Homemade Sour Cream

Sour Cream used a lot in many American foods can be hard to find here in Italy.  The Italian name is Panna Acida. I have found it in the COOP grocery store in Firenze, but recently they changed the brand and I really do not like the texture and taste. So now, I have decided to try to make it. I make my own sourdough starter, so this should not be hard.  Right? It is not hard at all just follow the recipe below. Soon you too will have Sour Cream to use in your favorite recipes.

Now many recipes will call for buttermilk and heavy cream. This seems to be the ingredients used for Crème Fraiche.  That is not what I am trying to make here. You can do the same technique with my recipe, adding 1 cup buttermilk to 2 cups cream, and get Crème Fraiche if that is what you are looking to make.

It is simple get a liter size sterile mason jar. The jars need to be sterile because you only want to grow the bacteria needed for making sour cream.  You can sterilize it in your dishwasher hot cycle or boil water and put the jar and lid in the boiling water for 10 minutes.  Look at this video if you are going to use the boil water method.

Video for sterilizing jars

Next, get your ingredients:

  • Sour cream from store (if you cannot find sour cream then lemon for juicing)
  • Whipping Cream in the refrigerated section (panna fresca) ** do not get anything with UHT it will not work.

That is it. Take 2 cups whipping Cream in to the jar, and then add 4 tsp of lemon juice or 1/2 cup of sour cream.  Stir the mixture well and cover with paper towel or cheesecloth secure with rubber band. Place on your counter and let it sit for 24 hours. This time changes if the temperature in the house is too cold or too hot.

You can check on it and give it a stir.  You will see that it will start to thicken.  I also give it a taste and see how sour it tastes. If you want it, sourer you can add a little more lemon.  You can even add a little Total Brand full fat Greek yogurt, which is, what I did and it gave me the right taste I was looking to get.  When you decide it is the texture and taste you like just place in the refrigerator and use.  It lasts 2 weeks.

ENJOY!!!

Summer Camp registrations end the beginning of May for most places

Take a look at the summer camps I just posted on the Facebook page.

Many of the camps deadline for registration is the beginning of May. I hope you have already been looking.

If you know of other camps for the summer that I didn’t post please comment on the page under this post. Thanks. https://www.facebook.com/FMs4Ms/

Expat Working Moms: we are looking to interview you

Hi Moms,

I am looking for expat moms that are working here in Firenze.  FMs4Ms Network would like to interview you. This topic is an important topic for many moms that move here and are looking for jobs or need to make some income.  We want to know your story.

If you are interested in sharing your story, just fill out the form and one of our editors will contact you soon.

Please Help Support the FMs4Ms Network

As renewal time comes for all the Network essentials for keeping moms connected with other moms and giving out information for living an expatriate life in Italy, I am forced to realize how much financial obligation out of my personal account this Network entails. I feel this Network is an asset for the many moms and their families moving here to live in Firenze and the surrounding areas. Which is why I am asking for your help to keep all this alive. A small donation could go a long way.  Here is the GoFundMe link that will take you to the page of where you can donate. Thank you in advance for your help.

https://www.gofundme.com/FMs4Ms-Network

 

 

Your Expat US Child and Them Voting.

votingWell after this election, my son who will be of age to vote next election, just found out that he can not vote. He is an American citizen, was even born in the US, but since he has lived here for all his life in Italy he can not vote. Of course this does depend on the states not the country.

As this author puts it, “The right to vote is not guaranteed by the Constitution; it is a “gift” of the states. If you move back to any state: problem solved.” 1

Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Washington, in addition to the District of Columbia. Are all states that allow children born overseas to register using one of their American parents registration address.

My son and I do not fall in one of these states.  So he would have a hard time registering to vote.

For example a state not listed would be the requirements for New Jersey:

  • A United States citizen
  • I am at least 17 years old, and understand that I may not vote until reaching the age of 18.
  • A resident of the county for 30 days before the election
  • You are NOT currently serving a sentence, probation or parole because of a felony conviction 2

Technically he was a resident for a year after birth, but that does not count. Now can he reside at Grandmas for 30 prior and still vote? Maybe.  It depends on what they want 30 days before can that mean 30 days in the year of the election? There is no clear definition written for that.  The only thing I find is that if you are homeless, you may complete section of home address by providing a contact point or the location where you spend most of your time. How do they even check this information out? You fill out the form and then mail it into the office.

Of course on the form you do have to declare these things:

  • I am a U.S. Citizen
  • I live at the above address (Yet homeless people can lie and state they live any location they spend time at)
  • I am at least 17 years old, and understand that I may not vote until reaching the age of 18.
  • will have resided in the State and county at least 30 days before the next election
  • I am not on parole, probation or serving a sentence due to a conviction for an indictable offense under any federal or state laws
  • I understand that any false or fraudulent registration may subject me to a fine of up to $15,000,
    imprisonment up to 5 years 2

Again 30 days before, what does that mean: in that year, right before the election, in my lifetime? I registered there many years ago and though I live overseas, I am still able to vote with an absentee ballot. It gets very confusing and seems in the end that the answer is no he can not register to vote.

So where does that put us Expats living and having children overseas. Our children are US citizens, have US passports, Get taxed as a US citizen, but yet we do not have the constitutional right to vote!

References for this post:

  1.  Which American Kids Don’t Have the Right to Vote? Ours! website Association of Americans Resident Overseas
  2.  Voter Registration website State of New Jersey Department of State

 

Some great links for voters overseas:

https://www.fvap.gov/

http://www.democratsabroad.org/

https://www.votefromabroad.org/vote/home.htm

https://www.facebook.com/republicansoverseas/

The hidden dangers of fine hairs in the gardens and parks

There are two major warnings that I want to warn you about for your child playing in the parks and gardens here in Firenze and Italy.  Located in these places are a plant and insect with problematic hairs on them. These are a major do not go near or touch for your child.

The first is Ortica (stinging nettle).  It is a plant that if touched will burn like a jellyfish.  I had totally forgot to remind my nephew not to touch them and at one point, he comes over crying because he was burning from touching this plant.  I feel bad because he is a child that loves to touch nature, plants, bugs, trees etc.

The burn does go away after a while but it will take some time.  The entire area can have a bloated look with inflammation surrounded by a red halo.  The itching, burning, pain, and irritation can be quite intense but can vary from person to person.  This is one plant. If your child rolls in a bunch of it or walks in it with shorts, he/she will be in horrible pain. Now, I know you can eat this but you need to collect it with gloves and cook it before using in foods.

If your child does touch Ortica, try not to touch or rub the affected area for 10 minutes. Immediately pour cold water on the skin without rubbing it with your fingers. Best is to keep any bare skin away from the area to prevent spreading and irritating the area more. Although the pain can be intense in the first few minutes, do not touch or rub to prevent painful sensations that can cause trouble for days. Then wash with soap and water to remove the chemicals released from the plant that is causing the pain, swelling, redness, and itching. In many cases, once the area has been washed, the pain should go away completely or at least reduced a lot. Use a clean cloth, if you do not have water and soap on hand, and gently remove dirt and debris from the area. You can also apply adhesive tape (not sure this will work on little children); this is to pluck the little hairs off the infected area of the skin.

The Lapazio (Dock) plant, which usually grows in the same area as Ortica, is stated as quick balm to put on the infected area caused by Ortica. Lapazio plant has leaves are very large, oval and with rounded tips.  The leaf of Lapazio has a wave-shaped edge with the lower leaf having a reddish color at the stem section. If you see this plant nearby and know it is Lapazio, you should grind some leaves and apply to the affected area. If your child has plant allergies, I would not use this on them.

The next is the Pine Processionary Caterpillar (processionarie) seen around March to June. This caterpillar reminds me of the tent caterpillar from my home in NJ that I used to collect in a jar and wait until it hatched into a moth. Unfortunately, though they are in the same species, they are not the same when it comes to collecting caterpillars. This particular tent caterpillar will line up when walking in a long row.  They look harmless but they are anything but and those little hairs on them will generate a big rash and eye irritations if touched. These hairs can be found also off the caterpillar in the leaves and grass around where they walk.   If your child is allergic to them, they will have an allergic response of cough, difficulty breathing, and bubble blisters on arms and/or hands. If your child touches one of these, you should apply the same steps as above with Ortica except the Dock. Wash with soap and water and do not touch the area with bare hands.   Then call your doctor to get any further treatments.  If your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, take them to the emergency room immediately.

It is best when your child is young to show pictures or even the real live thing mentioning very strongly to not touch them that they will feel pain. It worked really well with my children. They recognized it immediately and mentioned it to you when they see them.

****On a side note: these are also a big problem for animals so keep an eye on your cat and dogs.

 

Recent News article on children in Hospital Meyer because of the Processionary caterpillar

Ortica photo:
http://www.actaplantarum.org/floraitaliae/viewtopic.php?t=14088

Processionary Caterpillars photo:
http://www.lost-in-france.com/living-in-france/pets/805-processionary-caterpillars
http://facultyweb.cortland.edu/fitzgerald/PineProcessionary.html

Dock photo:
http://erenovable.com/9-malas-hierbas-en-el-jardin-que-son-comestibles/rumex-crispus-lengua-de-vaca/

The Florentine is doing a Kid’s issue for February

This Thursday either get your free hard copy or check it out online. The Florentine is doing a Kid’s issue for their February edition.

Where to get your FREE copy in Florence: theflr.net/pickup
Subscribe (print and digital subscriptions available worldwide: theflr.net/subscribe

Looking for a babysitter?

Most of you know, from my past posts, that I do not posts from individuals saying they can babysit.  I do not know these people and can not vouch for them, so I do not post them on the site.

A mom in the FMs4Ms Network has taken to creating a business for babysitters.  The babysitters from this company are screened before you hire them.  The company’s motto is that you can book an experienced babysitter in your native language or language of your choice. The company is called International Babysitters.

One important note is that I personally have not used this company, my children are in their teens. The important fact that the company claims to screen and the babysitters are experienced gives me the confidence to post this post.  The reviews are positive as well.

For the Month of February, International Babysitters are giving members of FMs4Ms a 20% discount. You need to mention the code when booking.

firenze-moms-promtion

From Vancouver, Canada to Florence, Italy

View More: http://nataliareardonphotography.pass.us/elenaphotos

Gina Mazza currently lives in Florence with her beautiful 7 month old daughter and her husband Alessio. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Gina wanted to share with us the story of her coming here and how she overcame some of the cultural differences she encountered when settling in.

Read more her story…...From Vancouver, Canada to Florence, Italy

By Ela Vasilescu – Writer/Journalist

 

****This is one of the many stories from our Expat Stories Series  If you are interested in sharing your story fill out the form on this post.  We Would Like to Read Your Expat Story

 

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Florence Flood

81bb47f3-da61-42bd-ad7b-10fdabf7bb4fAnnouncing Special Event:  November 4, 8:00 p.m. – Candlelight Procession Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Florence Flood!  This historic candlelight procession on Friday, November 4 will commemorate the Mud Angels – the young volunteers, many of whom were Americans – who flocked to Florence to help save the city’s precious artworks in the wake of the Flood of 1966.  The city of Florence wants to engage as many members of the local community as possible (students, too!) in the candlelight procession.  Please come out and join us for this extraordinary anniversary event!

8:00 p.m.             Meet at the Church of San Minato a Monte (near Piazzale Michelangelo) – candles will be distributed to participants
8:30 p.m.             Candlelight procession on foot, walking through the city
9:30 p.m.             Arrive at Piazza Santa Croce

*For those in need of public transport to Piazza San Miniato:  Take the ATAF Bus # 12 from Porta Romana or the Bus # 13 from Lungarno Pecori Giraldi.

For more information:  http://toscana.firenze2016.it/dal-fango-gli-angeli-nella-luce-del-futuro/