What is the inspiration for this cookbook you may ask? Well it began when I was born and someone who along with my mother nurtured me like her own, with songs, love, food and warmth. That is my lovely and dearest grandmother who along with my parents raised me to be who I am today. My grandmother was born in Sicily in 1912 and only left this world a few months ago in March 2006.
She lived a completely fantastic 93 years and was sick so few times they could be counted on one hand. I attribute this to her healthy lifestyle, her close knit family, her daily exercise(she walked 4km a day) and her zest for life (she always had a funny poem, story or tale to tell!). She had an interesting and tough life but always managed to persevere and do it with a smile and a positive attitude.
Her healthy lifestyle was one of note, she never ate processed food and made all of her own foods incl. pasta, tomato sauce, bread and more! (It was delicious) She lived with our family and every day when we would come home there would be a warm plate of what she had made for lunch. So instead of an after school snack of crisps or other junk food - my sister and I were lucky enough to have a warm plate of soup, pasta, small piece of meat and vegetables, fresh pizza or sometimes just a little piece of freshly made desert. What a treat!
Entering her kitchen was always an interesting thing. These are the things you could find throughout the year:
-Large pieces of freshly rolled dough waiting to be cut into fresh pasta
-Fresh pasta hanging from large sticks or kitchen chairs
-A bubbling stove with pots of home made strawberry jam
-Fresh bread cooling
-Large amounts of vegetables that needed to be cleaned and peeled or prepared for freezing.
-Or lovely deserts that were off limits as they were to be saved for an upcoming wedding or party……you could always sneak one away if you were quick enough to escape the wooden spoon
My grandmother was always busy in the kitchen and turned the simplest dishes into the most delightful things with only a handful of spices in her cupboard. I can only remember salt, pepper, oregano, fresh mint, basil, rosemary and paprika in her recipes.
When my dearest grandmother passed away this spring there were some coveted recipes that were not written down and passed on to a generation of grandchildren that most likely make less home made meals than ready made ones. I try to never eat processed food -but it is not always easy to come home and make a fresh pizza - I am guilty of buying boxed items too!
This cookbook will visit my grandmother's town in Sicily and her daughters who now live in Canada. In Sicily my grandmother raised her 4 brothers after her mother passed away when she was only 15. This meant that she had to feed 5 hungry males each day - 4 brothers and her father. She managed to do well –as her father lived a healthy life into his 90s and her brothers are all in their 80s and 90s and one is still riding his bike around town! (bless their genes)
Her life was her family and her cooking was her life. This book will try to capture some of her favourite recipes, her staple recipes, her treats and other recipes from family members in Sicily and in Canada.