Ciao Italia: Italy post #1

A number of people have asked to see the email updates I sent home from Italy in January. I’m going to post them here so that you can read them at your leisure. Here we go.

#1  We are here and all is well.  We were lucky to have usair points that allowed us to have those seats that turn into beds. That was all very nice with decent food and wine, plenty of room and we did sleep! As we started the descent into Rome, Paul realized that one of his shoes was gone. Quite a mystery until we discovered that the hiking boot had been swept up by the seat as it morphed from bed to chair and was stuck inside! We didn’t want to break the fancy seat so solicited help from the crew. After everyone had deplaned the co-pilot gave it a couple of violent yanks and out it came. Boot and chair survived and it certainly was an interesting start to the trip!

The Fountain of the Four Rivers at Piazza Navona under stormy skies.

The Fountain of the Four Rivers at Piazza Navona under stormy skies.


We cabbed into town in the rain and were deposited at our lovely hotel. It was too early for check in so they they gave us cappuccino and tiny cookies to boost our energy level and sent us out into the weather. The sun came out and we had a great sightseeing walk and an excellent lunch of Roman style artichokes, lasagna and gnocchi with Gorgonzola and spinach sauce. All this to the strains of the restaurant owner’s favorite music which included Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin and Joy to the World by an American choir. 

Piazza Navona is our neighborhood and we saw the Pantheon, several churches and the senate where very well-dressed men were dashing in and out looking important. The guards there were dressed in traditional garb including hats two feet wide. As we were sticking our heads inside to see those guards it began to hail and the rain came back. That said, it is not unbearably cold and it’s wonderful to be here with only a few other tourists even if we have to use our umbrellas! Jet lag finally took over and we napped away the late afternoon so that we could eat at 8:30 p.m., like the Italians.


Hooray, it’s a Blog!

I’m up and running.  Getting a blog on line takes some technology skills and I’m more the intuitive, wing it type so it’s been a little bit of a struggle.  But it’s done and soon you’ll find recipes, thoughts on local food, cooking, chickens and anything else on my plate that’s worth sharing, so come back to visit often. And don’t forget to suscribe to Dana’s Plate.

While I’ve been trying to master the world of blogs, the chickens have been busy. We have three girls, Ruby, Mattie and Baby. For all my city friends, you don’t have to have a rooster to have eggs, just to have fertilized eggs that can become chicks.  That’s where Big Bird, our fourth “hen” comes in.  We never intended to have a rooster, just a few free range hens to supply us with fresh eggs and look pretty in the garden. When Big Bird got bigger and bossier and sprouted beautiful tail feathers and a lovely comb, we still thought he was a hen. We wanted him to be a hen. Then all this wannabe crowing started and we had to admit we had a rooster on our hands.  By the time we were out of the denial phase, we were too attached to the handsome devil to give him away.

Well one thing led to another and now we have three chicks.  Baby, our youngest hen,  disappeared before we left for two weeks in Italy. Our beloved chicken sitters, my sister and sister-in-law, saw her a couple of times when she showed up to eat. We’d been home just a few days when she arrived squawking and leading a tiny parade of three chicks.

She’s a great mom and we haven’t had to do a thing. You only need lights and special food and all that gear if you don’t have a mother hen. The chicks are almost three weeks old now and really starting to look like miniature chickens. They can even fly a little bit.  I hate to get smarmy, but they are too cute for words. It’s impossible to look at them without smiling.

Heres one of our chicks peeking out from under mom's wing.

Heres one of our chicks peeking out from under mom’s wing.

And then there are the eggs. Our girls are good layers and only Baby has gone broody and decided to hide her eggs and hatch them. Mattie and Ruby laid every day until November when the days got short. Since then they’ve laid on alternate days so we’ve still had a nice egg supply. Baby was too young to lay last summer and only laid a couple of small eggs before she decided to become a mom.

Chickens live by the sun and the days are getting longer so Ruby and Mattie are back to daily provisioning as of yesterday!  Even though it’s cold and gray out, daily gifts make me think of spring. I’m already looking up egg recipes.