Adventures with braces in adulthood . . . bring me the meatballs!

. . .  First, let me just say that I am thankful to have the means to even have braces as an adult. Lord knows insurance doesn’t pay a dime for them (they’d rather I be toothless). Second, braces at any age, I’m certain, sucks but there is something truly unglamorous about having a metal smile as a 44 year old woman.

All of that being said, braces are awful. Yes they hurt but that’s ancillary to the aggravation of having to eat soft foods and constantly picking at them to make sure nothing is in them. For a foodie, being restricted to soft, malleable foods is endlessly annoying. Eating chicken or steak is out of the question. Shrimp is too chewy too. I find myself eating a lot of potatoes, ground meat and soup; endless amounts of soup. It’s a good thing I enjoy them. Raw vegetables are out of the question too. Basically, anything that is too crunchy, firm, sticky or chewy is out. I have never brushed my teeth so much in my life. We’re talking five or six times a day.

Here’s something no one told me … they put them on the INSIDE of your teeth too. I have sharp wires with what feels like a rope tethered between to prongs. My tongue is even raw. I don’t guess I have to mention how bad that is for my love life. Shit.

So, I suppose I should use this “challenge” as an opportunity to be creative in the kitchen and find tasty foods that don’t require endless amounts of chewing but are still healthy. I did manage to choke down a salad today. Salads are not good without something crunchy in them. I miss carrots and croutons. Eggs, cheese and lettuce are lovely but so boring and bland.

Okay so I’m being creative. Tonight I made turkey meatballs with Kalamata olives, red peppers and onions, coated in Italian breadcrumbs browned and  then baked. I made a red sauce with onions, mushrooms and served on buccatini pasta. It was very, very, tasty.

I’d post a picture but who needs to see another picture of meatballs. It’s not rocket science or in any way interesting. So, here’s a picture of something much more interesting from my honeymoon. Since it’s so icy and cold outside this image reminds me of warmer days. Wish I could be there now.

The view from our balcony in Amalfi.

The view from our balcony in Amalfi.

Oh the food in Italy!

If you’ve read my earlier posts you may remember that my beautiful husband took me to Paris and Italy for our honeymoon. We spent eight glorious days in arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Amalfi, Italy – View from our hotel balcony. AMAZING!

See. What did I tell you?

One of my favorite parts of the trip, of course, was the food. Oh . . . the food.

Well, aside from getting food poisoning on the plane and throwing up four of the eight hour flight to Paris. There is nothing more romantic than holding both hands over your mouth while frantically looking for a bathroom in the Paris airport. If you’ve been there you’ll know that THERE ARE NO PUBLIC BATHROOMS in the airport and therefore you will have to toss your cookies up into the recycle bin while sympathetic tourists and employees stare aghast at your misery. Let me tell you that a cab ride in Paris with a stomach turning circles is NOT a good time. My first day in Europe was sadly marred by a tummy revolution but I would not let that spoil my attitude. I was in Paris after all. If one has to be vomitus, Paris is not a bad place to do it.

After a long nap and a long walk exploring the streets of Paris we found a bistro to have our first meal. I ordered a penne with gorgonzola sauce. WOW. There are no words to describe how very good it was.

a Paris bistro

Miraculous maybe.

The meal which stands out most for me was a mushroom risotto I had in Firenze. It’s flavors were layered and rich. The serving was huge and I honestly could have eaten more.  The trattoria was called Il Porcospino (the porcupine).

Il Porcospino Trattoria

It’s in a building older than the US. The restaurant is situated in S.Lorenzo neighbourhood, in front of Cappelle Medicee and is on the ground floor of Benci Palace built in the XVI century. It was beautiful!

We ate outside on the sidewalk and were seated next to (not surprisingly) Americans who were preparing to move there. They knew the wait staff and it was so much fun. We talked and drank to much and honestly had one of the best dates we’ve ever had. Here we would have the first Lemoncello of our trip.  We are converts. Yum.

So, the point to this blog was to tell you about my attempt to make risotto. Trader Joe’s had a box of Arborio rice with a recipe. I should have followed Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe.  It was good but lacked the depth and richness of Il Porcospino’s.

What I learned about the food in Europe. Ingredients matter. Fresh is best. Oh my goodness, yes.

I am not a fan of fall.

I realize this is an unusual sentiment. All over Facebook and Pinterest everyone is proclaiming their love of fall and all of it’s trappings. For me it’s just a reminder that cold is coming, the leaves are dying and we’re in for seven to nine months of brown. It reminds of school starting and, sad to say,  I never liked going back to school because summer was too much fun. It reminds me that winter is coming and bringing the cold. I truly dislike being cold.

I will grant that there are some good things associated with fall. I love bonfires, the fireplace and the one week of beautiful fall foliage. I do love the food associated with fall like the squash: pumpkin, butternut, acorn and spaghetti! I love the soups: beef stew, chili and chowder. I love baking pies and breads. It’s all wonderful comfort food that warms the body and spirit. I’ve posted most of my great soup recipes and pies. I suppose it’s time to branch out and try something new. My mother bakes a pear pie every year from her pear harvest. It’s delicate and sweet and a true treat.

I think next spring I’ll plant some fruit trees. Having just come from the Amalfi Coast in Italy I’m inspired to grow even more.

I took this photo while on my honeymoon in Amalfi, Italy. This is just one of the multitude of groves dotting the mountainous countryside.

Kentucky isn’t ideal for lemons but I can certainly plant an apple, cherry or peach tree. I get so frustrated going to the market to buy fresh peaches only to come home and they are bland and mushy. What a treat it would be to pick fresh peaches every summer and fall.

The olive trees grow wild all over the country too. I would have loved to pick a bunch to bring home but I haven’t the first idea of how they make them edible. We did see a couple men harvesting them outside our hotel. That was really fun.

I also must tell you about my amazing husband. He spoiled me rotten by even taking me to Europe. He then managed to add to the spoiling by buying me a belt, two handbags, two pairs of shoes and two bottles of aged balsamic vinegar, one is 12 years old and the other is 20 years old. If I work up the courage to open and eat them I’ll let you know.