Cooking With My Sisters by Adriana and Mary Yolanda Trigiani, Part Two

On Monday, I posted Part One of this review. Here in Part Two are some additional tips, quotes and recipes to show you how the memories learned from preparing meals shaped the lives of the Trigiani family.  Here is the link to Part one:…rigiani-part-one/.


NOTE: There was no photo of  just the polenta in the book, so I lifted one from the Internet. This recipe is actually part of another recipe. I wanted to post just the polenta, since I don’t eat chicken, which is the first part of the recipe. (ellensue)

The Polenta
(You can generally follow the instructions on any polenta package and you’ll do just fine.)

6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 cups cornmeal or polenta meal

Bring the water to a boil, then add the salt and olive oil or butter. Pour the cornmeal into the water slowly, stirring constantly — you don;t want lumps. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens.  To serve,prepare individual servings in the kitchen. Spoon the polenta on a dish and add a couple of pieces of chicken with sauce.  Put extra sauce on the table in case a guest likes a little extra.

A Tip from Mom: Buy coarse-ground cornmeal and make the polenta the old-fashioned way, stirred slowly; it’s better. A lot of restaurants serve a watery,pale concoction they call polenta, and it just doesn’t hold up to many sauces. For example, this dish (recipe below es) requires a hearty consistency in order to support the flavor of the special sauce.


Sautéed Mushrooms

Serves 4 to 6

Again, this photo is also from the Internet


1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound whole white mushrooms *
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white wine

In a large sauté pan, heat the butter. Add the onion and sauté until golden. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer slowly for 45 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.
Place in a serving bowl and serve with your favorite dish. The sauce makes an excellent accompaniment for any many meat dish.
(Note: I would use the mushrooms over a medley of vegetables. ellensue)

A Tip from Pia (another sister): Really make this dish pop by adding a dash of hot sauce just before removing it from the heat.

Here are some additional quotes (See Part One for more). These show the strong link between memories of childhood and memories of meals around the kitchen table.

p. 36  Cooking with Grandmom was one way to get close to the roots we pulled up when we moved to Virginia. (They moved to Big Stone Gap, VA, which became a movie. es)

p. 80 But the best thing about the stuffed peppers is telling you about them, and all these other delightful dishes, brings me back to my mom’s kitchen.
I remember fall days in Big Stone Gap, when we would run home to be on time for dinner, and there was enough of a nip in the air that the kitchen window was fogged up from whatever Mom was cooking. Over dinner we would tell stories and strengthen our ties to one another. And this was possible because Mom’s kitchen was warm, inviting, creative, and reminiscent of all the kitchens in the family that came before ours.

p. 110 At home in Big Stone Gap, Mom always served a vegetable and a salad because she liked to make sure we got plenty of greens……Mom taught us how to make and toss the salad with oil and vinegar. (Remember, more oil than vinegar.) We never saw a bottled dressing in Ida’s kitchen. And, we ate the salad right on the big dinner plate.

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)

P.S. I love this cookbook, not only because the recipes I want to try are not complicated, but also because it demonstrates the link between cooking together and family ties. Thank you Adriana and Mary Yolanda Trigiani! es


Review of COOKING WITH MY SISTERS by Adriana Trigiani & Mary Yolanda Trigiani (Part One)

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.”

Pickled Eggs



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!

Copyright ©2022 Ellen Sue Spicer-Jacobson. | Website by Parrish Digital.