Not Long For This World?

When I first moved to Maine, there were seven remaining Shakers at their last surviving settlement in nearby Sabbathday Lake. Now, there are only four. What will be their legacy, asks the Boston Globe, in The Last Ones Standing?

(Previously on MMC... "Apple Saturday".)

Scenes from an Italian Diet: Recipes from the "Sorcerer's Apprentice"

My mother-in-law chuckles and calls me "the Sorcerer's Apprentice." And she's right. In 12 years, I think I've seen her cook following a recipe maybe a half-dozen times...

She comes over to my place however and my glasses are on my nose while my nose is buried in a cookbook perched on my trusty cookbook stand. Beakers, measuring cups, scales and ingredients are everywhere! I'm just missing Mickey Mouse and his broom (which might actually have come in handy at cleanup!)

In all those years, my poor boyfriend-then-husband has rarely had the same dish twice. After all, I've got dozens of cookbooks with hundreds of recipes!! (Not even counting the cooking magazines...) And I practically never cook without one. That is... until now.

On this year's trip to Italy, I embarked upon a diet. This, needless to say, has not been easy! A person whom I at least consider a dear friend queried, "Why would anyone go to Italy and start a diet?!"

Good question. But here the lifestyle is less sedentary, the junk food less obiquitous, and frankly the fruit and veggies are so much fresher tasting here that it's easier to be sated with a good dish that's not too caloric.

Of course, it's also far, far easier to be tempted to keep eating just because it's really, really good. And so far it seems that my diet's been harder on my mother-in-law than me! She's an absolutely wonderful cook (see above!) and loves feeding her loved ones utterly fantastic food. After baby asparagus risotto and sauteed eggplant on the side...

La Suocera: "Would you like some cheese?" (Tantalizingly holds out a platter of only about 5 different kinds...)

Me: "Um... no thanks. I'd better not have any cheese at this point..."

La Suocera: "Okay... (silence) Then how about salami? (pause) Gelato??"

Then there was the day last week when I skipped lunch at their place in order to visit the new Ikea in Padua, and she said, "Darn! And I'd fried you some fresh fish..."

Needless to say, I can't even begin to count calories when I'm there. Not that I'm complaining!! I eat wonderfully at my in-law's house... I just have to limit my courses to, say, the first three or so!! :-)

But at home I have to be more virtuous to compensate. No stockpiling of groceries from the supermarket. (And certainly no Nutella!) I cook with the limited ingredients I either have on hand or I can get fresh that day. Cooking based on the ingredients you have on hand rather than buying lots of ingredients according to a complicated recipe... What a concept!

So, here's my first foray into making my own recipes! Yes, it's pretty simplistic, but - hey - you gotta start somewhere!!

Michelle's Pasta Salad Caprese (serves two)

First of all, you should be sure to have eaten a real insalata caprese (like this one, for example!) in order to get an idea of the tastes we're going for here!

  • 150 grams fusilli (spiral) pasta, cooked al dente and cooled
  • 250 grams (or about 1/2 cup) cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (Note: you can go way heavier on these... they're calorically "cheap"!)
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed (usually about 100 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

    Whisk pesto, olive oil and vinegar into a vinegarette that still tastes more "basilly" than anything else. Toss with remaining ingredients. Serve cold. Enjoy!!

    Calorie count (the best I can figure...)
  • Pasta (about 262 calories per serving)
  • Cherry tomatoes (about 17 calories per 100 grams... total about 43)
  • Lowfat fresh mozzarella (about 79 per serving)
  • Pesto (about 160 calories per serving)
  • Olive Oil (about 119 calories per serving)

Total: about 663 calories per serving!

Wow!... I thought it tasted skinnier than that! Drat!!

Time for the Sorcerer's Apprentice to go back into the kitchen to whip up a new, more dietetic version! (Let's see if we can't get those calories down by half!!)

Oh well... In the meantime, buon appetito!! :-)

"Monopoly replaces play-money with fake credit-cards"?! Just say no! Print your own *official* Monopoly cash here!!


I'm not usually a luddite, but there are a good half dozen reasons why this just ain't right: Boing Boing - "Monopoly replaces play-money with fake credit-cards"!

Say no to rising toy credit card debt and go cash only (without even having to play-hock your little tin car!) Print your own free, real Monopoly money here at!!

As the official website says, "The more money you have, the easier it is to own it all - so print your own! Just click on the image of the money you want to find a whole page-full."

Then you too can enjoy all the fun & games associated with rampant inflation!! Yay!! Enjoy!!!

"A journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly..."

"Dewd! You just gotta love this sushi on demand!!"

It's that time of year again... When, in the great circle of life, Alaskan salmon brave innumerable obstacles to return to the waters where they hatched in order to spawn... while sometimes as many as fifty hungry grizzly bears enjoy a day at the spa, with catering!

Catch the action (so to speak!) live on National Geographic's GrizzlyCam from McNeil River Falls in Alaska!!

Webcam's active between 5 am and 11 pm, Alaskan Standard Time and manned between 1 & 5 pm AST for the best viewing! Enjoy!!

Blogthings - What's Your Learning Style?

You Are a Visual Learner

You tend to remember what you see, and you have a good eye for aesthetics.

You excel at art, design, and computer programming.

You would be an excellent film director - or the next Bill Gates!

Newsflash: Python gulps queen-size electric blanket!

"Ugh... I can't believe I ate the whole thing!" *burp*

Python gulps queen-size electric blanket - Yahoo! News

Blogthings - What's Your Personality Type?

Not a very complex quiz, but fun... I'm apparently "Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging," according to Jung Type Descriptions. I think I'll go become an alternative medicine guru now! :-)

You Are An INFJ

The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.

Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.

You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.

You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.

You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

Italian National Team Comes Home to Good Ol' Fashioned Roman Triumph Fit for an Emperor!

Rome's Tribute to Team Italia!

Tom writes as a comment to my posts on the post-game celebrations of Italy's hard-earned World Cup victory,

"What was the reaction in Venice to the joyous news? Overturned gondolas? Watertaxis burning off the shoulder of Orion?"

Nothing quite so spectacular, other than dancing (and "carousels," wherever possible) in the streets.

But... when the Azzurri landed at the airport outside Rome yesterday, they would first be welcomed with the trademark flyby of the Italian national aeronautics' team, the "Tri-Color Arrows," and then led on a triumphal march into Rome that would have surely made some ancient Roman Emperors insanely jealous!!

Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people lined the entire route back into the city, cheering their pride to be Italian. Once in the city, a double-decker bus took the team on a route not unlike what the returning victorious ancient Roman generals themselves would have used...

And then the grand procession finally arrived at the Circus Maximus, what had been ancient Rome's greatest racetrack! (Remember Ben Hur?) There, over a million people greeted and celebrated the victors!!

For more details and photos, you can read the Repubblica's coverage of the festivities! (Including more video here and here!)

And now, without further ado... the sound of one million people singing "We Are the Champions"!

Viva Italia!!

UPDATED Newsflash: 'Vaporetto 13' to Be Adapted into Movie!

Robert Girardis' 'Vaporetto 13' To Get Adapted

According to the buzz from "Killer Movies" so far, the "storyline revolves around an American industrial diver who has a strange premonition that comes true when he discovers a submerged church in Venice that no one knows about. Church holds a dangerous secret that brings him into contact with an otherworldly woman."

UPDATED: I personally like the line that "the film's style is described as 'a kind of 'Trainspotting' meets Fellini set in decaying Venice," says Liman (the film's producer).

The "Trainspotting" bit might be interesting, but the Felliniesque treatment of a decaying Venice, well, isn't - shall we say - much of a stretch. (I mean, you could set up a webcam in an alley here and automatically get that already, for free!)

Oh, and there wouldn't be the influence of any little movie called the "Da Vinci Code" anywhere in the mix, would there?? Hmm?? (Although, I have to admit, I can't really imagine Langdon in a wetsuit...)

Anyway, best of luck to the producers and director trying to make a film in Venice that's not cliched but still commercial!!

Champions of the World!!!

Italy won! At penalty kicks, no less!!

There's a lot of truth to the fact that a good soccer match - unlike American football and baseball- makes its fans suffer each and every second. Just like last night, until the very last goal!!

But victory is sweet! Check out videos of the grand reaction in Lecco and Treviso, nearby Venice.

But the classic Italian celebration - called a carousel or "carosella" - involves getting whatever motor vehicle is available, and driving giant circles around town, yelling, honking and flag-waving! All night, Italians and their descendants drove carousels all over the globe... You can see a sample on YouTube, but probably the best video I've seen so far was this one in Milan! It's the next best thing to being there... Enjoy!!


Will history be made tonight? It's estimated that over a BILLION people will be watching the finals of the World Cup all over the globe.

Inquiring minds want to know...

These mysteries and others will be answered only at 8 pm, Central European Time (or 1:30 pm Eastern US Time)! Don't miss it!!!!!!!!!!!

Ode to the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Those who scanned my "muses" that I once had at the bottom of my sidebar know I have a soft spot in my heart for T.S. Eliot...

I haven't listened to the (original) poem with such rapt attention for just shy of two decades, at nearly the same age that Eliot was himself when he composed this masterpiece. And now I appreciate it even more as a lovely, bittersweet ode to middle age (as, I suppose, can ironically only be written by a 22 year-old.)

Listen to the poet himself reading the "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". If you're in your 20s or younger, marvel at the words. If you're in your late 30s or older, marvel at the truth in the words.

And how I wish I'd half the talent to produce such a loving satire of the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock like The Love Song Of J. Edgar Goldstein!

Shakespeare on Elm Street!

"To die, to sleep... To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause!"


(BTW, the font, music and graininess are priceless!)