Renovation Updates, Smoked Whitefish Salad, and 3 Things You Should Never Do to an Italian

There are three things you should never do to Italians, according to our geometra (our surveyor, who also serves as our project manager for our renovations). You should never 1. Insult their mother; 2. Insult their soccer team; or 3. Mess with their August vacations.  You can probably guess where I’m headed here… 

View from the garden: The house is now fully insulated externally and is ready for its stucco coating.

We were recently told not expect much renovation work, if any, during the month of August, due to the famous WHOLE MONTH of August vacations. This set us into a little depression, given how long the tiling and interior painting took (painting is still a work in progress after 4 weeks; do not get me started…). However, just this week our geometra pleasantly surprised us and told us that he guilted the plumbers and electricians into coming to install the shower, tub, sinks, etc. We are thrilled, and it is looking great. The electric company also came this week and connected our solar panels to the electric grid and soon we will start storing and saving energy. Things are looking sunny — a bad dad pun, sorry, I couldn’t resist)

We are sanding all the interior doors ourselves to save some money. They’ll be painted to match the baseboards.

Taking off the WHOLE MONTH of August is currently a dream of the past for many. Most people cannot afford to vacation for an entire month, either financially, or timewise. However, with so many people taking vacations scattered throughout the month, it is difficult for companies to manage, so many of them choose to shut down. Curiously, this also happened in 2020 after nearly FOUR MONTHS of forced quarantine. Who could afford to take a vacation after being shut in for four months – not us, certainly! But again – one does not mess with an Italian’s vacation.

The plumbers are readying the sinks for the main bathroom.

How did all this WHOLE MONTH of August vacation idea even start? Let’s step back to 18 BC with Caesar Octavian Augustus – after all, the month is named after him. The holiday was originally called Feriae Augusti (rest of Augustus), which celebrated the end of agricultural work. Six hundred years later, this pagan holiday was adopted by early Christians (as how pagan holidays were later transformed into Christmas and Easter) and renamed for the Assumption of Mary, and the date was set as August 15. This date still stands for the current holiday of Ferragosto, a national holiday of Italy.

The electric company is connecting our solar panels to the powerlines.

In garden news, our veggies are not loving the two heat waves they have endured. We are still harvesting some of everything that we planted, but let’s just say that nothing is in optimal condition.  In the meantime, please enjoy the following classic no-cook, no need for an oven, appetizer or lunch/brunch entrée, smoked whitefish salad.

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Smoked Whitefish Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 whole smoked whitefish (e.g., trout, about 6 – 7 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely diced (about one large rib)
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced (about one small onion)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt, pepper, to taste
  • Dill or chives, chopped, to taste
  • Serve on endive leaves, crackers, bread, or use as a dip for vegetables

Directions

  1. De-bone and flake the smoked white fish (I use smoked trout) and add it to a medium mixing bowl
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the bowl and mix well with a fork. If you prefer a smoother salad, pulse the ingredients in a small food processor until you reach your desired consistency
  3. Refrigerate for an hour before serving

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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