Saturday, 31 March 2018

Brodetto alla fanese

I have many wonderful memories of my grandmother's cooking. From time to time, I try to carry on her traditons. One meal I remember from Christmas Eve or Good Friday was "brodet" as she'd say. I'd like to share that recipe with you.

Brodetto is a traditional seafood stew made in her hometown of Fano, in the Marche region of Italy. My grandmother ("Ma" as we all called her) made it on a meatless feast day and served it over creamy polenta. Polenta isn't commonly used in Fano. In fact, when Mom and I visited Fano in 2000, the brodetto we had at a restaurant next to the wharf was served alone as a main dish, with a thinner sauce than we remembered from Ma.

My recipe gives you the option to make either a thick sauce suitable for making polenta even more delicious, or a thin sauce that you might serve simply with bread on the side. I've long since lost the recipe Ma gave me in the Nineties. But several years back, after a thorough Web search, I printed out and translated an Italian recipe and used it as my base. I'm afraid I don't have the original source, to give it credit. I'm afraid all I have is this reflection of how I made this dish yesterday for Good Friday:

Brodetto alla fanese

Serves 6.

·         1 onion, diced finely
·         3 garlic, diced finely
·         1-2 Tbsp tomato paste
·         2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
·         1 ½ cup white wine
·         1 ½ cup water
·         2 bottles of passata or tomato sauce (and the water to rinse them out)

Fish and Seafood
·         1-2 fillets of white fish (e.g., haddock, halibut, cod)
·         2-lb. bag of mussels
·         12-24 shrimp
·         Other seafood to taste (e.g. sea or bay scallops, shrimp, octopus, clams). Frozen seafood may be used if thawed before adding to the sauce.

1.     In a deep skillet or large pot, fry onions in olive oil. When onions are soft, add garlic and fry briefly.
2.     In the centre of the pan, add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste and cook until it browns slightly. Mix onions, garlic and tomato paste together to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
3.     Add vinegar, wine and water and bring to a boil for a few minutes.
4.     Add passata and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. (The proportion of water/wine to passata can be adjusted to achieve the consistency you desire. I prefer a thicker base, to go with the polenta. Passata can be omitted in favour of the tomato paste for a thinner base.)
5.     Add the fish and seafood and bring back to a boil until cooked.  Take note to add the fish that will take longest to cook first, so that everything reaches a cooked state at approximately the same time. Do not overcook.
6.     Serve immediately with creamy polenta, as my fanese grandmother did, likely to appease her Furlan husband. In Fano, the brodetto has a thinner sauce and is served without a side dish.

To clean mussels:
Put the mussels in a colander and rinse with cold water. Scrub each mussel, one by one. Throw out any that are cracked or open. To test an open mussel to see if it is still fresh for cooking, tap it against the sink. If it closes, it is OK to cook. If not, throw it out. If the mussel has a beard, pull it against the mussel’s hinge to remove it. If necessary, use a knife to cut off the beard.

I Know It Has Been a While

Some of you are, no doubt, surprised to see a new post on this blog. I know I've left it inactive for a long time. Life with cancer is difficult and there has been little time for genealogy. I hope to change that. I will be posting a couple of recipes that have become family traditons. Also, I am sad to say that my Aunt Nora Cleary passed away earlier this month. Soon, I will post a tribute to her.

Friday, 19 September 2014

BIFHSGO's 20th Conference Has Begun

I was up bright and early this morning to attend a pre-conference session of the 20th BIFHSGO Conference. The conference begins this evening and runs through Sunday afternoon at Library and Archives Canada in downtown Ottawa. This year, rather than focussing on a particular country, there is "Something for Everyone!"

Having recently dipped a toe into DNA testing, I am particularly interested in the many sessions on genetic genealogy. This morning's presentation by Debbie Kennett was the perfect place to start, "I've Got My DNA Results But What Do I Do Next?" I have already learned a great deal about how to interpret our results, particularly how to narrow down large pools of matches.

I will have trouble deciding where to go in some time slots. Do I learn about English gazetteers or surname DNA projects? If you're here, you'll have trouble deciding too. There really is something for everyone. Look for me at the front of ther room, with my new wheels.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

At the BIFHSGO Conference in Ottawa

The focus of this year's conference of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa is Ireland. I am very happy to be well enough to attend the conference. Two years ago, I left the BIFHSGO conference on the Saturday afternoon convinced I was having a gall bladder attack. I was too ill to return for the conference's final day. The next month I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.  Now, equipped with my trusty walker -- a combination crutch and pack mule -- I am back.

The conference started last night with a thought-provoking talk by Philip Donnelly who is promoting a project to correlate available genealogical records with pictures of ruined Irish farmhouses. Think of it as a Billion Graves app for ruins instead of tombs.

This morning started with an introduction to Irish genealogical research by Eileen O Duill. While I'm not a beginner, I found it an interesting presentation. Later, Lisa Louise Cooke, the voice of Genealogy Gems, talked about tracking down living relatives. When you consider how much pain medication I am on, it is a testament to these speakers that I haven't nodded off once!

Lunch is nearly over. I am looking forward to more presentations about Irish genealogical records and brick wall strategies. Tomorrow I'll hear about how to trace my roots with my beloved iPad, and genealogical cold cases. Most of the time, two lectures are offered in each time slot and it is very difficult to choose which to attend. If only I was here with a friend I could swap notes with!

Before things start up again, I'm going to have another look at the marketplace. How many more books will I buy? Or CDs? There seem to be fewer vendors in the marketplace than in past years, but the availability of information and products is still good. I tell you, I'm tempted to pick up a Flip Pal portable scanner. I love gadgets.

There are people to meet as well. I wish I knew more of the regulars, but it has been hard for me to get to many monthly BIFHSGO meetings on Saturday mornings. Now that the puppy is waking me early I will come to more. I would like to meet more of my local geneaddicts. I'm the middle aged lady with the walker, sitting in the front row. Please introduce yourselves. I am glad to be with you.

Monday, 12 August 2013

1921 Canadian Census, Finally

Forgive me for being slow on the uptake. It has been so long since Library and Archives Canada took possession of the 1921 Census that I had stopped looking for updates. I've been behind in reading other blogs. Only today did the Ottawa Citizen publish an article saying that the census was finally been made public late last week. is making public the digital images of the 1921 Canadian Census. It has not yet been indexed by name. I understand that it is possible to search by location, if you have a good idea of where your people lived in 1921, and you're willing to scroll for a while. I will give it a try now.

For an excellent compilation of information and perspectives on the census release, please go to the Genealogy Canada blog here.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Census Conspiracy?

There is news! Today, I saw this post on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter regarding the release of the 1921 Canadian Census.  He points to this post by Elizabeth Lapointe of Genealogy Canada where Elizabeth claims that LAC sources told her the census has been fully digitized and its release is being held up by the Minister's Office.

I say claimed because I try to be skeptical of everything I read on the Internet. However, I don't disbelieve Elizabeth's post in the slightest. Unfortunately, it has become clear that every federal government announcement is strictly controlled by the Prime Minister's Office. I would like to think that Elizabeth's advice that we write to the responsible Minister would make a difference. It won't.

I am confident that the 1921 Census will be released in the coming weeks. It just won't be on the timetable of any genealogist or archivist.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

1921 Canadian Census Update

Today I learned that Library and Archives Canada has issued a news release regarding the 1921 Census:
Library and Archives Canada is committed to making the 1921 Census’ rich and complex information accessible and available to all Canadians, no matter where they live, in the next few weeks. Further details on the 1921 Census’ availability will be shared once they are available.
A few weeks, they say. What they don't say is how the census will be available. I'm sure we would all like to be able to view the census online, indexed and free. I don't see that happening in a few weeks.  Perhaps a paper copy will be available downtown at the LAC building, but that doesn't satisfy the criteria of availability to all Canadians.  Really, what is the point of speculating?

I will be on the lookout over "the next few weeks" and will let you know what LAC does with our Census.