food. family. life.

what i was reading… 18.november.2013

{buon lunedi a tutti!}

The season has already come to a peak for me and my famiglia. Busy work and school schedules filled with projects, cooking and food finds and more. Planning holiday schedules has been difficult this year with heavy work loads and Carina’s school schedule (mixed in with a healthy dose of fundraising*.)

We are planning to spend a much-needed casual Thanksgiving with some great friends of ours where we will be meeting some wonderful new friends. Every Thanksgiving is a time for our famiglia to reflect and remember those who made this life of ours possible as well as seek out all opportunities to give back and help others who need it the most (check your local area for non-profits and food banks for donation item needs.)

So here is what I have been reading… creating and planning the past few weeks:

cucinadimammina_espresso moments_1

1. FOOD. The holidays are a great time to dig up old family recipes and cook books to recreate them for your holiday table. They are wonderful as hostess food gifts for the holiday or even as a food gift for a friend in need this year. Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated here in America, one my famiglia has adopted and modified with their own food dishes and celebration ideas over the years.

We celebrated this holiday with a turkey as the main feature, but our table also included brodo di pollo and pasta fatta in casa (homemade egg noodles with marinara), a massive assortment of cured meats, cheeses, olives and all types of pickled vegetables from the recent summer’s harvest. The came the turkey, stuffing, rich roasted and carmelized potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed vegetables like broccoli rabe, peas with onions, escarole and more. These holidays spent eating, talking and laughing with my whole famiglia will forever hold a place in my heart and foodie soul.

Our concept of a combined food holiday stuck and was played out for most of the more traditional American holidays throughout my childhood and youth in NY. I never realized our style was unique until I was older and visited friends for Thanksgiving and found that there was no pasta in sight… imagine my shock and confusion.

These days we actually prefer a lighter approach to the holiday as my gatherings are much smaller now. We always include a beautiful organic turkey that I like to dry-brine these days. I always make Mammina Loreta’s sausage and chestnut stuffing that is simply wonderful and the star of the table every year.

I do follow her recipe but I am known to add or change things a bit from year-to-year, like adding baby artichokes to the mix or changing up the bread to incorporate different flavors and textures (I use day old breads like ciabatta, rustic sourdough, or even a wonderful dark, rich pumpernickle.)

I will be sharing my stuffing recipe soon, hopefully before Thanksgiving, but do not fear as this stuffing works with roast chicken, roast pork, beef or even lamb for the holidays to come in December. Look for this recipe and more to come for your December holiday planning.

For a late breakfast or brunch dish the Friday after Thanksgiving, try one of my favorites (see photo), a simple soft-cooked egg served on top of roasted cubanelle peppers with rustic toasted bread.

Papa Pierino would make this breakfast (traditionally the peppers are fried) with scrambled eggs or olive oil fried sunny-side up eggs. This is my favorite style of cooking an egg with runny yolks and soft texture. You can add a spicy kick to the peppers if you like with a bit of red chili flakes as the peppers are naturally sweet, not spicy.

cucinadimammina_roasted cubanelle peppers_soft-cooked egg rustic toast

day after thanksgiving breakfast. soft-cooked egg with roasted cubanelle peppers on rustic toasted bread


2. MUSICA. What music will you be listening to this Thanksgiving? Not sure. Here is a great article by the Huffington post featuring music playlists for all sorts of Thanksgiving home-celebration styles.

The lists are created by Songsza, a creative free music streaming site. You can find new music and classics in all categories and styles for your holiday celebrations. I love the “Harvest Moon” collection and so many others, check them out and pick your favorites.

Be sure to include music anytime you plan a gathering, it is a great way to create the mood you wish your guests to see and feel when they arrive and it rounds out conversations with lovely background melodies and lyrics.


3. ART. Creativity and art is all around us. You will find true art in food, life and people. Find ways to incorporate art in your Thanksgiving holiday this season.

Have your children and adults guests create a custom table cloth using roll craft paper and a wide assortment of colored markers and pencils. Set this up so as you prepare the meal, they can be writing, creating and drawing original designs they wish to contribute (have them sign their names where they wish to sit) and then before the table is set, take a photo of the final design with all the artist contributors.

Create custom place cards ahead of time using card stock and your own original designs. Be creative and customize the cards for each guest according to their personality and color/style.

Choose poems and quotes that you love and that reflect your feelings and thoughts this Thanksgiving. Include them on the table cloth design or create separate hand-outs for each guest and choose some to read out loud before digging into the turkey and stuffing.

Creative food ideas for the holiday can be as simple as creating a simple food item centerpiece using bowls and glasses filled with fresh cranberries, oranges and pomegranate, miniature gords and more. Add some fall leaves and branches (from the craft store if you live in the south!) and you will have a gorgeous centerpiece that you will just love.

4. FASHION. Check out these fashion blogs that I found recently that cater to women over 40 plus. Love that they are still following trends but in a way we can find and wear without looking ridiculous or like we are just trying too hard to look 20.

1. Un Femme D’un Certain Age: This blogger uses classic French style with a lovely story to tell. One of my favorites so far in my search for fashion advise.

2. Privilege: This blogger has a simple modern style mixed with a bit of vintage classic. Love the writing style and ability to share all kinds of information in an easy to follow format.

3. Atlantis Home: This lovely blogger is a fashion advisor and interior design consultant (funny, silly and just beautful to watch and read) She is more than a bit eclectic but certainly right up my fashion alley.

Ciao per adesso!

Note: Photography provided by Annette L. Venditti

*FYI: For those in our local area, my daughter Carina is offering photography sessions and other services (babysitting, car washes, etc.) in her fundraising efforts for a summer trip to Europe. Her style is candid and lifestyle in digital format, perfect for creative portraits, family holiday cards & gifts, pets and babies too (she supplies you with selected hi-res images for printing and online use.)

Contact her via email on at her photography website to schedule a photo session for your holiday needs today!:

Carina is also offering holiday baked goods for the season with items like homemade pumpkin bread, banana bread, pumpkin pie and more. All recipes are approved and sponsored by Cucina di Mammina. She is taking orders (food items are $10.00) so feel free to contact me at and I will forward your order ASAP. Price to be discussed for any special request food items.


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