This is my favorite time of year in Italy because the leaves are out, or the most of them anyway, and the air is perfumed with flowers blooming everywhere on trees, shrubs, and from the ground. Although not as plentiful as last year, our lilac bushes still produced grandmotherly, sweet-soapy blossoms. My favorite, our mock orange trees (Philadelphus “Lemoinei”), are like fireworks bursting in the sky full of blooms this year. I intentionally let them grow wild so that I’d have lots of stems to cut for the house. We even have some wisteria blossoms intertwined in other trees and shrubs despite my best efforts to kill them last year. I will enjoy their blossoms while they last but after that… they’re gonners! They are so invasive – especially underground, growing by a foot every day, reaching out in the cold dark soil before jumping out overnight to take another tree hostage.
This year I discovered that we have an elderflower tree, which I noticed last year but didn’t put two-and-two together to realize what exactly it was. I did some research to make sure that they were actually elderflowers because they can easily be confused with other plants – and poisonous ones like hemlock — however their fragrance is undeniable, and I’ve learned how to harvest and store them. It’s as easy as snipping them in full bloom with pollen on them, which is where they get their flavor. Then you just place them in a freezer bag, squeeze all of the air out, and freeze them until they are ready for use. How I intend to use them, I’m not sure. I’m currently thinking about elderflower ice cream but of course there’s always the possibility of making elderflower liqueur or syrup (but I can easily buy that at IKEA) and make my elderflower Hugo Cocktail. I could also mix the flowers into some peach or plum jam once those are ripe.
Every year at this time I do my best to hang on to spring with the floral scented air, and the warm, not yet hot, temperatures. The spring in this part of Italy is like water slipping through the space between fingers, it comes and goes so quickly. However, this year I have a bit of desperation to enjoy spring as much as possible because… drum roll, please! … I finally enrolled in the long awaited and avoided Driving School that I promised Tom over a year ago that I would do. So far, I’ve only been to three classes. Every lesson of driving school begins with a true/false practice test, and so far, I am failing miserably (and this after having fully read an Italian language driving book and doing daily quizzes on the various apps that are available.
European driving tests are both written and practical. I was allowed to drive for my first year of living here but after that you must have an Italian license. The written exam is 40 questions from a random pool of 4,000. You may only get four wrong, or you fail. Many Italians do not pass on their first attempt because of the intentionally tricky language used. And despite having had a US license for 43 years, once I pass the written part, I then must drive with a teacher for six 30-minute increments and pass an eye test AND have a written note from my doctor attesting that I am healthy enough to drive. Only then may I take the test behind the wheel. This is not an inexpensive proposition, either, topping out at about 1,000 euros! The travel to-and-from school and the time spent during the lessons is a greedy time gobbler, which is why getting our garden going and enjoying the delights of spring has me feeling a bit desperate to hang on to whatever I can and somehow force myself to enjoy it.
I am an admitted stress and bored eater. With the driving school; wrapping up our renovation; getting our apartment ready for rentals; and starting our garden life has left me craving sweet carbs this week. Instead of producing an original recipe with detailed process photos and instructions, I made two very simple cookies from bloggers and a chef that I follow in Italy. The first cookie is very simple by Benedetta Rossi who used lemon zest (whereas I used ground anise seed and orange blossom water). With my variation, they taste a lot like my Gibassier but are so simple and fast to make it’s a great replacement for them. The second cookie is by a blogger that goes by the name of ChiaraPassion and it is a double chocolate cookie — also super easy and fast to make. For Benedetta Rossi’s you can translate it using Google Translate. The chocolate cookie by ChiaraPassion is available in English on her site and both are very simple, nonlabor-intensive, and quick to make. Give them a try! (Note: If anyone has trouble with the links let me know and I will update this post when I have a few spare minutes with their recipes).
Benedetta Rossi’s easy cookies
ChiaraPassion’s (Enrica Panariello) Chocolate cookies
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Thank you! A new lemon cookie or biscuit to try when I get home!
I need help on the Chocolate cookie recipe. The page translated to this ingredient: 25 ml of waterfall. What is waterfall?
The Notes suggests this: You can replace the oil with 60 g of cold melted butter. Cold melted butter sounds like a mistranslation or an oxymoron. How would you describe cold melted butter to me?
Hi Ralph. Let’s start with the butter. What this means is that you should melt the butter, and then let it cool. It should still be in a liquid state, but not hot. Regarding the other question, don’t go chasing waterfalls! Kidding aside, I don’t see any ingredient that is 25 ml in this recipe, and reading it in Italian and translating it into English, I don’t see such a mention. Will you please copy the term and then let me know so I can better help you?