mercoledì 27 gennaio 2016

As a kid I was hyperactive, or this is what everyone has been telling me growing up. They say I used to run around the room and jump like crazy and my favorite friends were my dogs (Lilla the German Bloodhound, Alex the Maremma Sheepdog and when he was in a good mood Mikey the 'I don't like people that get too close' dog). 
I was what they call here in Italy un maschiaccio, practically a girl that plays, shouts, runs like a boy. I've never liked this label and have always promised myself never to use it with my children because you know what? I wouldn't change anything about those glory days when I used to hide under those bamboo canes growing in my garden and when I couldn't care less about pretty clothes. All that really mattered was to get home as soon as possible, run in the garden and play in my beloved habitat: nature.
Don't get me wrong, I loved being with other kids in school and making friends was no problem for me but I've always liked my peace. Music made me happy but I didn't need it because I would sing to myself and only god knows how much time I used to spend talking and singing to my dogs.

Afternoons would go by and I was out there playing, in the sun and in the rain (or until my mum called me from the house with a very convincing story about how I was going to catch a cold if I didn't listen to her).
Of course, I wouldn't listen the first time so she had to call me pretty much other five or six times. Then I would get in the house and believe me you couldn't see what colour of clothes I was wearing. And that's because I was wearing soil and dirt and once in a while leaves. Glory, glory days.

My mum, the most delicate and feminine woman I know would then get me back to looking like a girl, washed and well dressed.
Just in time for what has been very important for most of the children in the past: merenda.
And what I mean with merenda is that magical time of the day, around four or five in the afternoon when you sit down and enjoy a little something to eat, between lunch and dinner time. 
It could be a slice of bread with butter and jam or a simple pane olio e sale, a slice of italian bread with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

Some kids my age would eat merendine (prepackaged snaks) or pane e nutella (bread and nutella) but my mum never bought those things and I am so thankful, you can't believe how thankful I am.
In my home you could find the best honey and marmalade and fresh bread and milk and all kinds of fruits so merenda was my favorite moment of the day. 

And when the kitchen smelled like cinnamon and apples I was the happiest kid in the world.
Mele cotte is an old fashion merenda and if you ask any italian grandmother she'll tell you about them.
My grandmother Assunta would fill a tray with apples (without cutting them) and then bake them with a little bit of sugar and water and as soon as she took the tray out you could see how tender they had become. We would all sit down and eat them with a teaspoon and I remember thinking how can this taste so good? I mean, in the end we're talking about apples.

This is my mum's recipe, with no sugar but so sweet I still can't believe it's just apples, water and cinnamon.

Mele cotte alla cannella

- I prefer to eat mele cotte when they're cold from the fridge but they're also very good to eat a little bit warm, your choice
- I usually make a large quantity of mele cotte and then store them in the fridge. If well covered they can maintain for 3-4 days


Fuji apples, 8-9
cinnamon, 2 tsp

Peel, core and slice the apples. The slices shouldn't be regular or too thin, just chop them roughly.
Place them in a deep pan and start pouring some water on top, stop half way through the apples.
Sprinkle with 2 tsp of cinnamon and cook over a high heat. When the liquid starts to bubble lower the heat and continue to cook for about 15-20 min, leaving the lid a bit open.
Check the apples once in while and they'll be cooked once you can break them with a teaspoon.
You don't want the liquid to dry out completely because that's where all the cinnamon went.

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