I met an Italian man and decided to follow him home. I married him in 2008 and haven't been home since. I'm learning about how to be Italian even though I'm originally from Oregon. I like to cook, knit, paint, make music, and invent kitchen tools.

  • Location: Modena, Italia
  • Favorite foods: Meat and crunchy salad greens. Fried fish. Jujubes and Pomegranates. Carnation Malted Milk. Hot Pockets. Oregon berries and produce.
  • Last bite on earth: Peppered Beef Jerky.

New York Style Pizza Sauce

Well, Americans LOVE to put sugar in everything. Thats why Italian style pizza sauce has no sugar and New York style pizza sauce does. High Fructose Corn Syrup makes it into all kinds of crazy savory things in the US. I don't see why sugar can't be in pizza sauce with a title that doesn't claim to be Italian.

Animal Slaughter...Have you?! Would you?!

I come from a hunting family where getting a couple of deer or a good sized elk meant awesome things for the winter. I learned how to properly skin and quarter a deer before I got my first training bra. Myself, my sister, and my 5 brothers were all raised knowing where meat comes from and what has to happen to get that steak on the table. Bones and organs went back out into the woods for other animals to feed on and continue the cycle. Hide was my granddad's hobby-fodder. You have no idea how proud I felt when, with my granddad's help, I got my first jackrabbit, skinned it, cleaned it, and served it to my family for supper.

In Our Community Corner: Meet Kimberly Pope (aka: 'PoorOldMama')


Secrets from the Host Stand: 10 Things a Restaurant Host Wishes They Could Tell You

Wow... If I were a hostess serving half of the commenters on this thread I'd be ready to complain, too. Apparently one's dollar bill is more important than being considerate and informed. How about you all give vaseline as parting gifts when you leave restaurants so that the staff can stick it up their hoo haas a little easier?

If you win Powerball today...

I'd fly home to Oregon, buy tickets for anyone else who wants to come to come with me, I'd buy a small fleet of decent motorhomes for us all to go around in, and we'd spend a couple of months driving around Oregon eating just about everything like a swarm of foodie-locusts pillaging and consuming everything in our path. I'd then spot for the gym memberships of those who put on weight during that time.

In Our Community Corner: Meet Diana Horst (aka 'dhorst')

Great article! I think we need a shot of the flour, though. I don't think I've ever seen that much flour in a home setting before!

Help Cheesemakers Affected by the Earthquake in Modena, Italy

I'll call and see whats up...

Help Cheesemakers Affected by the Earthquake in Modena, Italy

I would be MORE than glad to help. Google Translate usually does a decent job if you keep it simple. If you contact them via e-mail and they don't understand I would be extremely happy to give you a short e-mail text that will work. Most of them will speak English, though. You may want to first write in English and under that copy and paste the googleized text for safe measure. If I can help in any way, you can contact me via e-mail at

Where is BitchinFixin's fact, making a phone call right now. Let's see if we can't get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Where is BitchinFixin's

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and thoughtfulness! I have the address and telephone and e-mail address of the two Grana producers that I know of on my work e-mail, so I will have to wait until Monday, but Kenji believe you me; you'll be getting that e-mail at 8:30am Central European Time!

I feel so useful!

Where is BitchinFixin's

::sniffle:: Boobird, way to make my day! Thank you for your thoughts. We're all OK, just pretty shaken up. We're only about 15 miles from Mirandola/Finale Emilia where they epicenters of the earthquakes are. The first big earthquake on the 20th we were near to Ferrara, much closer, and we were shaken out of bed at 4 in the morning with thing flying off the walls, furnature moving, broken glass and everything. This Tueday morning at 9am we were evacuated from our office building because there was another strong earthquake and a second one around 1pm. I've been home from work all week because of the damage to the whole complex. We get more than 40 aftershocks per day anywhere on the ricther scale between 2.0 and 4.5. Sleep doesn't come easy. But we're OK. No one is hurt. Pictures can be reframed, stucco can be patched, dishes can be replaced, and sleep will come again soon enough.

I want to make sure that everyone knows that many parmigiano reggiano and grana padano producers have been damaged, some are in pieces. We bought a wheel of grana padano that is broken and in pieces from falling off of a shelf. The producer is in Casumaro (FE). There are many, and if you e-mail them and offer to pay for the cheese and the shipping they will ship you broken cheese that is still good to eat at a discounted price because its not all the way seasoned but still delicious. Its important to step up to the plate and help where we can even if its just buying a piece of cheese. These are profits that would be lost if people didn't help out. If anyone is interested I'd be glad to give SE the contact information to distribute.

Also, for anyone in Europe and Italy, we have more than 14,000 homeless in Emilia Romagna thanks to the earthquakes. Please send water and tents to Finale Emilia, Mirandola, Cavezzo, Mirabello, San Carlo, and Sant Agostino. We're helping where we can, but there isn't much more that we can do besides giving water and blankets and tents because our apartment is so small. Again, if anyone is interested, I can post more information.

Thanks again, Boobird. ::hug::

A Whole New Serious Eats

I give the new site a 'Meh.' and an 'Interesting choices'. Its good enough. It works. The bugs aren't punching anyone in the crotch and the new font will take some getting used to. Its your website. I just read it. But! Something interesting that maybe I missed in the comments if someone had noticed also: With how many likes you kids have on facebook, how many trips to Europe and fancy bakery trips your team can afford, how many expensive knives you keep in the SE kitchen; before the change I thought hundreds... if not THOUSANDS... of people read SE. When I saw how many reads were in the corner of the picture of the most popular current articles, it really downsized SE for me. I was thinking that there were lurkers who read and enjoyed the heck out of the articles without feeling much need to participate in the comments. I think choosing to add the number of reads is a bit of a mistake. It could be that I'm just reading into things too much...

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

...shouldn't be that hard to remember since he is cool this very moment.

14 Quick and Easy Cheese Dip Variations

Fun Fact: In Italian; Muffa (Pronounced Moo-Fuh) means Mold (like what grows on leftovers after a couple too many days in the fridge).

With whom do you drink?

CandiRisk, yes. Yes it does. And rightfully so.

The Urban Gardener, Part One: An Introduction

I'm doing a garden for the third year in a row and every year I have the same problem. My plants grow about half way then start going yellow and crunchy on the edges of the leaves and everything goes yellow and starts dying. I've tried different soils, I've tried fertilizers, I've tried EMORMOUS containers more than 10 gallons in capacity, I tried changing the watering, even distilled water, and I get ZERO yield. This year I'm trying to see if my plants get too much sun since last year I took my plants to my inlaws and they sat under a tree and grew enormous. I just don't get it. I don't get it at all. If it happens again this year I'll probably just give up.

What's your secret snacking obsession?

I sprinkle a LOT of Carnation Malted Milk Powder on vanilla icecream.

I toss chocolate chips and hot popcorn together.

Mixed pickles with a fork straight out of the jar, and drink the pickle juice.

Bread+Mustard. Lots and lots of mustard. I think I have a vinegar addiction.

Where is a good place to meet girls?

...are you trolling? I don't get it.

Sunday Supper: Grilled Spaghetti with Meatballs

I'm seriously skeptical of grilled pasta. When it comes to pasta the last thing I would want is chewiness.

Baking Challenge

My advice is to make 3 or 4 different kinds of cookies. Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip, Sugar, and Peanutbutter. But make the dough ahead of time and roll the dough into logs and store in wax paper in the freezer. When you're ready to marathon-bake, the night before put your doughs in the freezer to let them soften up a little. That way you can slice your cookies out instead of spooning them out, you'll have portion control, and it'll cut your pan reload time in half. You'll have all of the dough done so you can focus on schilling out all of those cookies.

Or you can do Sables! There was a great recipe the other day for Vanilla Bean Sables here on SE that looked wonderful and the ingredients are pretty standard. You can even to savory Sables! The process in the same... chill and slice.

Are you up to the OMG Challenge?

I think perhaps this person has Serious Eats confused with Man vs. Food. Someone get this fellow the address to Adam Richman's blog and get him the hell outta here!

Your next food project

Yeast things are intimidating to me because I've seen so many yeasty bread monsters flowing out of the oven door on TV that I pretty much don't even want to try. It seems like yeast could potentially ruin your oven if you use too much. In my region of Italy I can't find yeast in packets. It comes in bricks that kind of look like bouillon cubes. I'm terrified of using too much or too little.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

One of the coolest sets of photos for the SEWHQ series. I really enjoyed the heck out of these ones! I just want to hug each and every one of you.

Your next food project

Something with Yeast. I'm super intimidated by yeast. It seems like something so easy to screw up... I've always wanted to bake bread at home, but I'm afraid that if I get over my fear of yeast that I will bake and eat bread all the time and gain another 15lbs.

First time cooking for the SO

It might sound silly, but to me; nothing is more impressive than pan-fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and peas'n'pearls. The mash you can do ahead, the peas'n'pearls are easy. The only space consuming item will be the skillet full of chicken. I think that it ignites the 'Home Cooked Meal' vibe in a way that not much else can. Its a pretty inexpensive meal to prepare, and the leftover will be amazing.

With whom do you drink?

After a long workweek; I'm enjoying a glass or three of wine while my husband is at his Aikido lesson. I usually don't drink alone but its really nice to have my ass plopped on the sofa with a bottle of Sangiovese and a glass to pour it in.

Do you drink alone? Exclusively with friends? Socially? After a long day/week? When do you enjoy a 'drink-y-poo' most?

Punishable proceedures

My entire childhood I was TERRIFIED of spinach. It scared the buhjeezis out of me. The opening of the can... the smell that came from the can... the used up looking spinach inside... it really did not look like something I wanted to eat. It wasn't until college that I finally brought myself to eat spinach at a friend's house. Her mother had cleaned fresh spinach, wilted it with a little garlic and chili oil, and that was it. After that moment, I decided that canning spinach should be punishable by a swift kick to each shin with steel-toed boots.

What do people do to food that you think should be punishable? What punishment would you give for the action? What terrible thing that people do to food should be punishable by a dropkick to the groin?

Off Brand/Thrift groceries/Store Brands

We often hear about gourmet things and specialty items on Serious Eats. Thanks to Serious Eats I know people who have eaten Foie which makes me feel cool. I know that while some people can still eat Foie these days, others are tightening their belts thanks to the job crisis and single income or low income families. Thanks to the job crisis, my husband and I do most of our shopping at EuroSpin; a place that doesn't have name brands but all things made within a single country's distance from here. Made in Italy, Germany, Austria, or Slovenia (my favorite place in Europe). We've found that their dairy products are FAR superior than what we find in the Supermarket. Their coffee is good, their canned foods and preserved fruits and vegetables are awesome, and their vegetables might not be pretty but they're great quality. Through trial and error we've understood what kinds of products we need to buy there to save money, and what we need to buy at the Supermarket.

Do you shop at discount stores to save money? What kinds of things have you found around that are not known brands that are better than the usual brands? Do you buy groceries in more than one place like I do?

Feelin' SUPER classy...

This evening my husband and I went to the grocery store for a bottle of wine that cost a little more than our usual 2 buck chuck. We came home with a really nice 6 euro Nero D'Avola. Popped it open, sniffed it, tasted it, tasted it with some salty snacks, and its awesome. I laughed out loud when I realized we would be eating cheese filled Frankfurters on white bread buns with potato chips for supper tonight. How classy is THAT!?

Any favorites in your 'extra classy' department? Serve Natural Ice at a dinner party? Plate a gorgeous strawberry shortcake in Cool Whip Bowls? Eat McDonald's in a tux?

How do you say 'Thank You' with food?

We often hear about people in hospitals or injuries or illnesses and the people in their lives who want to do something special for them to let them know they care. This is a concept that I hold very dear to me because food is one of the things that I do best and with the most love. But what about when someone does something for you and you want to say Thank You?

Last week the father of one of my English students came to my rescue at their house when I left the lights on and my car battery went dead. I'm taking him and his family a big bag of cookies as a little something to thank them.
A few weeks ago one of my husband's co-workers went out of his way to take my husband's phone calls and handle some things so he could take me to a doctor's appointment. I sent my husband to work the next day with home made pear and strawberry hand pies to share with his co-worker.

How do you say Thank You?


I've been making a lot more Chinese/SE Asian food at home lately. We realized that a fork and a knife aren't always the best tools for some of these dishes if you don't want sauce all over your shirt. I was considering buying us our own set of household chopsticks, but I really don't want to be one of those silly westerners with geishas painted all over our chopsticks. I'd like something I can put in the dishwasher, something that won't warp after a while, and in a set of 6 or 8 so we can use them for dinner parties, as well. WHAT SAY YE SERIOUS EATERS!?

Alternative Proteins

After looking through the comments of the recent video posted on killing and preparing Iguana, I got to thinking about the kinds of meats I was raised on. Because I grew up on a farm in rural Oregon, we weren't stuck with just Chicken, Pork, Fish and Beef. We often ate Goat and Sheep, Duck, Rabbit, Wild Game, Pheasent, Guinea Fowl... A few times (after scaring the hell out of myself or my grandmother) my granddad killed a rattlesnake near or in our barn. We ate them because it would have been a terrible waste to just let the Coyotes have it. I really enjoyed Alligator when we were on vacation in Florida. Here in Italy is common to eat Horse, Donkey, and Wild Boar.

Whats the stigma behind eating other animals besides the ones you can always find in the grocery store? Why is it such a disgusting thought? I don't eat horse because I grew up with horses and horses are working animals, but whats so bad about Iguana or Snake?

Please don't respond with nastiness. I don't want to hear a bunch of 'UGH WHATS YOUR PROBLEM' kind of things. We're grownups here.


I've made some pret-ty big mistakes in my time, but none are more hilarious than some that have happened in my kitchen. Especially before I properly labeled my spice containers.

One pretty hilarious incident happened when my close friend from back home in Oregon came to visit me here in Italy. All of my store bought spices are labeled in Italian, naturally, and she wanted very much to bake me an apple pie. Without smelling the spices first, she thought that Cipolla in Polvere meant Ginger Powder instead of Onion Powder. So it wasn't until after the whole filling was mixed together and started smelling like onion that she called me into the kitchen and asked me how to fix it. After LOLing like you wouldn't believe we tried to wash off the apple pieces and start over. She re-did the spices and filling, baked the pie, and it STILL came out smelling and tasting terribly like Onion. I muscled down a slice to make her feel good but when she left I threw the whole pie out.

What are your best kitchen oopsie moments?

I can't believe I ate the WHOLE THING... :-(

The other day I asked a few friends what were foods that they could schnorfle down in 2.5 seconds and never leave a lick of evidence. A lot of people mentioned ripe fruit and potato chips. But now my question is what are the foods that you usually find yourself eating until you make yourself sick?

For me I think it would be berries... like... wake up in a berry patch with a purple mouth and a belly ache.

Food Lessons... Whodathunkit?

I've learned a lot of things since moving to Italy from Oregon. Things like Salame isn't cooked. Yes yes yes, I know. It seems pretty obvious to you, but while I never thought to myself that salame is cooked; it also never occured to me that its raw ground up meat and spices encased, strung up, and hung out to dry and MOLD for a while.

What was the biggest food lesson that you've learned? Did you have a celestial epiphany? Did you immediately have to call someone and tell them what you'd learned? Did you feel like an idiot for not realizing it before?

Lunch Pail Envy

When I was still in the states and changing oil for a living; all of the guys I used to work with got so envious of my lunches after a while that they started paying me to bring lunch for everyone. Then when I moved to Italy and started teaching English my colleagues would always barge into my classroom at lunchtime to see what I'd brought that day. Apparently anything more than a sandwich and a soda is a big deal. And forget the holidays...

Anyone ever hound you for your lunch? I know Dhorst brings cakes and pies to her colleagues. Do you take pride in spoiling the crap out of your co-workers? Do you do your best to make the most out of your lunch break even if it makes your office green with envy?

Buckwheat (NOT the weird kid from Little Rascals...)

I have been doing some reading on Buckwheat. Sounds to me its something that everyone should be eating! With all of the nutritional benefits, dietary fiber, and effects on high blood pressure and cholesterol I'm surprised its not a more used ingredient. Its even gluten free! I don't have a gluten intolerance, but I'd really like to start using buckwheat for more than just pancakes.

How do you use Buckwheat besides in Pancakes?

Epic Maple Syrup

My husband recently went to Montreal for work and came home with a 250ml bottle of Organic, 100% Maple Syrup. Its so gorgeous... The color is perfect, its very liquid so you can tell that there isn't anything added (and the label says its 100% maple Syrup), and it must have been expensive. This isn't the kind of maple syrup that you pour on pancakes, so I'd like to try to use it in a way that will really honor the good stuff. How can I use it without wasting it and really get the most out of it? Liquor? Candy? Icing for cake?

Making truffles

So I've decided to make some truffles for my husband even though we really don't celebrate valentines day (because its a waste of a good set of dinner reservations and money, we don't need a special day blah blah blah...). But every recipe I find makes like 50 truffles but I'm chubby enough as it is, I don't need to be eating all of the extras. Can someone point me to a SMALL BATCH recipe for ganache truffles?

Winter Greens

So I'm exploring some new vegetables. I went to my fruit and vegetable guy and he said that in the winter Turnip Greens and Chard are really popular and are very tasty. They just so happened to be super cheap, too. So I got some.

Do you only eat the leaves? Thats a BIG vegetable to only eat the leaves. Turnip Greens have bunches of buds on them... Can you eat 'em? I'm looking for vegetarian preparations, but most of the recipes I'm seeing for both Chard and Turnip Greens involve bacon. Is there a reason?

I call shenanigans!

So since I lost my job I've been watching a lot of TV. Let's say 'more than usual'. I saw a TV program on the National Geographic channel today where people in the UK who have 'food aversions' have to go through therapy in order to eat like a normal human being. They have to set a goal, and then do everything possible to reach it.
Today the lady on the show wouldn't eat anything wet. She made excuses like 'Ugh it repulses me. It looks so gloppy and wet and unappetizing'. She would try something, literally gag, and spit it out. Thanks to her diet, this woman has been to the hospital to have hemrroids removes TWICE. Most of her diet was potato chips, cheese, and crackers. ZERO fruit and vegetables. Absolutely nothing hot. And thanks to her behavior, her daughters were obese and had assumed their mother's eating issues.
Do you believe this is actually possible? Or do you believe that its just people who are unwilling to eat things that they aren't familiar with? Stubbornness? Or just plain old fashioned BS?

How to counteract bitterness in Tea

So today I finally got up the courage to go into an Asian Market. I got all kinds of cool stuff, including some Ku Ding Tea (I was looking for it because I'm looking into natural ways to lower my bloodpressure). I've come to understand that its bitter and sweet at the same time. Is there anything I can blend it with or add to it to counter the bitterness?

Ceramic-coated pots and pans

Christmas is a time of plenty, but also a time of deeply seeded confusion. People give gifts that are expensive without thinking to themselves 'Oh, well, I hope this is good stuff! Maybe I should do some research before I purchase...' *sigh*... So I have a reasonably expensive set of new Bialetti Aeternum pots and pans with that fancy schmancy 'nano-ceramic coating'. I immediately went to to look at reviews and while some people were THRILLED, others were devastated. I read that the coating comes off after two weeks of use? Whats this all about? How can I prevent it? Were these people doing something wrong that can easily be avoided? Do YOU have pots and pans with ceramic coating?


Thats 'Happy Christmas Eve Guys/Gals' in Italian. Here in Italy we're only a half an hour away from Christmas Eve and tonight I'm enjoying one of 4 Dr. Peppers that a dear friend of mine sent me in the mail as a Christmas gift.

What are you drinking in these special days that is making you feel festive? Nog? Toddy? A tall glass of frosty beer? Hot Apple Cider? Vin Brulée?


The dish from the black lagoon.

Every year we go to my husband's grandparent's house for Christmas dinner. 90% of the things that she cooks are AWESOME. Everything savory that she makes is pure gold. Then dessert comes and the 'zuppa inglese' that she has prepares is FLORESCENT pink, studded with slivered amaretto infused almonds, and reeking of cheap Liquore di Amarena and Rum. Its supposed to be kind of like a tiramisu only instead of coffee its liquore and intead of chocolate its boozy cherries. Sounds good, right? Usually, it is. But hers will make you fail a breathalizer test after the first bite. Its TERRIBLE. After the first time I learned my lesson and went straight to coffee.

What dish do you dread every year? Do you feel pressured to eat it? Ever get caught feeding something terrible to the dog? Did the dog ever REFUSE to eat something terrible under the table?

Foreign Guests and the Foreigner Belt

I'm American and I live in Italy. We have friends over about once a month for dinner and I always make American/Tex-Mex food because not only is it what I do best, but its stuff that they've never tried before. If you had foreign guests in your home, what typical American dishes (or dishes from wherever you live) would you cook for your guests?

If you put on the Foreigner Belt and didn't want to be 'Cold as Ice', what would you bring as a gift to your local 'Hot Blooded' hosts from your area?

And yes... I am a child of the 80's.

Serious Eats Apparel.

How cool would it be to have a Serious Eats t-shirt or shopping bag? Pins, mugs, aprons... I know I would LOVE it!

Lets get some ideas for SE merch! I know the SE kids need Christmas Bonuses, and what better way to do it than makin' some extra moolah dressing its community? Just THINK of all of the happy spouses out there who will FINALLY have a fool proof gift idea for their other half's upcoming birthday/generic winter holiday?

Missing out for a lifetime thanks to one innocent mistake.

I have Crohn's disease, a lot of you know. But when I was 11, we didn't know yet and I often had bad stomach pain and other symptoms. I remember watching Emeril's TV show on the Food Network one evening after school and I was feeling it hardcore, so my Mom suggested I make some ginger tea. I knew that on TV when tea is made ingredients are let to steep in boiling water, strained, and then that becomes a fancy gourmet tea experience. So I took my Mom's whole ginger root, chopped off a couple hunks, added a slice of lemon, and boiled the HELL out of it for about 10 minutes. I poured my cup of 'tea', let it cool, took a BIG OL' GULP and thought, oh, I guess I should finish it but its SO GROSS. So I finished it, then after about 5 minutes, puked my guts out and I now can't stand even the slightest HINT of ginger. Just thinking about it makes me ill.

What mistakes have you made in the kitchen that still effect you to this day?

Jumped the gun a bit.

So I I ordered my Turkey for tomorrow (yes, I know... I like in Italy so my Thanksgiving will be on Sunday). Its a fresh bird and I'll get it tomorrow evening. How can I keep my bird good to go until brine-ing time Saturday? Will it go bad in the fridge or in a cooler with ice packs?

Crunch Time/Stomach Training

I'm pretty sure there has already been a topic on this in the past; but with so many new Serious Eaters coming and going I thought that since we're under a week away from the BIG DAY, I'd like to know what you eat to prepare yourself for Thanksgiving. For example: I'm the youngest of 7 kids and we always bought a pound each of purple grapes the day before Thanksgiving. We'd eat our grapes the night before to 'stretch out' our stomachs for the special eating event to come. We don't know if it actually worked, it probably didn't, but tradition is tradition.

Do you fast? Eat salads for a week? Purify yourself before you embark upon the great turkey dismantling? Or do you forcefeed yourself to make eating a lot a normal thing for your body?

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