Alps.  The Aravis massif is an impressive chain of mountains situated between Annecy and the elegant ski resort of Megeve. Forming part of the eastern border of the departemant of Haute Savoie this is part of the area…

  This is the time of year the volunteers arrive at Petraia.  Sometimes they are welcome, sometimes not.  It depends how useful they are. Take this celery plant for instance.  Celery is a vegetable we use every day.  But it is a tough one to grow and when it does it is slow and stubborn….

  The wild asparagus is up and, if you know where to find it, you’ll have to set your alarm clock early around here.  Wild asparagus is a precious and fleeting delicacy on top of the Chianti Mountains and it is the early bird that gets the worm. Unfortunately, at Petraia, wild it doesn’t grow…

  AKA Thermomix.   Along with my pressure cooker this is one of the most valued appliances in my kitchen.   The thermomix is a machine that emulsifies and cooks at the same time.    It’s a common fixture in European home and restaurant kitchens.  Made by the international, German headquartered company Vorwerk, their website credits the…

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