La Raccolta— Blog

La Raccolta — Blog of CASAGIOVE

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my word for 2016 is present, CASAGIOVE

My word for 2016 is PRESENT

I am constantly learning from my students. They continue to inspire me long after our time in the classroom together. Recently, one of my former students shared something that prompted me to choose a word to define my new year. It seemed so simple — a word. Not a list of to do’s, not a complicated resolution, not even a list of don’ts… just a word to define my year. Simple. That’s all I needed to bite. I could surely come up with one word! It didn’t take long for my word to come to me:


My word for 2016 is present.


My first thought was to be present. As most Italian mammas, I tend to worry. Something that I try to fight against. I know worrying is destructive. When I am in the present, giving my full attention to the people and tasks in that moment, there is no room for worrying about the future, nor is there room for pining over the past. I am just left to do my best in that moment and that I can handle. Actually, what’s beautiful about that is that not only can I handle that, but I can actually enjoy it too! So, yes, the word present seemed just right for big ol’ “worry wort” me.


And at the same time, it’s not just about me being present, it’s also remembering that I am always in the presence of God. He is with me wherever I go and remembering that I am in His presence, gives me comfort and confidence in each moment. His faithfulness assures me that there isn’t anything to fear.


I continued to brainstorm… a present. When I live my life in the present, I can be a gift to others. Not only can I can be blessed by people and experiences but I can also BE a blessing to others. I can produce, remember, offer, serve, provide, deliver, surrender… I can incorporate all these aspects of the word present.


Even in Italian, the words kept flowing… il presente (the present) un presente (a gift), la presenza (presence), essere presente (to be present), presentarsi (to show up, present oneself)… there was so much meaning wrapped up in this one word and it connected to all parts of who I want to be. Applying it has become a beautiful way to start my new year. As I find my thoughts drifting to concerns of what will happen next, I simply remember my word and it brings me back to the present — to that one next thing that I can do in that moment and I am instantly thankful and able to take the next step that presents itself (no pun intended).


One way I can be intentional about being present is coming together for family dinners. Each night, we take time to meet at our table and to share so much more than food. We take time to be thankful for the food and each other, and as we enjoy each bite, we can’t help but share the events of our day. Sometimes, we are silly, other times we are more serious. We share problems and we solve them. We laugh. In that moment, we stop and we savor. It’s a beautiful thing.


So, what is your word? And what are the possibilities?  
I can’t wait to hear!
Preparing a beautiful, simple, Arugula Salad

Insalata — Formulating the perfect simple salad

Most of my summers as a young girl in Italy were spent at my grandparents’ house in Recale. Two of my cousins lived right around the corner and one day they took me for a walk to pick some wild greens and some oranges from the family garden.  Little did I know I was about to taste a little bit of heaven that day!

We returned with handfuls of a delicious type of green that looked and tasted similar to mâche, but this lettuce was heartier and that heartiness added a deliciousness that couldn’t be matched. After barely rinsing the leaves and patting them dry, we added a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, some sections of juicy oranges and tossed it all together. It is to this day one of the yummiest salads I have ever eaten. My mom calls the type of lettuce we picked “pierchicchelle” but I have been unable to find it in America.

I am a math teacher, so I naturally appreciate formulas and tend to think of basic formulas when I cook. I like to use the formula I gleaned that day with my cousins for many of my salads. To me, just a couple of really fresh yummy ingredients tossed together makes the perfect simple salad. Here are a few of our favorite combinations:


Mâche Salad, CASAGIOVE California mâche
sections of blood oranges with its juice
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt


Arugula Salad, CASAGIOVE California

shaved parmigiano reggiano
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt

butter lettuce + radicchio

Butter lettuce & Radicchio Salad, CASAGIOVE California

butter lettuce
lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt

Whichever flavor combination you choose, the key is to use the best, highest-quality ingredients and this is particularly true of the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Both will be served uncooked, so it’s important that they are rich and able to hold their own and enhance the other elements in your salad.

We did a lot of taste comparisons, and found what we feel to be the best intersection of price, flavor, and versatility. Both are available in:

CONDIRE – The Olive Oil and Vinegar Gift Set


What are your favorite simple salad combinations and meal pairings?  I’d love to hear!


Grazie for sharing!