NOTE: Late Saturday (7/3/19), I learned that Sunday, August 4th , was National Sister Day. Who knew? Since I had already pre-posted something for August 4th because I knew I would be away for the day, I called my kid sister Rosie to wish her Happy Sister Day. Then I realized that my review of Adriana and Mary Yolanda Trigiani’s book, COOKING WITH MY SISTERS, would be the best next thing to celebrating this day. So here is Part One:
I have been reading all of Adriana Trigiani’s wonderful novels for the last couple of months. (Best-selling author of 17 books.) I switched to non-fiction so I could read about her two grandmothers in her first non-fiction book: Don’t Sing at the Table. From this book, I realized that many of her stories are based on their lives in Italy and America. So it was only natural that I would want to read the cookbook.
Cooking With My Sisters by Adriana Trigiani and Mary Yolanda Trigiani is both a cookbook and a memoir. So much of the Trigiani family’s history takes place around the table or focuses on food. The two women have stories for almost every recipe or food event that the story becomes part of the recipe.
Additionally, because it is a memoir, there are many photos throughout the book of family members in different stages of their lives, And because it is also a cookbook, there are wonderful photos of several of the dishes that come from both grandmothers.
When Grandmom Viola Trigiani died, her recipes were found lodged behind the stove for safekeeping and only discovered when the stove needed to be replaced. However, Grandmom Lucia Bonicelli’s recipes were written on index cards and filed by her daughter Ida (Adriana and Mary’s mom), an organized librarian, so they were never hidden.
The recipes are well- organized, from pasta and the sauce to family dinners, then desserts, snacks and treats. It is definitely a complete Italian cookbook with the bonus of funny stories and family lore woven in before, after, and between the recipes, so you get the “full flavor” of the the comings and goings in the family kitchen.
Perhaps the best way to sum up my love of this memoir/cookbook are quotes from the two authors at the end of the book.
From Afterword by Mary: …I like to think, though, that we find life’s fun in the same way families all over the place do: by spending time together ding something we love. In our case, the connecting happens around the kitchen table…..
From the Epilog by Adriana: We imagine if we can remember the ingredients gathered in our grandmothers’ gardens, carefully gleaned by them, observing them as they chose only the finest and freshest, instinctively measuring the components by sight, and finally cooked with largesse, we may bring back the best of what we came from, the nourishment that made us who we are. We are all, in cooking and baking family recipes, trying to get back home, back to the kitchen, back to the warmth and belonging where we were fed good food and told stories that celebrated family history and lore.
There are many recipes made with meat that I won’t be trying, so I thought for I would pick a recipe that is a compromise: Pickled Eggs. I don’t eat a lot of eggs, but I do enjoy hard-boiled eggs and I always wondered how to make pickled eggs. Now I know! So here is the recipe, which in the book has an entire paragraph telling us that this recipe as part of the 50 ways to classify your snack. (More recipes in Part Two.)
This photo is from the book, and in the book, it is also on an angle and “blurry.”
(MAKES 1 DOZEN)
1 dozen hardboiled eggs
One 16-ounce can round beets with juice
White vinegar (amount depends on size of eggs and size of container)
1 tablespoon peppercorn
Place the eggs into a ½ to 1-gallon glass container. Add the beets with their juice. Completely fill the jar with vinegar. Sprinkle the peppercorns on the top. And seal.
Refrigerate at least 24 hours. The longer the eggs are allowed to cure, the darker the color will become and the stronger the beet flavoring will be in the eggs.
Cooking With My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes, from Italy to Big Stone Gap (200 pages) is published by Harper Publishing, New York, etc. (Originally published by Random House in 2004. First Harper Paperback published in 2017.) ($19.99)
This price is well worth it, because it is a cookbook and a memoir with wonderful family photos and food photos. In a word, this book is DELICIOUS!