Sunday, September 26, 2010

The good life, yellow capsicums and round zucchini

A little break from the 'writing a cookbook' posts. Writing a book doesn't stop you (or shouldn't stop you) doing other things too! And then I also have two children, other work to do, and while I am in Italy I should also try to help my Aunt Alice in the country. I am in the north of Veneto, and this is the view from my Aunt's house. (The view, not my Aunt's house!)

Aunt Alice needed help with cutting the grass and raking it. I even found this old hand-made rake, a bit heavy really, the newer ones are better, but I liked the look of it, it reminded me the rakes my Grandfather used to make.

Raking is hard work, the grass need to be turned so that it can dry in the sun, then transported to the barn (with a wheelbarrow, and the land is very steep too), but in the end I was glad for a a bit of exercise outdoors, and for my children to learn about traditional farm work.

There are also 5 new chicks, they are still in the cage with the hen, I thought that they could go out in the courtyard by now, but Auntie looks after several stray cats (at present she has 17) and the chicks are safer in the cage.

Here are some of Aunt Alice's cats. Yes, in Italy cats also eat pasta!

The other night a fox or a dog or another animal went into the hen house and killed all the chickens.
Only the hen and chicks in the cage were safe (so it was good that they were in the cage after all!). So sad, there were 5 chickens and a rooster... Alice never eats them, she keeps them for the eggs, and when they are old they die of old age and get buried. So it was a pity. Let's hope that the chicks are not all male now!!!!

No eggs this week, but we got payed for our farm labour with other produce: here some lovely organic apples...

...and blackberries.

Then we picked the last tomatoes, for salad and sauces.


This zuccotto pumpkin is not ready yet, but I wanted to take a photo :-)

Not so many beans this year. The last ones are drying to be shelled,

The fresh (we call them teghe) are green and purple and lovely.

There are still a few white eggplants,

and the capsicums were huge this year! Here a photo when green...

.... And after a week of sun!

We cooked them like this:

Stewed Yellow Capsicums

Chop and onion, a carrot, a stalk of celery and 4 (huge) capsicums. Place in a pot with a little olive oil and sauté for a few minutes. Simmer on low, keeping the pot covered and stirring from time to time for about 40 minutes to one hour. The vegetables should have enough water and as long as you keep the heat very low you probably won't need to add water. I add the salt only halfway through the cooking. Usually we serve them with eggs, but as I told you before, we had no eggs... so we served this with chunky bread and cheese.

A part from capsicum Alice also has lots of zucchini flowers. For my favourite recipe, fried zucchini flowers, click here.

And then there are 'regular' zucchini, and round zucchini in Aunt Alice's garden. I like the round zucchini!

Here how the round zucchini look like sliced.

Lemon Sautéd Green and Round Zucchini

Slice the zucchini and cut the bigger slices into quarters. Sauté two peeled garlic cloves with a little olive oil, then add the zucchini, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. The round zucchini are softer and will mush a little, but they have a great taste. The round zucchini will 'almost' mush, but keep their shape and colour better (the round one turn yellow!). Add salt halfway through cooking. At the end add a tsp of fresh chopped Italian parsley and a few lemon slices (or the juice of half a lemon).

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©


  1. Questo sarebbe un sogno per me!Grazie per aver postato questa bellissima esperienza!bacione

  2. What wonderful photos. As I was paging through them I could only guess at how much fun your children had this summer. You have made memories for them. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. What a beautiful experience for your children! They must have loved it.
    The cats are awesome, too!
    Round zucchini is really one of my favourite vegetables in Summer.

  4. Does your Aunt Alice want to adopt a new niece? I would very good help in the fields and in the kitchen. What a beautiful place! I could almost smell that sweet hay. Your photos capture it well, Alessandra.

  5. Getting caught up on your blog after a little traveling of my own, Alessandra. This post was especially lovely, and I enjoyed seeing those round zucchini - new to me! After drooling over other bloggers' posts about stuffed squash blossoms all summer, I finally managed to locate some - in my aunt's garden on my trip to California - and enjoyed every last bite.

    As a former book editor (though not primarily of cookbooks), I was also quite interested in your recent posts about publishing. You offer sensible advice and offer a well-reasoned perspective here. I will look forward to more posts in that series, as well as whatever else you choose to write about, and photograph :)


  6. Thank you all for your comments.
    Eggy, what kind of books did you use to edit? I will continue posting, but I am a bit slow at present as we have been on the move for the last few weeks, but I would very much welcome your comments, as I can only talk about my own experience (and touch a few specifics in reply to some direct queries) so it would be good to have inputs from others... :-)

    Have a great day


  7. I always enjoying reading your posts, but this one filled me with warmth, especially getting the little ones involved too. I Thoroughly enjoyed reading this. The white eggplants are amazing to look at.

  8. How wonderful! I wish I was there with you!!!

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