The New Year Hath Begun

Snow Photo

Light breaks through the winter landscape for January

By Mary Anna Violi |@MaryAnnaVioli

Knock on wood: five days into the New Year and so far, I have avoided tripping, increased illness, and damage to myself in general. Not only does the temperature remain well below freezing, several mishaps befell me as the previous year drew to a close. Yet I remain confident the weather will warm up to at least above freezing in another week or so, and that I will rebound.

After having spent a wonderful day in Fort Wayne with my aunt, uncle, and cousin visiting from L.A., I drove home in a snow sleet storm. The conversation lively, the food excellent, and the tea and coffee at their home warmed my heart. Their company offered a sweet post-Christmas get together. Later, driving at 40 miles an hour, I didn’t make great time, but I managed to drive us home safely while enduring white out conditions.

As the morning broke, I found myself as sick as could be with a vile virus. Between the terrible cold weather and my overall malaise, I dosed myself with over-the-counter medications in the cabinet. In the wee hours of the morning, I stepped into the bathroom, and promptly tripped over something. I catapulted into the side of the porcelain bathtub on my right shoulder, and then crashed onto the tile floor on my right hip. Failure to turn on the bathroom light, my negligence in not stepping into sturdy slippers, my lack of vision wear, plus items left on the bathroom floor, combined to form a perfect storm of catastrophe. I had taken sinus and congestion medication before retiring for the night, which resulted in fuzzy thought processes, or lack thereof. Or I simply chose not to put away items.

At the risk of sounding like Lazarus, I was in tremendous pain, unable to get off the bathroom floor. EMS guys managed to hoist me up and into a straight back chair. After checking me over and evaluating my walk, they determined nothing had been broken. They suggested taking me for further evaluation at the hospital, but the winter wind whipping around outside held little appeal in my mind to venture out. The EMS personnel and the three firemen offered kind words and compliments about our Christmas decorations and outdoor lights. After they left, I spend the remainder of the night attempting to sleep in a recliner.

Thus, I remained inside during the blustery New Year’s weekend, making use of a heating pad and drinking copious amounts of green tea. It turned out that Coco Chanel, our little black and white cat, had developed a proclivity for the heating pad. Whenever she now sees me plug it in, she races to pounce upon it. We now share it. Last night I had a glass of wine with a slice of Whole Foods pizza. I have imbibed enough tea and water. I am still smarting over not having been able to toast the New Year with a glass of bubbly. Perhaps it is not too late to toast the New Year. Tonight I will fill my glass with the gentle fizz of Prosecco and ring in the New Year. It’s never too late!

Ciao for now.


New Year’s Eve


This delicious chicken noodle soup I made could also work for a post-New Year’s Day repaste. –

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Tonight’s menu is planned: The Barefoot Contessa’s Fettuccine with White Truffle Butter and Mushrooms, Romaine salad with Tuscan olive oil-based dressing, vino bianco, and much good cheer. Finding Italian Truffle Butter is no mean feat; in fact, the only grocery that sells it in this area is Whole Foods, whom I would like to commend on yesterday’s samples of Saint Andre’s Triple Cream French Cheese, served with sun-dried tomatoes. This is one of my favorite French cheeses, so I naturally had to purchase a wedge, particularly since it was on sale, as was the Italian Truffle Butter.

For months I have wanted to make again the Barefoot Contessa’s Fettuccine with White Truffle Butter and Mushrooms recipe, but, alas, Whole Foods didn’t restock the 3.5 ounce Italian Truffle Butter. Now that it has magically reappeared, I will likely buy another. The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe calls for only 3.0 ounces, but I figure what the heck: it’s New Year’s Eve; let’s eat it all! I even viewed the video of Ina Garten making her recipe on the Food Network to make sure I am on track with concocting this delicacy. At the price of the truffle butter and Cremini mushrooms, I don’t want to pull a faux pas with the recipe.

In between times today, we will nosh on cold shrimp and a mild cocktail sauce. On New Year’s Day, a friend is coming over to dine with us. I’ll serve herbed pork tenderloin with baked potatoes topped off with a yogurt and low-fat sour cream, brussel sprouts, and fresh-baked ricotta cheese cookies for dessert. We might as well start 2017 off with nutrition in mind!

I’ve never felt the need to go out and get all liquored up on New Year’s Eve. Why usher in the New Year with a nasty hangover? Instead, I plan to watch a movie that takes place on New Year’s Eve: After the Thin Man, with William Powell, Myrna Loy, and  a young James Stewart. Before the movie spins on the DVD, I’ll be listening to Lena Horne crooning, “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” a sultry rendition that always draws a smile to my face.

With my New Year’s Eve plans in the works, I happily anticipate toasting my daughter with a glass of bubbly at midnight. May your New Year’s Eve be a safe and satisfying one too.

Ciao for now.

Buon Anno! Happy New Year!

The Dragon Sushi Roll and the White Dragon Sushi Roll both tasted delicious!

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

   The door has closed on the previous year, and we now welcome 2016. Fireworks sounded throughout the night in our town. Revelers filled restaurants and bars as midnight approached to herald the New Year. Ours was a quieter celebration, but filled with good cheer, nonetheless.

Around noon I began cooking our classic Italian pasta sauce for our New Year’s Day dinner. This year I used Whole Foods pork sausage, beef chuck and sirloin tips for the meat base. Fresh onion, garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper seasoned the sauce. Simmering away for over eight hours, the sauce will enhance our New Year’s linguine.

We dined at Zing’s, one of our favorite Japanese restaurants during the hours between the lunch and New Year’s Eve dinner patrons. Beginning with appetizers of triangle squares of Scallion Pancakes and “purses” of Crystal Shrimp Dumplings, we delighted also in our Chrysanthemum Flower Tea. We relished the Dragon Roll and White Dragon Roll as we continued to imbibe the unique tea. Taking our time to talk together, and with our personable server, we savored each bite of our repast.

Afterwards, we dashed over to Whole Foods to pick up mixed fresh fruit, and seafood for a late New Year’s Eve kind of snack. We purchased some Tiger Shrimp and a small plank filled with bacon-wrapped Sea Scallops. For a festive dessert, we purchased a small Champagne Truffle Cake and a bottle of bubbly. We put on Nora Ephron’s movie, “Sleepless in Seattle”, and prepared to welcome the New Year. Naturally, we also had to watch Taylor Swift’s new video, “Out of the Woods”, which made its debut last night. Later we retired to read. I immersed myself in one of my Christmas gift books – Rita Mae Brown’s Murder, She Meowed, about villainous events at a racetrack.

Champagne Truffle Cake and a bottle of bubbly helped to ring in the New Year!

This morning we made a scrambled eggs with parsley, dill, onion, and shredded mozzarella. We also indulged in a large cinnamon roll. We washed it all down with David’s Zen Green Tea. This proved a fine prelude to viewing the Tournament of Roses Parade. Now, we will call out of town family members to wish them a Buon Capo d’Anna, and a very Happy New Year!

Valentino wishes you a very Happy New Year!

Ciao for now.