Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Tuscan meal and the first part of my Kitchen reveal

Today I invite you into my kitchen to not only reveal our updates but also to share in a meal.
They say visual presentation is the first taste sensation to the palate and hopefully how you feel.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
~Virginia Woolf~

But of course no meal invite planned and made with love should ever meet without a pretty arranged floral bouquet...
I hope you find amusement in my photo essay and take away some fondness of my attempt to engage you in culinary play.

"Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower."
~William Feather~

"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."

(Crepe filled with asparagus rolled in a garlic herb cheese sauce and served with Ruffino Posecco)

My dreams imagine life in a hill town in Tuscany as the region is shaped on the map like an abstract heart,
A crepe appetizer of late Spring called "Crespelle agli Asparagi" is first course and where our meal will start.

"People who love to eat are always the best people."
~Julia Child~

For me it's not the kitchen that ever takes center stage, it's all about the theatre in preparing a meal.
Ingredients enhanced by herbs and spices layering favors in taste and how eating it makes you feel.

It becomes a symphony of rhythmic sounds while the hand gracefully flies during chopping and slicing...
Or during the sheer bliss of a spatula in hand forming soft peaks in a homemade cake that you are icing.

A quote from Elizabeth Edwards I proudly display which has become my motto in life.

I took a photo of a photo from a Italian Regional cookbook, I have always loved this picture of Tuscany.

(mixed baby greens with roasted golden beets, chopped plum tomatoes and shaved Reggiano Parmigano ... tossed lightly in a lemon, pepper and extra virgin olive oil dressing)

Tuscan recipes are classic simplicity ... evoking a world defined by poets and artisans, no elaborate sauces or gravies to enhance or disguise the food.
Just a rustic clarity of a simple harvest with very few ingredients to transform a meal in appearance and ultimately set an enjoyable culinary mood.

I find irresistible charm in setting a table to welcome my guests and highlight a special meal to express my culinary intention.
I carefully plan the menu, fresh seasonal ingredients are foremost but cutlery, dishes and glasses never meet with in attention.

The planning and preparation is truly when the kitchen for me enchantingly transforms into the heart of our home.
I delight in dining out to experience ethnic tastes- but even then my mind races back home where my creativity loves to roam.

I enjoy reflections that catch you by surprise during your hurried day,
they bring unexpected beauty into your mind's eye as you pass by the way.

I try to prepare food daily that not only nurtures but also feeds our soul...
steeped in ethnic traditions of family pride, oftentimes simply served in a bowl.

(Tuscan Shrimp with White cannelloni beans, sun dried tomatoes in a garlicky cream sauce with herbs over Lemon Pepper Parradelle pasta. Rosé Domaine La Rabiotte wine from Provence)

"Age and glasses of wine should never be counted."

Be it decaffeinated or regular please enjoy a cup of Cappuccino and a Biscotti cookie before we say goodbye and I wish you a good day.
I truly appreciate your visit and invite you back again soon, so we can once again have fun and play, please say that will be perfectly okay.

I thank you for joining me today in part 1 of our kitchen update reveal, as our beams are lime waxed and finished in our garage and await scheduling with Nic for their installation. To say we are excited is an understatement as we hope it will be soon. Part 2 will complete my Kitchen post reveal with many more photos.

Appreciation of food has been such an important part of my life and although I don't like the word "foodie" in some ways I just may be. All the recipes featured have been adapted by me and if you want any of my Tuscan recipes please ask in your comments and I will provide them. I do not consider myself a food or wine snob/expert just an apprentice in appreciation of taste and a student in living a good life.


"So how was the cruise Dad?" "OMG ... the deserts were the best!"
~ my brother Kevin and my Dad Mike ~

"You don't have to finish dinner... save room for dessert, it's really good!"
~ My Dad's advice to EVERYONE ~

"So remember be it Savory or Sweet, food is a blessing in life and should be enjoyed as an appreciated treat."

~ me - Vera ~


  1. Oh wow, Vera! I hope you've set an extra spot in your kitchen, as I am headed over to share in your wonderful feast:) I just loved your post, and getting little glimpses of your kitchen reveal. Like you, food is a very important part of my life, not just the eating, put the planning and preparation. I can almost smell that basil from here:) And I am drooling over the shrimp and pasta. A year ago now we were in Italy on the Amalfi Coast, so your photos of Tuscany bring back many happy memories! Salute!

  2. Set another plate, I'm coming over! Everything looks so delicious and your presentation is beautiful. This post made me all warm, cozy and nurtured.
    I love that quote by EE. I cried all the way thru her book.
    Now will you please pass that bread and olive oil? And the rest of your beautiful meal? Truly, I'm salivating. Love the napkin and the spoon by your cappuccino, too. xo, T.

  3. Wish I could visit in person, Vera. That spread looks sooooooo delish! The kitchen looks fabulous too.

  4. Hi Vera, okay, what time should I arrive for dinner. LOL Love this meal you prepared and the gorgeous presentation that make it perfect. Seeing the little peeks of your kitchen reveal was fun too.
    Being raised by two fabulous rustic Italian cooks, food was very important. My grandmother and mother were exceptional and I can only hope to be a fourth of the wonderful cooks they were.
    I also love the quote by Elizabeth Edwards. The cappuccino with the biscotti is the perfect end to a fabulous meal. Thank you for sharing and looking forward to seeing more of your kitchen reveal.
    Have a nice evening my friend. Hugs, CM

  5. Oh Vera....What a delightful post! The sneak peak at your kitchen was fun, and your food presentations were fabulous!!
    The shrimp and pasta dish looks, and sounds absolutely out of this world!
    You really take care to make sure everything is perfect when serving your guests.
    Love this post, Vera!

  6. Dear Vera,

    What a delightfully delicious visit to your beautiful new kitchen and its many tempting treats! I love everything you've featured in your menu, and I miss the sweet beets and tomatoes from Crete already. Your savoury crepes wrapped around my beloved spring vegetable, asparagus, was a wonderful surprise, and the shrimp with beans and pasta looks scrumptious! I adore the way you described the little, subtle touches of spreading a creamy frosting, or chopping and slicing various tasty ingredients - sounds like a symphony of culinary joy!

    Thanks for the gorgeous photos, too, that illustrate this post appealing to all our human senses!

    Wishing you a whimsical Wednesday!


  7. Oh the kitchen is looking so chic. Of course the food looks amazing. I could see myself devouring your shrimp entree. I wish I have more people to cook for. I truly do. I too enjoy the whole presentations and the process of preparing a meal with a glass of champagne and some good music. I can't wait to see the rest of your kitchen, Vera!

  8. Your kitchen looks great, love the cabinets. And, those asparagus treats look delicious!

  9. Vera I've enjoyed this post so much. So lovely

  10. Good evening Vera; I am still in Carmel, having dined well and sleeping very comfortably! The seafood and Italian food here is splendid, and YOUR presentation is making me want one more great meal before we leave on Thursday.

    My favorite cuisines in this order are:

    1. ITALIAN!
    2. Southern French (Provençal)

    I can eat Italian every day, forever. Your presentations are lovely and thank you for the invitation.

    Wishing you a relaxed and wonderful evening dear friend! Anita

  11. Yum Vera and how beautiful all this food is. I could almost smell it through the computer. So happy you are enjoying creating such delightful meals in your new kitchen. I know once you get the beams in it will look so great. I wish I lived closer I would so be on your doorstep for this wonderful meal and for the wonderful company. Yum!

  12. Oh VERA, thank you for the cyber dinner party it was delicious:)
    You know presentation is important with a fine meal, yet cooking in that new kitchen has got to make you feel all about that.... The culinary chef that you are :)
    I love the cabinets with the slats, they would be white over here, but then again I may end up faux ing them giving them that French kitchen feel.

    That new counter is all about living in perfect union with the senses of taste, and smells in creating beauty everywhere from the counters up. I can wait for the beams to be installed and let the dinner parties begin with your friends and the ooooh's and awwww's from the beauty you created, it's going to feel like a modern country feel to your wonderful home, like eating in a european cafe of fine dinning.

    You know VERA! You need to do a cookbook, one filled with all yours and family recipes, your French car as a foto, your history of your row home and the ones of friends, as well as some of your poetry on the headers of the foto's in short.
    I would expect an autographed copy of course. Yes! Self publish, get an agent and make is unique... Kind of like cold homes of Rustic French, rustic Tuscany, country living modern, and flea market chic.... You know a cookbook with a little help from your friends. It would be a hit, you would have it all covered, entertaining, poetry, history of where you cook in that row home, and hey Throw in a foto of John's blackened FISH lol! You know John your Chef husband, ooop's Not! You could even do gathered foods your friends love to prepare:)

    Looking forward to the beams, the would house proud foto's and your up and coming cookbook :)

    Love all you share here, and by the way as I told you about your French knives, that I have them as well.... Well, I almost bought them with the horn look handles, and then opted for the all stainless steal look! That Bee on it needs to be showed off in your next foodie post, perhaps a dessert post with your crepes and the French iron you prepare them on.

    See you soon,

    VERA, the sub-zero Glass front perfect choice.... Dreaming of one myself.

    See you soon.

    Bon Appetite


  13. Ooops. * old homes of rustic, not cold homes lol!


  14. Oh, and forgot to mention that iron grate with the pots hanging against the wall on your counter, I love it, and need to find one for myself, it's a great size, I sold a large gate in my retail store here and do regret it now, yet another piece that would not fit.
    Talk soon dear.


  15. Wild Lady Woooolf was sooo right. This HAS to be one of the main parts of life! To be cultured. Vera, your menu is PERFECT! Hmmmm. I will stay until the end and have a cappuccino as well :))
    And this Parmigiano Reggiano Slices, I love to see them so much - and to eat them, of course.
    Asparagus, yesss, Pesto... Wild herbs...
    I have been walking through the macchia, collecting caperi... I have been there, in italy, knowing this all so well. Eating all this on an ancient raw wooden table, hering the cicadas...
    You are catching this spirit.
    So, thank you for this invitation, ohhh, have a good time and enjoy, dear Vera -
    Hugs from Méa

  16. The kitchen is beautiful Vera and you have captured the warmth you desired.
    The food is so tempting the gerber flowers a finishing touch.
    And I agree with Dore a cookbook would be your chance to share all those treasured recipes.
    What time is lunch in your delightful slice of Tuscany?
    Susan x

  17. Seriously. Amazing. It is 7am-ish here, and I just want to scoot my chair up and enjoy this beautiful meal with you. :)
    Looking forward to your kitchen reveal.

  18. Lovely. A wonderful beginning to my day. Your dishes look scrumptious, Vera, and this first poetic look at your kitchen is delightful. We're very fond of salads; your golden beet and greens salad has my mouth watering. I make an arugula, roasted beet and goat cheese salad with balsamic vinaigrette that is divine. Have a perfectly fabulous day! xo ~ Nancy

  19. Beautiful, Vera. Just perfect! Such rich colors, the food and the decor. I love the checkerboard pattern on the wall with the floral cabinet and the angel wings hanging from the knob. The glass doored refrigerator is perfect, because you can see what you need. I love how you share the richness of life. I will have to try a salad with beets since my daughter loves them, as well as parmesan. xoox Su

  20. It's 10:30 and I am now ready for dinner. We have a leisurely day planned so I am going to show your pictures to Steve. I think he needs to spend some time in the kitchen creating a gorgeous meal. I'll take the time to set a lovely table.

    Can't wait to see the entire kitchen finished.

  21. A lovely meal, Vera! I enjoy the preparation maybe a bit more than the actual dining---I think maybe many cooks feel that way. So having a gorgeous kitchen like yours must make the whole process immensely enjoyable.

    The food: Oh, yes...bring on the recipes! The crepe wrapped asparagus looks enticing! And shrimp with beans...my mouth is watering!

    Your kitchen: I can only think it will be stunning just by seeing a few parts of it and getting the whole 'vibe' with your pictures. I am in awe of your cabinets, I started to wonder if I might have something similar in the numerous catalogs I have for the lake kitchen. Then I thought-no, I'm sure Vera and John had them custom made.

    So, I'm waiting impatiently long with everyone else to see the full reveal. I have to admit that another delicious meal like this might ties us over until then!! :)

    Jane x

  22. A delicious Tuscan feast! Burrp! See you on July 19th.


  23. Dear Vera,
    I feel like I am in Tuscany! This is such a beautiful meal. The Crepe filled with asparagus looks so good, and your kitchen is simply gorgeous... Love the cabinets and all the details... You have presented this meal with such style..
    Thank you so much for the dinner invitation.

  24. Vera, you have made such a lovely meal, I think that I can smell it from here! I love your kitchen cabinets, and the decorr on your wall. What a fun place to prepare food. Love it. Jo

  25. Hi, Vera - Congratulations on your beautiful new kitchen!! It's warm and stylish, and I look forward to seeing more. And that salad, how yummy and summery!!

  26. You really know how to get those tastebuds working, Vera! Your Tuscan meal is certainly a work of art, and I know the flavors are delicate yet so savory together. And doesn't everything taste even better and enjoyed to the fullest in a beautiful kitchen like yours with such a lovely presentation.
    Mary Alice

  27. On my goodness Vera, by the time I was finished reading this post I could practically taste all those delectable dishes! The crepes look mouthwatering as do the Tuscan shrimp. A cup of cappuccino accompanied by a biscotti is the perfect finale to a perfect meal. Doesn't get any better than that. Now I will have to look for those recipes on epicurious! The intriguing little glimpses that you've given us of your new kitchen show that it's warm and inviting and the perfect place to enjoy a meal. Your countertops are just beautiful and I love the color and style of cabinets that you've selected. Looking forward to seeing more!

  28. This truly was a delight for the senses Vera. The asparagus crepes sound so wonderful that this is a must try for me.
    Every detail in your new kitchen is remarkable. It is beautiful!..and i can't wait to see more.
    I am rather plain in my meal preparation and I need to take a page from your book. I was raised in rural Idaho all my life and since I married a farmer turned police officer (then after retirement) back to farming and ranching, we live rather simply and eat the same way. I need to change my way of thinking, I guess, and make meals more special.
    Thank's for the inspiration!
    sending hugs...

  29. Vera, Tuscany recipes, how yummy. You know, Italian food is my favorite. The crepe filled asparagus with cheese sauce looks delicious. Your kitchen is very charming, and I noticed the tea pot with the bird, how sweet. I've never seen one so cute before. The Parradelle pasta looks amazing, and I love sun dried tomatoes. It's so nice that you have an appreciation for food. The girls eat many different cultural dishes on their many travels. Your "food is a blessing" quote is very special.

    What a wonderful post today on the various Tuscany recipes you shared. Have a pleasant weekend.


  30. A lovely, classic Tuscan meal. Simple, but so thoughtfully prepared and beautifully presented.

  31. Oh, my, Vera...the parts of the kitchen I can see is so beautiful.
    Your food...whew....just awesome. I could never make those delicious sounding dishes...you, my dear, are a REAL cook...I am so semi-homemade, my name should be Sandra Lee. :)
    Beautiful post...photos are so awesome and your words, as always, just beautiful.

  32. Vera,
    First, I am delighted that we have met. We share a passion for many of the same things. Good food, prepared tenderly, lovingly and carefully in a well appointed and beautiful Kitchen. Carefully chosen wines and I too enjoy a glass or two of Prosecco. Salads...oh yes a salad, with the freshest of ingredients.
    Beautiful entertaining, with a spirit of panache, enjoyed this journey with you and your photography!