Oct 302011

Every day I read lots of material about the olive, some from books and others from the internet. Each week I share with you the articles, recipes, research documents, and other information I find on the internet. Most of it is very interesting and some of it inspires me to write an article or two of my own. None of these links are in any way my opinion or are endorsed by me. I am sharing.

Olive Links of the Week

Savoring Tuscany
EVOO Cannon Beach
A segment from Oregon’s EVOO Cannon Beach Cooking School’s blog by Bob Neroni. Bob and partner, Lenore Emery, have an interesting website and I enjoy Bob’s blog.

Olive Oil Industry Groups Reject Proposals for CAP Reform
The Olive Oil Times
Out of this article the following statement is what interested me most, maybe it’s because I’m a lobbyist. “Andalusia’s Minister for Agriculture and Fishing, Clara Aguilera, announced last week she hoped to form a lobby group of the main EU olive oil producers – France, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Spain – to jointly defend the sector’s interests.”

Israel gifts pope with olive tree
JTA news service
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is giving a 200 year old olive tree to Pope Benedict XVI. I wonder where he will plant it.

My Three Favorite Appetizers, I Think
6th Floor Blogs from the NY Times
All good things go with olive oil.

California Olive Oil: The New Gold Rush?
Neon Tommy
Another spin on California olive oils vs. European.

Farm-fresh chicken without the hassle, mess of DIY (Chili Rubbed Chicken Recipe)
This recipe has a delicious south-west flavor.

Grapevine: More than just an olive branch
The Jerusalem Post
This article has the answer to where the Pope is going to put his new old olive tree.

Olive industry attacks Coles and Woolworths over labelling
ABC Rural News (Australia)
Naughty – naughty, Coles and Woolworths aren’t following new Australian olive oil labelling rules.

U.S. Customs finds olive fruit flies in San Diego
North County Times
California olive crop is again battling olive fruit fly. A Lebanese traveller was caught by US Customs with olives infested with the fly.

Test kitchen bonus: A trio of flavorful stone crab recipes
The Orlando Sentinel
Some great crab recipes from the Sentinel’s Test Kitchen.

Cookbook: Olive Oil for Life
Santa Barbara Independent
Global Gardens Owner, Theo Stephan, Releases New Cookbook.

End of the road for Colavita/Forno D’Asolo
Pro Cycling News
Colavita has pulled it’s support for the US International Cycling Union (UCI) Colavita/Forno D’Asolo Women’s Professional Cycling Team. Why the women’s team? Colavita allegedly lost supplier support for the venture. The rest of the “why” I don’t know.

Egg for beauty
Arab Times
An easy and great feeling egg and olive oil facial treatment. It really does work.

Sweet on olive oil? Bake cakes with this healthy ingredient
Four delicious recipes are in this article: Chocolate olive cupcakes, berry compote, lemon olive oil cake, and orange olive oil cake.

Oliana Premium Olive Oils and Vinegars
A website from a store in West Hollywood, California that I thought might be interesting to peruse.

Flos Olei Guide Awards Sicily’s Titone Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil of the Year
The Olive Oil Times
Azienda Agricola Biologica Titone was awarded Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil of the Year. Founded in 1936, the Titone family’s farm in Sicily grows Cerasuola, Nocellara del Belice and Biancolilla cultivars on 4,900 trees to produce about 4,000 liters of organic extra virgin.

Restaurant review: Al Cavaliere in Clifton, New Jersey
North Jersey.com
Hot bread and extra virgin olive oil for starters – yum.

The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller section
Descriptions of some really nice places to get away.

Gino Venitucci knows how to make money in growing olive trees
Dayton section of Your Houston News
Mr. Venitucci is an optimist despite the plight of the farmer.

The Chef’s Olive Mix will bring quality olive oil to Sacramento, owner says
Sacramento Press
Fresh olive oils are coming for you to taste and buy in old Sacramento.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Oct 282011

The weather is cooling here on the planetary topside. My husband’s cousin, Bill, in New Jersey slipped on a patch of ice today. And I’m thinking about Sunday Gravy.

Sunday Gravy is Italian and I am not, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to stand around in the kitchen for hours, chopping, frying, stirring, and tasting. I am powerless to the siren song of the Gravy burbling in a big pot.

I certainly did not come upon this desire to cook and eat Sunday Gravy naturally. My Mom was a 1950’s, college-degreed, home economist and health food fanatic, and my Dad, the sometimes family cook, made scary meals that usually ended up with a beer poured into them. Dad was also the family breakfast cook, but I don’t recall any beer in my grits or oatmeal. My sisters, brothers and I would surely have been sent home from whichever saint-named school we were attending at the time, or maybe not.

As far as I can recall, one day I started making what turned out to be Sunday Gravy and I was hooked. I don’t make it too often though. It takes a long time to prepare and it’s very fatty, which of course makes it taste good.

Olive Crazy’s Sunday Gravy and Meatballs

Notes: I don’t ever measure anything for the Gravy, but I do for the Meatballs. For the Gravy I switch out the meats I use, but stick to the basic meat formula of pork, beef, and Italian sausages. For the Meatballs, I always prefer a mix of ground pork and ground beef. Tomato paste is a thickener and flavor enhancer so don’t use much. I have never needed to use more than one small can. Of the herbs used in the recipes, I use both fresh and dried in the Gravy and the Meatballs.


Olive oil
Meaty pork pieces and pork bones
Meaty beef pieces and beef bones
Italian sausages
Red wine (one you would enjoy drinking)
Tomato paste
Peeled, seeded tomatoes
Italian parsley


Olive oil
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
2 lrg eggs
1/2 c Italian bread crumbs (I buy canned at the grocery store)
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c freshly grated Parmigiano or other hard cheese

Begin with the gravy. Place a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat and wait until the bottom of the pot is warm. Add olive oil. Before adding the meats make sure you’ve patted them dry. Add pork pieces and bones and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate or bowl. Repeat for beef and beef bones, then for sausages. Drain fat.

Lower heat and let pot cool a little. Add olive oil and then the garlic. Move garlic around for a few seconds and add red wine and tomato paste. Increase temperature to medium high and stir continuously for a few minutes. This is where you dredge up all the caramelized, meaty goodness from the bottom of your pot and incorporate it into the sauce. Add tomatoes, stir, and break them up.

Beginning now and throughout the cooking process, if sauce gets too thick, add water, but don’t make it soupy. Add salt, pepper, parsley, basil, and oregano. Return meat and bones, but not sausages, to the pot. Decrease temperature to low, partially cover pot, and stir occasionally.

Start making meatballs. Put all meatball ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix with clean, slightly olive-oiled hands. The olive oil on your hands keeps the meat from sticking to you. Make golf ball-sized meatballs. In a skillet, over medium to medium high heat, add olive oil and brown meatballs without cooking them all the way through.

When the meat in the pot easily falls apart, about two hours, add in sausages and meatballs, check the consistency of the liquid and add water as needed (don’t get carried away), and stir occasionally for another hour.

Remove all the bones, meats, sausages, and meatballs. Throw away the bones, and set the rest aside to serve after the pasta course or to use in another dish. As an Italian friend informed me – meat is eaten after pasta, not at the same time.

Toss pasta with the Sunday Gravy and serve.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Oct 272011

No one really knows where the olive tree originally came from, but here is the Olive Crazy version of it’s mythological beginnings.

One day a Phoenician guy, named Cecrops, was sailing past Greece and saw an attractive bit of land for sale. He thought to himself, “That’s some nice real estate. I’d like to build a city there.” He contacted the land agents at the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company and made a deal. Cecrops was now the new owner of a prime tract of sea-front property.

Cecrops worked hard on his new city. He made it very beautiful, but couldn’t come up with a suitable name. About that time, a couple of highly-competitive, local land agent super-stars, Athena and Poseidon, looked down from their elevated offices at the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company and were impressed. They wanted into the action. Maybe they could capitalize on some of those land development drachmas.

Cecrops, who was not a man to miss a public relations opportunity, devised a contest. The land agent who created the most useful gift for the citizens of his unnamed, beautiful city would get the city named after him or her, and as an extra bonus – all the resulting development rights.

When the other land agents at the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company got wind of the contest – they wanted a piece of the action too. Cecrops was thrilled and held a General Council where each land agent got a chance to compete. Each contestant came ready with handouts and laptop. Long speeches were given to accompanying PowerPoint presentations, but …

The General Council was a disaster. Most of the land agents were quickly bored or sleepy. One by one they slunk away and went back to the office. Cecrops kicked himself. He forgot. Land agents have notoriously short attention spans, since their diets consist of mostly booze and sugar.

At the end of the Council, Athena and Poseidon told Cecrops that they were still interested in competing, but it was too late. Cecrops had lapsed into a dark depression which not even his prescription of Eirene-il (the early Greek name for the Roman medication Pax-il) could correct.

About that time, Zeus, the owner of the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company, striking leader, ruthless entrepreneur, arch procreator, and known baby-eater, came to the rescue. In truth, Zeus thought that Cecrops was ruining his and his land agents’ chances of picking up some juicy development contracts. Cecrops got muscled out and Zeus took over.

Zeus took Athena and Poseidon aside and gave them their instructions. “You have one week to prepare your presentations. You have one minute to speak and if I see a single PowerPoint presentation you are immediately disqualified.” Athena and Poseidon were aghast.

“Well I never,” said Poseidon.

“Grumble, grumble, and you thought you had a headache before, old man,” muttered Athena under her breath.

For one week no one saw either Poseidon or Athena, but the citizens of the unnamed, beautiful city could hear a mighty racket coming from the Mount Olympus Real Estate Company. Finally the day of the contest arrived.

Zeus had a fancy gold chair set up for him and a slightly less fancy one set up for his sister-wife, Hera. The local populous was happy that Hera was attending the contest. Whenever she showed up, she made sure the event was catered. “That woman’s got some class,” a local rube was heard to remark at the buffet table.

Poseidon and Athena took their positions on a rocky outcropping where everyone could see them. Poseidon said, “ladies first,” but Athena declined with a smart-alecky, “age before beauty.” Poseidon was impatient and didn’t consider Athena’s remark worth addressing. Poseidon raised his mighty land-agent trident and struck the ground. Out of the rocks beneath his feet sprang a magnificent horse. The citizens were in awe. Poseidon was sure that with all that wonder and admiration directed toward his gift, he would surely win. Poseidon stood smirking and gloating.

Then, before the over-confident Poseidon could give his one minute narrative on the value of his fabulous gift, Athena struck. With a lift of her chin, an olive tree grew from beneath her feet. Poseidon laughed so hard he dried himself and the local populous guffawed.

Undeterred, the clever Athena gave her one minute presentation on the uses of the olive tree. “Out of this tree you receive wood for fire and building, fruit for food and fuel, and leaves for teas and medicines.”

The local skeptics were impressed, and so was Zeus. Athena won the prizes. Cecrops’ new town was named Athens for the clever and practical land agent, and Athena was awarded all the development contracts she wanted. Her first property development project was a temple to herself at the location of the contest.

May the sun shine through your branches.



Oct 242011

When we hear of polyphenols it is usually in relation to what they do that is good for us. Polyphenols are found in plants and are powerful anti-oxidants that put the smack-down on free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that, due to their instability, damage cells. My husband, the scientist and engineer, could give you a more thorough explanation, but Olive Crazy is the writer in the house.

So, when olives are crushed and the first batch of unprocessed extra virgin olive oil is milled out, the resulting oil is high in the good-for-you polyphenols. The polyphenols eliminate the extra electron in free radicals, saving you for pursuits like living to a healthy and ripe old age so you can enjoy your grandchildren.

But Olive Crazy, you say, your title says that polyphenols are bad too – what do you mean?

Polyphenols are bad when they are heavily present in olive waste used as fertilizer. The polyphenols can reach toxic levels and harm the soil and plant growth that the fertilizer is intended to help.

Thanks to the University of Sevilla (Spain) School of Agricultural Engineering, a study was conducted on the use of alperujo as a fertilizer in organic farming. The alperujo is a byproduct of a two-phase centrifugation olive oil milling process.  It is all the olive waste that is left over, solid and liquid, after all the olive oil has been extracted.

The alperujo can be used to generate energy and is being used to do so at two power plants in Cordoba, Spain. It can also be used as mulch after careful composting. The composting process reaches high temperatures which destroys pathogens and weed seeds, breaks down the polyphenols, and converts the organic waste into a stable humus, ready to use in the place of chemical fertilizers.

This technology has been around for a few years, but despite the potential cost savings and environmental advantages the processing technology is not widely available and research money isn’t either. The Spanish government is busy paying for the storage of past harvests which, by the time the oils are bottled, will have fewer of the healthy polyphenols than our bodies need, but that’s another story.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Oct 232011

Every day I read lots of material about the olive, some from books and others from the internet. Each week I share with you the articles, recipes, research documents, and other information I find on the internet. Most of it is very interesting and some of it inspires me to write an article or two of my own. None of these links are in any way my opinion or are endorsed by me. I am sharing.

Olive Links of the Week

Turkey’s olive oil exports expected to reach $5 bln by 2023
Today’s Zaman
New incentives through Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture are increasing olive and olive oil production.

Recipe: Pan seared sea scallops
This flavorful recipe is courtesy of Chef Parind Vora from Restaurant Braise of Austin, Texas.

International Olive Council Market Newsletter September 2011
International Olive Council
The Market Newsletter provides provisional olive oil data among IOC member producers for the 2010/2011 crop years.

Cutting off the branch you’re sitting on
Israel planning to open olive oil market to competition and local olive oil producers are upset.

Study Recommends Olive Oil Byproduct as Organic Fertilizer
The Olive Oil Times
More information on alperujo.

Tostones con Mojo
Fox 10 TV’s Studio Ten
A vibrant recipe from Momma’s Mojo Cafe & Deli in Mobile, Alabama.

Recipes: Obsessed with olives
Some lovely recipes from Helen Melser, an olive tea drinker from Masterton En Zed. The olives in cheese pastry will go great with beer – mmmmmm.

Paradiso Olive Oils & Vinegars Brings Heavenly Tastes to Redmond
Redmond Patch
Kevin and Shirley Carder open their own (not a franchise) olive oil and condiments store in Redmond, California.

Beyond extra virgin: New standard aims to guarantee quality in olive oil
The Washington Post Lifestyle Section
A great article that “busts” some olive oil “secrets”.

A harvest of tears: Palestinian agriculture continues to suffer as a result of ruthless Israeli policies
Middle East Monitor
Solidarity and the olive harvest in Palestine.

FIORE’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest – Highest Antioxidants Available
Village Soup
The planetary southside’s olive oils get play in Ireland.

Italian comfort food prepared by Amaro Pizzeria and Vino Lounge
Arizona ABC 15
It’s gnocchi my friends. Either you love it (Mr. Olive Crazy) or you tolerate it (Olive Crazy).

Reactions Underscore “Super Premium’s” Long Road Ahead
The Olive Oil Times
Why is it that I always agree and disagree with this writer all in the same article? He’s a spin-master.

Farm to table movement comes to Camden library
Village Soup Herald Gazette
Mainers are eatin’ good.

Israeli settler destruction of 1000s of trees hits Palestinian olive harvest
Malta Today
Palestinian olive harvest down, more to starve, Oxfam weighs in.

Key Ingredient: Olive oil
Washington Post All We Can Eat
I’m in this for the olive oil biscuits – oh yeah!

Five things to do with…fennel
Sydney Morning Herald
I have never cooked with fennel. I guess it’s time to give it a try.

Balloonists seek attorney fees from JCM Farming olive farm
My Desert
You lost your business, you lost your job, now you want attorney’s fees? I bet ole JCM doesn’t agree.

Pumpkin Hummus
CBS Minnesota
I am coming to the conclusion that if you can squish it you can make it into hummus.

May the sun shine through your branches.