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The biggest difference between life in Europe and life in the U.S. is not what most people think: there is no lack of peanut butter; we have better options than sour cream and we have more TV channels than we could possibly watch.
The biggest difference is ironing.
Europeans, at least the women, are obsessed with ironing.
They iron everything: sheets, knit golf shirts, gardening clothes, everything!
They talk about ironing.
They discuss at length which type of iron is best.
They compare features; do cost/benefit analysis of the newest models.
They debate over whether to do the ironing themselves, send it out or have 'a girl' come in.
I know 2 people who have someone come in twice a week to do the ironing. Nothing else: no cleaning, no scrubbing, no washing; just the ironing.
You can take your clean laundry into one of many shops to have it ironed. I've a friend who always send her bed sheets out to be ironed.
I was at a new housewares shop that just opened in our little village. They had a top of the line (I assume) iron for sale: 500 euros! That would be over $700.00!
For an iron! And I'm pretty sure that it still required a human to stand there and move it around the clothes!
Don't get me wrong. I own an iron. I'm sure I paid at least $15.00 for it 20 years ago. On average, I use it 6 – 8 hours… per YEAR!
In all fairness when we were working, both mon mari and I sent our shirts out to be laundered; and we can get no-iron bed linens. But if he wants his T-shirts ironed, he knows were the iron is…
And he can do mine while he's at it…
I always check the tags before buying anything:
Cool iron? In my mind that means no iron!
Warm iron? Remember to take it out of the dryer right away; iron twice a year when it gets really wrinkled.
Hot iron? Put it back and keep looking.
I have better things to do with my time.
The Mediterranean cuisines like garlic. Many people think of it as a staple in Italian food but it plays a major role in Spanish and French cooking as well.
The health benefits of eating garlic are legend:
It has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure; prevent heart disease; promote cardiovascular health; protect against some cancers and acts as both an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial/viral agent.
Whew! Thankfully it also tastes delicious and enhances anything it's added to.
(It doesn't always enhance the breath of those ingesting it, but there's always mint…)
And I learned something new: Do NOT store garlic in oil at room temperature. Apparently the combination is perfect for botulism! Refrigerate it.
Braised Veal with Garlic
I made enough to have it over pasta for another meal.
24oz (750gr) veal, suitable for braising
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs dried bread crumbs
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
1 head of garlic, 12 – 16 cloves peeled or not
3 bay leaves
15oz (450gr) crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 2 tbs water
Cut veal into 1 1/2 inch (3.75cm) cubes. Separate garlic head, peeling cloves if you like. In a deep, heavy pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the veal and brown on all sides. Remove and brown the other half. Remove. Add the bread crumbs and wine and stir well, scraping up the browned bits. Return veal to pan, add garlic cloves, tomatoes and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes. Turn the heat up and uncover. Give the cornstarch mixture a stir and add to the pan a little at a time until thickened to your liking. Spoon meat, garlic and sauce into a bowl and serve with gnocchi.
The garlic gets incredibly sweet and creamy…. add more if you like. Then you can get the wrinkles out of your clothes just by breathing on them…
I need to say this one more time in case you missed it:
700.00 Dollars. For. An. IRON.