Genius: Pasta

Pasta With Fried Eggs lends itself to different shapes of pasta-www.tangledpasta.net

Pasta With Fried Eggs lends itself to different shapes of pasta-www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

One of the most versatile of Italian foods is pasta. Pasta comes in various shapes, each with its own unique taste. Two of my personal favorites are linguine and rigatoni. Quality of the pasta makes a difference. My own pastas of choice are De Cecco and Whole Foods’ Organic 365. A link to De Cecco’s recipes on its website offers up a number of its pasta offerings with seafood. The De Cecco family founded its pasta business in the Abruzzo region of Italy, along the coast of the Adriatic Sea where fresh catches were readily available.

http://www.dececco.it/us_us/ricettario

Most homemade pastas of yore found the freshly made pasta drying in the sun. Sun drying, coupled with high quality flour and eggs, made all the difference in the taste. Of course, now pasta manufacturers have invented techniques to dry the pasta for mass-market consumption, attempting not to sacrifice taste and quality. Certainly De Cecco pasta has succeeded in this regard.

One of my preferred go-to pasta recipes is from Mark Bittman, of the Cooking section of The New York Times. I usually make a recipe as is the first time, and then I add my variations on the theme. Bittman recently opted to consume less meat; now quite a few of his recipes work for vegetarians. Part of the beauty of pasta is that a cook can raid the pantry and refrigerator to concoct lunch or dinner. I even know those who eat pasta for breakfast! Italian pasta pretty much tolerates most ingredients a cook throws at it, although ketchup as a “sauce” may offend one’s cultivated pasta palate!

Spaghetti With Fried Eggs

By Mark Bittman [with my variations]

 Ingredients                                                  

Salt

½ pound thin spaghetti [or linguine]

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed [or onion granules]

4 eggs

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino [or Grana Padano] cheese[Green vegetable such as broccolini or broccoli florets or fresh spinach or peas]

Preparation

 Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta when the water boils. Follow the package directions for how long to cook the pasta until it is al dente.

Start making the sauce.

Combine garlic [if using onion granules, add these to the eggs] and 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic and press it into the oil to release its flavor; it should barely color on both sides. Remove the garlic, and add the remaining olive oil.

Fry the eggs gently in the olive oil until the whites are about set and the yolks are still quite runny. Drain the pasta. Toss the pasta with the eggs [and onion granules if not using garlic] and olive oil. The eggs will finish cooking in the heat of the pasta. Season with pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Serve with the Italian cheese, and with a green vegetable.

Buon appetito!

Ciao for now.

 

 

Writing Spirited Constellations

Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Ponte Vecchio bridge across Arno River in the evening Florence Italy – One of my favorite places in la bella firenze! – http://www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Several individuals have asked me how I manage to write, given that I work full-time. The answer I usually give is that I have no social life! This is only partially true, for I am neither hermit, nor social misfit by any means!

I derive great satisfaction out of writing. It provides a creative outlet of endless possibilities for me. After work, I may dine out with a friend about once every other week. Generally on the weekends, I may get together with friends for an evening. Somehow I manage to write around these gatherings. This weekend, for example, is devoted exclusively to writing. Friday after work, I filled up the gas tank at Costco, and then I stepped into the store itself ostensibly for one item, yet managed to emerge with fresh mozzarella, spicy avocado hummus, blueberries, mixed fresh fruit [mango, strawberries, melon], celery [to be stuffed with the hummus], pierogies –something I rarely eat [filled with kale, potato, and lemon], and cheese pizza. Noshing my way through Costco after work on Friday relaxes me, as did the glass of Pinot Grigio with a slice of pizza at home, which relaxed me further.

To write a novel demands uninterrupted time. I cannot focus with a barrage of e-mail, texts, phone calls, or the neighbor’s country music distracting my attention. I respond when I take a writing break. Figuring out characters, plots, dialogue, and the narrative itself require my full attention. When I know, or when I am able to spontaneously get together with friends, I plan my writing time around these events. This holds true for holidays, celebrations, and vacations [something I have not had in nearly two years].

The first book in the Spirited Constellations series came together fairly quickly – in about three months. A steady dose of winter blizzards helped enormously in this regard. I holed up at home and wrote and wrote and wrote over snow days from work, and on blessed weekends. Now I find myself longing for winters filled with inclement weather to keep me steady with writing. If I resided in Montana, I am sure I could write more than a book or two during those kinds of winters!

While I am writing the third book in the Spirited Constellations series, I have been developing another series quite different from my paranormal one. The first book in that series is completed, and the second one is nearly so. Another series is swirling around in my head, yet I have not put pen to paper. But I will soon enough. And then there is that memoir I in the works, too.

Throughout my life I have been comfortable working solo; I don’t require an entourage around me. I do not need to map out my week with social appointments. When I get together with friends, it means more because those moments are rare. Writing is a solitary activity, one that I embrace.

Ciao for now.

 

 

Spirited Constellations: Travels

Spirited Constellations: Travels is now available in paperback! - www.tangledpasta.net

Spirited Constellations: Travels is now available in paperback! – http://www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Spread the word:  Spirited Constellations: Travels is now available in paperback on Amazon!

MURDER. MUSIC. LUST.

Theodora D’Medici turned her floundering bookshop business into a thriving enterprise. Previously magical thinking had realized her past into her present. Now it has turned her present into the past in Italy as she finds herself trapped in a time travel with her modern-day insatiable lover and with her phantom lover.

Spirited Constellations: Travels is the second installment in a series of adult paranormal romance novels. If you like lusty heroines and provocative themes, then you will embrace Mary Anna Violi’s powerful vision of a world beyond Earth where rules of love and sex no longer apply. When Theodora attempts to come to terms with the time travel experience, and her real life lover and with her phantom lover, she finds that carnal knowledge can unleash forbidden pleasure when licentious attitudes rule.

Here is the link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spirited-Constellations-Travels-Mary-Violi/dp/1534752579/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467837355&sr=8-1&keywords=Mary+Anna+Violi

Thank you for your patronage and happy reading!

Ciao for now.

 

 

Happy Birthday to You!

With a raspberry filling, how can a Whole Foods birthday cake taste bad?-www.tangledpasta.net

With a raspberry filling, how can a Whole Foods birthday cake taste bad?-www.tangledpasta.net

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

This morning I awakened to a Facebook notification: Today is Anjelica Violi’s Birthday! As if I could forget, but thanks anyway FB!

My darling dark-haired, brown-eyed girl is now a young woman who graduated from Law School in May 2016. She now hits the lectures and books as she hunkers down prepping for the Bar Exam. Her structure, study focus, and organization amaze me. Maybe I should not be surprised. As a toddler she manifested powers of concentration. I attributed this to her Montessori schooling, but the reality was it’s how she’s built. She concentrated for great lengths of time studying birds in the backyard, and then drawing them. Insects such as grasshoppers also fascinated her; she drew them, too. When she majored in Journalism and Classical Studies, I was not surprised. Those fields also demand powers of concentration and attention to detail, her forte.

Yet where have these past 25 years gone? To paraphrase Maria Montessori, a child disappears into an adult. Indeed. Every phase of her evolution, from birth on, has been a joyful adventure. I reckon I haven’t missed much of it. The first day of Montessori school, I pulled up to the entrance where the smiling directress greeted us. Off walked my little girl hand in hand with the cheerful directress. I drove to the end of the parking lot and I wept, for I knew at that moment life would irrevocably change. Now others would also influence her, in positive ways I hoped, but the world had now invaded our tight-knit family sphere. However, I knew full well she had to learn to live in the world, that I wanted her to breathe freely and develop her own ideas. What I did not want to see altered was the essence of her: Funny, kind-hearted, insightful, and a whole strings of other attributes.

What she has developed is a generally right calling a spade a spade detector. She doesn’t suffer fools well. While her radar is still in its evolutionary stage, it hums along quite well. Four years at IU Bloomington afforded her an education both inside and outside of the classroom. Pledging a sorority and living with 150+ females enlightened her no end. She gained knowledge of people and of the world, and made steadfast friends.

And then there was Law School. She came into her own in these past three years, fiercely forward in her thinking, committed to making a difference in the world for the better. I see the spirit of her grandparents and their “can do” attitude in her. I see how she chafes under the yoke of the “let’s play it safe” notion of conservative thinking. Instead, she asks “Why not?” She brims with youthful zeal and vigor. No, I would not have missed her Becoming Anjelica for a moment.

Happy, Happy 4th of July Birthday, My Beloved Daughter! Cent’ anni [100 years] with Love!

Ciao for now.

 

 

 

A Learning Curve

IMG_5014

Spirited Constellations: Travels is now published and released as an e-book and will be released this week as a paperback book!-www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

A humble learning experience may enlighten us towards the path of enhanced knowledge. It may even serve as an illuminating moment in the annals of our minds and souls. Zen it may sound, yet thanks to my talented and brilliant graphic artist, the road to Indie Publishing is slowly becoming less opaque to me.

As much as I would so very much like to share his name, I have promised him I would not. In these past months, he has taught me much about the fluid world of publishing. One of the greatest lessons gleaned from him is the complexity of transferring a manuscript from Microsoft Word [full of encryptions] to Scrivener [which choked on the Word encryptions], ultimately casting aside Scrivener in lieu of PressBooks [part of WordPress where my very own blog is located]. Other steps are involved, but the aforementioned serve as rudimentary stepping-stones that move towards the published book.

Next on the horizon appears the ubiquitous PDF of the manuscript. Sometimes a well proof read manuscript becomes corrupted. A hazardous result may be viewed as the author reads again, albeit this time in the PDF, errors that did not manifest themselves even after the careful work of a professional copyeditor and the umpteenth reading of the manuscript by the author. After my first book, Spirited Constellations, published shortly before December 25, 2015, much to my chagrin, had errors that were not evident in the original manuscript.

This is why a Second Edition of Spirited Constellations will be available this week on Amazon and through Createspace. Ultimately it is my sole responsibility to make sure the published book is as error-free as possible. While I find mistakes in “good editions” of Jane Austen’s books [gasp!], in several textbooks I require in my classes, and why Julia Child flipped out over errors in Mastering the Art of French Cooking [the First Edition], in the end, I humbly point out that we are humans, not computers, proof-reading our work.

I  ruminated obsessively over my second book, Spirited Constellations: Travels because I want it to be as right as possible in readers’ hands. At the IU Writers’ Conference the first week of June 2016, I spoke at length with a prolific author who won a huge book contest in his genre, landed a contract, quite his computer architect job, and has been writing full-time for the past several years. He informed me that even with copy editors and copywriters, he still has to go over his work with a fine-toothed comb. It is laborious work, but he underscored that  at the end of the day it is his work.

Now I am much improved at tuning at the cacophony of daily life, the job that pays the bills, the distractions of social media, and my lack of focus at the end of a workday. Instead, I strive to attend to my writing and boning up on what the graphic artist imparts to me. He knows that some of what he shares I may not understand the first time around, but he knows he can drum it into my head until it sticks. Patience should be his middle name.

Ciao for now.

 

Spirited Constellations: Travels

Spirited Constellations: Travels is now published and available on Amazon! -www.tangledpasta.net

Spirited Constellations: Travels is now published and available on Amazon! -www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaViolli

Spirited Constellations: Travels

Hear ye! Hear ye! The second book in my Spirited Constellations series is now available on Amazon!

Purchase the e-book version of Spirited Constellations: Travels for the introductory price of $.99 for one week on Amazon and with Prime!

Spirited Constellations: Travels is a paranormal romance. In this second book in the series, Theodora D’Medici, her lover Danny Caruso, and her Phantom lover Giorgio Bellacqua travel back in time to Italy.

May your reading of Spirited Constellations: Travels be out of this world!

Thank you and Happy Reading!

Ciao for now

 

 

The IU Writers’ Conference

The second edition of my  first book, Spirited Constellations, will be published this week, as will my second book, Spirited Constellations: Travels. -tangledpasta.net

The second edition of my first book, Spirited Constellations, will be published this week, as will my second book in the series,  Spirited Constellations: Travels. -tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

I’m back. Valentino the black cat is once again putting on a full Broadway production to hurry me into serving him his Fancy Feast Primavera breakfast. Chanel, the black and white cat, seconds his enthusiasm. I don’t mind returning to my cats; they’re cool. After nearly a week at the IU Writers’ Conference surrounded by writers and the accompanying intellectual stimuli, returning to the mundane dulls the brain, and I do not mean the cats.

At the Writers’ Conference, I struck up conversation well-published author Wesley Chu. He shared with me his satisfaction of writing full-time. His winning over 6,000 entrants in a British book contest, thereby landing him a book contract, made this possible. He did not relate this history to me in a superior sort of way; rather, he relayed it in a matter of fact manner. A prolific writer, he is living the dream most writers can only envision. I purchased one of his books, asking him for a suggestion about where to start reading in his author’s list. The book is very, very good.

I also spoke at length with another award-winning author, Salvatore Scibona. He and I spoke in Italian about food, recipes, and books, pretty much in that order. While he is not as prolific an author as Wesley Chu, Salvatore writes about one book on an average of every eight years. His invigorating class on language, mind, and words heightened my already orbiting awareness of the critical use of words in my writing.

However, unchartered territory awakened in me throughout Amelia Martens’ class on prose poetry, which sounded like a literary oxymoron. She led us to explore prose poetry’s “resilient, subversive fluidity.” The more prose poetry we read, including hers, the more intrigued I became. Inspired, I began working on an epistle form of prose poetry that first day of the conference. By the time open reading night loomed large, after agonizing over revisions throughout the conference, I read my prose poem to the crowd at the Serendipity in Bloomington. I am generally unfazed by public performances, but by putting my new work in an arena in which I had never written previously, terrified me. Yet I plucked up my courage, took deep breaths, and jumped in the foray. Once in front of the audience, I summoned up my performance know how. Afterwards, Amelia urged me to keep writing prose poetry since I have a talent for it! Who would have thought it? Not I.

One of the most invigorating things about a writers’ conference is the synergy, the exploration new ways and means that revitalize the imagination. Surrounded by talented writers awakens creative muses within me. The art of writing satisfies a need in me, much like my vocal studies and performance did. I cannot imagine doing anything else. As I gaze down the time tunnel, I see light at its end, not death, but a full-time writing life in my imminent future with Valentino and Chanel in tow.

Ciao for now.

An Italian Café

 

Go To Go by Lucrezia 's Bruschetta Duo tasted delicious!-www.tangledpasta.net

Go To Go by Lucrezia ‘s Bruschetta Duo tasted delicious!-www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

This Memorial Day weekend, my plans included time with my newly minted Law graduate. Whilst she is fully engaged in studying for the Bar Exam, Anjelica carved out time for an afternoon for us to kick back and catch up.

We decided to explore a small bistro I had not yet been to: Good To Go by Lucrezia. One of my all time favorite places to dine is at Lucrezia Café and Restaurant in Chesterton. Good To Go by Lucrezia carries sublime artisanal olive oils and vinegars like its parent café. One of the draws for me was that Good To Go immediately reminded me of a small, tucked away café in Venice and Rome I frequented on my sojourns to Italy. The dark wood interior, faux granite countertops, bistro tables and chairs, with a bar-lined wall on one side and an oil and vinegar selections lining the other, gives a charming Italian vibe, except in Italy these dining gems use marble countertops and often tabletops as well.

Good To Go by Lucrezia’s luncheon menu provided us with an eclectic assortment from which to choose. We selected the following for our leisurely luncheon: Inko’s unsweetened Blueberry ice tea; I drank the White Lemon. We ordered a Small Plate of the Bruschetta Duo with Salsa Cruda and Roasted Vegetables. It was like a riff on caponata with artisanal olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I decided on the Triple Cheese Panini with French Gruyère, Vermont Cheddar, and American cheese with onions sautéed in Balsamic vinegar, served on 13-grain whole wheat bread with butter infused EVOO. Included was a side of coleslaw, which I normally dislike, but Good To Go’s was made with oil and vinegar. Tasty. A great mug of the soup of the day, Italian Wedding Soup, was also included. For her section, Anjelica chose the Apple Artisan Flatbread made with fresh sliced apples, whole milk Mozzarella, and Amish Gorgonzola was topped with a fresh arugula and chopped walnut salad with the house walnut infused EVOO.

Check out the lunch and dinner menus at http://goodtogobylucrezia.com/. The café is located at 54 W. Lincolnway, Valparaiso IN 46383; phone 219.286.7668; fax 219.286.7669; web address: goodtogobylucrezia.com. It is well worth the drive. Buon appetito!

Ciao for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classical Music’s Glass Ceiling

Women composers of classical music shine in a new book. -www.tangledpasta.net

Women composers of classical music shine in a new book. -www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Years ago as a voice major at IU Bloomington, I remember in music literature and in music history classes hearing about compositions by Fanny Mendelssohn, ­­Felix’s sister. The professor lauded her talent, but said that Fanny was not as famous as her brother Felix because not much of her work had been published. The reasons behind this are explained in Anna Beer’s new book Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music. NPR’s Rachel Martin had a fascinating interview with Anna Beer about her book at: http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2016/05/22/478734604/sounds-and-sweet-airs-remembers-the-forgotten-women-of-classical-music?refresh=true

In Music Literature, I recall listening to a composition by Nadia Boulanger, the famous French composer, conductor, and champion of musicians. I do not, however, recollect any mention of her sister Lili Boulanger, a composer in her own right. Riveting in Beer’s book is the story of Barbara Strozzi, a Baroque Venetian singer and composer who took the surname of her Venetian patron/pimp because she was uncertain who her biological father was. Part of this courtesan’s performance for wealthy patrons was to sing erotic songs. At least Barbara was a prolific composer whose work was published.

Not unlike contentious elections today, there is a backlash directed towards women. Maybe men fear someone with a vagina [it’s dark “in there”] being elected to high political office [a man’s penis is more visible]. It is fine to have women on the Supreme Court, in the Senate, and in the House, but not in the White House. Yet Margaret Thatcher ran England for years; Angela Merkel has been at the helm of Germany for a lot of years, too. In classical music, Beer points out that even Clara Schumann, wife of Robert, the famous composer who went mad and ultimately committed suicide, was an accomplished pianist and composer in her own right. Brahms admired her greatly. He was rumored to have been in love with her. Neither Brahms’ supposed unrequited love, nor her husband Robert Schumann’s encouragement of her work got her well published.

It seems to be the age-old issue: Even with famous husbands and friends, women fail to receive their due. Perhaps because men and conservative women wish females to remain “angels in the kitchen” under male protection that creative women in classical music are still marginalized. They are promoted and supported, but how many females, with the exception of the late, great Beverly Sills run opera houses? Sills’ beloved New York City Opera vacated its Lincoln Center home of 50 years due to financial woes [opera is not cheap to run], and has been suffering ever since. The late Sarah Caldwell founded the Opera Company of Boston and she was both its director and its conductor for over thirty years. She was able to attract renowned singers Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, John Vickers, and Placido Domingo to perform with her Opera Company of Boston.The late Carol Fox was one of the founders of Chicago’s Lyric Opera; Ardis Krainik took over until 1997 and ran it until her death. Her successor was a man. Soprano Renée Fleming became Chicago Lyric Opera’s  first musical consultant in 2010, but she is not the manager who actually runs the show.

Classical music abounds with female performers of brilliance as conductors, composers, and performers. One of the few modern-day female conductors in the U.S. is Sebrina Maria Alfonso, Music Director of the South Florida Symphony, http://southfloridagaynews.com/Music/lesbian-conductor-breaks-down-barriers-in-classical-music-world.html.

Thanks to author Anna Beer, Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women in Classical Music sheds light on intellectually brave and creative women who continued composing and performing in spite of restrictive societal roles thrust upon them. They are “forgotten women” no more.

Ciao for now.

 

 

May 14, 2016

Anjelica Violi, J.D., May 14, 2016 - www.tangledpasta.net

Anjelica Violi, J.D., May 14, 2016 – http://www.tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

She did it! She graduated from Valparaiso School of Law, Class of 2016. She smiled the entire day, throughout the ceremony, reception, photos, luncheon, cake, and gifts. She deserved all of the happiness and joy. She had earned it every step of the way throughout the past three intensive years and internship summers.

Last night in the quiet of her abode as we talked, I shared with her my admiration of her accomplishments. My stance has long been to be the support, her cheerleader, but not her career path dictator. She has to decide the course of her life, not I. I told my darling daughter how courageous she has always has been, how she has always stood firm, and followed the path she decided would be hers. It has not always been a smooth journey, she has experienced doubts, anxieties, and confusion along the way, but her grit and determination have paid off time and time again.

Her choosing the local public over private high school, selecting IU Bloomington over the smaller private universities, pursuing degrees in Journalism and Classical Studies, and a minor in Art History, and then recruitment in a campus based sorority, were enormous decisions for this once shy child of mine.

And then, in her third year at IU, she announced to me she was going to take the LSAT and go to Law School.

Having taken a battery of career placement test in the spring of her junior year of high school, the renowned, Indianapolis based career counselor met with us to discuss in depth the results. After analyzing and interpreting the data, he announced what she would pursue at the graduate level.

“Graduate level?” asked an incredulous Anjelica. “I haven’t even graduated from high school!”

“No matter,” he replied. “You will get an undergraduate degree, and then,” he paused dramatically, “you will get a Law Degree.”

“What? You’re joking!” She was stunned.

“No joke,” he said. “It will happen. You. Law School.”

I reminded her of this conversation she had forgotten. Last night I brought up what he had said eight years ago. She smiled.

She smiled throughout the day.-www.tangledpasta.net

The new  J.D. graduate smiled throughout the day.-www.tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After eight years of stifling traditional elementary school, she breathed more freely in high school. At IU Bloomington, she truly came into her own through journalism, leadership in the sorority, via volunteerism at the campus Museum of Art, the Union Board, serving on the Student Judicial Board, and her decision of Law School.

The Law student organizations opened doors for her through the Women’s Law Student Association; Amnesty International; Phi Alpha Delta; and writing for the Law Blog. Holding offices in several of these organizations further honed her leadership skills. She has always been passionate about victims’ rights, animal rights, and human rights overall. On the Trial Advocacy Team she competed nationally. Her moral courage, compassion, leadership, strength of conviction, intelligence, humor, and heart have flourished, and will, I know, stand her in good stead as she continues to evolve.

The white cake with raspberry filling was delicious! - www.tangledpasta.net

The white cake with raspberry filling was delicious! – http://www.tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, as she sets her sites on the Bar Exam at the end of July, and turns her attention to the intensive kick-ass Bar Prep course, her command of what it takes to get her where she wants to be in Law will steer her onwards. She comes from a long line of self-starters and visionaries imbued with ideals.

I cannot help but smile over my daughter, my shining star.

Ciao for now.