Summer Sundays In Italy - A Texan in Italy Blog at - 331041

A Texan in Italy

Summer Sundays in Italy 
Aug. 3, 2014 10:08 am 
Updated: Aug. 5, 2014 7:19 am
I love baked potatoes.  I hate hot ovens heating up my house in the summer and in the winter. This latter is because, as I've beached about before in a previous post, I don't have control over my heating so the house is 700° in the winter and the oven only makes it worse.  Also, the oven uses an enormous amount of energy and our energy costs triple during the day until 11pm at night.

Baking potatoes in an oven also takes about an hour+ and I always have something else to do and think it is too much bother to make them.

Nuking a potato is out seeing that they cook unevenly and are tasteless.

So then I found this recipe for 

Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes

Evviva la "slow cooker".  I make potatoes (sweet and regular), onions, fennel and bell peppers in there using this recipe as a guideline.  In 3.5 hours I have "roasted" veggies and I didn't even have to sweat.  Nor did I have to get a loan to pay the energy company seeing that they cook at night when electricity costs less.

Now let's back up to my last post where I went and spent 10 days or so trampling around the world not getting glutined but left out the part where I came home and found out that a storm had knocked out our electricity and had to throw away the entire contents of my fridge and freezer.  
I walked into the house after an 11 hour drive from Belgium -through inexplicably stupid Swiss traffic-finally arriving home at 10pm to find my lights out and thinking: "wait-and the fridge?". Oh how nice...not.

Seeing that with school being out and the girls here one day and gone the next, hubby and me in and out as well, I've decided not to purchase any food unless I know we will eat it within 48 hours.

Good plan?  Nope.  Because, then one Sunday you wake up and the girls say "there are no eggs, no milk, no meat, no tomatoes...MOM-there's no food in the house!!!"  Hmmm... this time they are right.

It is Sunday.  Saturday's minimalist shopping session forgot many staples in a modern home-I bought bananas and potatoes yesterday.  That is all.

Potatoes, I have potatoes.

I thought a nice way to doctor them up would be to introduce my kids to twice baked potatoes. Yesterday I made slow cooker baked potatoes and bell peppers and decided to use the spuds for this venture.

Open the fridge - imagine hearing those ghoulish noises and squeaky doors opening like on Halloween cds and envision cobwebs and a black cat leaping out at you and as it squeals by - air looms at me.  The light actually flickered.  It's like the fridge knew it was empty and was saying "Why work?  It's Sunday.  Like the neurone in your brain- I'm all alone!!".

I could blame my location.  No cheddar cheese in Italy, sour cream is at the big grocery store in town and not open on Sunday anyway, no bacon, no chives or green onions, no milk, no butter. I'm skewered.  But, alas, it is me and my summer fridge theory that left us worse off than the old lady in the shoe.

Inventory was easy.  One quick eye sweep of the fridge and I got 2 slices of prosciutto cotto and a half mini size ziploc of shredded parmigiano reggiano.  In the cupboard was some gluten free bread crumbs about to turn to dust.  Then I looked down and remembered that I'd bought some powdered milk a while back when trying to bake GF bread and reading that it helped in the raising process.  Still had some of that. Oh look, there's milk.  I can make a tea now. I wonder if I could tell the girls that this is real milk...would they fall for it? 

Read the instructions:  230 ml water + 25 grams of powdered milk = one glass of milk.  Made that.  Set aside.  Looks gross.  I moved it away from my line of sight thinking that if I didn't look at it for a while maybe I would forget that it was homemade milk.

Making a tea while contemplating my spud boats I preferred to dump some milk powder straight into my tea to lighten it instead of the watery version I'd just conjured up.  The girls complained the other day that my mashed potatoes were too liquidy.  Ding Ding Light bulb flickering and buzzing.  No, not the one in the fridge - that one was still blinking- but the one above my head when I get one of my dumb ideas.

I took my baked potatoes, scooped out the innards, added powdered milk and olive oil (a trick taught to me by a nutritionalist when I took Ashley in for being underweight.  She suggested using olive oil instead of butter in mashed potatoes due that Ash has a slight lactose intolerance but would benefit from the weight gaining powers of the potato anyway.) I diced up the ham and mixed it all together.  

Note to self:  Mix the potatoes, milk powder, cheese and olive oil before adding ham.  Diced prosciutto slices are now bits and pieces.

Put that mixture back into the boats and sprinkled gluten free bread crumbs and some olive oil on top. I did turn on the oven for that one.  15-20 minutes and they were golden brown and the girls are enjoying them now.  Saved the evening.  

They are actually quite tasty.  They have a certain Italian flare to them.  The prosciutto has heated and let its flavour meld into the potato as did the parmigiano reggiano.  The bread crumb thing on top also lends a bit of crunch and the skins, having cooked the baked potatoes only partially (about 7/8s done), the skins crunch too.

Here's the recipe:

Next time I'll add some sliced tomatoes on top then add the bread crumbs, that would be tasty too.

Note to self:  set alarm to go to grocery store at opening time tomorrow and purchase light bulb for the fridge.  

"Oh look girls, I found the milk. It was in the back of the fridge.  It must have gotten moved around and shoved to the back with all this stuff in the way."  Slide the empty butter dish to the side...

Next blog:  how to try and fool your kids into thinking powdered milk is real...

Aug. 3, 2014 11:33 am
This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing!!!
Aug. 3, 2014 12:20 pm
Yes, Melanie, moms are a creative lot, aren't we? Don't you love it when a "creation" turns out well? Thanks for putting a smile on my Sunday!
Aug. 3, 2014 12:22 pm
Thanks to both of you Frack family and Bibi. I figured if I stayed in the kitchen for a while and acted like I was doing something my story would be more believable. In fact they loved dinner this evening! When I showed them the milk they didn't make a face. Let's see tomorrow morning! :-)
Aug. 3, 2014 12:54 pm
I feel your pain. I hate throwing food out. But it sounds like you rebounded quite well. Powdered milk never flew with my kids.....or me, LOL
Aug. 3, 2014 4:38 pm
Hello Melanie, empty fridge is never good is it? As Bibi says moms are a creative lot aren't we? You are very handy in the kitchen:)) Thanks for sharing...
Aug. 4, 2014 8:08 am
Thanks Big Shots Mom, Eloise was sceptical this morning but heated it up, threw some coffee and sugar in it and didn't complain. :-) I went to the grocery store ASAP this morning and the fridge is somewhat occupied, but still not much. :-)
Aug. 4, 2014 8:09 am
Hi Manella, how are you? Thanks for the encouragement. I've gotten a lot of ideas off this site from you all and see that indeed mom's are creative. Need is the mother of invention after all. Thanks again.
Aug. 5, 2014 7:19 am
Hi Melanie! Nice Blog! My mom used to mix the milk 1/2 milk and 1/2 powdered milk. With four kids to feed, she needed to stretch the dollar. The milk was okay, and better than powdered milk.
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Buckwheat Queen

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Dallas, Texas, USA

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About Me
American living in Italy. I'm married to an Italian and I am a mom to three Italian/American girls - all teenagers with bottomless pits for stomachs. My real love for cooking came while living in Italy. I spent a lot of time with people from Sicily and even stayed there for a spell. I was introduced to a Mediterranean diet and still prefer it to any other. Over the last 18 years I have lived in and travelled through Italy for my non-food profession, but have always tried to learn the local cuisine that makes each region in Italy so unique. I'm also a celiac sufferer and allergic to seafood, which is a huge bummer. I don't know which I like more, airplanes or food, but can say I don't care for airplane food!
My favorite things to cook
I get in a rut, even in Italy. My family likes specific flavours and over the years I have stuck to them. I am trying to branch out but my favourites are still soups and pasta.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Burning bread. My mom started it. I am doing my best to continue the tradition. o_0 My dad used to make one of us stand in front of the oven to watch the bread, if you moved from your assigned position, he yelled at you to get back! :-) Dad runs a tight ship (ex-Navy) and doesn't like burnt bread!
My cooking triumphs
If I can keep my three teenagers full and still have enough money to pay the light bill, it's a triumph!!
My cooking tragedies
When I was about 15, I made a pumpkin pie using the recipe off the can of condensed milk. I forgot to add the milk in the can. :-( I got a puddle in a pie crust and have been ribbed by my siblings every Thanksgiving since.
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