Thursday, December 16, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

Things most certainly didn’t go as I had hoped the past two weeks, which is why I completely missed week 2 of holiday cookies. I guess that’s what I get for promising.

But life is back in full swing after visiting la famiglia in New York for the most solemn of occasions. If a burial service can be lovely, it was, and though it was a freezing day at the cemetery, the sun did manage to peek through the clouds, assuring my uncle’s safe journey up to our family of bowlers in Heaven. May you rest in peace, Uncle Sam. Please tell my dad I miss him.

The visit was a whirlwind – we were there just over 24 hours total – and I always leave wishing we’d had more time to visit.

So, now you are asking yourself: “But, Maria, what does this have to do with the cookie recipes you promised?” Well, as I’m sure you know by now, any gathering with my family always promises good Italian food … and lots of it. For instance, just look what Aunt Ann put on the table for dessert after breakfast:


It’s true. When was the last time you were offered dessert after bacon and eggs? More importantly, see those cookies? Those are homemade toralle! My week 2 cookie!!

Though Aunt Ann created this very festive batch, the recipe in my recipe box originates with my Aunt Santa – appropriate for the season, wouldn’t you say? She was married to Uncle Joe, my mother’s oldest (and only) brother. Aunt Santa and Uncle Joe spent their life together in the lovely town of Port Chester, New York, raising three beautiful daughters. Though older than I, my cousins were always kind to that little brat (that would be me, of course) that visited from Pennsylvania.

My memories of sitting around Uncle Joe and Aunt Santa’s dining room table, cracking nuts, drinking coffee (the adults) and milk (me), and eating cookies – those are as vivid as if they happened yesterday. I remember plastic covers on white sofas at their house … and being allowed to swim in their new pool when the water temperature was much too cold for any sane human. They had the coolest laundry shoot ever – my Barbie could fall two stories into a basket of laundry without any limb damage! And since Aunt Santa worked for Avon, headquartered just down the road from them, there were also free samples of new Avon products. I’m a sucker for Avon, even to this day, thanks to Aunt Santa.

But that was a long time ago. The little things remain in my memory, but much has happened since that time and that house. Uncle Joe died in 1983, just a few weeks before my dad. Thankfully, their widows continue to grace us with their presence in our lives. My mom, of course … you know what she’s been up to. As for Aunt Santa, she’s now in her 90s, doing the best she can with a fading memory. Sadly, I haven’t seen her in years, but thanks to Facebook, my cousins and I are in better touch than we have been in quite some time.

Coincidentally, my week 3 cookie recipe also originated with Aunt Santa. If I could make just one cookie for Christmas every year (and there are years I have), what would it be? Pecan tassies, of course!



Aunt Santa’s Pecan Tassies
(Click here to view and print recipe)





When I pull out that recipe and the one for “Aunt Santa’s Sugar Cookies (Toralle)”…

(Click here to view and print recipe)

…I feel a rush of comfort in my heart for the good old days, when my dad and uncles were still with us, and we could all gather at a table loaded with food … loaded with love.

Uncle Joe and Daddy, I trust you’ve ushered Uncle Sam into the great bowling alley in the sky with open arms. Next time it lightning and thunders, I’ll be looking up with a smile on my face … knowing full well you are all  having the time of your afterlives. Vi vogliamo bene.

Toralle on Foodista

1 comment:

Beth @ Dirty Laundry said...

So which one are you bringing????