Saturday, July 11, 2009

Middle of the Earth Food

So, we are in Quito, Ecuador and the food is so deliciosa!! After being concerned about not having somewhere to get good coffee, my fears vanished as a cup of steamed milk to which I added nescafe and chocolate along with a spoon a raw sugar. The rest of breakfast at our hostel consisted of Ecuadorian bread- totally fresh, great scrambled eggs and fresh fruit nectar. We then went to Pollo Campare (a fast food chain popular in Latin America) where I had arroz con pollo. Mary and I were wanting to get some tres leches cake, but we were just too full. Hopefully, we´ll get back there maƱana!

We also visited the Mitad Del Mundo (middle of the earth) today. Among the beautiful views and monuments were great little shops and lots of good restaurants. It was interesting trying to figure out where to feed the 29 of us, but we decided on Calima- a really cute place with authentic Ecuadorian food. I decided to try the chicken soup which was wonderful while Mary had corn on the cob, fresh mozarella and beans that are something like a cross between lima and fava beans. It was good as well as interesting, but she was very happy with her dessert of vanilla ice cream. We also tried an empanada that would be worth going back for more!

After we arrived back "home" at the hostel, we decided to go around the corner to the bakery for some goodies. I ended up buying some cookies as well as a couple of sweet rolls. The amazing thing about the food is how fresh it all is!

I will post some photos as soon as I can. We´ve got some great ones of dinner tonight that be sure to make your mouth water- or you´re just not hungry!! For now, buenos noches as I am going to go enjoy my sweets!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eating On A Jet Plane

Tomorrow morning- bright and early- my youngest daughter and I will be boarding a plane heading to Quito, Ecuador. This will be Mary's first trip out of the country, let alone on a plane. We are heading- with 25 other folks- to Macas, Ecuador to work at Emmanuel Christian School doing an ESL/VBS for two weeks as well as painting the school. I will also get the opportunity to teach a cooking class for 60 women along with one of the gals from our group.

One of the parts of the trip I am most looking forward to is, of course, the food. I even went so far to call our airlines, Continental, to find out if we'd be having to pay for food on the plane. Much to my surprise, the very nice Maria with Continental let me know they do not charge for food on their planes. I found out we will be getting more than just peanuts or pretzels~ maybe not a 5-course meal, but it will be food, and it will be free!

I plan on journaling about our adventure and all the new foods we'll get the opportunity to try! Hopefully, I'll even be able to share some delicious recipes that I learn in Ecuador!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bok Choi Slaw (adapted from

1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard (I like Beaver brand)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 cups thinly sliced bok choi (about 1 pound, trimmed)
1 small head red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, shredded
3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Whisk vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce. sugar, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl until sugar dissolves. Add bok choi, cabbage, carrots and scallions; toss to coat with dressing. Chill until ready to serve.

serves 8-10

Also good as condiment for hot dogs and sausages.

A Potluck of Freedom

May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country! ~Daniel Webster

I really enjoy celebrating Independence Day! I have a feeling it comes from having a family who always made sure that the 4th of July was a day of family, food and, of course, fireworks. I will never forget the taste of my family's fried chicken, potato salad, three-bean salad, and getting to help turn the crank on the White Mountain Ice Cream Maker. It would be worth all the hard work to be the one fortunate enough to be the first to get a taste of Grandpa Aziz's homemade banana ice cream!

As my husband and I have raised our own family, I've taken the helm in the celebrating of our country's freedom. When the kids were younger, it was the pancake breakfast at the fire station and parade in Monmouth, Oregon followed by a potluck dinner at my parents' house. As they've gotten older, we've done a variety of things~ from the Civil War Reenactment at Willamette State Park to picnics with dear family friends at Mission Mill Museum. We've even gone to a Keizer Volcanoes baseball game one year to not only watch our local team, but to also watch a beautiful display of fireworks!

This year, for lunch, we decided to do another picnic at Mission Mill thanks to best friends Ron and Shelly. They brought chicken and fresh Oregon fruit. I was in charge of salad, but didn't have any lettuce or "typical" salad fare. What I did have were all kinds of veggies from our second CSA box, thanks to Gardenripe in Silverton. I had a huge bunch of bok choi along with some broccoli, red cabbage and fresh peas. I also had made a trip to EZ Orchards, our year-round local produce market, to supplement our veggie box with local Walla Walla Onions and a few other treats. I decided to experiment with a cole slaw made with the bok choi and red cabbage as well as a salad made with the broccoli, peas, onions and some bacon added for that smoky flavor and crunch. The highlight for me was a dessert of raspberries that Shelly's mom and dad had brought straight from their garden along with some delicious Umpqua french vanilla ice cream. It brought back memories of that homemade ice cream from my childhood 4th of July potlucks!

The celebrating continued that evening at my folks' house with more potluck goodness. I brought more of my salads since I had made a double batch of each, and my dad did a great job on what he called his "mixed grill" of chicken, polish sausage, hamburgers and Italian sausage. My oldest son, Josh, put together a sandwich that my mom and I both copied as it looked amazing~ Italian sausage, BBQ sauce, and some of my bok choi slaw all on a crusty roll. It tasted as good as it looked! We finished the meal with a trifle I had "thrown" together of lime zest cake, fresh Kotata and Obsidian blackberries, lemon yogurt, whipped cream and shredded mint.

I have often wondered what could top time with friends and family celebrating our country's independence with a potluck, and I found out this year~ the answer would be two potlucks celebrating the 4th of July!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grandpa Pitalo's Pancakes (with a twist)

4 cups flour
4 heaping teaspoons baking powder (I use Rumford)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable work well)
4 bananas, mashed
2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. In large bowl, stir together 2 cups milk, eggs and oil. Add flour mixture to milk and eggs and mix until blended. Add bananas and nutmeg and 1/2 cup milk. Stir until well blended. Let sit for 5 minutes. Heat griddle to 375 degrees or over medium-high on stovetop. Using paper towel dipped in oil, grease griddle. Pour approximately 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake onto griddle. Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles have formed on surface and popped before turning over; cook on other side for another 1 1/2-2 minutes. Serve with butter (please, no margarine) and syrup of choice.

Makes about 16 4" pancakes ~unless you make shapes like I did when my kids were little~ you can be creative and do something simple like a heart or more elaborate like a cowboy or ballerina~ it just takes some practice, but the kids love it!!

Helpful Hint- If you are making a lot of pancakes, you can keep them warm in a crock-pot by stacking them in a circular pattern. This works well for keeping them toasty but not drying them out!!

On Being a Grateful Foodie

For many of us, it starts when we are young while some people grow into it. Some inherit it from their parents while others find it as they visit some new and possibly exotic location. I suppose I could be talking about anything, but I am not talking about just anything. I am talking about becoming what the media and so many others call "foodies". It frustrates me that those who don't understand the inner joy of being grateful for what our Creator has given us would call us "food snobs". This is so not the case!

I am starting to realize more often than not how so many things in my life revolve around not just food, but the joy I get in choosing recipes, buying ingredients, preparing said recipe and finally getting to eat it. It started when I was just a little girl with not only having parents who enjoyed food, but coming from a long line of food-appreciating ancestors.

Our family jokes about us being "Heinz 57" in our heritage. Could this be due to our Italian, Croatian, Austrian, Irish, Scottish & Arabic ancestry? This has definitely helped me in learning to enjoy almost every type of food (eventually I will have to confess the few food items out there that I just can't seem to eat). It also helped that my grandparents on both sides were and are still amazing cooks~ home chefs would be more accurate. I've had the opportunity to eat food from around the world~ most of it in a home of a family member!

This past week, my son has helped me to put photos of food we've been cooking on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook/mangiamamma). I've gotten so many comments that I have decided to start this blog. We'll see where it leads, but for now, how about a breakfast recipe for my Grandpa Pitalo's Pancakes with a Mangia Mamma twist. It'll make you think twice about picking up the Bisquick!!



All sorrows are less with bread. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

P.S. The delicious photo is our dinner from tonight made by Mary~ a delicious Cobb-Style Rice Bowl with a little help from Rachael Ray (her recipes work great for the kids to start learning to appreciate what we eat)!