Whenever I want to feel closer to home (Boston), I usually break out my recipe book that I wrote when I was in elementary school. I grew up in a household that
was is centered around home cooking. Both my parents cooked and/or baked daily and both sets of grandparents were avid cooks. As some of you may know, the norm in Italian households is to wake up and immediately start thinking about and planning dinner while eating breakfast. Lunch and snack plans come shortly thereafter, but your world centers around what you’re eating now and what and when you will eat next. When I was a year old, my mom went back to work for 18 months and I spent those work days with my mom’s parents (Nana & Papa Coatie) and my dad’s parents (Nana & Papa Dutch). I named my grandparents after their pets. I strongly believe that my grandparents helped shape me into the person that I am today. My college essay described how my grandparents influenced me and how I am different from my younger brother and sister because of my experience with them.
Both of my Nana’s were very organized and encouraged list making, clipping coupons and writing recipes. Since I was young, I have loved writing out recipe cards. Since my handwriting was nowhere near as neat as I wanted it to be, I would rewrite each recipe card until they looked acceptable to make it into my booklet (even though there were still spelling mistakes and backwards letters). I’m quite sure I would have thrown this booklet away during my teenage years along with all the cookbooks I have collected since I was little (my obsession started early); However, thanks to my mom, I have still my recipe cards and my cookbooks to enjoy and pass along to my own children.
While a wave of homesickness swept over me this summer, I decided to make my Nana’s Bread & Butter Pickles. With the cucumbers priced at $1.00/pound, there was no time like the present. I take comfort in using my family’s recipes and spending a day in the kitchen. I talk to myself and I repeat certain sayings that I remember my grandparents saying to me (usually in a Boston accent) and still follow some of their kitchen routines. When I go home to Boston, my sister, mom and I usually spend at least one night reminiscing and watching home videos, remembering a time when we had more of our loved ones with us. There’s a video of my Nana and I making ravioli when I was three years old that I never get sick of watching. My Papa Dutch, who I now call Grampa, is 95 years old and the first thing I do when I get home is go over his house, light the gas stove and start cooking. Grampa and I are two peas in a pod and I cherish every moment I have in the kitchen with him. Nothing makes me happier than making my family’s recipes and sharing the food with people who I love. The pickles came out great, thanks Nana.
I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday weekend! Take some time to make something delicious for your family and friends. My pickles are certainly going on the road with us this weekend.