Autumn’s Adventures

Italian Recipe #2: Basic Pesto and Mint/Arugula Pesto
July 8, 2010, 4:47 am
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Oh my dear lord pesto pesto pesto!  Here I will list 2 variations of the wonderful stuff, both family recipes from this farm.

Basic Pesto


  • Pecorino (sheep) cheese, aged medium – 50-80 grams
  • Parmesan cheese – 50-80 grams
  • Fresh garlic – 3-4 cloves
  • Salt – big pinch
  • Basil – medium sized mixing bowl of fresh leaves (LOTS OF LEAVES)
  • Parsley – a sprig of leaves (about 30-50 stems)
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 3-4 tablespoons
  • Butter – 125 grams (roughly)
  • Walnuts/Pecans – 130 grams
  • Black pepper – big pinch

Mint/Arugula Pesto

Instead of basil and parsley, substitute mint or arugula (don’t put both in the same recipe — it is competing flavors!)

Instead of parmesan you can substitute one quart of ricotta cheese.


mix all together in a blender.  Add cream if the taste is too strong.

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My Egg Dilemma and an Italian Hoedown
June 27, 2010, 8:23 am
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Yesterday Amber and I woke up and started our normal routine of making eggs for breakfast.  I eat about 3 eggs for breakfast every morning and Amber eats 1-2.  Yesterday was special because after we had breakfast, Rita came in and started to collect all of the fresh eggs we collect from the chickens.  She then frantically asked us where all of the fresh eggs had gone and proceeded to ask us if we eat 9 eggs a day.  Amber told her no…only 6 lol.  Rita then freaked out and was like “I need 50 fresh eggs every week because I sell them to a client!”  Shit. We didn’t know.  And we had eaten roughly 40 fresh eggs over 1.5 weeks.  whoops.

She didn’t yell at us, she was just frustrated because she only had 22 eggs and she thought we were only eating 1 egg each per day.  But it really sucks for me because eating farm fresh eggs is one of the main reasons I was happy and excited to be living on a farm.  I was eager to stand behind a chicken, watching it pop out a super fresh egg, still warm even — and rush it to the kitchen to prepare my breakfast.  I mean, it doesn’t get more direct than that!  I LOVED being able to collect my own eggs and eat them right away.  It was the coolest thing ever.  Now, I’m not allowed to eat them at all and it really bums me out.  I can’t even bear the thought of collecting the eggs, knowing some other lucky chap gets to relish in the delight of a farm fresh egg and not me.  I died inside when I realized this fact.

Rita went to the store that day and bought about 5 dozen cheap eggs for us to eat.  I have no idea where in Italy they come from and I am not able to see them pop out of the chicken’s ass.  But I appreciate the thought of her buying them for us, to make sure we can continue to have eggs even though we can’t have the fresh ones.  But I’m still really bummed about the whole thing, and I’m trying to not think about it.

Later on in the evening we had to work in the restaurant for a group of Enrico’s friends who were coming to eat dinner and do line dancing outside!  They cleaned up the patio and set up hay bales and lights and a long table for people to eat.  Amber and I were super excited to watch Italians do American line dancing and we were eager to see what it would be like.

People started to shuffle in and they were all wearing cowboy boots and some form of plaid clothing and jeans.  They were decked out to the T in perfect cowboy attire.  That was freaking amazing.  Then we learned that the line dancing instructor was there and that she was from America — Missouri to be exact.  She was seriously the tallest person in the group, towering over everyone.  She was blond and thin and cute.  We didn’t talk to her at all but she did say a few things in English to let us know where she came from.  We saw that she had a ring on her finger so we were curious if she married an Italian or what brought her to Italy to teach line dancing.  I took some videos that I will be posting at a later time.  For now, here is a funny photo of the dancing — they really try to make line dancing sexier than it is, by shaking their hips a lot and kicking their legs up high. haha

I also tried my first Italian beer.  It was good but I’ll be sticking to Italian wine as much as I can.  Barb and Joe worked the grill all night, preparing some sausages that they made on the farm as well as hot dogs and pork chops.  The ventilator wasn’t working so well so Barb and Joe were sweating up a storm and their eyes were bloodshot from the smoke.  I felt bad for them!

The night as a whole made up for the shitty morning news of no more fresh eggs, so I guess the day balanced itself out.  The moon was full and creamy yellow, the music was hilarious country pop songs and the atmosphere was just perfect.  I kept going over to Amber, wrapping my arm around her and saying, “Can you believe this is our life? This moment right now?”  It really does amaze me, the things I am able to be a part of…

Hay ladies, Hay ladies, Hay!
June 16, 2010, 10:45 am
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It has been raining every day since we arrived and I’m beginning to think I packed all the wrong clothes.  I was expecting hot and humid weather so I packed very light weight clothes, one light sweatshirt and pretty much all tank tops.  I’m freezing my buns off and smelling quite horrid because I have to wear the same sweatshirt every day on my stinky farm body. I’m going to the open air market tomorrow to buy some warmer clothes and thank goodness it’s open air! hehe

I found out today that the meat I had been eating for lunch and dinner the past few days was ostrich meat!  Amber tried the meat today before knowing it was ostrich and she said “I really like this!” and when she found out it was ostrich she made a face and painfully finished the rest. I was so excited to be eating ostrich, of course, and I am waiting for them to say to me “Autumn, you have been an awesome volunteer so here — make an ostrich omelet!”  Can you imagine??? An ostrich egg omelet?  I know the eggs are available at whole foods but there is nothing better than watching it pop out of the ostrich’s butt and plopping it directly into the frying pan.  Ooh la la!

We started today with feeding the horses hay.  You have to make sure they move their heads away when you put the hay in their stable because if they don’t you could accidentally poke them in the eye with the pitchfork and that is the end of that horse.  I enjoyed screaming at them “eh eh eh back back back” lol.  Then I brushed and pet the baby horse for a while.

Our next task was to clean out a small storage room that was full of dirt and old random building supplies and to put a bunch of toys in there that were being stored in the outdoor wood oven where they make pizzas.  There were so many spiderwebs and the floor had about 2 inches of dirt on it but it took only about an hour to clean and organize it.  I hope we get to make wood oven pizzas now that the oven has been cleared away!

For lunch I made tomato and mozzarella salad and also had more antipasto.  It was super delish.

At around 4pm we went to the stables and laid sawdust in one of the rooms to prepare to transfer one of the horses into it.  Then we fed the horses again and even fed the ponies!  It was raining pretty hard all afternoon so I was soaking wet by the time we were finished.  Also, my rubber boots are about 5 sizes too big and have holes in them everywhere, rendering them pretty much useless…so my feet were wet and stinky as well.

Tomorrow is our first day off so Amber and I will go into town and explore.  More adventure to come soon!

First day on the farm
June 15, 2010, 3:48 pm
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Today was our first full day on the farm and it was exactly what I had anticipated — it was awesome.  We woke up kind of late because it was pouring rain and we had stayed up late the night before.  After breakfast we put on our work clothes and headed to the stable to scoop cow poop!  I couldn’t believe that was the first thing I would be doing on the farm and I was totally ready for it with my bandana, pitchfork and mud boots.  It was the dirtiest job I’ve done in my life and I enjoyed every second of it.  But right before the poop, we let the horses out of their stable to run around for the day in the field and forest.  It was such an amazing sight to watch them run freely in a pack — really cool.

After 2 hours of poop scooping and hay laying, we had lunch.  Barbara had cut some prosciutto so I put that on an arugula salad with this amazing pesto mint paste that she had also made. It was literally heaven in my mouth.  Oh, and for breakfast I had eggs and mushroom antipasto.  mmmhmm that’s right.

Our poopy filled boots and hair and clothes needed to come off so Amber and I took showers and chilled for an hour or so before we had to go back out and round up the horses that had escaped from the field and wandered into the woods.  It was totally cool because we were walking along old train tracks and there were wild strawberries along the path as well.  The horses always congregate at the same spot, at the old train station.  So we found them there and it took about 10 minutes to get them to go in the direction that we wanted them to but they finally went.

Once the horses were in, we rounded up the sheep, fed the deer, goats and crazy looking birds and then we were done working for the day!

For dinner Barbara had prepared dough for making pizzas so everyone came together in the kitchen and made their own pizzas and we all hung out and ate pizza together and cracked jokes and had such a wonderful time.  I put antipasto on my pizza and prosciutto because I can’t get enough of it.  This family is so great!  Tomorrow if I have time I will do mini biographies of the family members since I am too tired to that now.

Until tomorrow!!!

My New Adventure – Farming in Italy!
June 15, 2010, 3:26 pm
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So here I am, reviving the blog again for my next adventure — farming in Italy!  I tried to blog while backpacking in Europe but I was all over the place and it was just too hard to organize the millions of things I was seeing into coherent posts.  So onward we go, this new adventure is going to be awesome and well blogged about, so bookmark me!

For those of you who are totally out of the loop, this summer my younger sister and I are farming on a huge farm in a small town, Varese, in Italy in the Lombardy province on the border of Switzerland.  We will be here for 2 months doing random manual farm labor, helping out in the family restaurant and learning italian and how to cook.  We are able to do this almost for free (minus the flight and any random mini trips around Italy that we go on).  The farm experience was made possible as a volunteer exchange program that we are doing through an online community called Helpx.  There is a similar community that works specifically with organic farming called WWOOFING, which is more widely known.  Helpx provides a forum for people who are looking for helpers on projects and helpers looking for people who have projects.  Normally the people looking for helpers will provide food and shelter in exchange for the work.  This is how Amber and I are living in Italy for free and only working about 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The farm we found is called Goccia d’oro Ranch and it is run by a big italian family that speaks very little English (yay for us!).  The farm is part of agriturismo, which is tourism on a farm, a new way of vacationing that is becoming very popular.  They have every animal imaginable on their farm from deer to ducks to ostrich to special chickens with crazy feathers.  They also love breeding Arabian horses, so there are tons of horses on the farm and Amber and I will learn how to ride.

Amber and I arrived yesterday, separately, as I came from Germany visiting my cute boify and she came directly to Milan.  Unfortunately, Amber’s flight was delayed FOREVER and instead of arriving at 12:30 in the afternoon she arrived at 12:30 in the morning!  Poor girl.  You can read her blog to hear all about it.

I arrived by train after 6 hours and entered Varese in the pouring rain, crossing the border into Italy by foot and running to the bus stop only to get soaked in rain and wait for a bus that didn’t come after 45 minutes.  Luckily, Barbara, the woman from the farm, and Robin, a farm helper from New York City, were able to come and pick me up at the border as I tried to dry off.

Robin is the only other helper from Helpx on the farm at the moment but more will be coming as the summer progresses.  There are Irish and British girls coming in July and some dude as well.  And I’m sure more will pop in randomly throughout the summer.  Some will camp outside and some will stay in our big bedroom, equipped with at least 6-8 beds (and a giant antique pool table).

When I first arrived to the farm we drove down this long, steep and stony driveway.  It reminded me of my dad’s driveway to his cabin — I expected rustic and I totally got it.  The farm is secluded from the town and has a fantastic view overlooking green pastures.  The hotel/farm house is huge and beautiful and I was greeted by an enthusiastic and friendly dog named Billy.  Robin showed me around the farm house and we chilled for the night until we went to pick up Amber.  I haven’t taken any pictures of the farm house yet because it was raining and when it wasn’t raining I was working on the farm…so pictures will come eventually.

So far everything is amazing.  The farm, Italy, the people, the food, the animals…I’m so happy Amber and I are finally here and doing this crazy thing, really living the life…