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A Taste of the Good Life

the good life

A Good Life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less,
smile often, dream big, laugh a lot and realize how lucky you are!

 

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Oh the Good Life

Having lived now in our beautiful Valley for three years I have started to take the Good Life for granted.

Most of our fruit and vegetables are either home grown in our ‘orto’ or locally grown. They have blemishes, are eaten ripe straight from the tree, bought from our local market at the village then placed in brown paper bags.

Food tastes real here.

Making the change from the rat race to the good life hasn’t always been easy but it has totally been the best thing we could have done for our health, our children and our wellbeing.

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Our neighbors keep ducks, chickens, goats, cows and sheep, and we raise rabbits which we swap with them. Our little community is thriving, a ring of the bell and Anna is giving us a tray of strawberries from her orto, our friends offer to help us with planting the potatoes, herbs are picked fresh from the garden, it’s a chef’s delight.

 

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This year our little ‘orto’ is packed with veggies, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, a large potato patch, we also have an orchard bringing apples and cherries, and neighbors willing to swap surplus with us.

Our potatoes and apples will be stored to last through winter, our friends are busy making jams and life is busy as always.

As well as picking from our veggie patch we also go foraging along paths that lead into the mountains. It has become a daily competition for us to see how many wild strawberries and raspberries we can gather, we eat them as we walk.

Of course that first taste of a wild raspberry is something I’ll never forget, such an intense burst of flavour.

the good life

In autumn blackberries, walnuts and chestnuts will be gathered, along with wild mushrooms.

Our valley is rich in natural goodness and I can’t imagine ever returning to a suburban life in Australia.

We are just in love with the good life here in Italy.

 

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Apples picked straight from the tree with a crisp, juicy freshness that I’ve never know before, antique varieties with a soft pink hue under the skin that are so sweet I gasp as I bite into the flesh.

The Good Life

Are we living in paradise?

That’s what it feels like, are we living the Good Life here in our Valley at the foot of the Alps, YES I know we are.

Do you yearn to live the Good Life? Are you living it already?
We’d love to hear about it ……

element signature 2and the gang x

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Making Salami at Borgata Malpertus #1

This year we (I mean Sam) are making salami with our friends here in the Borgata. We have done this once before but this time Sam made a hotter Calabrese salami rather than the milder Piemontese one.

This is our neighbor Claudio and his son, although Sam was hard at work he was also taking the photos so he isn’t in any of them.

making salami

Making salami is such a traditional part of Italian life, the first time I was invited to join in was in Australia when I was dating Sam. We spent the day at his Uncles house along with all the cousins and extended family, it felt like a scene from the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’.

Afterwards we had a huge feast, at a table that seemed to go on forever. As a suburburn girl from the other side of the city I was in shock. I had entered another country, where everyone spoke in Italian, drank vino, and ate and ate and ate.

Our life together has always felt a bit this way, my Australian life and my Italian life. They very rarely overlap. Two worlds that have their own traditions, set of ‘rules’ and lifestyles. Living here in the Borgata brings this home so sharply, and being invited to make the salami is a great honor and one I treasure.

I hope you enjoy some of the photos that Sam took during the weeks making salami. If you have any questions let me know below, I did ask him to write this post but I think with some encouragement from you he’ll add his voice. He just loves to cook, and has been bottling up peppers the last few days.

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Please know I’ll be updating this post with further photos and recipies. I’m just coming good after being really unwell for weeks.  The video is on YouTube and if you are not squirmish you can view it here (warning could upset some viewers).

Sadly I totally missed making salami, but know that we now have 104kg of salami hanging in the kids room in the main house. They are being tended lovingly each day and the cotechino are in the freezer.

So go ahead ask away…….any questions??

Lisa signature 2and the gang x

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Savor Life – 5 lessons from the orto

lessons from the orto

 ” Grow your Life from the Heart ” 

 

lessons from the orto

Lessons from the Orto

Do you grow your own vegetables? Up until we started growing our own food I never actually realized the lessons from the orto would make a difference. That the food would taste was so superior to any I had ever eaten.

Having just now eaten a bright red tomato from our garden I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like it. We picked the first three of many tomatoes and bought them into the house as if they were the most precious jewels. Sliced with a sprinkle of salt and eaten just as they came from the vine……delicious.

Being a suburban Aussie girl I didn’t grow up with a farming background like Sam did, our first veggie garden was in our backyard at Strathpine in Queensland along with six chickens, we were an oddity in our neighborhood. I still remember how excited Carina was to reach in and gather her first egg, now we take fresh eggs for granted.

Spending time in our ‘orto’ has been a learning curve, I love the lessons I am learning. To help inspire you these are my five favorites:

lessons from the orto

 

Lessons from the Orto – Weeding is Relaxing

I never thought I’d say this but I love the late afternoon after the rabbits and chickens are fed and I get to do some weeding in the orto. It’s my quiet time, the kids are inside helping to get dinner ready, Sam is cooking and I am happily pulling weeds.

I always think of my brother Bradley who was methodical in the garden, starting at one point and not stopping until every weed was pulled up by the roots. He would laugh at my feeble attempts and redo the section I’d done. I love that his spirit feels close to me in the veggie garden when I’m weeding.

Lessons from the Orto – Growing Vegetables is Easy

Especially when Sam is doing the digging, planting, watering, picking and cooking!! But really watching him in the garden is a joy for me, it’s his relax zone, the place where he regroups, and a real source of pride when he gathers the goodness he has grown and brings it to the table for his family to enjoy.

Everyone here grows food, even in the smallest pot, the tiniest plot of land and they make it look easy and it actually is. If you get the chance give it a try or join a community garden.

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Lessons from the Orto – I’m no longer scared of picking up snails

Our very first year here in the Borgata I have to tell you I was scared to pick up snails. Just the thought had me saying Ewwwww. Now with our raised beds I don’t find many but when I do I can pick them up and I toss them down to the path below and figure it will take them a while to climb back up. I can’t bring myself to kill them, but I send them on a holiday. Now slugs are a whole different thing, no way will I pick one of those up!

Lessons from the Orto – Being Lost in the Moment. 

Living a Simple Life is not always easy, it feels like we have been on the go for years without pausing. Being in the garden gives me a chance to think about nothing else. My normal routine is to feed the rabbits and chickens around five o’clock, then go to the ‘orto’ and weed for around an hour. Sam comes out and waters and usually we end up with Luca helping out and our dog Fiume and our boy cat Bello supervising.

It’s one of my favorite times of the day, a chance to see what has grown, what is ready to be picked, the time when everyone is out and about, a time where I can just forget the worries of the day and enjoy the moment with my family.

Lessons from the Orto – Vegetables come in all shapes and sizes

Well who knew that vegetables came in odd shapes, not perfectly clean, ours come with blemishes and dirt clinging to the roots. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an onion with roots. That cucumbers have tiny little prickles on the skin, that potatoes don’t need a lot of water, that one bean plant can give you kilo’s of fresh green beans.

Oh and that we’d get totally sick of zucchini, that we’d grow massive ones that we couldn’t even give away as everyone else around here grows them as well. That eggplants have the most delicate skins and cook in minutes, that our glorious tomatoes have almost no seeds and are bright red all the way through, they taste amazing by the way. That picking fresh vegetables we’ve grown ourselves could give us such a sense of pride.

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Lessons from the Orto – to be in the moment, to be fearless, to create life as easy, to remove what isn’t needed, to accept life just as it is and just as it is not.

Go out and grow something!

and the gang x

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Living Italy – a day at the fair

living italy

What a difference a year can make, now the faces smiling out of the crowd are friends, people I am slowly coming to know. We came to the fair in our village last year and I felt like a tourist, with no real understanding of the lifestyle, heritage and traditions around me.

This year at the fair I felt relaxed, smiling and waving, nodding to the locals and getting a ‘Salve’ in return. We are slowly becoming part of the Valley, Living Italy, Australiani yes but welcomed wholeheartedly.

While Sam and his friend were off photographing the fair together, the kids (well just Luca as Carina took off with her girlfriends) and I were free to just wander.

I even sat and had a coffee with two lovely German men at the bar, they were on a ‘boys weekend’ and they couldn’t believe they found an Australian here in the midst of the celebrations.

The faces in these photos are no longer strangers, they are the ones who come over to ask after Carina, the ones who smile and nod at me, the ones who listen to my halting attempts at Italian, the ones who stop for a chat and a joke with Sam.

These are the people that our children go to school with, the ones who have invited us to their homes, to birthday parties, to become a part of the community and celebrate all that is so special and unique about our Valley.

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 Sam has found his mojo and is back behind the camera, we actually met whilst studying photography. He was taking the commercial stream and I was happy in the fine art department. Not a single one of our friends thought we’d last, yet here we are almost 20 years later and still together.

These ‘Live Italy’ posts will be a way to give you an up close and personal view of our life here in the mountains of Northern Italy.

Looking through the photos Sam took at the fair had me laughing at how different our style of photography is. With him being the chef in the family he tends towards the food, and I love the people. I hope you like this little glimpse into Sam’s view of the valley, it’s nice to get a bit of male perspective from time to time.

 

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I’d love to say a huge thank you to our dear friend from Australia who helped Sam find his mojo again. We have big things planned for 2015 and will be filling you in as we progress.

As always I hope you are chasing your own dreams, and if you come to Italy you know where to find us.

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Thinking of visiting Italy next year?

and the gang x

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An Italian Feast – The family embrace us

I think most of you know I don’t cook. My New Year’s Resolutions were among other things to serve an Italian feast like the one from Under the Tuscan Sun. Mi Amore is a marvelous cook, he can turn his hand to any flavor. We eat each night in countries worldwide, that was until I took over the cooking.

Sam has been working nights to help out a friend so it’s been up to me. No need to tell you we are all getting thinner. It’s not so much the cooking that gets me in a muddle rather the shopping in advance. The idea of planning that morning for our evening meal totally throws me.

So with great respect for all those who see the words Italian Feast and don’t tremble with fear, this one’s for you.

We climbed and climbed unsure if we were going the right way. Past the ladies washing clothes in the fontana, through the village and at last the right driveway. This is the family of my father in law, his niece to be exact. He hasn’t been back to Italy since he left age eighteen many years ago. The families have never met, yet we are instantly embraced! It just happens to be her 60th birthday and the entire family are there. Thirty people getting ready for a birthday festa, and us.

The first thing I notice as a novice Aussie who can’t cook is that they have three kitchens. The one we are shown and sit in is the “posh” kitchen for entertaining and show. The real action is taking place through another door, the one that keeps wafting incredible smells every time it swings open.  I am shooed out as soon as I manage to sneak in. Secret Italian women’s business in progress.

The  third and most fascinating of the kitchens is under the house, a tiny dark room with a huge pot hanging on a tripod 0ver an open fire. This is the kitchen presided over by the Nona, all in black and tiny she has something mysterious bubbling away in there.

The other thing that I will never forget about this Italian Feast is the table, it was a table which just kept extending. It ended up seating thirty people. Each time they folded out a new section we all got the giggles. Carina thought it was magic.

Even though I didn’t understand a word the entire evening it was one of the best meals of my life. Everything including the meat was home grown. I’ve never tasted anything like it, a simple meal of many courses but the most incredible flavor.  The food just kept coming along with the vino, kisses for the children, laughter, and a family just shining with love.

An Italian Feast I aspire to one day creating….

ciao and buon appetito…

Has food played a part in your travels?

Signatureand the gang x

 

 

 

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