Gardaland Sea Life

As I’ve talked about before, we visited Gardaland and stayed at Gardaland resort this summer. The day we left we first visited Gardaland Sea Life.

This little fella was quite charming

Gardaland Sea Life is a proper aquarium hosting all types of fish and aquatic creatures. For us it was not as entertaining as we thought it might be. It didn’t take us very long to get through the building, and we still felt that it took a little too long. We were getting bored in the end. But the surrounding area quite made up for it. The building seen from the outside was rather stunning.

Strawberry jam

Strawberries are probably the best thing about summer and to preserve them is a way of having that wee bit of summer all year round. I have made tons of jam this year, it’s my very first time trying, but it’s so easy, it’s something I’ll be doing every year!

When making strawberry jam you have two options: you can just mix the strawberries together or you can boil them. The flavours of the two types are very different! I wrote about the easiest version here. Boiling the berries will however preserve them better, have them last longer, and will not be as runny as strawberries that have simply been whisked together. It’s still easy as pie (actually a lot easier than pie…)

Add as many strabwerries as you have to a fitting pot. Strawberries can be fresh, but you can also buy frozen berries. No need to defrost. Add to the pot and place the pot on low heat. Put a lid on and go do whatever you want for half an hour or so. Come back and take the lid off. This will send those wonderful odours travelling around the house giving you memories of summer and sunny days. The strawberries will turn into mush, a lovely pinkish-red mush. For every pound (half a kilo) of berries you have add about 3/4 of a teaspoon worth of agar. After adding the agar you let the mush boil for about two minutes (turn the heat up and make sure to stir often) before you turn the heat way down low again. Add as much sugar as you (or any other type of sweetener) but make sure you taste while adding. You’ll never know just how sweet the berries are without any added sweetener, if you don’t taste! Add the sugar and let it dissolve (it will do so almost immediately).

Leave the jam in the pot and wait until it reaches room-temperature before placing in the fridge. You can also can the jam or freeze it. And what an easy way to have home made fresh jam any time of the year! Enjoy!

Lago di Garda

Autumn is here and the rain has set in. The little heat we had over the summer is disappearing fast and the temperature is just above two digits most of the days (actually ranging between 12 and 17 – but it’s getting cold). I like these days. I’m quite handicapped and have to spend most of my days indoors. The dark cozy evenings that I can spend snuggled up on the sofa with a huge cup of teas I welcome with open arms. And I can always dream about the paradise we visited this summer.

I’ll leave you with a few photos from the Garda lake area. Don’t let the dreary weather get you down!

Preserving berries and fruit

I crave fruit and berries these days. I desperately crave them. And for days I wanted grapes. I found some big juicy grapes at the local supermarket and was thrilled. But the joy was short-lived. With a pregnancy comes superpowers, some are cool, some not so cool. The senses of smell and taste improve immensely! And thus as I put the first grape in my mouth, it was spit out again just as soon. The rest of the grapes were torn from Son’s hands. I could taste the pesticides and yuck that are sprayed upon these delights. The taste was foul! It felt like I was poisoning both myself and Son.

I discussed this with a colleague of mine a few days later. We are both inclined towards buying organically grown fruits and vegs, but juicy grapes and other foreigns fruit are too hard to resist. My colleague explained how she thoroughly cleans all fruit she buys. Especially if it has already travelled the globe.

I came across a tip on pinterest, and have had great success following it. The clue is to rinse all berries in a bowl of water, in which you have added just a tablespoon of regular vinegar. The vinegar helps reduce yeast and bacterias that result in mildew and rot. I tried this with the berries I bought over the summer. I also did it to the berries before making them into jam or ‘saft’. And it works! The berries stay fresher for longer. Now I have started doing the same to all the fruit and vegs I buy that I don’t boil or peal.

The vinegar does leave a hint of smell (that could be just me picking that up, Husband and Son cannot smell it), but by quickly running the fruit under cold water gets rid of that too.

Nostalgia at the funfair

First time I was in Bibione was in 1990. It was our first time in Italy and I was only five. I remember loads from the time there. “Italia ’90” – the FIFA world cup (football, yes) was going on at the time. Italians took football crazy to a whole new level. I’ll never forget.

I remember some of the people we met. Some of them we still keep in touch with and visit every time we’re in Italy. Some were my brothers’ summer flirts, and probably people they never want to be reminded of ever again. The ice-cream, the swimming pool, the food, the heat, the beach, the sea. It was fantastic.

One other thing that clearly stands out is the funfair. I went back some time, probably in the mid nineties, and this year I returned again. And it had not changed a bit! This time I was standing in the shadow of my Son. It was fantastic! He’s younger than I was when I was there for the first time, so he didn’t care as much for the same rides that I simply loved, at age five. I was a little too handicapped to be able to try anything much, but I had my camera with me and stood cheering on the side.  I also walked around and had a look, breathing in the same smells from years gone by and noticed details from a world preserved for decades.