Sunday afternoon.  In Italian families, Sundays are for getting outside, for cooking (and eating) and for being with family and friends.  Luckily, this week, for the first time in a long while, I could do all three.  When Mom and I  can be together on Sundays we usually like to try out random recipes (whatever we feel like cooking), and recently those recipes always include the wood burning oven in my parents backyard. However, still being on East Coast time, and having woken up to the birds chirping at 5am, outside of my little bedroom window... by the time 11:30am rolled around I seriously needed a nap, not to mention I was quickly developing a cold.  I really tried to stay awake, but I was practically falling into my recipe book, and decided that no one would want me to cook for them in this state.  So, I shut all of the shutters and crawled back into bed.
After a little peace and quiet, I awoke, still a bit weary, but my mind was refreshed.  I wanted to make lemon curd cakes and vanilla honey gelato!  Why do I always think of dessert first? For dinner we would have roasted sweet potatoes, homemade pizza, and sardines all from the wood burning oven.  So I riled up Mom and we started on our menu.  We threw some logs on the fire, and by the time it was hot, my coconut oiled sweet potatoes were ready to go. 

Next up, would be the pizzas. Mom is seriously a pro at making the dough, so she took on that task.  I will have to get back home soon for a pizza making internship...

When our friends arrived with baby Armaan (or "Armando", according to his Spanish-speaking nanny),

they brought Tandoori chicken from their favorite Indian restaurant, which was spicy and flavorful.  

Finally, we roasted fresh sardines which we bought from our local Whole Foods.  We picked them out and they cleaned them for us while we managed to shop around and find something else that we just could not live without.  When we got home with our fish (and a few other random items), I stuffed them with lemons and parsley, and covered them with sea salt and pepper.

We stuck them in the oven just like this and they roasted up perfectly in about 10 minutes flat.

While I did finally get to my lemon cakes and honey gelato, we also attempted candied orange peels.  After 5 times of boiling them to remove the bitterness, they had a nice long soak in sugar syrup, 

we dried them on a rack...until they were perfectly chewable, well maybe not perfectly....  But they were a delicious treat, 

and perfect to savor while we laughed at little Armaan.


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