Friday, April 15, 2011

Pasta: Bucatini = Perciatelli

We've had customers looking for bucatini pasta and when I suggested perciatelli pasta (which is the same cut), they refused believing the two cuts are not the same.  Well after much dispute amongst my customers, I am confident to reiterate that the two cuts are the same.  Perciatelli, pronounced: "pear-chuh-TELL-lee" is the term for the pasta in Naples.  Pretty much everywhere else, the cut is refered to as bucatini.  Pasta manufacturers will use both terms.  Brands such as Anna, DelVerde, DeCecco, Ferrara, etc. use perciatelli and brands such as Colavita and DiVella use Bucatini.
The cut is basically a thick hollowed long spaghetti.  Recipes with a meat (bolognese) sauce call for it as well as the recipe bucatini all'amatriciana.  My family also uses it with the simple yet delicious garlic & oil pasta.  Thanks to and for some verification.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Build a Tomato Tower

Growing up in New Jersey, my father had a little garden where we got all our begetables for the summer. Tomatoes, Eggplant, Zucchini, String Beans, you name it. Well I came across a really informative web-site ( and found this how-to-build a Tomato Tower.  For those who have the yard space, this may be worth while to check out.  If I had the time along with the space, I would definitely attempt this and relive the days where my father and our neighbor grew and compared their produce. If any one has a tower or ends up building one, we would love for you to share your photos of your construction and tomatoes.  This is a post we would love tto revisit with you fans of the blog.  Don't forget to check out

Materials Needed
To build this super-stury tomato tower you will need:

1 1/2" galvanized wood screws
Angle ruler
Decorative wood finial

3 pieces 1x4x8' (ripped lengthwise into 2 pieces)
2 pieces 2x4x8' (ripped lengthwise into 2 pieces)
1 piece 1x8x7" (for top piece)
2 pieces 1x4x9" (for top piece-cedar not necessary)

Step 1: Cut cedar to size.
Uprights: Cut 4
  • 1 1/2 x 1 3/4 x 7'
Short-side horizontals:
Cut 4 each of the following lengths from the thinner strips: 5" length cut at a 5° angle (top of piece measures 5"; bottom measures 5 1/4")

  • 9 3/8" cut at a 5° angle
  • 11 7/8" cut at a 5° angle
  • 14 3/8" cut at a 5° angle
  • 16 7/8" cut at a 5° angle
  • 19 3/8" cut at a 5° angle
Long-side horizontals:
Cut 4 each of the following lengths from the thinner strips:

  • 7 3/8" cut at a 5° angle (top of piece measures 7 3/8"; bottom measures 7 5/8")
  • 11 3/4" cut at a 5° angle
  • 14 1/8" cut at a 5° angle
  • 16 3/4" cut at a 5° angle
  • 19 1/8" cut at a 5° angle
  • 21 3/4" cut at a 5° angle
Center strips:
Cut 4 from the thinner strips:

  • 4' lengths. Shape both ends into points.
Top: Create a rectangular top piece. Attach 2 1x4x9" pieces side by side and top with the 1x8x7".
Step 2: Measure

Mark all four 7' uprights at 16 1/2", 29", 41 1/2", 54", and 66 1/2".
Be sure to x them below the marks.
The x's will be covered by the horizontals.
Also mark directional arrows.
Mark the exact center of all but the shortest (top) and longest (bottom) horizontals.
This will indicate placement of the center strips.
Step 3: Construct two sides

Using all but the shortest short-side horizontal pieces, create two angled "ladders" by screwing each into place. Then add the decorative center strips so that they extend 5 inches above the top "rung" of the "ladder." 
Step 4: Square Up

Use the angle to square the two assembled sides.
The center strips should be at a precise 90° angle to the horizontals.
Step 5: Assembly

Have an assistant hold the two assembled sides while you join them using the long-side horizontals.
Attach the decorative center strip.
Then flip the tower and do the same with the other side. 
Step 6: Square the Tower.

Stand it upright and jiggle the sides until all horizontals are at 90° angles to the decorative vertical strips.
Step 7: Attaching the Finial

Screw in the top (shortest) horizontals flush with the top of the uprights.
Top the tower with the rectangular top piece, then screw in the decorative finial.
Final Product

And there you have it: A super-sturdy tomato tower that will last for years.
Remember to plant the tomatoes after you build the tower.
And be sure to anchor the tower to the soil to prevent it from falling over.

It's Friday! What's for Dinner?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Italian Comics

Growing up, I always loved reading the Sunday Comic Strips.  Then, in my teen & young adult years, I enjoyed the daily strips as well.  Being a comic book collector since the age of 9, I always enjoyed the sequential art medium, especially when pictures without words can succinctly tell a story.  Twenty-five years ago, I spent the summer in Sicily and I remember having these comic books for adults, (they were like soap operas in comic book form).  I couldn't read Italian but I was able to enjoy the story just by the book images and I would re-view the book over and over and the story became more and more detailed that after a few views, I understood the entire stoy and it's sub-plots. 

Maybe someday, I will find those stories again..... along with my L'uomo Ragno (Spider-Man) comic books that are long gone.  In the mean-time, I came across a couple of single panel comics and thought I'd share....


Translation: "Guys! I have come to the terrible conclusion that the killer is one of us!"

Translation: "Tell me, Are you in favor or against marriage?"

Friday, April 1, 2011

FYI - Asparagus

Asparagus is a member of the Lily family and is related to onions and garlic. The asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils. The spears are usually not harvested until the 3rd or 4th year, to allow the crown to develop a strong root system. The plants will then produce spears for about 15 years. Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10" in a 24-hour period. Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer. How often spears may be picked depends on the temperature. Early in the season, spears may be picked every 4 days or so, and later as the average temperature warms up, they may have to be picked every day!