Saturday, August 25, 2007

Still Summer, Family Waves

Not much out of the ordinary, lately, in what is left of this summer. The weather has been hot and humid during the day, unbearably still and sweat-inducing at midday, but it cools down nicely at night. Mosquitoes still roam the land with a vigor when the conditions are right. An ever-present wind has developed, as well. Not too strong, but pretty erratic.

Family time seems to come in waves here. It's impossible to escape. I can't complain much living in the in-laws apartment for the past seven months. Been spending a good deal of time out in the countryside, lately, to the neglect of most of my other interests, particularly the technological ones. I can't say I'm disappointed about it, though. I could be working and cooking my own meals...

Vito is doing fine. He seems to be doing all of the things he's expected to be doing. When he sleeps, he still sucks a non-existent nipple. He looks like a fish. When he's awake, he's captivated by all that is around him. He's learning to handle his rattles and is getting stronger by the day.

Our new apartment is cleaned and ready. We'll be moving in once we find a few more furnishings, such as a closet for the bedroom. Our car is on hold. We thought we found one that was serviceable, but it met with general disapproval. So the process begins again...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Making Tomato Sauce

Busy busy. Barely keeping on top of certain things including this little blog that could, but here I am again with the latest.

After a little cooler temperatures and some wind, the weather has climbed up again. It's still cool at night, which is refreshing.

Making Tomato Sauce - The GangWent to Angela's parent's countryside house on Saturday morning to help them make tomato sauce. Here is the whole gang at work. You can view more pictures of the process here. Angela, Vito and me arrived at about 7:30AM, but the others had started at about 4AM!

First, the tomatoes were boiled in giant pots. When they were sufficiently boiled the tomatoes were transferred to a large, flat, sieve-like container to cool and broken with a large fork. The juice collected from this initial "pressing" was later added to the sauce if it was looking too thick. The tomatoes were then transferred to a large container and rock salt was added. From here, the tomatoes were scooped into a type of industrial funnel. Once in the funnel, the tomatoes were forced into a small hole with a kind of "plunger" or large pestle (this was also my primary job, although I had to take a break to feed Vito at one point). The sauce was forced out of a strainer into a large tub while the skins and seeds emptied into a different container. When a sufficient amount of skins and seeds had been collected, they were put through the strainer a second time and then discarded.

Making Tomato Sauce - Vito & NikolaThe sauce which had come through the strainer and was collecting in the large tub was then poured into bottles by using a tap near the bottom of the tub. Both Angela and me took turns operating the tap. The bottles had been sterilized beforehand and a few leaves of basil had been dropped into each bottle. After filling each bottle a cap was applied. Finally, the bottles were place inside large oil drums, the oil drums were filled with water and then boiled one last time. Once the bottles were set to boil, the process of cleaning up and putting everything away began and, well, you all know how to do those things.

A big messy job—my clothes were splattered with tomato sauce—but everyone had a good time. Angela's family has been making tomato sauce every August for many many years. I had never made tomato sauce before so it was pretty exciting for me. Almost forgot to mention that we sauced 214 kilograms (472 pounds) of tomatoes into about 150 liters (almost 40 gallons)!

More to follow. We procured an apartment today and will begin cleaning and moving into it next week, which is also when we should be getting the car we've been considering. Obviously, pictures and other interactive media to come. Most of Italy is on vacation now so we can't do very much this week.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Festival of Saint Stephen

The weather took a cold and windy turn here over the past few days bringing about a 20°C change in the temperature. It feels like autumn is upon us already, but I suspect things will heat up again soon. It's a welcome variation from the blistering heat of the prior week, though.

We were preoccupied with more activities last week and, happily, spent a good deal of time with the family. Take a look at this nice video of the procession for the festival of Saint Stephen, Putignano's patron saint.

Otherwise, I've been busy. Still having trouble finding the time to keep up with all of my activities. Vito obviously takes the lion's share of time these days and, I believe, my job search has come to an end, but I'll save any announcements until after I sign a contract. My fantasy football draft (I've managed a league for eleven seasons now) began a few days ago, also, and that has sapped some energy and time from me.