Today, Frances Rivetti is in my kitchen, sharing her tasty English- and Italian-influenced favorite meals, and sharing thoughts on Greenland’s evidence of global warming.
Frances Rivetti is an independent journalist based in Sonoma County‘s gateway to Northern California wine country. A mother of three teenage and pre-teen boys, Frances has written numerous articles on homes and gardens, wine, food, travel, education, and family life.
In order to keep life manageable and sane, Frances believes in a straightforward approach to sustainable living. From her Italian mother-in-law’s lessons and her no-nonsense British upbringing, Frances focuses on simple ways to raise a modern American family.
Why is living organic important to you?
Living organic is important to me as a mother of three boys (19, 15, and 12) and as a busy, active woman in her 40s, as well as a responsible citizen of the world. I really do believe that we are what we eat. A fundamentally natural lifestyle is not hard to maintain; keeping everything we consume as simple, fresh, and local as possible is actually quite uncomplicated.
What was your favorite food growing up?
I grew up in the wilds of rural Lincolnshire, in the east of England. This is not a glamorous corner of the globe. But despite the fact that Americans tend to make fun of British food, I have to say that my childhood favorites at the family tea table were seasonal and wholesome, especially those delicious farm-fresh fruit desserts and puddings of summertime. I’m still a sucker for strawberries and cream, rhubarb crumble, and custard-based gooseberry fool. Anything with crumble on top, especially apple! Sunday roasts came a close second, with piles of parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, and roast potatoes.
Lamb Shanks Braised in Wine
6 locally sourced lamb shanks, well trimmed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
1 cup chopped, fresh heirloom tomatoes with juice
6 cups organic beef stock
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Season meat with salt and pepper and brown in oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
3. Remove and pour off any fat.
4. Sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and parsnips in the oil.
5. Add wine, simmer for about 5 minutes, add tomatoes, stock, herbs, and meat and bring to a boil.
6. Cover and bake for 2 hours until meat falls off the bone.
7. Transfer shanks to platter and puree veggies after discarding bay leaves and any surface fat.
8. Pour over meat and polenta or mashed potatoes. Serve with green beans or roasted root veggies.
What’s your go-to comfort food now?
My go-to comfort food since raising my three half-Italian sons here in California is homemade mac and cheese, alongside my mother-in-law’s recipe for Neapolitan meatballs. Impossible for anyone to resist.
What’s the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn’t live without?
My electric teakettle. Tea is a constant in my kitchen.
What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?
I was given a copy of The New Good Life: Living Better than Ever in an Age of Less [John Robbins] by a family friend, and I found the author’s personal experiences and gentle guidance to be remarkably spot-on in this age of extreme economic crisis. Dignified and responsible lessons to be learned by everyone, regardless of their fiscal status.
What’s the most important news story today that you think we need to pay more attention to?
A chunk of ice broke free in the waters of Greenland this summer that is four times the size of Manhattan. It is said to contain sufficient freshwater to supply the entire United States for 120 days. Experts are hoping that it will break into smaller chunks before melting and posing an extreme threat to coastal Canada. If this is not the biggest story of our time to illustrate global warming, I don’t know what is.
Where do you get your news?
I get my news online and in print. As an independent journalist, I have a tendency to inhale any random news source that I might stumble upon, from the local free sheet at the gym to the school newsletter to BBC World’s feed on Twitter. Although I love to peruse the newspaper in print at the breakfast table, I have fully embraced electronic sources as credible, refreshingly opinionated, fast, and efficient.