Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sausage & Peppers

I realize that sausage and peppers may not seem to be the most exciting meal, but I think it's healthy, visually appealing, and deeeelicious. Ok, I know I say that about almost everything I cook, but honestly, would I be writing a blog about cooking if I didn't think my recipes were good? Sausage and peppers is a basic Italian dish that can be accompanied with homemade bread, like the one I made and is pictured here, or it can be accompanied with plain parsley flavored rice. You decide. The bread recipe is so easy I'm almost embarrassed to print it. But, I will just for you.

Ingredients for Two:
3 links of cooked sausage (preferably barbequed) sliced into bite size pieces.
2 peppers – red and orange – sliced long
1 very large Vidalia onion – sliced long
2 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In deep skillet place olive oil, onion, peppers, and sausage. Sprinkle salt and pepper, toss, and cook at medium or low heat till peppers are still crisp, onions are tender but not mushy. Taste a piece of sausage, pepper, and onion to be sure it is cooked just right. I’m usually full by the time everything is ready (just kidding).
Ok, I said this was going to be easy. So, I buy frozen American Bread loaves (not baked yet). I take out as many as I need and let it rise for at least two hours. Be sure to oil the top and flour the bottom of your pan while it is rising. Then, I sprinkle flour around the loaf and kneed it till flour is absorbed. This makes the loaf more dense than regular white bread. When it has risen again, I cut a few lines on top, and place in 375 degree oven till top is a little hard. Then, I brush the top with salted water. I do this several times till the top is a golden brown. The inside is soft and the outside is crunchy! Trust me, this is very good.

© Natala Orobello

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chickens Cooped

We were in Georgia recently and our neighbors had purchased three hens for laying. I was like a child in a candy store, for I had not seen chickens up close since I lived in Italy. I was given the honor of feeding them and cleaning their coop and of course I was also allowed to keep the eggs!! It was wonderful to wake up every morning to their clucking.

Fresh brown eggs laid
by Rhode Island Red
Right before my eyes
this early a.m.

Still warm - so very fresh
and the taste is
profoundly different
than store bought.

Yet, I wonder how they
feel being cooped up
for our pleasure
without the freedom
to roam.
© Natala Orobello

Monday, May 11, 2015

Profundity of Love

I'm too old to rethink my personality
the character of who I am
I am what I need to be at this time 
this place where my heart is warmed by family.

My realization of self is formulated by
my husband, my children, my grandchildren
my career as teacher and writer 
expand my horizon till I see the Glory.

Just now - this very moment in my life
I rejoice in my ability to have made an
impact on those who love me and whom
I love -
this is so profound.
© Natala Orobello

Friday, May 8, 2015

Stuffed Eggplant - Yummy Good!!

    This is not a recipe for sissies because it does take time and patience, lots of it! But, I promise you will love the meal if you like eggplants. My mom probably made the best stuffed eggplant I’ve ever tasted until my sister Millie began making it. Her cooking is very similar to my mother’s; maybe, that’s because she was taught by my mother when my sister was only six or seven years old. I’ve never heard anyone complain about Millie’s cooking. It’s that good!! So, here’s the recipe for those of you who would like to give it a try. I know you will love it.
    You will need to make a pot of plain sauce first and have that simmering while you complete your eggplants.
2  16 oz cans of tomato sauce
¾ can of water
2 cloves of garlic – chopped
½ onion – chopped
Parsley – a few leaves with stems (remove before serving)
Basil – Julienne 4 leaves
Bay leaf – one whole and remove before serving
4 tbs. sugar
½ tbs. garlic powder
Extra virgin olive oil
    In a medium size pot, pour olive oil to cover the bottom, add garlic and onion and braise till translucent. Add tomato sauce and water and then add your herbs, sugar, and garlic powder. Simmer.
Eggplant Ingredients:
4 medium size purple eggplants
1 cup cheese
2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumb
Garlic – chopped
Onion – chopped
Parsley – chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Wipe eggplants with wet washcloth. Remove the top so you have only a white interior showing. Now, cut a circle into the eggplant and work your way around the eggplant so all the “meat” is removed. Leave a thin shell behind – if it is thick, it will not fry well nor cook well. Do this with all four eggplants.
Chop the inside into little bite size pieces.
Combine breadcrumb with cheese and parsley.
    In a skillet, pour enough oil, so you have a fully covered bottom, add garlic and onion, sauté till cooked but not brown, add eggplant and cook till tender (on low heat). When ready, pour in breadcrumb mixture and stir till oil saturates the mixture. If you are not covering the breadcrumb, add oil a little bit at a time till every bit is oiled but not saturated! Now stuff your eggplants. Place a piece of bread on top to hold stuffing in.
    Fry in a clean oiled skillet, again only enough oil to cover the bottom of skillet. Brown lightly on all sides and then place in your tomato sauce. Cook for at least one hour. You can keep it cooking if you would like more flavor.

Serve over a plate of spaghetti and add grated cheese on top. Yummy good!!!

© Natala Orobello

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Cabin

The roar of the wind
motions the flag to whirl
flap and curl
it's the music of freedom in the air.
hummingbirds of Emerald green
whiz and buzz like bumble bees
seeking sugar sweet nectar.

Dirt pebbled road,
flanked by strong, tall Hickory trees,
meanders its way to Owl Town Farm-
the cabin- my comfort and refuge.

Carp swim near the surface
dark shadows teasing
fishermen with their presence
once line is in, they swim opposite.

Sometimes, the only interruption
in the quiet is the flip, flap
and whirl of the flag as it
sings of freedom in the air.
© Natala Orobello

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Chicken Cacciatore - Mamma's Style

My mother was a simple cook, yet she managed to keep six hungry kids and an extra hungry husband very content. To put it mildly, her meals were deeelicious!!! Why? Maybe it was all the love she put into each and every meal and dessert. Maybe, it was the time she devoted to cooking and baking. Maybe, it's because she delighted in seeing our content faces as we devoured her tasty dishes. Her chicken cacciatore wasn't beautiful looking; actually, none of her dishes would have won an award on appearance, but we didn't care because all her meals won an award on yumminess.

3 onions - sliced very thin
2 peppers - half inch in width
5 medium size potatoes - sliced as if for french fries
1 tbs. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbs. dry parsley
1 tsp. oregano
1  16oz.  tomatoes in can
3 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup white wine
10 - 16 chicken (thighs & legs)

Wash chicken (take skin off)
Season chicken with salt, pepper, oil, and parsley
In a large oven skillet, place oil and then add seasoned chicken legs and thighs - On top of stove, on medium heat, brown both sides.
Now, add the onion, potatoes, tomatoes, and wine. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degree oven for one hour. Bake in middle rack for fifty minutes and top rack for last fifteen minutes.
Serve with hot garlic bread or over a bed of white rice. Bon Appetito!!
© Natala Orobello