Early every January I take some time to think about the past year and my past life. I think about all the friends I've had and the impressive and not-so-impressive people I've met over the years. I try to recall events and people that have changed my life and thank God for the gift of life.
I remember my Grandpa.
We were in the workshop in the basement “makin stuff” - me and Grandpa. We went down there often to visit and make things.
Back in those days fruit and vegetables came to the market in wooden crates. Grandpa would go to the stores in the neighborhood and collect those wooden crates. He’d bring them home and spend hours taking them apart - even saving the nails - so that when I wanted to “make something” we would have the necessary materials.
It was fun being with grandpa in his workshop in the basement talking about stuff and making stuff. Grandpa would make some neat things. One day he made me a board full of nails shaped like a triangle - actually it was sort of a box with one hole at the top and five holes at the bottom. You could drop a marble in the top hole and it would make a neat musical noise as it bounced through all the nails and found its way to the bottom tray and came out one of the holes. Each bottom hole had a number over it so you could keep score.
One day sometime during fourth grade Grandpa and I were in the workshop. I started nailing a few boards together in the shape of a pup tent.
After watching me for awhile and even straightening out a few bent nails for me Grandpa asked “So what are you making today?I answered “I’m making a house and this is the attic and roof.”
“Well,” grandpa said “It looks like it’s going to be a very nice house indeed. And you are doing it in a very creative way. You know most house builders start with a foundation and a basement and then they build the first floor and then the second floor and then they finally build the attic and put on the roof. But you have found a creative and fun way of building a house starting with the attic - now let me help you put a foundation under it.”
“Let me help you put a foundation under it” I remember those words even though they were said to me 59 years ago. Grandpa did not criticize me or say I was doing it wrong - he said I was creative and had good ideas and only needed some help grounding my ideas with a foundation that would strengthen them. What a positive man. He looked for the good points in any idea and reinforced them. Never negative always positive. It made me feel great then and still does today.
Your attitude makes all the difference in all your relationships. Do you see the good side of the folks in your family and circle of friends - even though they may be a bit crazy at times? Do you see the whole picture and try to build on the good in people? Or is it always critical and negative and constantly being upset with someone because he/she doesn’t do it your way - the right way! One way leads to a dead end and the other to love and life. Think about it.
Valentine's Day - February 14th
St. Valentine lived in Rome - he was Italian - so we know he loved Italian Cookies! Send some to your valentine.
Cookie Gift for your Valentine. Remember your special person with a sweet gift Special for Valentine’s Day Two Dozen Cookies 1/2 dozen Italian Love Knots, 1/2 dozen Heart Cookies 1/2 dozen White Italian Wedding Cookies 1/2 dozen Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies
Presented in a gift box. Special for Valentine’s Day $23.97 plus shipping CLICK HERE TO ORDER Must be ordered by February 5th for delivery by Valentine’s Day. All orders shipped FedEx Feb 8th & 9th unless otherwise requested.
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Put This Code in Discount Code Box on order form and we will include 1/2 Dozen Anginetti - Italian Lemon Drop Cookies FREE in every order placed through February 5th. Use Code:FEB10
THIS MONTH'S COOKIE RECIPE When it comes to Italian cookies - just like spaghetti sauce - Italians are partial to the cookies their mother or grandma made. In Italian families you will hear statements like "Only I know how to make the sauce or the biscotti like Ma did." Sisters in the same family will argue about who makes the best fried cookies etc. If you're from an Italian family you know what I mean.
Here are two different Italian cookies - they are certainly not the way my Grandma made them, but you might like to give them a try - they are very good.
A Different Way To Make Biscotti Ingredients 3 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup of sugar 3 tablespoons baking powder 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, cocoa, spices, eggs, vanilla and margarine in mixer bowl. Mix well. Add a small amount of milk, if needed. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.. Bake for 12 minutes or until firm. Cool on wire rack. Drizzle mixture of confectioners' sugar and enough water to make a glaze over cookies.
Try adding nuts to the batter before baking.
Makes about 48 cookies.
A Different Way To Make Sesame Cookies Ingredients 4 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup of sugar 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 pound butter, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 eggs 1 cup milk 3 cups sesame seeds
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter.
Beat in vanilla and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Gradually mix in flour at low speed, just until smooth.
Chill dough in refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Pour milk into a soup bowl and spread sesame seeds on wax paper.
Shape about 1/4 cup of dough at a time on a lightly floured board into a 10-inch rope that is 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut ropes into 2-inch lengths.
Handle gently, as the dough is delicate.
Dip each piece in milk, then roll in sesame seeds.Place 1 inch apart on foil-lined cookie sheets.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on wire racks.
Makes about 8 dozen cookies.
DID YOU KNOW? Italy is the birthplace of opera Opera is important to Italy's culture and soul. In most histories of music, the first opera is said to have been performed in Mantua in 1607. It was titled L'Orfeo and written by Claudio Monteverdi. Others argue that opera began in Florence with Peri's Dafne in 1598. In any case, we know that Monteverdi moved to Venice in 1613, and there opera experienced instant success with the opening of at least ten opera houses. And opera has been a major art form in Italy ever since.
There are two branches of opera: opera seria and opera buffa (serious opera and comic opera). With the evolution of instrumental music and the introduction of new instruments, the Italian opera reached its peak in the nineteenth century. Although opera today enjoys a resurgence from classical to even rock operas, the greatest ones still seem to have been written in the nineteenth century - the most prominent composers being Verdi, Rossini, Puccini, Donizetti, and Bellini.
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. http://www.cookiesitalian.com