My Secret Escape in Abruzzo

Collecorvino is a little hill village in the hinterland of Pescara, not far from the sea and with stunning views on the high mountains of the Monti Sibillini National Park.

I have never been for a stay in the Abruzzo region, though it is one of the most ‘original’ ones. I chose the upper part around Pescara and ended up again in one of the most beautiful places I could imagine: Collecorvino.

I came here via Pisa where I brought a friend to his family. He will stay there for a while and go back to Germany by train, while my stay is much shorter. I wanted to have a look to see if I would like to start a second home here in the region.

The place to stay these days I looked up on Airbnb, and I chose, like most of the times, with my heart. It would be the right one. And it IS the right one. Easy to find, at the edge of a village with all I need – post office, pharmacy, supermarket, bar (for coffee on the go) and a big supermarket 5 minutes by car.

The one room apartment has all for a stay: kitchen fully equipped, bathroom with shower, twin bed and even Internet. I can sleep with open windows and doors if I like and I wake up in the morning looking out on the high mountains of the national park. Houses around don’t disturb at all, even if people are out in their gardens, it is pretty quiet.

Personal experience:

Like I said I sleep in total silence and with all open. My host Cinzia is amazing: full of energy, a huge information center, the creator of a very personal paradise. She is there when you need her, she is invisible when you want to be by your own.

In the kitchen area I was greeted with plums from her trees, there is coffee and of course the most important coffee machine. Fridge was on, there is even a microwave.

The bathroom has a good shower with a special system for the water (ask Cinzia, I think it is a great solution for not losing water if someone leaves the faucet open). The room has enough tables and chairs, a TV and outside you can sit in the garden.

Your host – she IS in fact a super-host – lives just a few steps further but can move in a way you don’t see and hear her at all. There is a common BBQ, covered but open on three sides. The only other place you use together with other guests (there is only one big apartment on the first floor) is the trash bin room.

I recommend:

You can walk in the country-side from here. Or go up into the village, have a look in the old streets and the church. Most of all I enjoy sitting on the lawn and looking out on the mountains and the hills around. Or observe the farmers working on their farmland.

If you have a car (much recommended), go to the beach, maybe at Atri. There is a beautiful free beach. Or discover Pescara, an ancient port from long before the Romans conquered it.

The place is surrounded by countless little borghi (Medieval villages in the hills and mountains), all promising a jump into the past. Or if you are more a nature-lover go up towards the mountains, deep into the national parks and hike along lakes, valleys and high peaks. There are professional guides as well. Ask Cinzia.

Don’t miss to see how the olive oil is made, or participate at a wine-tasting. The cuisine of the region has also many specialties you don’t find elsewhere. Prefer always restaurants where local people go to eat, avoid tourist places.

For me it is just the perfect place to stay. In fact many strangers have a second home here and stay for a few weeks a year for vacation, the rest of the year they rent their homes. I think I found a new place for my second home as well …

But most of all I want to say thank you to Cinzia who made my stay super special. Without her I would not have done many things. But most of all I loved our long talks. She is a source of energy, positivity and invention, finds always a solution and let shine the sun also when it’s raining (which by the way is exciting here). Grazie Cinzia!






















Collecorvino, Abruzzo/Italy:

For further information:
Airbnb
Abruzzo Tourism
Cinzia on Facebook


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Weekend of Open Gardens 2020

Is there anything more intriguing than peeking in someone’s home? I think there is not one person out there who would not be interested to see how others live. At the weekend of open gardens everyone can have a look at private gardens and yards.

Very often I discover events not looking for them but just waiting for something/someone and looking around. There is a brochure, sometimes a poster or the Internet shows something up. Our mighty Father Google knows all what out hearts wish!

There are a few days around the year that private gardens open their gates to guests. From June to October there is always the first Sunday, there is one whole weekend in the first month and a promising Long Night of Gardens. So I guess it will be with lights.

The first garden we went to was actually the one we liked most. At the Café Falkenhagen we really had a big surprise: the most various garden design you can imagine. Several lakes, a lot of areas with benches with view on a lake, view on a flower bed, view into the green, view into the distance, a playground for children and a wonderful cafeteria with tables in the garden under trees in the middle of millions of flowers. In short words: a dream of a garden. The many decorations were mainly made with old windows and ‘rubbish’.

The next one was in Labenz. The garden is awarded and under monument protection. I guess it is because of the old farm house, very beautiful from outside, I just can imagine from inside. The garden itself is a wide and open old farmers garden with even a kiln for baking goods and some chickens running around in open spaces. One of the owners greeted me nicely meowing.



We tried two other gardens but they were closed due to the Corona story. We went to another place to have a coffee, just sitting outside with a fantastic lake-view. And the last photo with the roses in the sky was at my friend’s garden, who should open as well for public as she has a real dream-garden, incredibly beautiful and original.

I hope I can do it for the garden night, it would be very interesting to see those beauties with lights.










Herzogtum Lauenburg, Schleswig-Holstein/Germany:


For further information:
Here the official website of the Aktion offener Garten (in German)


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Fast and Fabulous Breakfast: Shakshouka

Shakshouka is a tomato based stew from the Middle East and North Africa. Easy and fast, it is a perfect light but still satisfying dish.

Just a few ingredients – tomatoes, onions and/or garlic, spices and eggs – make a perfect breakfast or even a main dish. It has a lot of good fat (olive oil), yummy and healthy spices and proteins. An ideal start into the day!

I do intermittent fasting, I think already two years now, and eat only in the morning hours, sometime between 8 am and 12 am. That’s it. After experimenting which period is best for me, I decided for the morning hours as I am most of the times at home, normally never go out before 10 or 11 am and this time I don’t think about eating anymore for the rest of the day. Also: I don’t feel food overloaded, my body can do the work of digestion and still has a lot of time to heal if there is anything. Eating is in our civilized world much more than over-valued in my opinion. And: aging means very often also less calories we need and so reducing them is no bad decision as well. Most of the people in their 70s eat the same amount (and crap) of food they had when they were only 20 years old. Fasting in addition is one of the healthiest things we can do to our bodies.

Long story, short meaning: Most of the time I eat around 9 to 10 am some savory dish and maybe an hour later some fruits or anything more ‘indulgent’. A very fast and easy dish is Shakshouka which needs only a few ingredients most of the time I have at home: olive oil (extra virgin and organic of course), onions and garlic (I use both), some tomatoes (best are the bigger ones like San Marziano or Cuore di Bue (beef or beefsteak tomato in English/American) and eggs. You can use whatever spices, I like salt, pepper, a little nutmeg, curry, sometimes harissa. Just before ready, I put a couple of eggs in the tomato stew and poach them lightly. I like them as less cooked as possible.

Who likes and tolerates cheese can add some feta. Or how about some minced lamb? In Turkey they scramble the eggs. I had some hummus and had it together with the dish. As I don’t eat bread, I enjoyed the dish right the way it is.

It’s definitely one of my favorite dishes. It has the fat I need as fuel but also proteins to get started in an active day.



Shakshouka
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Shakshouka
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put a pan on the stove, switch on the fire and let it warm a little bit. Put in the olive oil, garlic and onion. Let all glaze a little bit.
  2. Now add the diced tomatoes, stir and let it cook until the tomatoes and onions are soft and nice.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir and add the eggs. Cook the eggs as long as you like them. Be aware: the eggs will continue cooking when you switch off the stove.
  4. Serve warm with fresh baked homemade bread.
Recipe Notes

Some like scrambled eggs instead of poached. It is all to your taste.

The breakfast dish is also great on toasted bread slices.

Best if served immediately.

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Snacks in the Wind – Lupinus

Lupins are a legume plant with nearly 200 species. Colorful they found their way in our gardens as ornamental plants, but also on our plates.

Lupins are very popular in the Mediterranean area where you find them as antipasto or snack. Also in the Andes region of South America they are again used for food after they disappeared with the Spanish invaders. In the Roman empire it was one of the most popular foods. Seeds are soaked in water and then cooked, roasted or dried to make flour.

I used a few times lupin flour in bread and pancakes, always mixed with other flours. Many use it as a good substitute for chickpea flour for example. When you see a package just buy it and experiment! How about a ‘farinata’ of lupin flour?

The flour of course is gluten-free and has a lot of protein.

I didn’t want to cook with lupins, I just wanted to take some nice photos. They are blooming everywhere right now and are together with poppies, daisies and cornflowers a beautiful early summer flower.

What do you think?
(Do you find the intruder?)










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Gourmet Dish: Fried Chicken Liver with Wine

A very simple and quick way to cook liver that actually everyone will love! Chicken liver doesn’t even have a strong liver taste like from beef. Plus: it is a real gourmet-recipe.

Liver is always a greatly discussed organ meat. Gibs are very healthy, but in the western society often forgotten. Many people think, giblets are unhealthy, ‘dirty’ and disgusting. I remember myself as a child to hate ‘that stuff’. And especially liver! But then I learnt how to cook chicken liver and – as I am always curious to try also food I once didn’t like – to my surprise I liked it very, but very much. Since then I changed my opinion about giblets and eat them much more often now.

Chicken liver is high in protein, a great source for vitamin B 12 and vitamin A as well as iron. And if cooked right it doesn’t have the strong ‘liver-taste’ like beef liver.

Of course like with all kinds of food, meat or fish it has to be organic. Never buy giblets of intensive animal farming!!! The hormones, penicillin and horrible food that those animal are forced to eat is all that returns into your body. So eat less and only healthy food. And gibs.

I made my chicken liver pan-fried. Little good olive oil, onions and garlic both minced, then the pieces of liver, all on high temperature stir-fried, then with a glass of red wine deglazed and when the wine is significantly reduced you add half a glass of olive oil. On lower fire and a lid on the pan you leave it for around half an hour, then lift the lid and leave it cooking for another 15 minutes that the sauce becomes thick and creamy.

Serve your super delicious chicken liver with fresh homemade bread. Or enjoy without anything else. How about some cauliflower rice? Interesting idea: put all in a blender and make a pâtè as hors d’oeuvre. If you can resist, leave the chicken liver on the stove over-night (covered with the lid) and warm it up the next day. Like all kind of stews and soups, during the night the dish gets the absolutely perfect flavor.

Let’s try this ‘new’ liver recipe!

Chicken Liver with Wine
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 portions 15 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 portions 15 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Chicken Liver with Wine
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 portions 15 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 portions 15 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: portions
Instructions
  1. Put a pan on the stove, switch on the fire and put some olive oil in the pan. Add the garlic and onion, stir with a wooden spoon and let all get a little glazed. Meanwhile wash the chicken liver and let the water get a little off.
  2. Add the liver in the pan and glaze the organ meat. When it is a little brown on all sides add the wine. Let the whole cook until the wine is more than half gone. Now add salt and pepper and the olive oil. Stir and put a lid on the top of the pan.
  3. Let all cook for around 30-35 minutes, have a look after 20 minutes if there is still enough liquid in the pan. If not, add more olive oil. NO WATER!
  4. The chicken liver is ready when the organ meat is soft and the taste is irresistible!
  5. Serve immediately with some fresh baked homemade bread, some wild rice or plain.
Recipe Notes

For the best taste ever leave it over night out of the fridge, just covered with the lid. 

If you serve on plates don't clean the pan immediately, take a piece of bread and clean the sauce out of the pan. Cook in heaven!

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