Artichoke Ragu' from.... Lufthansa?!?! Yes.

You won't believe where I got my inspiration for this sauce... a coach class airline vegetarian meal on Lufthansa. But don't let the source turn you off, it was surprisingly delicious! I searched and searched their website and online and I just couldn't find a recipe for it. So, I made my own!

Please, please, please do not waste your money on those pitted canned olives that are painted black. You will be throwing your money away because they will not taste like anything and you may as well leave them out! Instead, go to the deli-section of the super-market or for one of those higher-end glass jars.

Ragu' di Carciofini ed Olive (Baby Artichoke & Olive Ragout)
This chunky sauce requires a sturdy pasta like fusilli or penne, and could even be used as a base for a vegetarian lasagna instead of a meat Ragu'.

The olives and artichokes are thrown in at the end so that the sauce will not have a monotonous taste and give you little olive and artichoke surprises with every bite.

1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 pinch of hot pepper flakes
5 TBSP of Olive Oil
3 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 cup of black olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup of baby artichokes, quartered
500 ml or 8 oz of tomato puree
1 TBS of tomato concentrate/tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste

To Remove The Pits
Rinse the salt, salt-water, or oil off the olives. To remove the pits, place them in a large, plastic transparent bag. Place the bag on a sturdy cutting board and bang each olive with a meat-thingy-magig to lightly crush the olive flesh(if you bang too hard, you will break the pits). Open the bag, and gently and easily separate the skin from the pits.

For the Sauce
In a cold, wide, tall-sided skillet add the 5TBSP of Olive Oil crushed garlic clove and pinch of hot pepper flakes. Turn the heat on to very low. In the meantime, chop the onion. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the onion to the skillet, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and turn the heat up to medium.

When the onion becomes translucent, add the tomato puree and concentrate. Mix well and let the sauce reduce reduce he sauce (at a slow boil with no top on the pan) for about 15 minutes). When the sauce becomes a little thicker add the olives and artichokes. Mix well and cook toss on the pasta.

Buon Appetito!

Take My Change! Take it! No, You Take it!

Several times,while shopping in Graz I have noted female customers handing their wallets to the cashiers and making them fish out the change.

What is up with that?!?

Maybe it's a new service, or maybe the ladies think the cashiers can find the change faster. Did they forget their glasses? Just had their nails done?



Eat your heart out... literally!


Enter the gates at Schloss Eggenberg follow the main path towards the castle through the gardens, and take the first right. Just behind two statues, one of which is pictured above, you will find a small cafe'. Probably not meant to wet the appetite!


How do you make your bed?

While shopping in Austria for bedding with a Scottish friend I stumbled on yet another cultural divide. There is a huge difference between European and American bedding. And I'm not talking size, or material...I'm talking bedding!

Having lived both in Italy and America, I have grown accustomed to some bedding basics, like a top sheet and a bed cover to keep the dust off the pillows. Instead, in Austria (and UK from what I understand), it is very common to just have a covered comforter and a bottom sheet. They use the covered comforter, which is often made of cotton, as a top sheet and throw the whole thing in the wash when it's time to change the bedding.

The simplicity of European bedding, certainly makes it easy to make the bed (just straighten the blanket) but is a big change for those who are used to sleeping in a tightly tucked bed!
American BeddingAustrian Bedding
Basic Bedding:
-Pillow & Case
-Bottom Sheet
-Top Sheet
-Comforter/Bed cover

-The comforter could be put in a comforter cover, but this is not typical.
-Pillow Shams for extra pillows are very common, though not commonly used.
-Bed skirts are a very popular addition

Notes: This is also true in Italy, with the exception of the bed skirt.

Basic Bedding:
-Pillow & Case
-Bottom Sheet
-Comforter in Cover

-An extra blanket is used for extra cold nights

Notes: This is also true in the U.K.

So, how do you make your bed?!?!


Knock, knock! Who's there?

For the last few weeks, I've been hearing a construction sound in our house. It's always when hubby is not home and Tortellino is sleeping. We live in a stand-alone home so... where could this be coming from and more importantly, who or what was making the sound.

"Pound, pound, pound! Tack, tack, tack, knock, knock!"

I traced it to the roof of our sun toom. At first, I got the broom stick. I made scary sounds with it, thworing handle up against the ceiling. And whoever, or whatever... pounded back.


Not having any windows directly to view the top, each time, I clumbsily climbed up to the skylight clink, clanking my way and would see nothing.


The next day, "Knock, knock, pound, pound, tack tack!"

I realized the window from the stairwell has a semi-obstructed view of the roof. I tip-toed up the stairs and quietly slithered my way onto the window-sill.

"knock, knock, kno... oh ohhh" the crow saw me and flew away.

After seeing our little soundmaker, I realized that the roof of our sun-room, made of that wavy-type material is the perfect place for crows to open walnuts:
  1. The crow would either bring or find an existing nut.
  2. He would deposit it in one of the folds, to hold the top and bottom of the nut,
  3. Then, he would straddle the nut blocking the left and right sides of the nut and start banging with his beak.
"knock, knock?"


Schwammerl Suchen (Mushroom Hunting)

We went mushroom hunting in the hills just outside of Graz, yesterday. My husband practically grew up in the Italian Alps and can recognize the dangerous mushrooms. In Italy, you can take your mushrooms to the piazza and have an expert examine them, but I haven't heard of anything similar here. To be sure, we stuck to the safe varieties and stayed way from the "iffy" adventurous ones.

One thing is for sure. If it's red, and it has white dots on it, like these, DO NOT EAT THEM!

We found lots of Finferele, Portobello, Mazza Tamburo and about three fresh Porcini! Actually, I found the biggest porcino... right next to the road!

We breaded and fired the big ones last night, tonight... Risotto ai Funghi!