August 15 2007 Newsletter

August 15, 2007    NEWSLETTER

Come sta?
When we first began selling Italian cookies on the web I was most anxious to get opinions and reviews of the cookies from my friends. Did they like them? Which was their favorite? What did they like about each cookie? In my enthusiasm I coaxed them to try a lot of the different cookies – and this usually right after a big meal. So I was disappointed when most of the folks only ate one or two cookies (most of them are big cookies). I wanted them to try all of them – or at least five or six. But no, they kept saying they loved the cookie they tried but they were just too full to try more. Of course they were willing to take some home for later. That was fine, but I wanted their opinion now – right now!

One night after dinner with yet another group of friends I brought out the cookies for the tasting. But this time the first person broke several cookies in half and then took about four half cookies. A great idea was born. I broke all the cookies into four pieces each and most everyone at the table took a small piece of each cookie – I had my instant feedback.

What a great way to approach any large project – just break it down into small bites and do one bite at a time – maybe one per day and soon the whole project is finished - and it was painless.

Want to change your attitude toward your kids, or your spouse, or a friend or even your own self-image? Just take one minute each morning to think about one very small thing you could do that day to improve your relationship with that person. Maybe you could just think about one small thing, or trait, about that person that is special. Do this every day and soon your attitude toward that person will change, your relationship will improve, and you will be more positive person. 

Want to become a really great and knowledgeable baker of Italian cookies? Just take one very small step each day toward your goal. You might find a good book on the subject and just read one chapter a day – or just read for 10 or 15 minutes a day. Soon you will become an expert on that subject.

Remember the old saying: “By the yard it’s hard – inch by inch it’s a cinch. – Think about it and pray about it.

I’m still looking for stories and memories about growing up in an Italian family. If you have a story or memory you would be willing to share, just email it to me and I will post it.  Click here to send your story. You can type your story right into the email form or you can use a word processor and then copy the story and past it into the email. I'm not too big on attachments because of all the bugs and nasty things that can get into my computer by opening them. To read a few stories click here or go to and click on the Italian Grandma Story  page.

Your story doesn’t have to be written for a contest. It won’t be judged on how great it is composed. Just write in your own words and I will be happy to clean it up for you and even check the spelling and grammar, etc.


Now here’s a great offer for you: Send me your favorite Italian cookie recipe, or any Italian dessert recipe that you love, and you could win an apron and a two dozen Italian cookie assortment. This is a really neat apron. It is white and printed in three colors (red, green and black) so it contains the colors of the Italian flag. The words on the apron are: “Not only am I perfect, but I’m Italian, too” – should bring smiles to the faces of your friends. Of course the cookies will be a big hit with your family and/or friends.

Write a few words about your recipe – why you like it, where you got it, when you usually bake it (holidays, Sundays, etc.). Are there any memories attached to this recipe? This must be a recipe from your family or one that you bake at home – NOT something you just copied from a book and never baked. Be honest about this - I trust you, you’re Italian, or wish you were, or know someone who is!

E-mail me the recipe at  - or send it to me by mail: 6419 Columbine Blvd.  Rockford, IL 61108. or FAX it to me at 815-226-1085. This contest will end on September 15, 2007. The dessert or cookies will be baked and judged and the contest winner will be announced in the October Newsletter


My grandma used to make fried cookies at Christmas time – I loved them. In November I will give you the recipe for them. But for today, here’s a recipe for fried cookies I got from my friend Fr. Tom. He says his mother made these cookies called, Guantis or Wandas, but he liked the ones Sister Mary Anne made better – “Just don’t tell my mom” he said. Wandas are served a lot at weddings but they are good any time. Here’s Sister Mary Anne’s recipe for Wandas.

1  dozen large eggs)
2  Tablespoons of Mazola Oil (my grandma used olive oil)
2  Tablespoons of sugar
1  teaspoon salt
1  Tablespoon vanilla
1-1/2  teaspoon baking powder

Several cups of flour (she doesn’t say exactly how much)
Oil for frying ( she uses Mazola oil)

+ Mix the eggs, 2T oil, sugar, salt and vanilla - beat well
+ Add the baking powder to one cup of flour and mix it together – Then add the 1st cup of flour to the egg mixture and mix. Keep adding flour a little at a time until consistency is like noodle-dough but not sticky to the hands. Knead dough as needed and form patties.
+ Roll out each patty in thin sheets so that you can see the tabletop. If you use a pasta machine, roll out the dough in strips and put them through the machine – gage #9.
+ Cut each strip about 1” wide. Tie each strip in loose knot and press together ends so they don’t break when frying in oil. Or you can make rosettes by wrapping the strip around 4 fingers and pinch the dough on the bottom edge. Set the knots or rosettes on trays until one tray is ready for frying in oil.
+ Prepare a deep fryer or kettle for frying. . . using Mazola oil. Fry about 5 or 6 cookies at a time. Drip cookies and set in sieve to drip. Place on large tray to cool.

After all the cookies are fried and while they are cooling, make the frosting.

            1 pound bag powdered sugar
            1-1/2  Tablespoons butter – softened
            1  Tablespoon vanilla or other flavor
If the mixture is too thick to drizzle, mix in milk a teaspoon at a time until you can drizzle it using a fork. – so, not too thin

+ Spread out the cookies to frost. Don’t overdo it. Sprinkle colored decorations if you wish.


In Italy Il bar (café) serves many functions in the daily life of Italians. It opens early and closes late. It is the place where local people mingle to enjoy the coffees, pastries, and sandwiches.

In the morning, the bartender makes espresso (strong coffee) and cappuccino (coffee with steamed milk), and serves pastries like cornetti (croissants). Some people eat a quick breakfast while standing at the counter. On the way to work, school, or almost anywhere, people stop in the neighborhood bar. At lunch time, people stop in to grab a panino (sandwich) and a drink.

During the day and at night, the bar is where folks go to share un gelato (ice cream), drinks, and conversation with friends. It’s where the arguments of  the day – about politics, sports, or personal matters are discussed, analyzed, and judged over a card game or reading the days newspaper. The bartender usually knows everyone and everyone’s business.

The bar is almost always centrally located on the main street, street corners or in the piazzas. Most bars have outdoor tables and chairs with umbrellas. The bar may be the last stop of the day to share a soft drink, a pastry, or un caffe (a coffee) with family and friends after the evening passeggiata (stroll). Seems like a great way of life to me. Do you have such a place in your neighborhood?

Till next time - have happy days.

Thanks much for your interest in Italian cookies and Italian traditions. Come visit us soon or send a note. 

Arrivederci  -  Dio ti benedica
Rev. Fr. Mike