country, Cucina, farming, food, Fountain of Youth, Happiness Project, Terreni D' Oro Tuesday

Eating our Garbage

When my children were younger I wanted to share the cycle of life with them in a real way. I wanted them to be able to see, feel, experience how the circle of life really works. I purchased some worms, (red wigglers), and purchase a box that would allow earthworms to procreate, as well as eat all the garbage that we generated. We would put our shredded papers in the box, coffee grounds, and the filter, apple cores, banana peels, and various other food in our worm box. We had our worm box outside. I have read that some people keep their box in the home. NO! 

When my son was 18 months old, he would take all the daily refuse for the worms to the box. The box did not smell bad, since they eat the bacteria that generates the odor from the food. What does smell is the poo from the worms. Every couple of months we would have to clean out the box, and that wasn’t a fun job. We would separate what was the “black gold” from the garbage, and save the worms. We would then have another generation of worms, and we add the black gold into our garden. We grew some of the biggest pumkins on the block, and then when we were done with Halloween, the worms had their favorite food. Honestly, after having these creatures in our life all these years, I can tell you with confidence that they love mellons, pumkins, etc. 

To this day we still have a worm farm, and we still feed our worms. Some of them are from the same parents we started with more than 18 years ago. 

This is the newest edition, it has layers, after a few months, we take it apart and sort out the gold, and start all ove with new food. This system ensures nothing goes to waste. We dont like waste doing nothing, we want to make the most of it. 

Therapy Thursday, Throwback Thursday

Cesarina IV

After coming to America, Cesarina and Giuseppe were married. The two of them started out living in an apartment in Oakland, California. Cesarina had loftier ambitions than living in an apartment. They were fortunate enough to live in an apartment building that had many other Italian born people as occupants.

One day, an opportunity that they couldn’t pass up presented itself. Some friends of theirs that cleaned banks were going to Italy, and asked if they would like to take their places. Cesarina and Giuseppe filled in, but the bank managers liked them so much better. Cesarina and Giuseppe started a business of their own, cleaning many of the banks in Oakland at night.

They saved their money, and they found a home in the Rockridge district of Oakland, California. Soon after they signed the note to buy a house, Cesarina was pregnant.  Cesarina, had much to do, the house was ugly, and it had fleas. She could not believe this was the America that dreamed about before moving from Italy. She couldn’t believe that Americans lived in such filthy conditions. There were many nights that she cried herself asleep with the words running through her head…”California is the end of the world.” How could she change this “America” that seemed more like a nightmare?

Giuseppe spoke English, but Cesarina did not yet speak English. She continued to work along with Giuseppe, until she was in labor. She was pulling a floor waxer when her water broke. So many well wishes from America and Italy.

She was beginning to feel a sense of pride again, her house, was becoming her home. She made her own curtains, and scrubbed her own floors. The words of Maria never left her. She was determined to make her own way in America. She was determined to live an American dream. Maria told her “Once you become wealthy, do some cleaning yourself. It not only allows you to appreciate what you have, and how far you have come, but allows your brain to solve problems.”

Even though she had only given birth a few months earlier, she was ready to take Roberto with her everywhere and anywhere she had to go. Roberto was packed up with all the tools of the trade. He was put in his hi chair with wheels, and wheeled around the bank as they cleaned. As they saved, they looked at property. They would often walk around the neighborhoods where they wanted to buy homes. They did what they had to do to keep their dream alive.

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As soon as Roberto was old enough to walk, he too was helping them clean. What ever he could do, he was polishing, emptying trash cans, and making sure he stayed out of trouble. When he would get tired, he would often crawl into a chair at a desk then fall to sleep. After everything was all done, they would carry him out of the banks then on to the next one.

The presidents would often want to meet the family, and Cesarina would invite them to dinner at her home. She was so proud to cook a nice hearty Italian meal for Americans. They would be astonished at how well she cooked, and how she kept her house. Here is a typical antipasti course she would prepare…

Her house would be bustling with activity and energy before a dinner party. I have a huge booklet of recipes we have made, and sometimes…I just watched. She would dawn her apron, and you better not get in her way. If she was taken photographs of guest, it better be before she “threw down” the pasta. Pasta doesn’t enter the water until all the guests have arrived. She was a dynamo, and wielded a wooden spoon, she would use it on anyone that got in her way.

Antipasti plates were put out with at least three different cheeses, salami, prosciutto, and coppa.

Bruschetta

What are you going to need…

8 cloves of garlic.                                                     Salt and oregano

15 pieces of rustic thick crusted bread.             Corse ground pepper

EVOO.                           10 fresh plum tomatoes  10 fresh basil leaves
Heat a skillet or grill, while the grill is heating, peel your garlic and crush it. You want the juices of the garlic! Wash to tomatoes, and dice them. Was the basil, dry it, and rip it into small pieces. I like to add a little more garlic to the tomatoes and basil, add some salt and pepper to taste, with a pinch of oregano.

Add your bread to the heated skillet, and flip it after it is lightly browned. Take the crushed garlic, and smear it on the bread. Add your tomato mixture, and drizzle some EVOO over the top after all the pieces are added to the dish. There should be enough to be very generous with the toppings.

Sometimes to mix it up, you can also add some mozzarella cheese on the side that has the garlic, then add the tomato topping.

Fried Zucchini Flowers

Mmm, just writing this recipe makes my mouth water.

Sometimes Cesarina made these stuffed with mozzarella cheese, and sometimes plain. Either way, they are scrumptious!

If you don’t grow your own zucchini, you will have to buy them from the farmers market. The male blossoms are longer, so they are better to use. What do you need?

15 male zucchini blossoms. Salt and pepper (mozzarella cheese if you are going to stuff them)

11/4 cup of milk,

1 egg       1 cup of flour,           olive oil

Add the wet ingredients together, and gently add the flour a little bit at a time. Add the salt and pepper last, and just a pinch of each. Open the flower to remove the pistils, wash the inside and out. Dry with a towel. If your adding the cheese, do it now,

Heat your frying oil, before it smokes add the blossoms, once they are golden brown flip them over, and add them to a plate that has paper towels to absorb the extra oil.

By this time, all your guests will be talking about how lovely each item of food is, and they will be asking for the recipes of each one.

If you happen to make all three of these dishes, only add Mozzarella to one. It would be almost vulgar to have cheese on two of your antipasti dishes.

Soup were for winters, and salad in the summer… ( I will have to post some great meals from my book)

If there was one quote that I would have to choose as the most important that Cesarina taught me, make due with what you have. I used to say “We didn’t use that last time in the recipe.” She would tell me, there is no recipe that is on stone, just use what you have! I never had a bad meal at her house, well except cow brains…that is another story. UGH!

They finally had enough money to move up the hill in Rockridge, and she moved into her dream house. She started renting her little house that she was her first home. The family started buying more property because of the philosophy of her father…Just as the tree roots in the soil, so should we. Invest in real estate. Roberto invested with his parents. They owned several properties together. She was living the American dream! She took her son to Italy every summer, and he attended private schools. He was becoming an investor too.

Next time…Cesarina and I meet each other.

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Color Scheme

One of my favorite aspects of owning property is the renovation. When someone moves out, I like to make the rental look new and fresh for the new family that will live there. After I view the layout of the place I select colors that I believe people will enjoy. Gone are the days of “navajo white” for everything. People that are renting want something fresh and new. I try to put myself into the place of a perspective tenant. A modern, clean, and updated place is something desirable. I want tenants to be happy, and enjoy their space. Here is my latest updated space…

Contessa Grigia Condo
Contessa Grigia Condo                                     The gray going up the staircase may look like two different colors, but this is one color. It is just the lighting coming in the window that gives it the variation. 
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Renovation

One of the many things I do with my time is renovate apartments. We own some property, and it is my job to manage the property. Some parts of my job I hate, and there are other aspects of it I enjoy. I like the renovation, and meeting the new tenants.

Here are some photos of my most recent renovation.

IMG_0004This is the kitchen. Everything is new in the kitchen, and I added granite countertops and lights. I like the process of making something new and fresh. I still need to add some flowers, and I will also keep a folder of applications, as well as a clip board for the potential applicants to utilize.

I have been a tenant in the past so I can empathize with tenants. I like meeting each person, and I have usually had great experience with finding new tenants. I have been doing this for 20 years so I go with my gut on which applicant to accept. I am pretty proud of this unit, so I am looking forward to meeting the right tenant for the unit.