After living in Europe and Africa for 10 years as the kid of an Army officer, my father moved our family back to the States to prepare for his Army retirement. Before the actual move, we took an extended European farewell tour as we made our way to Naples, Italy to board the U.S.S. Constitution for our trans-Atlantic journey home.. We lived out of suitcases for weeks while we country-hopped from Africa to Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Spain, and Italy. The last leg of our trip resulted in a two week stay in Rome before taking a final train ride to Naples for our Atlantic sailing.
We stayed in an ancient crumbling hotel overlooking a piazza dotted with fountains, people, and rambling motorbikes. By American standards, the hotel certainly would have been condemned. It wasn't America. Situated on the edge of an old Italian piazza, our hotel was considered a thing of beauty. We had modest accomodations with marbled floors that glistened under floor-to-ceiling windows purposely cracked open for fresh air which allowed sheer white curtains to flutter from warm gentle breezes. Heaven.
As a nod to public safety, (and our own) we were told to stay off of the balcony. It was probably hanging onto the side of the hotel by a mere whisper of hope. Being an inquisitive and precocious kid, I was fascinated with the off-limits balcony. How could it be forbidden territory? It was ours, wasn't it? I stared at that damn balcony every morning, yearning to test the warnings by jumping up and down on it with my heavy scruffed-up Buster Brown lace-up shoes. As much as I wanted to test the fates, I played by the rules and left the balcony alone. My father was an Army Major. There would have been hell to pay for that mischief.
We spent our days in Rome sightseeing and eating our way around the city. Although the various pastas, pizzas, and pastries were fabulous, my fondest Roman food memory was the simple butter that accompanied our morning continental breakfasts. Served at room temperature in tiny glass bowls on linen covered trays, the butter arrived every morning surrounded by crunchy rolls and pots of jam. Sweet. Clean. Fresh. I couldn't get enough of it.
Nowadays, when Michael and I want high end European style butter, we'll simply buy Plugra, President, or Kerrygold Irish butter. When I crave the taste of my childhood Roman holiday, I'll make butter.
A few nights ago, I caved into my craving and literally whipped up 1/2 pound of fresh soft butter.
No recipe. I really didn't do anything. It just happened.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I gave the plump dough a few pats, tucked it into a ball, and dropped it into an oiled bowl (covered) to rise and double in size before slicing it in half with a bench scraper. I folded the halves in rectangles, pinched the seams, snuggled them into 2 buttered loaf pans, and let them rest for a second rise.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Lately, I've tossed around ideas for something to cook for an upcoming family Chritstmas dinner we enjoy every year housed in a cabin overlooking the lake at Barren River Lake State Resort Park. It's a potluck affair for a large group of people packed into a rented cabin anchored by a tiny kitchen with very limited storage...150 miles away. Tricky business. Think about it.