Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bonding behind castle walls

A few weeks ago, the International Development concentrators at SAIS Bologna organized a weekend retreat to the small town of Granaglione.

The IDEV concentrators
Granaglione is a few kilometers outside of Porretta Terme, near Emilia Romagna's border with Tuscany, about 1-1/2 hours from Bologna. Twelve of us spent one weekend in the Castello di Granaglione, a small medieval castle sitting on top of a hill overlooking the town.

Getting there was an adventure in itself. Although the train to Porretta Terma runs very frequently, to get to the castle we also needed to take a bus, which in small towns runs only once or twice a day over weekends. For those of us who missed that bus (or even one or two trains), finding a taxi was not any easier either.
The Castle

After we had all arrived safely, we took some time to look around the scenic grounds. As night drew closer, we quickly found out that as enchanting as “being in a castle” may sound, “central heating” -- or lack thereof -- became much more important. Huddling around the fireplace or the kitchen stove made for some interesting stories.

The next morning the fog was so thick that it was hard to see very much at all. We went on a short hike in the mountains, and it was striking to walk through the forest -- everything seemed haunted.

The Fog
To keep costs to a minimum, we had brought our own food. Luckily for us, we have some pretty wonderful cooks in our group. Our main chef, Megan Davidow, planned three amazing meals for the entire group, helped of course by our sous-chefs Lauren Keevill, Tendi Madenyika, Chimdi Onwudiegwu and David Gorgani. It was truly delicious (and inexpensive), so I’m including pictures and recipes. It was quite nice to be able to relax after what seemed to be a particularly stressful midterm period. We may plan this again next semester, but certainly when the weather is much warmer. And we will budget for a car rental.

Megan’s beans ("zariko sy sauce tomaty") recipe:

The Food
If you have dried beans, soak them overnight, then boil them until they are soft and set aside the liquid. If you have fresh beans, boil them for a few hours until soft and set aside the liquid. If you have canned or boxed beans, just reserve the liquid.

Put about two tablespoons of vegetable oil into a pot and heat. When hot, add chopped onions and tomatoes and cook until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes give up their juice. You can add however many you like, but I usually add two tomatoes and two onions for one can of dried beans. Add cooked beans to the vegetables and mix. Add reserved bean water and salt, and boil with the lid on until you get the amount of sauce you're looking for. I usually add leeks with the bean water, too.
Chimdindu & Melissa

Obviously, serve with copious amounts of rice. And that's it!

For the hot sauce (sakay), I chop pili pili, then add grated ginger and grated garlic to taste, then mix in vegetable oil to bind it together. If you can't get pili pili, red pepper flakes also work.

Here is the Baked French Toast recipe Lauren made: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2012/08/baked-french-toast/

by Melissa Paredes Saltos

No comments: