I’m 34,000 feet in the sky again. I seem to be up here a lot. I’m hoping to have a lull again this summer before I embark on a whole new book that I’m about to write, which will require travel which means many more posts from up here. Did I tell you about the new book yet? I will, I have to push the first one out of the nest first.
While I’m up here, I thought I’d tell you about another recipe Grandma Pellegriniand I worked on together for May Day. It included very simple things:
1. Eggs from the chickens outside her door. And when I say outside her door that’s a loose term since sometimes they invite themselves in so they are really in the kitchen.
The other day she emailed me: “The chickens have learned my name; I was out in the garden and heard someone say “Hi Grandma”; I thought it was you, but it was a hen.”
2. Herbs, about 7 kinds, which we gathered from outside and from an herb farm. We took a field trip to the largest herb farm in the country while I was visiting, but that is for another day.
When I said goodbye today, they were all sitting about in my favorite corner of her kitchen as well as on the steps. She has a friend coming over to help her plant them. She’s got this year’s herb garden all sketched out on a piece of paper.
She sent me several ideas for May Day foods while I was visiting, one about the German’s May Wine, made from Sweet Woodruff, and this other one the Italians called “The Seven Virtues.”
In Abruzzo, a minestrone calledle sette virtuis made on May Day from all the leftovers in the larder. It contains seven kinds of leftover dried pasta, seven kinds of dried beans, stock made from seven types of preserved leftovers of pig (such as the feet), seven kinds of fresh vegetables (including artichokes, fennel and fava beans) and seven fresh herbs. In Fruili and Piedmont, the dish to eat on May 1st is frittatta primaverile verde alle sette erbe, a fritatta flavored with sage, parsley, thyme, basil, mint, marjoram and a bitter herb known as amarella.
And since Grandma P. and I were fresh back from the country’s biggest herb farm guess what we did?
No, we didn’t crack seven walnuts with this really awesome nut cracker she has on her cutting counter…
We made a seven herb frittata.
Some of the herbs, like the mint, I was able to harvest from outside. It seems to spread everywhere. And while we’re here, I want to recommend that everyone own rubber shoes. Plaid are the best I think. You can walk around the wet grass and into the chicken coup and then into the city with the same shoe. And you never get your feet wet. Nor do you get manure or a martini on your toes.
She sweated some shallots…
While I chopped the herbs with this nifty bowl and cutter contraption she has.
Then we took a cookie break. Always an important activity while you’re cooking I think.
This is Grandma P. with her hand in the cookie jar.
She said she made these cookies for some college kids in town. I’m not quite sure who they are…
But she decided they weren’t sweet enough for them. I think that’s why she kept them… if my memory serves me. Which it doesn’t always. They looked nice though. Cinnamon and sugar on top!
Then she showed me this very neat whisk that she just got from Amazon. That’s her favorite place to shop these days because it comes right to her door and she doesn’t have to hitch a ride to the store for anything. You just wiggle it with your wrist and it shakes violently. Perfect for beating eggs.
She’s got a lot of methods, like a cart to store all of her essentials so they are at her fingertips.
She said: “I throw things around. People probably think I’m crazy but I’m not.” She’s got a method to everything.
She also can pull off a leopard shirt and a polka dot skirt better than anyone I know. Don’t you think?
And so we whisked and seasoned the eggs…
And sweated the shallots…
Then she whisked some more…
And in went the secret ingredient…
About a tablespoon or so of plain yogurt to give it a little fluff.
And then the herbs…
Into the skillet, oh you know how I love a good skillet…
Then she gave it a bit of a stir, which scrambles it slightly and creates some more fluff…
Then a lid and into the oven for 7 minutes.
She asked what my dad does about sharpening his knives and then told me the story of a knife sharpener who used to come around and sharpen people’s knives for them in the old days. She said he had a special call he would make so you always knew it was him. “It was one of those old time things,” she said.
Do you see why?
And then we ate frittata. It actually got more flavorful as it cooled, which makes it a perfect thing for breakfast or lunch or a picnic.
Give it a try some time!
p.s. The WINNER of the fabulous down home downtown cookbook is posted!
“Seven Herb Frittata”