February 20, 2008
CookiesItalian.com  NEWSLETTER

Special for Easter Italian Easter Cookies
Italian Easter Cookies

These traditional Italian Easter Cookies are flavored
with vanilla and almond. Tied in a loose knot and baked,
they are then frosted with icing in the colors of Easter-
light green, yellow and pink.

$9.25 per dozen
2 doz. minimum order

Order by March 15 for Easter delivery


(What I learned from 2 cats and a box full of kittens)

For a while I lived in a trailer on 80 acres in the boonies. My friends thought I lived alone but actually I lived with about a zillion mice. They liked the trailer as much as I did and they found ways into it that I didn’t know existed!

I tried traps - caught at least two mice a day. But I didn’t like emptying the traps and resetting them - and they sure didn’t do much to reduce the mouse population. So what’s the natural enemy of mice I asked myself - I need help here. Snakes eat mice but not every day and the thought of living with a bunch of snakes just somehow seemed less desirable than living with mice. I know! I need a cat - maybe a bunch of cats.

So I started asking if anyone had a few spare cats. I called my friend the local veterinarian and asked him about cats and mice. Don’t cats eat mice I asked, or at least scare them away? And do I have to have the cats inside or can they be just as effective out on the deck and under the trailer? He told me I needed a mother cat with a new litter of kittens so that they would grow up here at my place and also think of it as their place, too. What a smart man; he knew everything about cats and mice and even told me I was in luck because he happened to have a mother cat with six kittens looking for a good home. He arrived later that afternoon with a box of cats.

I built a little cat house for them which they ignored and instead settled in the insulation under the trailer - but they did the job - the mice disappeared and never came back.

Not only did they do their job earning their keep, but they were a joy to behold - a bunch of fur balls sleeping together in a pile in the sun on the deck.

But when I would bring out a bowl of food and set it down for these cute little cuddly fluff balls, they turned into snarly mean mountain lions. They growled at each other. One planted his claws into his sister’s head to keep her away from the food. Even mama joined in the war over the food. What happened to this cute, little, gentle, nice family? They were given food - that’s what. They react without thinking - I think it’s called instinct.

It seems like a lot of life forms have this instinct and just react to outside stimuli without thinking. But we humans don’t have to do it that way. God gave us, along with instinct, a thing we call free will. That means that we can stop and think about how we are going to respond to stimuli from the outside. We can choose our response - it’s what makes us different from the animals - it’s what makes us human.

So, if we just “fly off the handle” every time something doesn’t go our way, we are giving up the chance to choose our response and are a little less human. It dulls our spirit and keeps us from being all we can be, and we ignore the greatest gift God gave us - freedom to choose.


Zeppole - St. Joseph's Day Cookies

March 19th is Saint Joseph’s Day – a traditional Italian feast. Many Churches set up St. Joseph altars on that day.

St. Joseph's Day altars in the United States began as a custom brought here by Sicilian immigrants. The tradition of building the altar to St. Joseph began as far back as the Middle Ages in gratitude to St. Joseph for answering prayers for deliverance from famine. The families of farmers and fishermen built altars in their homes to share their good fortune with others in need.

The tradition grew to a more public event on St. Joseph's Feast Day on March 19. Today people who work on putting up the altars and supplying them with food and goodies are fulfilling their own promises to St. Joseph "to share their blessings with those in need."

Zeppole is a traditional cookie placed on St. Joseph Day altars.


1 c. water
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter
1 c. flour
5 eggs
Vegetable oil for frying (My grandma used olive oil)
Powdered sugar for dusting

In a saucepan, heat water and butter until butter has melted. Add flour all at once, and beat until mixture is smooth. Cool. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mixture will be soft.

Pour oil to about 1 inch deep in a heavy skillet with high sides; heat oil until a small amount of batter sizzles when placed in oil.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (I use a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off).  Pipe batter, in 2 to 3 inch lengths or in a spiral shape, into the hot oil.

Don't fry any more than 4 zeppole at a time, because the batter puffs up as it fries. When zeppole are golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon onto absorbent paper (Grandma used a pile of newspaper – she was frugal).
Dust with powdered sugar. Serve hot, on March 19. Makes 12-15 zeppole.

La famiglia e` sacra (Family is sacred). This sentence reflects the deep feelings of love and loyalty that connect family members in Italy. The family nucleus of papa`, mamma, e figli (papa, mama, and children) is surrounded by the extended family that includes nonni and none (grandfathers and grandmothers), zii and zie (uncles and aunts) and cugini (cousins) and also compare e comari (godfathers and godmothers). In small towns and villages, since many people are distantly related, the people who have even some degree of kinship are still greeted with the titles of zio and zia, such as zia Rosa e zio Peppine (Aunt Rose and Uncle Joe).

MY ITALIAN FAMILY NEWSItalian Easter Cookies
Since I have been spending a lot more time doing ministry on the web (check out www.BuildMySpirit.com) I have turned over the cookie business to my sister Laurine and her husband Bill. Now Laurine is Italian but her husband is Irish!   However, he does like Italian cookies – a lot. Who knows, perhaps in the future we might see some Irish cookies turning up here – Are there Irish cookies?I know Laurine will do a great job bringing you the best in Italian cookies. If you have any ideas for her, you can email her at Laurine@cookiesitalian.com  She talked me into continuing to write this newsletter so you will keep hearing from me every month.

Special for Easter
Italian Easter Cookies             CLICK THE PHOTO TO ORDER

These traditional Italian Easter Cookies are flavored with vanilla and almond. Tied in a loose knot and baked, they are then frosted with icing  in the colors of Easter- light green, yellow and pink.

$9.25 per dozen
2 doz. minimum order

Order by March 15 for Easter delivery

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

Copyright © 2008 Librandi