December in Lazio

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December 2nd 2011
Published: December 2nd 2011
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It's December in La Rocchetta, and with the olives long gone, we have been focused on a bunch of different jobs to keep busy in between vacations. We spent the first week back from Firenze preparing the winter garden, which took some work as you can see from the before and after photos. Most of the beds were choked with the weeds and old plant debris, as well as the soaker hoses that kept it fed during the summer. We pulled out and repaired the hoses (with duct tape!), which took some doing with only two of us handling the four pronged 60ft. hoses. After that we spent some time going over the beds with spade, hoe, rake and by hand to pull out all the roots, weeds, dead tomatoes, rocks, and green matter we could find so that the soil would be clean. We turned it to mix in air and nutrients, piled on rich hummus and dirt, and finally, mulched it with leaves and straw on top to keep the topsoil from drying out or freezing and killing the young seeds, once it is cold enough to put them in. It is still insanely warm here, and most of the days are 60-70 in the sun, much too warm for this time of year. Even the roses think it is spring and are trying to bloom. In between all this we moved fresh hummus from the compost pile to a shaded area for next year, weeded the rose beds, and stacked wood for the orange beast, the ravenous stove that keeps us warm on the cold, misty nights. It works fantastically for very little energy, but it burns about a tree a day, and we have to keep a ready supply of wood inside in case it rains for several days at a time. So we cart the wood inside often and when we have time, I split logs with the sledgehammer and the wedge. It's probably the most satisfying change from New Orleans, because as a wine clerk you can't just hit your problems to make them go away. Refreshing. We have also, as always, been fed fantastically during the last several weeks. Whether it is Polenta with liver and onions, fresh pizza, sausages from the farmer across the valley, vegetables from the garden; Claudio's cooking is molto, molto buono. Very very good. Paired with Michelle's homemade bread, our fresh oil and a nice bottle of valpolicello, chianti or Orvieto white, each meal is a feast. When Claudio and Michelle spent a few days at a conference in Rome, we took an opportunity to dust off our own cooking skills. I made a chicken stir-fry with fresh garden peppers and onions, and Dov rocked the challah. Also whenever I feel up to it in the mornings before work we have fried poatatoes with the most fragrant rosemary you could imagine. The food is never complicated, and always fantastic. It makes me excited to garden and begin pesto and tomato sauce making when we return home to New Orleans. Other than food and work, we are slowly making our way through their massive library, between us we have about 15-20 books down and 10,000 to go. If it doesnt rain too much this month, we are planning a trip to Rome to take in the Christmas pagaentry at the Vatican. Dov and I are thinking about everyone back in the States, and looking forward to seeing everyone again in a few months.



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