Saturday, May 12, 2012

Memories of Mom

It is Mother's Day Weekend and I would like to acknowledge all the wonderful Moms in my life now, and to those who are gone, with love and admiration. 

As I was driving on the freeway yesterday, the local PBS station was dialed-in on the radio. They were reading messages from listeners and discussing food memories we have from mom and our youth. I got so emotional tears began falling down my cheeks as I fondly remembered my mother and what a great cook she was and how much time she spent feeding her family nutritious meals.

My mom was one of five sisters - all good cooks. The younger four sisters learned from their oldest sister how to prepare the special dishes their Italian mother made from scratch - with no recipes - you just had to learn the ways. Eventually most of them were written down and many of those recipes ended up in Rossipes. Here's to the Six Original Rossi Women (Grandmother included) who are gone, but not forgotten. And, here's to my cousin Maria, the first-born female grandchild (and mother of four) who shared countless recipes and stories for the book. Maria still cooks and just made her Linguine with White Clam Sauce for me and my cousin Joanne a few weeks ago. It was delicious (and in Rossipes!)

The Rossi Gals: Aunt Gloria, Aunt Eve, Grandma Grace, Aunt Connie, Aunt Mollie, and my mom, Eleanor
To my daughter Tracy, and daughter-in-law Paz, who are both mom's of toddlers. I love you both so much . . . Olive and Lulu have brought so much joy into my life. I am very happy and excited to be their "Granmakin" and I look forward to the day I can teach them the family recipes.

We have two new arrivals coming soon to the family . . . Here's to the mother's-to-be, Lindsey and Jolynn. Cannot wait to meet the newest additions.

When I finish up with this post I am heading into the kitchen to make a stuffed artichoke to take to a family function tonight (the one on the cover of Rossipes.) Tomorrow I will make our famous Fallbrook Guacamole and a cake to bring to my mother-in-law's house for dinner. Love you Nana!! I cannot think of a better way to spend this weekend - cooking and sharing with the one's I love.

Me, Cousin Maria, Cousin Joanne (Maria's daughter)
taking a break from cooking for a baby shower
One last thought, as I go back to the PBS radio show - I can't help but wonder what my kids will remember from my kitchen? What dish will bring back the days of their youth? I honestly can't say and think maybe I do more cooking now then when they were younger . . .  maybe those memories are still forming - OH GREAT, here come the tears again . . .

Rossipes cover and the artichoke I am making today

My mother's handwritten recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie
One of my fondest food memories was the lemon meringue pie my mom made:

Lemon Meringue Pie

9 inch Crust:
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup COLD butter
3 tablespoons cold water
4 large egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 stick butter, cut into small pieces
Meringue Top:
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons sugar

Crust instructions:  Stir together flour and salt.  Add butter in small pieces and cut into flour with a pastry blender until well-mixed and fine crumbs form.  Sprinkle cold water over the mixture while tossing to blend well.  Press dough firmly into ball.  Flour board and rolling pin, roll dough out to shape of pie plate.  Poke crust (bottoms and sides) with fork and bake @ 450˚ for 15 minutes. Cool crust.

Filling instructions:  Beat egg yolks until light and frothy. Set aside.  Combine cold water with cornstarch and mix until smooth, and then combine with hot water, sugar and lemon juice in top of a double boiler, over gently simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly with whisk, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is slightly thickened: DO NOT BOIL. 

Remove from heat and begin adding yolks, drop by drop at first, to avoid curdling, beating constantly until well blended.  Place pan over gently simmering water again and gradually add butter, beating constantly with whisk until smooth.
Add lemon zest and continue cooking over low heat stirring constantly, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and cool completely.

Meringue instructions:  Beat egg whites until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and salt, continue beating until soft peaks form.  gradually add sugar, beating constantly until stiff peaks form. 

Preheat oven to 325˚.  Pour cooled filling mixture into piecrust.  Spoon meringue evenly over top and spread to edges.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes until slightly brown.

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