February 24, 2015

Rockin’ and rollin’

Everything is as it was, and yet everything has changed. My family is, as it’s always been, together through good times and bad. We fight. We laugh. We pick each other up. We celebrate new love, tiny babies, and any democratic victory. We humbly remind those less fortunate, who do not live in New England, that we are the home of the once again, world champion New England Patriots.

In the words of a dear friend we keep on rockin’ and rollin’.

Some things have stayed constant. Nonna still greets us from our twelve-hour drive every December with a big pot of Nonna Soup. A trip made longer with a toddler in the back seat… Spiedini and sfingel are still made at Christmas (and for people we like)...Together with my new sister we have taken over the tradition of making Uncle Danny’s cookies. My go-to dinner on cold winter nights is still Italian hamburgers and come (our super bowl worthy) football season, company chili is made per Tom’s request.

While life propels us forward, sometime with a just a bit too much force, it is comforting to have these little things to hold onto.  Because sometimes a bowl of spaghetti is the only thing that will seem familiar in the midst of new paths, broken hearts, and time’s never-ending onward march.

February 20, 2015

Being brave

When will you pick up your blog again? What happened to Nonna’s Kitchen? What’s your plan? What are you doing these days? Oh the questions. My answer? I have been doing lots and lots of things. Now I humbly return to you dear reader, to report on my journey and the practice of being brave.

The last few years have catapulted me to the very edge of my comfort zone. I earned my Master’s in Gastronomy. I completed certificates in Culinary Arts, Wine, and Cheese (yes you read that correctly, a certificate in cheese). I learned from culinary legends Jacques Pepin and Mary Ann Esposito and observed and worked for many chefs who are the fabric of the Boston food scene. I started a small business and sold soup at local farmers markets, I helped teach children how to make pasta, adults how to pipe macaroons, boxed 1,000 Bibimbap lunches for international super star Psy, assisted in the baking, frosting and assembling of 725 lamingtons for charity and participated in countless other such culinary adventures. To my amazement I found myself belonging to a new community of mentors and friends for whom I am so grateful.  And yet, surrounded by those who where achieving such extraordinary culinary accolades, my ordinary stories of family and food seemed to fall too easily into the category of inconsequential.

While navigating through my culinary journey, Tom and I have made room for new adventures together. We spent a few weeks in Italy doing absolutely nothing except eating and drinking wine.

We packed up our adorable apartment in Cambridge and became honest to goodness homeowners in Belmont. I embraced yoga. We raised chickens.

And then, together we held our breaths, closed our eyes and leapt into the terrifying world of parenthood, welcoming our beautiful daughter, Lucia Marie into the world in August 2013. She is named for Nonna’s mother, my Great Nonna Lucia. She is quite simply, our joy.

A good friend once told me her greatest regret had been that she spent the majority of her life reacting; to emergencies, change, and the day-to-day challenges that life throws at us. I know only too well how easy it is to settle into that reactionary role and stay permanently in survival mode. I have spent the last few years extracting myself from that state of being and have worked hard to cultivate a space where I can approach change without necessarily reacting to it. That space allowed me the autonomy to run a soup business, teach a cheese class, and work with the best people in the world at Boston University. It also gave me the freedom to spend the last eighteen months watching my daughter grow. Somewhere in this space I have also reclaimed my stories.

At the end of the day I am not a culinary genius, I’m not a five star chef, and all evidence suggests that I am not an outstanding teacher to whom students will someday owe their careers. But I do cook good food. And I still have stories to tell and recipes to share.

Most importantly, my greatest happiness still comes from cooking with Nonna and for my family. So here I am, returning to my narrative, picking back up “My Nonna’s Kitchen”, dusting it off and turning to a new page. I hope you will join me.