Thursday, July 02, 2020

Italian Wedding Soup

I don't know why this delicious soup is called Wedding Soup. I read somewhere that it was because the flavors are wedded together perfectly. To me, though, it reminds me of a childhood favorite soup called chickarina which was made with chicken meatballs and no greens. This is made with beef meatballs and greens,  but you can definitely substitute ground chicken for the ground beef and have a delicious, lighter soup. In fact, I may do that next time!

I can eat soup every single day, so don't go by me - my dear friend pronounced this soup absolutely delicious last night, so you can take that to the bank. Serve it with lots of freshly grated parmesan on top. Get the soup bubbling on the stove first, then make the meatballs and drop them in, next add the pasta to cook, and lastly, add the greens to cook or to wilt, depending on what greens you have on hand. This is best made with extremely flavorful chicken broth - I make my own chicken bone broth in the instant pot and it is amazing! Save 3 chicken carcasses, picked clean, or the equivalent in bones. Cover with water in the pot, set for one hour at high pressure, let reduce naturally. No need to add anything other than salt - the chicken flavor is divine!

For the soup:
2 large onions, diced small, about 1/4" (about 1 1/2 cups)
2-3 large celery stalks, with leaves, diced small (about 3/4 - 1 cup)
2-3 large carrots, diced small (about 3/4 - 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic minced or pressed (about 1 1/2 Tbs)
1 - 2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 quarts rich chicken bone broth
3/4 cup (for brothy soup) or 1 cup (for a more substantial, thicker soup) small soup pasta, such as:
         acini de pepe, orzo, ditalini, mini farfalle, or even Israeli coucous
6 oz fresh greens, roughly chopped (escarole, spinach, kale, even arugula is good)

In a 5 or 6 quart soup pot with a heavy bottom, saute the onion, celery, and carrots in the olive oil. When onion is transparent, and perhaps just golden at the edges, add the garlic and saute for a minute or two more. Add the broth and let simmer while you make the meatballs

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef (or chicken)
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (put 1 -2 slices in your blender or processor)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (or 1 heaping Tbs dry)
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano (or 1 scant tsp dry)
2 Tbs minced onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large egg
1 Tbs olive oil if meat is very lean, skip otherwise

Mix all ingredients well with your hands and form into 1" balls. I use a melon baller for this.

Put it all together:
Once the soup has simmered for 20 or more minutes and the carrots are tender, add in the meatballs, and return to simmer 10 minutes. If using a tough green, like kale, add the kale with the meatballs. Stir in the pasta after the meatballs have cooked 10 minutes, and simmer 5 more minutes. If using a tender green like arugula or escarole, add in and cook for about 3 minutes. If using spinach, add on top and let it wilt - no further simmering is necessary. Taste for salt and pepper. Depending on the broth used, you may need up to 1 Tbs of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper for the pot.

Ladle into bowls and serve with freshly grated parmesan on top.


Nota Bene: for a similar, but lighter soup, check out my recipe for Brodetto con Polpetti 

Monday, October 16, 2017

White Bean and Chicken Chili

I can't believe that I never made white bean chili before. This may be my favorite chili
yet! I made it in my instant pot because I cooked the beans from dry in it, but you can substitute 3 cans of beans, rinsed and drained, and cook it on the stove top. I used cannelini beans because that's what I had on my shelf, but any white bean would do. While the beans were cooking, I cooked the butternut squash. I cut it in half length wise, scooped out the seeds, and sprayed the cut sides with olive oil (I have a mister that I use instead of Pam for everything), placed them cut side up on a baking sheet in a cold oven, and baked at 375F for 45 minutes, which was perfect.  I will use the other half for something else, maybe as a filling for ravioli, or in a risotto later this week. I used homemade double strength chicken stock which is very flavorful, but you can add 1 Tbs of chicken bouillion paste or granules to improve the flavor of your chicken stock. This works great when I have to use commercial chicken stock - unless I use Swanson's brand. Swanson's brand is the tastiest and doesn't need any help in the flavor department. You can use any cut of chicken, though I think the flavorful thighs would be best. I used tenders because they were on sale AND marked down, and I couldn't resist them at the store today. You can use any flavor of Rotel that you like - I used the one with jalapenos because I like spicy food. You can add plain tomatoes, or Rotel without the heat, and you can add a little heat yourself via cayenne, pepper, or hot sauce. It's up to you.

And without further ado, here is the recipe.


12 oz white beans, picked over, rinsed, cooked until tender without salt, and drained
Half a butternut squash, cubed and cooked
2 Tbs olive oil
1  onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp salt
4 cups flavorful chicken stock
1 can RoTel tomatoes
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken, cubed

Start by cooking the beans and the squash. While they are cooking, drink a glass of wine, and then peel and dice the onion and smash and mince the garlic (or you could put it through a garlic press).

In a soup pot (or your instant pot set on saute), saute the onion in the oil until translucent and the edges are just starting to turn toasty. Add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes. Add in the oregano, cumin and salt, then the tomatoes and broth. Add in the beans and cook for about 15 minutes to let the flavors meld a bit. Then, add in the chicken and squash cubes, and simmer until the chicken is done, about another 10 or 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve.

Garnish with whatever you like: sour cream, some shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, avocado.... it's delicious without any additions. Or, you could serve it over rice or soft polenta, which I may do for dinner later this week.

This made a lot, about 10 cups of a very, very thick chili.

2 Smart points per cup, if you count all the veggie points; about .75 smart points if you don't.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Best Borscht

Readers of this blog know that I am an Orthodox Christian, and I've lived in various parts of the United States over the last 40 or so years. I've been exposed to people from all over the world, and my husband I had best friends for many years who were Russian Americans. We also were members of a parish that had many Russian Americans, and people from all over eastern Europe.  That is how I became obsessed with borscht. I have always loved beets, and beet soup Russian style is absolutely divine.

Now, borscht is made all over eastern Europe, with various incarnations. It can be meatless, or full of meat, hot or cold, with or without cabbage, but the one constant is it's characteristic deep red color from the beets. Here is my favorite recipe for a meaty borscht.


3 quarts meat broth, meat reserved and cubed
6 - 8 medium beets, scrubbed well
2 large carrots, sliced
1 really large potato, cubed into 3/4"
1 lb canned chopped tomatoes
1 lb cabbage, sliced thin
1 Tbs sugar
2-3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp dill
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Cook the beets how you like, peel the skin off, and slice into eighths, so they fit on the spoon.  Put beets, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, salt, pepper and 1 tsp dill in the broth, and boil till tender, 20 - 30 minutes. Add meat, sugar and cabbage, and simmer till cabbage is tender. Remove from heat, taste for sugar, salt, pepper and dill. Stir in vinegar before serving. Top with sour cream and more dill.

I usually make my own broth in the pressure cooker from meat scraps and bones. If you buy meat broth, you will need to also buy some stew meat, and will have to simmer the meat in the brother for about an hour before making the soup, to ensure that it is tender - or, you can pressure cook the meat with a natural pressure release.

I have made this with broth made from lamb bones and meat, and if you like lamb, as I do, you will be in for a taste treat! I think the lamb version is my most favorite, even more than the beef version!  I've never made this with broth from pork bones, but I don't see why it would not be tasty as well.

I usually pressure cook the whole beets, or sometimes halved beets if they are really large, but you can boil them, or roast them, too. Be sure to save the beet greens because they may be the best part of the beet, and so very healthy!

I don't usually have sour cream hanging around the house, but I always have a big tub of plain yogurt, so feel free to drop a dollop of that on top of your soup. It is really yummy!

If you don't have red wine vinegar, use apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar, but don't use balsamic. That particular culture clash is not yummy. Ask me how I know this.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Brodetto con Polpetti - Italian Chicken Meatball Soup

When I was a kid, I loved chickarina soup which was garlicky chicken broth with some veggies, greens and acini de pepe or other type of pastina, with chicken meatballs floating in it. I loved it, and so did every other kid I knew.  Fast forward to San Jose, CA, circa 1983 or 1984. I had bought a large, 8 quart pressure cooker, and made chicken stock from trimmings and bones a couple of times a month. My neighbor, Marge (an amazing cook, fellow Italian married to a Syrian) and I were talking about soup over a glass or two of wine.  We both talked about chickarina, and I decided I was going to make it. I  had plenty of homemade chicken stock, so why not?

Over the next couple of years, I made it often, always tweaking it, and eventually settled on this version, which will most likely be made this weekend. I've cleaned out my fridge and freezer, and need to make some chicken broth from carcasses I've saved in the freezer, so brodetto con polpetti it is.

Brodetto con Polpetti

2 quarts flavorful chicken stock
2 smallish zucchini, chunked
2 med carrots, chunked
1 med leek, washed and chunked
4 shallots, or 1 small onion, quartered
1 clove garlic
handful or two of baby spinach
1/4 lb pastena of choice
1 tsp parsley dried, or 1/8 C fresh, minced

Simmer the veggies (except the spinach) in the broth 45 minutes, till very soft. Puree with a hand held blender.  Add the raw polpetti and pastena, and simmer, covered, 10 minutes, till polpetti are cooked through. Check for salt and pepper, stir in the spinach to wilt, and serve with freshly grated parmesan on top.

Chicken Polpetti 
1 lb lean, raw ground chicken (breast is good for this)
1/3 C breadcrumbs (Italian flavored, or make your own)
2 - 3 Tbs freshly grated parmesan
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg

Mix all together with your hands till well combined, then use a melon baller to make around 4 dozen marble sized meatballs. They will swell a bit when cooked.

The flavor of the broth is what makes this dish amazing, so if your broth is not super flavorful, feel free to add a little chicken bouillion powder, or just use the best store bought chicken broth, Swanson's. Sometimes I use Israeli couscous, which is a pasta product, in this. Traditionally, the pastena would be round, like acini de pepe, but you can use any tiny, soup pasta that you want, and what you already have hanging around. I pretty much always have some fresh and frozen greens in my house, so I use whatever I've got on hand - it does not have to be spinach.

Most importantly, DO NOT SKIMP ON THE PARMESAN! That ground up stuff in the green shaker can is not parmesan, it is an abomination!  Buy a little chunk of the real thing and grate it as needed, and you will be amazed at how much flavor it gives. It also lasts a very long time in your fridge. Hold onto the hard ends and put that in your soup as well, especially minestrone, for a taste explosion, so don't waste the rind by throwing it away.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Vegetable Barley Stew

My grandmother was a great cook. Of course, everyone thinks their grandmother was a great cook, and it is the remembrance of the love that makes us think that. However, my grandmother was an adventurous and creative cook, and that's what made her a great cook. She was game to try anything, like making her own won ton wrappers so she could make her own egg rolls. Who does that? Grammie did. She also cooked traditional Italian, Jewish and American foods. This is one of her traditional New England style soups, which I have veganized. She made it with beef, and my cousin Ginny says that it was her father's favorite soup. Uncle Joey and my mother were the last two siblings, and eventually, he was the last sibling. I wish he was here, because I would love to get his opinion on this soup. So, this is for you Ginny!

Vegetable Barley Stew 

1 1/2 C pearled barley, picked over and rinsed well
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 large stalks celery, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 - 14 oz can of diced tomatoes in tomato sauce
2 Tbs not chicken bouillion powder
1 quart veggie broth
2 heaping tsp Italian herbs (yes, I do use them on occasion)
1 TBS parsley flakes
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 quart water, plus more if needed
1 TBS olive oil
Secret ingredient: red lentils or split mung beans

In a  4 to 5 qt soup pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil till translucent. Add celery, carrots, herbs (but not salt). Add the tomatoes, broth and 1 quart of water, stir well. Add in the barley and bouillion powder, and taste. It probably will need more salt, but hold off on that for a bit. Let it simmer for around a half hour. By that point, the barley will be nearly cooked. You may need some more water and salt, so add it now.  When the barley is done, about 45 minutes in total, you are ready to eat!

My secret ingredient to make a very thick, vegan stew, is to toss in about a half cup of red lentils or split mung beans, which dissolve after 15 minutes of cooking. They don't change the flavor, but they add nutrition and thicken the broth nicely.  You can add more or less, but remember that as the soup sets, the barley will continue soaking up the broth, so it can be extremely thick the next day, almost like a pudding. I happen to love it that way, but you may need to thin it out a little when you reheat it later in the week.

This is what I like to call, Clean Out the Fridge Soup.  You can add in any leftover veggies or meats to this soup and it will be yummy. You can add any vegetables you like in addition to onion, garlic, carrots and celery. I seldom put potatoes in since I use a higher ratio of barley to liquid than most barley soup recipes, but you can put them in if you like. I also like to put a cup or so of frozen peas with this, but I am out of peas today.

To make this beef and barley soup:
Use all beef broth instead of veggie broth and water
Use beef bouillion
Toss in any leftover beef blood or juices from another meal, and add some cubes of beef. Use about a pound of beef roast, precooked or not.
Leave out the secret ingredient.

Popcorn and Cavender's Greek Seasoning - The Staff of Life

I really love popcorn.  I mean, I REALLY love popcorn. I REALLY REALLY love popcorn, and I consider it to be a whole grain and therefore a reasonably healthy snack choice. I also live alone, and like many women who live alone, popcorn is sometimes dinner.  I used to cook it in olive oil on the stove, and dress it with melted butter (the more, the better), salt, pepper and lots of freshly grated parmesan. Then I went through the bagged microwave popcorn phase, which is tasty, but expensive. I've been using a PowerPop in the microwave for many years and I love it - I think I have the original model. It requires a disposable metallic disk be inserted, and I keep using the disk till it gets burnt up. I've also had a couple of forays into electric air poppers, but they throw too much heat for me, and I always go back to the PowerPop in the microwave.

I always cook my popcorn dry in the microwave in the PowerPop. I buy bags of corn kernals, decant to a quart canning jar, and put a coffee scoop inside for easy measuring. I put two scoops (4 Tbs, or 1/4 C) into the PowerPop, set my 1200 watt microwave for 2 minutes 30 seconds on high, and let 'er rip. I usually drizzle a little olive oil over and then season to my taste. I love Adobo seasoning, especially the one with the pepper, and often use that, though I've used any seasoned salt you can think of.  Along with the Badia brand Adobo, I'm currently using Tony Chachere's Seasoning (which is mostly cayenne and not enough other flavors, so I won't be replacing it when it's done), and Cavender's Greek seasoning.  I don't know how authentically Greek Cavender's is - probably not very authetic at all - but it is delicious on my popcorn. I've gone through a small shaker in a month.  Oink.

I just made a dupe of Cavender's. I looked online and found a few recipes for Cavender's, looked them over, put a few together and came up with, not a dupe, but a delicious blend that I may like even better - all from spices and herbs I already had on hand. The recipe is below.

Now, I watched a YouTube video in which a young vegan woman explained how to get salt or other seasonings to stick on dry popcorn. Her secret is to use powdered seasonings. She said salt crystals don't stick, but salt powder does, and she is absolutely correct!!!!  I'm all about saving a few calories here and there, and this works!

So, since I use Cavender's mainly for my popcorn, I made the dupe and put  it through my Vitamix which made short work of pulverizing the ingredients into a powder. It took about 20 to 30 seconds.  I've refilled my Cavender's shaker and I am ready for popcorn!!!

Note: Many of the recipes I saw online added a ton of onion powder, like a tablespoon, but I don't have any onion powder on hand, and if I bought it, I wouldn't use it except for this recipe, so I didn't bother. It's delicious as it is. I may add a touch more salt to the next batch simply because I love salt, but maybe by then I will have tamed my taste for salt a bit.

Denise's Greek Style Seasoning Salt Powder
Makes more than 1/3 cup

1 TBS salt
2 tsp basil
1 TBS oregano
1 TBS garlic granules
2 tsp dill weed
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp  ground nutmeg

I added 1 tsp cornstarch to keep it from clumping.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Golden Milk, or, How to Beat your Genes

My father and his mother had Alzheimer's, so statistically, I am at risk. My mother's family had heart disease both rheumatic (not genetic) and other which is a combo of genetics and lifestyle, so statistically, I am at risk. I have osteoarthritis in both knees which is quite severe and painful, and in my hands and a few other places. So, I often read up on how to keep these problems at bay and how to cope with them. There are sorts of things that various scientific and pseudoscience sources tout, and then there is what my doctors say.

My doctor said I should take 800 mg of ibuprofen twice a day for my knees. It's a LOT of ibuprofen; ibuprofen has been shown to injure the heart muscle which scares me, and I took it for nearly a year. There was immediate improvement, but over time, it seemed to stop working. I went off it for a few weeks and felt that the pain and stiffness was worse, so I went back to taking it. Immediately I felt a big difference for the better, but after a few more weeks, the effects lessened. I started looking for something else, since knee replacements are not possible right now.

Then I read about turmeric which supposedly helps with inflammation as well as ibuprofen, does not not harm the heart muscle, and has the added benefit of protecting against Alzheimers disease. The capsules are pretty expensive, and you take four at a time several times a day. The fresh root is the most potent, but very hard to find and I kill all plants, so the ground spice is what I'm focussing on.  I found several recipes for golden milk which is spiced sort of like chai, but with milk instead of tea, and with the addition of turmeric.  I decided to add some black pepper to assist with the turmeric's medicinal properties, and some coconut oil for the Alzheimer's.  I'm going to play some more with this recipe, but this is what I did last night and it was delicious! I drank it before bed and this morning, my knees seem less stiff and painful, so maybe, just maybe, we have a winner here.

Golden Milk
2 C milk - plant or animal based; I used cow's milk because that's what I had in the fridge
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 star anise
4 cardamom pods
1 heaping tsp of freshly grated ginger (don't bother to peel, just use your microplane and grate)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs honey (I use local honey which helps with my allergies)
1 heaping tsp coconut oil

Stir it all up in a 2 C pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 2 minutes, stir well, and microwave for another minute till steaming hot.

It really was delicious, and although this was meant to be two servings, I drank the whole thing. Yes, it was that good!  Once the milk is gone, I'll try it with unsweetened almond milk and maybe maple syrup - the real stuff, not that brown sugar water.

I don't think the star anise or cardamom pods are necessary for medicinal purposes, though the pepper is, so I think they could successfully be left out and it would still be delicious. I love fresh ginger, and always have a few knobs in the fridge, but you may not have it lying around.  I will try it with ground ginger and see how that affects the flavor. I really only use ground ginger when making gingerbread, so mine is probably old and should be used up anyway.

And, now, off to the salt mines!

Monday, February 06, 2017

200 Posts - A Milestone!

200 posts! 200 posts, and 10 years! It's a milestone, isn't it?

I started this recipe blog back in February, 2007 because of some conversations I had with some newly Orthodox women on the now silent Orthodox Women's yahoo group. These women were worried about what to feed their families during Lent, and some of us older women gave them some ideas. I committed to posting what I fed my daughter and myself, with recipes, each time I cooked something, and What I'm Cooking Now was born. It seemed to be helpful and I enjoyed blogging, so I kept it up. I soon realized, though, that as I told anecdotes and wrote down how I cook, I was making a virtual cookbook of family recipes and lore for my daughter. So, in a way, this blog is a love letter - to my daughter, who is now grown and a co-author of this blog - and to my mother, grandmother and aunties, from whom I learned to cook and to eat. 

Food is necessary to live, it's true, but it is also a creative act. You can open a can of beans, put it on the table, and you have provided food for the body. You can open that can of beans, add some onion, garlic, chopped carrots, celery and peppers, salt, pepper, basil, a splash of vinegar and a bit of olive oil, tasting to make sure that it is delicious, put it in a pretty plate, surrounded with slices of baguette, and you have provided more than only food for the body. If you serve it to those you love, and sit together to eat it, and thank God for it, you have provided food for the soul as well as the body. 

Culturally, I'm an Italian American, and in my culture, lovingly prepared food is a sign of love. A meal around the table is how the family bonds are strengthened. Once I moved far away from my large, extended Italian family, I tried to recreate the sense of belonging, of acceptance, of satiety in my own home. My home became a gathering place and I made a new, large, extended family of people with other food customs. I've traveled the world through what is on my plate. I've broadened my horizons while broadening my taste buds, and this has only enhanced my life. 

My family, both sides, are immigrants from Italy and French speaking Canada, ultimately from France. I married a man whose family on both sides were immigrants from Lebanon and Syria. Our best friends grandparents were from Russia. We lived in an area with many restaurants run by immigrants from Viet Nam, India, Cambodia, Pakistan, Japan, China, various places in Africa, and every country in Europe. My husband lived in Germany and Thailand. We were adopted by a big, fat Greek family, and we not only learned to dance the sirto and tsamiko, but to cook and eat Greek style. We ate the world, and the world is a tasty place, indeed. 

When my grandparents immigrated to the United States, they brought their culture with them, and this culture informed how they interacted with each other and with the world. This culture included music, art, language, history, and food. The first generation in this country - my parents and their siblings - lost much of the music, art, and history, but learned the language (to a greater or lesser degree), and my generation has lost the language entirely. What is left to tie us to our roots? It is the food - the food is what is left. When all aspects of your culture have passed into history, you still have the food to let you know who you are and where you came from. I now live in a place where many natives do not have any idea of where their family came from, and in the United States, everyone comes from somewhere else. I wonder if the fear of immigrants so prevalent today is because the understanding that we are all immigrants to this land has been lost.  I often think how poorer my life would be if I didn't have a sense of where I came from. 

I have sometimes described myself as a foodie, and I am.  I like food. I like everything about it. I like the taste, I like how it looks and smells, I like thinking about what I'm going to cook and who I'm going to feed. I like planning and shopping. I like opening my fridge or pantry, seeing lots of food, and knowing that I am ready to feed hungry people at a moment's notice. I can always put a little of this and a little of that together and end up with a tasty and filling meal. I like my gadgets and experimenting with them. I like the act of cooking - the chopping and mincing and measuring and stirring. I like to eat, too. I like the aroma of the food, I like how pretty it is, I like the mouth feel, the taste.  I like new tastes and flavors, as well as those flavors that are so well known that they are a part of my DNA. Food is fun. Food is creative. Food is not love, but the act of cooking for someone is. When you cook for someone, when you create a meal from the vegetables and meats and grains in your pantry, the end result is greater than the sum of the parts. As you cook and stir and measure, if you are attentive to this one thing that you are doing, it is almost like a prayer. 

I come from a long line of strong women. In my heart, I am holding my daughter's hand on my left, and my mother's hand on my right. She is holding her mother's hand (Josephine), and she is holding her mother's hand (Angela), and she is holding her mother's hand (Angela) and on and on...  Our hands are working hands, scarred, burned, scrubbed clean, short nails. Our hands prepare food to nourish our families, and in so doing we are creating a life, a home, a place of physical and spiritual refreshment. We are participating in some small, mystical way, in the act of creation.  Food is more than fuel, so much more. 

As I write up and post recipes, I tell stories about the food, about my family, my history, my memories, memories of a time and a place and people that are long gone. As I write these memories down, I get to relive them, and by reliving them, I reconnect with a part of myself that may have been forgotten, or may lie dormant. As I write these memories down, I also am writing a love letter to those times and people. Writing things down is forever, and as I write these little snapshots of my life, I am ensuring that they will live on into the future, so in a way, I am a keeper of family history, like a bard of old, only instead of poetry, my medium is food. 

So, I will keep writing in this blog. I'll keep posting recipes, and cooking methods, and little stories. I'm doing this for myself, and I'm doing this for my daughter, who has lived her entire life far from the extended family, so she will understand better where her parents and grandparents came from.  My hope and prayer is that anyone who reads this blog enjoys the stories, and cooks the food for their family. 

I'll end with my mother's favorite Italian proverb:

Sette cose fa la zuppa, cava fame e sete attuta, empie el ventre, snetta il dente, fa dormire, fa smaltire, e la guancia fa arrossire’
‘Soup does seven things, it takes away hunger and thirst, fills the stomach, cleans the teeth, makes you sleep. makes you slim and puts colour in your cheeks’
So, make some soup, feed your family, talk around the table, and put some color in your cheeks!