February 27, 2020

Corona Virus Situation in Italy

I feel the need to do my part in providing accurate and clear information about the situation here in Italy. There is no need to be alarmed but we all do need to be careful. Please read on and share these posts among your family and friends, hopefully it will calm people down.
I will do regular updates here and on my Facebook page : www.facebook.com/TasteItalyBologna/

  • The virus enters your body via nose, eyes and mouth 
  • The virus does NOT enter your body through your skin
  • by micro drops from infected persons: when they cough, sneeze or talk (yes, we all spit a bit when we speak) so keep some distance from other people.
  • by shaking their hands if they’ve JUST sneezed or coughed into their hands (and did not wash their hands) and then you touch your eyes, mouth and nose.
  • not everyone who has the virus has symptoms so it is important that EVERYONE observe the prevention measures (see below) so you don’t spread it if you have it and don’t get it if you don’t have it! 
The prevention measures for the Coronavirus are the same for anyone who wants to avoid catching influenza or the cold!
  • wash hands thoroughly for at least 40 seconds, with soap and water or hand gel with high content (60%+) of alcohol 
  • When you sneeze or cough do so covering your mouth and nose with a paper handkerchief OR cover your mouth and nose with your elbow 
  • dispose paper handkerchief in a wastebasket
  • Wash hands thoroughly immediately after
  • Avoid eating raw or meats/seafood that are not thoroughly cooked
  • wash fruits and vegetables before eating
  • drink liquids only from bottled sources
  • avoid contact with anyone who shows symptoms of respiratory illness
  • avoid crowded places where you would be in tight quarters with people you don’t know.

  • do not just show up at the hospital or doctor’s office: you do not want to either infect anyone or get infected.
  • call and talk to a health professional who will provide instructions or check your health department’s website for instructions on how to proceed.
  • Anyone with a delicate health situation (cancer, heart problems, HIV, etc)
  • older adults (60+)
  • Technically children also are at risk because they have not developed a full set of antibodies but so far we haven’t seen deaths amongst children
One could divide masks into 2 groups : 
  1. the FFp2 or FFp3: those that have the filter and a piece of metal above that needs to be tightened around the nose. 
  2. and all the others: some with metal clip but no filter as well the other masks without the metal clip.* 
Those who definitely need masks are people in contact with sick people (doctors, nurses, pharmacists) and people who are sick.
->These people need the super protective masks that have the filter and a piece of metal above that needs to be tightened around the nose. 

Everyone else really doesn’t need to wear a mask. 
Having said that, if you cannot avoid a crowded place such as public transportation, then do by all means wear the second type of mask. 

 *Attention: this mask's main function is to keep YOU from touching your nose, eyes and mouth! as soon as you arrive where you are going, wash your hands.

For your information: all the Italian deaths to date (25/2/20) have involved elderly people (with a weak immune system) and/or already sick with other health problems.

So why does Italy have so many cases?
- because Italy is testing a lot more people (10,000 tests as of 25/2/20) therefore, the more you look for something, the more you will find. We don't doubt that other countries have a similar amount of CoVid19.
  • Unfortunately some Italians from the quarantined areas don’t have symptoms and have not respected their quarantine and have travelled. This has created a number of issues outside of Italy.
Why have entire towns been quarantined? 
  • The towns that have been quarantined are where people with the CoronaVirus have lived/been in. 
  • because the virus can only survive through human contact. If we limit human contact, the virus dies out.
  • while a quarantine is a definite nuisance, there are definitely worse problems
Why have other towns closed schools and cancelled public events if they do not have people sick with CoVid19?
  • The towns and regions that have taken these PRECAUTIONARY measures are in close proximity to the quarantined areas. 
  • because the virus can only survive through human contact. If we limit human contact, the virus dies out.
  • while this is a nuisance, there are definitely worse consequences
Should I cancel my trip to Italy? or any travel plans?
  • honestly I would take a wait and see approach. There are measures being taken and we will soon see if they are effective.
  • if you are generally a “weak” person when it comes to your health or are elderly; I would definitely wait and see how this plays out. 
  • If it’s on a cruise ship, the answer would be YES, cancel
Why are people panicking? 
  • firstly because the information available is little, incomplete or just plain wrong; this creates confusion and thus alarm. 
  • the media is not taking a calm and informative approach to the news
  • There is disagreement amongst the medical community. Some virologists are claiming that the flu kills more ppl per year (true) while others explain that the real issue is that 20% of infected ppl end up in intensive care and most countries health system is not prepared to have 20% of their population in Intensive care (also true)
  • if we follow the prevention measures, we should be okay.
Why are people buying lots of food and even water?
  • I believe that some people have panicked and forget that you can have food delivered home by shops, supermarkets and restaurants
  • Others prefer to go to the supermarket (a crowded place) now while the virus hasn’t arrived in our towns and stay indoors (and away from potential crowds).
  • Our water is perfectly good so it is hard to understand the need to purchase water
Good to know
  • your pets won’t get the virus
  • objects don’t carry the virus (there is a German study out that disagrees but it wasn’t done on CoVid19)
  • if you do proper prevention you have little chance of getting sick

February 7, 2020

Orange Marmalade, Candied Peels and Orange Powder

I recently posted a photo of some of my experiments on Instagram and so many people asked me for the recipes, I decided to post them here where it is easier to type. 

It all began at the end of December when I tried the recipe for Candied Orange Peels by my friend Flavia of @SpaghettiABC (on Facebook and Instagram). The candied peels were really easy to make and they were SO good. 

I decided to make them again but make more since we had already finished the small batch I'd made and I wanted to make marmalade with the pulp. I also wanted to try my hand at making orange powder since I had scorched my first batch!

Orange Marmalade
For the marmalade I used the Silver Spoon's recipe, leaving out the peels since I planned to use them elsewhere. The recipe calls for 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of pulp. Unfortunately the recipe appears to be only in Italian but you only need to look at the ingredients and proportions and follow someone else's recipe for orange marmalade. Obviously you also need to ensure you follow hygiene so make sure you have sterilized jars at the ready. For your information, 1 kilo of pulp turned into half a kilo, 500g or about 1lb of jam!
The recipe is here: marmellata di arance

Orange Powder
The idea began I finished my powdered Cuban adobo which has orange powder in it. It adds a nice zest to pork and poultry. I wondered if orange powder would work in other recipes: say sprinkled on seafood or in a delicate pasta sauce or pasta filling. 

As I mentioned above, I scorched my first batch. My second try went perfectly. I took all the ugly peels from the next recipe (hahaha) and some large & odd pieces and put them on a tray with parchment paper. Place into the oven at the lowest setting and check at 10 minute intervals. As soon as they are dry, remove them from the oven. Once they are cool, you can pulverize them in your food processor or in a mortar.
Pro Tip: do not put the peels directly on your oven trays as the peels will irreparably stain them! 

Candied Orange Peels
Candied orange peels
Candied orange peels are a luxurious treat when dipped in dark chocolate, on your cannolis, gelato or as a cake decoration. Hey, I even drop them in my tea as a little self-care treat on a cold day! 
Candied orange peels are very easy to make: you only need 3 ingredients. There are several ways to get rid of the bitterness in the peels, one is to boil the peels another is to soak them. I soaked mine and the kitchen smelled so sweet.
The original recipe is here: Flavia's candied orange peels

Below is my adaptation with a few tips ;)
I suggest using organic oranges (that haven't been sprayed with toxic substances).
Pro Tip (aka don't make my mistake - hahaha) : do not add syrup after the oranges have begun simmering, because you will not get the supple and glossy finish if you do. 
Oranges, as many as you'd like but at least two.
Sugar, same amount as the weight of the softened orange peels
Water, same amount as the weight of the softened orange peels

0. Rinse and pat dry the oranges (this should be obvious)
1. Cut the orange rind the way you'd like them: thin strips, wide strips, small squares or even the whole rind. Remove the zest and the white part.
2. Put the peels in a large bowl and cover with water. Let the peels soak for 3 days. You will see the water turn cloudy and orangey, its normal.
3. Remove the peels from the bowl and let them drain off the water.
4. Weigh the peels; this is the amount of water and sugar that you will need.
5. Put all the ingredients in a wide enough skillet so that you have a single layer and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the peels have soaked up the syrup. About 20 minutes.
6. Place the peels over a board, marble top or even parchment paper (what I did) keeping them mostly separated. I used tongs to do this, just to keep my fingers from getting too sticky.
7. Allow the peels to cool for at least 1 hr. Then you can put them in an airtight jar.