My earliest memories of cooking were in Nonna's kitchen at the ranch – when I was four or five years old.
After listening to my begging to help for the longest time, she finally folded a clean flour sack dish towel, wrapped it around me, and lifted me up onto a dark oak kitchen chair at the long kitchen counter. I was now close to all the wonderful cheeses lined up for grating, whose wonderful aromas I could smell from down below where she would offer me little tidbits to taste.
Suddenly, there I was standing before chunks of various sizes and shapes of the golden pieces of heaven that she was about to put into my hands. I was ecstatic and full of pride. I wanted to learn everything Nonna would teach me, and, now that I think back to nearly 70 years ago, I know that she was just as eager to use her broken English to teach her first granddaughter what she knew about cooking.
Over the following years, I followed Nonna around her kitchen, learning, writing down recipes. I brought in my own measuring spoons and cups (she had none) so that I could figure out how much of this and that she was using. Her wonderful bread recipe was five pounds of flour and a jar of water plus yeast! Try to make something heavenly out of that! Well, when SHE made it, people raved about it and proclaimed it legendary.
She was an awesome cook, and I learned a great deal from her. However, most of us today don't have the time or focus to spend the time she did on some of those old recipes. She made amazing Italian cookies that took days - bread that was an all-day affair - and sauce that took hours. Fast forward to the Twenty-First Century.
Over the last several decades, I have never stopped cooking, baking, learning and sharing the bounty of my kitchen. Equally as fun for me has been talking about and sharing cooking and baking recipes and techniques with my friends from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures and participating in several dozen culinary classes and training sessions, some by world class chefs and some by local chefs who brought their recipes from their native countries and happily share them with Americans eager to learn and enjoy the food!
In this blog, I will share some of those recipes, along with what some of us do today with modern tools, equipment, knowledge, and ingredients to help bridge the gap between the "old days/old country" and today. Also, I am in love with all kinds of foods and cooking and, even in the 1940's and '50's, Nonna was incorporating her neighbors' and friends’ ideas into those she brought from Sicily. Welcome to Nonna's Kitchen Chair evolving home cooking with friends and family! Future posts will be my recipes plus those of family and friends and, I hope some of yours. Please write me and tell me what you’re cooking and baking, and I hope to share more new ideas in future posts. Let’s cook!