Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Introduction

As a young child growing up on the East Coast of the United States, I was taught two very conflicting thoughts. The “American” women of TV and Hollywood, for the most part in their size 1 dresses, taught me that beauty was in thinness, in designer fashion and dyed hair. But at home things were different.
My Italian family, on every occasion, gathered around the dinner table for hours, enjoying fine food, drink, and conversation.

Italian men liked a little weight on their women, I was told. Over and over in my head I can still hear my elders telling me to “Mangia, figlie, ciotte, ciotte,” which I was always told translates into “Eat, child, get fat, get fat.” And as they said what sounded to me like “jaute, jaute…” (there is no "j" in Italian), they slapped the side of one of their thighs, proudly displaying the little jiggle that comes from enjoying a good Italian meal ... the little jiggle that proves that they made it safely through the Depression and kept their souls intact along the way.
Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, olives and plum tomatoes, salami and mortadella and homemade sopresatta, pasta, lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, and a really good, day-long-simmered sauce. Ah, the comfort food of my childhood years.
They all cooked, my family. Even the men. My grandfather, Nick, was a butcher, and though he died before I was born, his craft was passed on and showed in the meals of his wife (my dear Grandma Lucy), their son (my Uncle Joe), and the girls (my mother and my aunts, Ann and Rose).
On my father’s side, we still have the best spaghetti dinner ever when we visit Aunt Barbara. The secrets of the sauce, the freshness of good homemade sausage, the crustiness of the breads. Who would want to be a size 1 with all this to eat?

And so I begin this cook-blog ... an effort ― purely selfish ― for me to compile my family’s recipes so that they are not lost for our great-grandchildren when we are, as my father used to say, “all bowling in Heaven.” Most of the recipes come from two kitchens: my mother’s, of course, and that of her sister, my godmother, my Aunt Ann.
You know Aunt Ann ― she’s the one who cooks furiously and always has something ready to go in the freezer for when 30 people just happen to drop by on a Sunday afternoon. You can find a seven-course meal in her freezer, and you’ll enjoy every bite of it!
These two kitchens hold many priceless memories. Let us begin...

Author’s Note: One great thing about having your own blog? You can make up the rules and change them as often as you want. That one recipe per post I promised? Next time.

Maria Boyer on Foodista

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Night Writing

I am a night writer. Even when I wrote for a living, I would wake up in the middle of the night, find some little piece of paper, and jot down a story lede (that’s jargon for the first sentence of an article, just in case you are not familiar with the term). When I’d get to the office the next day tired from my mid-night awakening I’d be well on the way to meeting my deadline, that often-intimidating first line complete.

One particular middle-of-the-night, March 15, 2006, I woke up, turned on the computer, and started writing a cookbook. I quietly (so not to wake up my husband or two small children) gathered all of my handwritten recipes and my home-compiled coo
kbook. I wrote my introduction and made a list of recipes to include. And I saved the file, naming it: “Mange, Fille” (the French version of "Mangia, Figlie" but that's a different long story).

Almost four years later, the file from that night has survived, two computers later. Sure, I’ve thought about writing and publishing the cookbook ... several times, in fact. But what if it took? Actually being successful would mean time away from my already established freelance copyediting business ... and more importantly, away from my family.

Times have changed. Technology is “in.” And so today, I give up my published cookbook idea for an even better one ... a blog where I can share my stories and my recipes without fear of success. It feels good.

I loudly shout a “thank you” a mile across the cornfield to my friend, Beth, who started her blog, “Dirty Laundry,” about a year ago. She’s my inspiration and the person who looked at my initial writings and said, “I would love to read this blog! Get going, now!” She tells funny and heartwarming stories about family life in small-town Pennsylvania, and you need to read what she writes. There’s a link on the right side of this page to her blog.

How often will I write? Who can tell the future. Right now I have 34 recipes on that list from four years ago. Will more come along in the meantime? I would expect so. My vow to you, my reader, is to include at least one recipe in each post and to rightfully give credit for recipes where credit is due. So to end this first installment, I offer a recipe for “White Chocolate Popcorn” that was given to me by a Longaberger friend from years-gone-by.

Though not Italian, as most of my recipes will be, it is simple ... and yummy.

Next post: my cookbook intro and a recipe for ... oh, I don’t even know yet. Until then ... mangia, figlie... (I’ll explain that next time!)

White Chocolate Popcorn on Foodista