Il Cucchiaio d’argento::fagiolini gratinati

In my quest to be Italian-American housewife of the year, I decided to crack open my Italian cooking guide, Il Cucchiaio d’argento, for dinner tonight.  For those English-only folks, this “bible” of recipes is The Silver Spoon, now available in English!

The main course was my magical beef pot roast. I LOVE the slow cooker.  I love that we eat pot roast for a week after I make it. And I love that you throw some stuff in there and it cooks in a few hours!

My favorite recipe I use is a random Google find from about.com.

Pot roast doesn’t photograph well, but it looked and smelled delicious.

The important experimental dish in tonight’s meal was a green bean dish.  I chose fagiolini gratinati (or green beans au gratin). The recipe serves 4, so I cut it in half as we are 2 – and if it turned out horribly, I didn’t want leftovers!

mm pretty green beans

First, I washed and snapped the beans (2 cups worth) in halves.  Then I boiled the beans in salt water for about 10 minutes.  The beans were drained and cooled a bit while I heated 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a pan.  In the oil, I cooked the already roasted garlic (1 clove) with some chopped onions covered on low for 5 minutes.  The recipe says to discard the garlic but I’m Italian so I left most of it in! It’s delicious! I’m not about to throw that away… But after I removed SOME of the garlic, I added 1 Tbsp of flour.

Then I gradually poured in ¼ cup milk and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I added the cooled beans, ½ cup of white wine and that simmered for 10 minutes, covered.

simmering looks ugly but tastes yummy!
simmering looks ugly but tastes yummy!

While that’s simmering, I preheated the oven to 350° and buttered  baking dish.  When the beans are done simmering, I poured all of the mixture into the dish.  Before sticking it in the oven, sprinkle Parmesan on top (recipe says 2 Tbsp but I love cheese so I used a lot) and dot it with 1 Tbsp of melted butter.

Bake it for 15 minutes or until it’s golden and bubbling as seen below.

cooked
finished cooking and missing a serving :)

Something interesting I learned was that you should boil green beans with the pot cover off to keep them brightly colored.  Also, you should use 4 cups of water to every 1 ½ cups of beans.  I followed both of those new rules and I think it definitely helped the beans turn out perfect.

Beans were fresh, courtesy of Nonna’s garden. And thanks to my almost-sister-in-law for supplying the wonderfully roasted garlic that she made and packaged up!

B u o n   A p p e t i t o !

Buon Compleanno A Me!

My 23rd birthday is finally when I feel like an adult. I’ve been a working, bill-paying, independent-living “adult” for a few years now. Even when I got married, I didn’t feel much like a grown-up. I was still in school and my dad was paying for part of my car.

Well now, at 23, I feel like a grown-up…. I’m done with classes. All the bills are on me. I found *several* gray hairs yesterday (no lie!!). I’m spending my birthday cleaning (to impress the family with my house-wifing skills when they visit this weekend).

I think this transition into adulthood makes me feel especially Golden. According to the UW-Madison Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, the term “Golden Birthday” originated in Wisconsin. They define it as, “the day on which your age in years matches the day of the month on which you were born, ie turning 21 on the 21st day of one’s birth month.”

As highly regarded as this university may be, I think they lacked in their research quite a bit. My entire Italy-born family knew what a Golden Birthday was before they immigrated to Milwaukee. Despite being a big fan of Milwaukee (and Italy) I don’t think either can take credit for the term. Sorry, UW-Madison CSUMC- you failed.

For birthday celebrations, today I’m buying pre-sale tickets to my favorite musical group of all time: Hanson! And then tomorrow, my husband is taking me to my favorite restaurant: The Melting Pot. More gushing about the both of those in another post.

As a side note, I do have to say the Wisconsin Englishes project is quite fascinating for anyone interested in regional dialects.

Officially A Fitz

It’s official, I no longer use my maiden name. The one place I haven’t changed it on record is at my university because I’m waiting until I get my diploma for my BA. After that, I will use my married name and apply with that for grad school.

Even before I changed important things like my Social Security card and my bank accounts, our mail started being addressed to me as Fitzgerald. I was ok with that.

It was a bit unsettling though, when I changed my name at work. I got a new mailbox file in a new location because I’m no longer in the A’s. Of course, no one told me so I thought maybe someone removed it because I was being fired (not likely but I’m far from being a valued employee). Even after I asked about my mailbox, no one decided to tell me that my log-in information had changed. We sign in using an ID that has part of our last name in it. They changed mine without warning me so I couldn’t log in properly. Maybe it was the lost feeling at work that made me upset, but I really didn’t like the change.

After a week of working with my new mailbox and what not, I was starting getting used to writing my new name over and over for things. It wasn’t until the attendance sheet at school that we have to sign, that I forgot which name to write. I’m still Azzarello at school, and it was a little sad that after today, I won’t get to write that anymore. (Today is my last day of classes.)

A lot of women are excited for their new last name. I would have been if I married into an Italian family but I didn’t so it’s definitely more traumatic than exciting for me. My name tells people where in Italy my family is from. Azzarello isn’t a common last name so that’s special too. If it were a perfect world, sharing last names wouldn’t be the norm and husbands taking their wives last names would be acceptable.

Side notes: I do like what my initials spell now and it was the inspiration for my tattoo. I want another leaf tattoo soon. And my new signature looks cool with the F instead of A.

Blog-aissance

As this blog has proved (Exhibit A), one of the traits I’m cursed with is starting projects and never finishing them. I have no good excuse for this.

Exhibit B: 6 months after my January wedding, I finally printed photos and filled the empty frames in my apartment. Said frames also still had the price stickers on them. Again, no good excuse.

Exhibit C: my summer goal list. I have a great excuse for not completing this one – summer school. With 9 credits to finish for my BA, I had to take 3 classes this summer, all staggered over 2 months.

Turns out, school this summer was more work than I thought it would be. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to use my great skipping & BSing skills to get through it.

I *did* read half of the “Comics” book for my pending review. I also squeezed in reading some Michael Crichton because he’s a literary genius.

Most of my free time this summer has been spent playing Word of Warcraft with my husband and spending time with my best friend/sister who is home from college. On Luciana’s list of priorities, the spouse&sis and WoW always come first :D

Summer isn’t over yet, though! Tomorrow is my final day as an undergrad. After that, I’ll work on my grad school application, finding a “grown-up” job and reading poolside. Life is tough.

Goooooooooooal!

I have decided to make some summer goals**.  Normally, I like to just take summer day-by-day and see what happens. I might read some books or workout when I feel like it. Summer has been my relaxing break between vigorous semesters of college and now that college is ending, I think the grown-up thing to do is have some goals.

In addition to the constant goal of finding a new job/career path, I want this summer to be about new things. Not necessarily trying something new every day (although that could be an interesting experiment and fun FRIENDS reference) but trying new things in the activities I already enjoy but never branch out of.

Example: reading. I love to read so that’s not new. But I typically read the same things. I either like historical fiction, fantasy, or trashy fluff girl books. I want to read some new things this summer. My most artistic friend swears that comics are an ingenious form of art and literature, so I’m curious to see if I agree. I also want to read a biography because I haven’t since it was a requirement in high school. *Suggestions for this are welcomed.*

I also love cooking and need to branch out of my regular dishes for the sake of my own interest (not to mention for my husband’s!). I received a gigantic Bible of Italian cooking so I think one of my goals will be to master that.

A short story has been in a works for a while because I keep scrapping it. The last goal is to finish a short story (or more!) by August. I even have a pretty link on the blog that’s sad and empty. This must change!

**I reserve the right to remove, add or alter these goals at any time during the summer of 2009.