Life, style & food in the District
Italian Goddesses: The Mignano girls (my mother’s grandmother and her sisters)
My mother and her sisters (and brother) – My mom is the short one on the right.
And now it is my turn!!
Julia Child has a famous book called Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This two-volume cookbook is an exhaustive and diffuse catalogue of recipes that focus on classic French preparation. Most recently, it is notorious for it’s role in the book (and movie), Julie and Julia.
One day I would love to recreate some of Julia’s favorite French masterpieces. However, my current life of a modest budget (read: cannot run to the grocery store everyday for a list of expensive and impractical ingredients) and limited time does not allow for such culinary endeavors. Instead, I like to focus on mastering the art of fresh cooking.
I am a very small part of a very large – and crazy – Italian family. Yet, however crazy, we are all very, very close. In fact, my cousins and I were practically raised together, and I consider my aunts to be my “mothers.” Growing up, our Saturday nights consisted of all-inclusive family gatherings (later referred to as “mafia meetings”) where new and traditional recipes were tested, and wine and laughter ran aplenty. Ultimately, my family sparked my interest in, and love for, food, since the two (family and food) went hand-in-hand.
Growing up with a health-conscious mother also contributed to my current appreciation for food – real food. In high school, friends would joke that we never had “snacks” at my house… but those same friends never shied away when they were invited to an always-home-cooked dinner. My mother kept (and still keeps) a luscious garden that grows lettuce, tomatoes, basil, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and squash. Most of our summer meals came from whatever was picked from the garden that day… Today, the smallest waft of basil floods my senses with childhood memories of summer nights (usually involving homemade pasta with fresh pesto from the garden).
When I was in highschool, my frugal (I mean that in a good way…) parents finally subscribed to cable television, and my life was forever changed when I was exposed to the Food Network… OK, that statement may be a bit dramatic, but finally: people who felt the same way as I did about food! A lot of cooking techniques, ideas, and recipes I have learned from my mother (or my aunts). However, I have probably learned an equal amount from my culinary mentors: Giada, Ina, and Tyler (yes, in my head we are all on a first-name basis).
Shortly after highschool, my interest in food and cooking began to affect other areas of my life. My college roommate and I hosted “family dinners” where we cooked for our (all male) neighbors. My post-college European backpacking itinerary was dictated by spending a few days in Parma for a gastronomic experience like never before. And my minimal grad school salary was often spent at Crate and Barrel on kitchen gadgets and basic cookware.
Once I married Kent I thought “Ahh! Someone to finally cook for!” … Too bad he wasn’t a foodie; but don’t worry, he is slowly turning into one. At least my adorable dog, Grace, eats everything I cook.
So the purpose of this blog is going to document my culinary experiences: cooking rushed weeknight dinners that are still fresh and tasty; slaving over the stove on weekends to recreate favorite family recipes; cooking for others and entertaining (or at least trying to); and enjoying food that is cooked for me by the pros! So here we go!