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Cesarina XVI

One of the things I told Cesarina was that she was unforgettable. She told me over the years she should have gotten an Oscar for all the things she has been though, and the government of the United States should thank her for contributing so much money to help  it run. We had good times, we had bad times, but we had time together, and maybe that is the lesson in all the lessons I had learned. Family is family, you take them the way you get them. We are all flawed, imperfect human beings that want to be loved by other human beings. We are granted time in this realm for a short period of time. We all may as well make the most of it. Drink fine wine, and listen to those that have something to teach. We may not know in the moment that they are teaching us, that is why we have to listen.

She made me promise to never forget to treat my daughter in law more fair. I promised her, I will treat her more fair, and I will remember that she is another member of the family. I believe Cesarina would be proud of all that we have accomplished! I learned so much about cooking Italian food, real estate, and the real value of family. Thank you, Cesarina, you may have given me so much more than you will ever know. There is a part of you that lives on in your son, and your grandchildren.

It’s never too late for that Oscar! ūüėČ

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Cesarina XVI

We had to hire a nurse for Cesarina, she needed more than I could give her. The nurse came in at night, and we also had a hospice help us as well. Sergio was in Kindergarten, so after school we would go see her, and talk to her about school, and what was going on in our lives.

Hospice was one of the best things we could do for her. The people were so nice too. Oct. the 8th 2002 the doctor told us that Cesarina only had six months to live, but she made it for a year!

The last day that she was with us, was a beautiful day. The hospice people came and gave her a bath, and she asked for her medicine. One of the ladies took me aside and told me that since she was so restless, it wasn’t going to be long. I asked Roberto if we should call all her friends, and they could say good bye to her. We lit candles all around the room, and her friends came by to sit with her and talk to her. We had our priest come over and we said a group prayer around her. During the times that people were in other rooms, I would go read to her in Italian from a book on her nightstand. One of her friends that had been a friend of hers since they were school children in Italy ask me to make sure that she is read to when no one else is around, that way she is comforted. She lived he last moments being surrounded by the people she loved, and those people all go to say their last words to her.

The kids went into the room, and held her hand. They already knew she was sick, and they knew that she would no longer be in pain. Late in the evening she passed into another realm. We called the doctor, and the nurse called the coroner. They came to pick her up, and we made all the arrangements for her.

One of my favorite photos of her was this one…IMG_8600

Sergio took this photo of his Nona, and it was on his birthday. You can see the love in her eyes for him.

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Cesarina VIII

After Sabrina was born it had almost been a year since the passing of Giuseppe, and Cesarina  and her best friend decided to go to Alaska together. We were all clenching our teeth with the decision. Marcella was going to go on vacation with Cesarina on a cruise ship with no escape.

Two weeks went by, and Cesarina was back at home in Oakland. We are not really sure about all the details but, the two would never see each other again after the trip. That same year Cesarina started selling all the property to travel alone. I will never forget what happened, and why I will always take a phone call from a friend from now until I die.

It was one of the hottest days I ever experienced in Oakland. We didn’t have air conditioning, because most of the time no one really needs it. Anyway, I was perspiring to no end. The kids were down for a nap, and I finally had time to watch the movie I had rented for myself. I wanted to watch “Italian For Beginners”, I just began the movie, and five minutes into the movie, the phone rings. Ugh! I just want to watch the movie. It keeps ringing, and I go to answer it. It is Marcella. Hello, Kimberly, Yes, I said, this is she. I tell Marcella, I am watching a movie, can I call you back in after the movie. Marcella said, “Kimberly, this is important, can I talk to you now.” I thought, wow, I never have time to watch a movie and I have to talk on the phone right now. I said one more time, I really just want to finish the movie, the kids are taking a nap, the movie is a subtitled movie, so no one is going to watch it with me. She interrupted me, and said “This is really important, and I really need YOU to listen to me. Ok, I said. Go ahead and tell me.

She asked if I was sitting down, and I said “no, it’s too hot!” She said, “You may want to sit down for this.” I grabbed the stool beside the phone, and sat on the stool. I told her, Ok! I am sitting down. She told me “Kimberly, I am dying, I have cancer, and I don’t have long to live. She also made me promise not to tell Cesarina. I was shocked! She was one of the sweetest people I knew, and she was dying.

The next day was Sunday, and we were supposed to go across the street to go to dinner at Cesariana’s ¬†house. Before we even left for her house. I asked Roberto to tell her, so I wouldn’t betray Marcella.

We ate dinner, just a nice cool salad with cannelloni beans, garlic, tomatoes, cheese, Italian parsley and basil with a little olive oil. It’s a great salad for another hot day!

Then, I looked at Roberto, and he wouldn’t maintain eye contact. I was just wanting to signal to him to tell Cesarina. I asked Cesarina “Have you heard from Marcella?” She said no, and she didn’t care. Roberto said “Mom, Marcella is sick, she has cancer, and doesn’t have long to live.” She responded “She is probably faking, and just wanting me to call her.” Did she call you? She asked Roberto, and Roberto said “no”. Roberto told Cesarina that Marcella told Kimberly. Cesarina was adamant about never hearing about Marcella, and Marcella did not want to hear about Cesarina.

The two ladies that were such good friends for so long never saw each other again. I’m sure the argument that they had was pretty trivial, and it taught me that most things we fight about aren’t worth holding a grudge. ¬†We never know where life is going to take us, forgive your friends! Take their phone calls, even when it seems that may be your time…if your friends need you, be there!

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Cesarina XI

We left off at the death of my beloved father in law. We were all heartbroken, and things happen so fast when someone in your family dies. The day he died, we had to get with a mortician, grave yard for a plot, granite for headstone. I prefer the method that my husbands’ family utilize instead of my own family. His family bury the dead in three days. My own family uses the 10 day method, or at least it feels that way.

Anyway, the rush was crazy. None of us had ever been in the position to do all these things. We just did what had to be done. It was like an our of body experience on so many levels. No one talked for hours at a time. Cesarina was with us most of the time, and our time in the minivan was so quiet until…Cesarina farted. OMG! We all started busting out laughing. She said “Giuseppe would laugh at that too”. I mean really, it was so unexpected, and it was so loud. I can’t even think about that moment with a smile on my face.

When the headstone finally got put on the grave plot, we all went to see it. Roberto cleaned it, and we all released balloons on the hill. It was a beautiful day. My kids still remember it to this day.

We went to Cesariana’s house for dinner, and while polenta was on the stove, she had me read an article. One that was in Italian. She came into the family room with her wooded spoon, and asks me “Did you understand the article?” Yes, I answered. A mother in law in Italy purchased a daughter in law a grave plot. She said, Yes, you are right. I asked her why would she want me to read an article like that on such a somber day. Well, she said, I wanted to remind myself that I purchased a grave plot for you. Me? Bewildered, I asked the whole question…You purchased a plot for me? Yes, she said, and came back into the family room. Then told me “I purchased a grave plot for you, since you will be the next one in the family to die.” Wow! You believe I am going to die? Well, she said, I have great genes, and Roberto has my genes, so he isn’t going to die anytime soon either. Honestly, I just didn’t know how to react to this.

She told me, this is just the Italian way, that’s why I wanted you to read the article. This way you see that I am not the only Italian mother in law that has purchased a plot for their daughter in law.

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I could barely eat that night, thinking…geez, maybe I should watch everything she puts around my food, just in case she wants to use the grave plot before hand. Just in case you want to try her polenta, here is her method for cooking it…

There are several ways to serve polenta, but Cesarina preferred to serve it soft. As she told me many, many, many times “Don’t be afraid to experiment.” People have been changing recipes since the beginning of time. Add what you like, and whatever you don’t like, don’t add. She also told me “You Americans like to make everything so complicated.” If you don’t have something…substitute it. Oh, believe me, then it would go into a whole crazy dramatic episode about Americans. I’ll save you from all that, and just give you the recipe she made most of the time ūüėČ

What are you going to need…

Wire whisk (they work wonders from keeping it from getting clumped), I will tell you a long handled wooded spoon works great too.

1 cup of coarse cornmeal                2 tablespoons of butter

2 cups of fine cornmeal                  1/2 cup of freshly ground Parmigiana cheese

1 tablespoon of salt

 

Bring 9 cups of water to a boil in a very large pot. Add the salt as soon as it comes to a boil. Add the cornmeal one handful at a time, and stir constantly. Once all the cornmeal has been added reduce the heat to simmer, and the consistency should look like a volcano…bubbling. Make sure your stirring all around the pot…scrapping the sides, and going across the bottom of the pot. It usually takes about 40 to 45 minutes of cooking on the stove. Now, you’re going to add the butter and cheese, which will give it a smooth creamy finish. It makes a great side dish for fish or chicken.

 

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Our Dying Dog

December 24, 2007 Sadie and Sheba were born. In March of 2008, we made the trip to Northern California to pick up the two of them. We read so much material on Cane Corso. We talked on the phone several times, and emailed the breeder. We were looking for a dog that would be a family friendly dog, and one that would live at the ranch we had in escrow. (We didn’t get that one)

We thought, we would have everything all ready, the truck to haul things and two villa dogs. We used the truck to go pick up the dogs, and we brought our little dogs, a Maltese and Yorkie with us to meet the big dogs. We met the dogs, but just as the breeder told us, they needed time to adjust. We brought them home, and they were so great. We loved them so much. The kids played with them, and they slept in the same house for at least a month. They just didn’t want to sleep in the bigger houses we got them. We also didn’t have the heart to make them stay outside. At the time, we were living in Oakland. We would take them for a walk around the neighborhood, but anytime we were going to San Luis Obispo, we loaded them in the truck, in their crates and took them with us. The whole system was pretty elaborate!!

Sadie and Sheba were always with the family. The two dogs were opposites, and we would talk about what they imagined. They went to bed in their own room, at ten. We would make up stories about them…Sadie always looked like she had something on her mind, and we imagined she had her own blog, and would reedit the pages over and over. Sheba, is more carefree, and we would joke that she probably did not know how to type, but used a blue crayon to draw pictures.

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When we finally purchased our property the dogs transitioned from city to country dogs very well. Sadie and Sheba loved running around the 41 acres. It was like freedom they need imagined. When they would finally stop, Sadie looked like she had a smile on her face, which was different since she always had a grimace look naturally.

Earlier this year, Sadie was limping, and at first we were thinking that maybe she just sprained her leg running. About a week later she started lifting that leg up, and not using it at times. At night she was crying while she was trying to get comfortable. We decided we better take her to the vet. The vet told us that her leg was most likely cancer. The only way they could be 100% certain was to take her leg off, and have it biopsied.

He told us we had some tough decisions to make about her, especially since her quality of life would be an issue. We decided to give her the best life we could. She loved running, and for her to lose her leg at her age with the cancer growing would be unfair to her. She took morphine, and an anti-inflammatory. She still went outside, but had a hard time catching her breath after running. She was like a greyhound when she would run. I’ve never seen a big dog run as fast as she could.

A couple of weeks ago, she came inside and panting really hard. I turned on the over head fan, and she caught her breath. Last week, she was eating less, and not drinking as much water. My son took her outside, and when she came back inside, she could not catch her breath again. I got down on the floor, and started petting her. I asked my son to turn on the fan, and I opened the french door. She was lying there on the floor, and I could see in her eyes that she was worried, and more than usual. She walked into her room, and I followed her into her room. I was petting her, and told her…Don’t worry Sadie, we love you, and want you to let go if you feel this is your time”. ¬†She came back into the family room, and she was very restless, just as humans that are dying. I went to wake up my husband and daughter to tell them to make sure they said good bye to Sadie.

Our whole family was gathered in the family room. Everyone petted her, and she went around and put her head on the shoulder of my daughter. She gave Sadie a big hug, and then she put her head in the lap of my husband. Sheba came over to sniff Sadie, and put her head on her for a minute, then moved away from her. Sadie went to the middle of the sofa, and turned her head away from us. My husband and I continued to pet her. Her heart stopped beating, and her four legs went up in the air at the same time. Her nerves were still allowing some breathes of air release from her body. My husband and I carried her to her room, wrapped up her body until we could give her a service the next morning.

Its been a little over a week that we had to say goodbye to Sadie, and Sheba is still healthy. I believe it did a world of good to have Sadie say goodbye on her own terms, and her sister knew what happened instead of having her just missing one day. Sadie was a blessing, and I am grateful for everyday we had with her! Here are some more photos of Sadie….IMG_0110

 

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A Special Place

When we lived in Oakland, we loved to visit unique places. We would go for long walks through Oakland and Berkley and on our way back home I would love to pass a special little small church. We often would attend Mass there just because of the space. The inside was never what I imagined it would be. The seats are all facing the center. It is a lovely destination. IMG_7073

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Remodeling That House? Part 2

We made it through those 10+ months of renovation hell. The construction guys were super sweet, taking care of the children, cleaning up every day after the construction was very difficult. Here were the results of all the hard work…Front ¬†We sure did love our house in Oakland, California. We lived in the beautiful are of Rockridge, in Oakland, California. We opted for this wrought iron gate around the house. It was stepped back at the entrance. Everyone had a hand in the choices of the fence. My daughter picked out the hearts, her favorite shape. My son picked out the baskets in the center panels of each part of the gate.¬†40630040_1_2

Living roomThis was the living room with Bradburry and Bradbury  walloper on the ceiling.

40630040_5_2The living room looking into the dining room.

40630040_14_2The backyard looking at the house.

40630040_21_2   The vanity area upstairs.  40630040_11_2 Another view of the backyard. 40630040_12_2Obviously, we loved the yard.

40630040_25_1Upstairs chandelier.  40630040_10_2Kitchen with eat in kitchen. 40630040_9_2Another view of the kitchen. There were 4 full bedrooms, and an office upstairs and in the basement. As well as an area downstairs for laundry, and sitting room.

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Wow!

Really, the only word that comes to my mind when I look back at the incredible journey we have taken. We started off in a small house, with our small children.Paying bills¬†Back then, we invested all our extra money into our property. We didn’t have money for vacations. Going to a park on Thursdays and the zoo on Friday was like a mini vacation. We would also go to museums around the SF Bay area, antique stores, and ¬†exploring our neighborhood.

Lots and lots of cooking with the children…Cooking classes¬†We made our own play dough, and for every letter of the alphabet we made a dish together for that week. The kids loved to cook, and later would go on to cooking camp.¬†Our weekends were filled with wagon rides up the hills of Oakland…Wagon¬†Along with lots of yard work…Small house¬†Monterey Aquarium was one of the kids favorite places to go, so we visited as often as we could. The photo below, is one of my favorites of my mother in law with my son. He was a star in her eyes.

Even though we didn’t have much back then, we have always made the most of what we have had. We have been on a course to chase our dreams, and teach our children that anything is possible with hard work.

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Logitech Exif JPEG
Throwback Thursday

Cesarina and I Meet Each Other (Recipes from our 1st meal)

Roberto and I spent our first months getting to know each other on Yahoo, where we met in 1996. He knew I was going to be moving to San Francisco soon, so we emailed each other. We didn’t exchange phone numbers until after I lived in San Francisco. Once we started dating each other exclusively we would do 3D puzzles. The whole time we worked on the puzzles we would just talk to one another about our aspirations.

When we were working on the Notre Dame puzzle he ask me if I would like to meet his parents. I had no idea that they lived right across the street. Since I rode my bike from my house in San Francisco to the BART station, then rode BART to Oakland, then rode my bike to his house…I could not meet anyone that day.

He hated driving in San Francisco, but was willing to pick me up for a date to meet his parents. I was nervous about meeting his parents especially since he was an only child. Now, I knew they lived across the street, I was imagining what they saw out their huge picture window. What kind of bike clothes did I show up in at his house? How many times did I have horrid helmet hair just outside his house. Why did I often come to Oakland?

The time had arrived…Roberto opened the big black wrought iron gate for me, and I took a deep breath in before climbing the terra cotta steps that was flanked with lions presenting a family crest in front of them.
This beautiful happy lady with lucile ball red hair opens the door. She had a pretty dress on, but covering it was a festive red apron. She had just had her hair done, and it looked like every hair was frozen in perfect place. You must be the secret my son is keeping. Were the first words she said to me, I just had no words that would come out of my mouth. She grabbed me, and took me into the family room, our arms linked at the elbow. This is my husband, Giuseppe, Hello, I said, a little taken a back by her forcefulness.
She then led everyone to a set table. Blue and white dishes, with gleaming silver ware. I told her how lovely her house was, and she ask me if I thought she had a maid. I never had anyone ask me if I thought they had a maid. I felt like I better say the right thing. “Your house looks beautiful” She asked me again, Do you think I have a maid? I answered I don’t know, it looks very clean. She proudly told me that she cleaned every inch of the house by herself.

She asked me if I cleaned my own house, I said yes, I clean it on Saturday. She then proceeded to tell me that I needed to get on a real schedule for my house work. Mondays are for laundry, Tuesday is ironing day, Wednesday is for shopping and errands, Thursday is for cleaning the house, and Friday is for having your hair and nails done. It was a Friday, she had just had her hair and nails done. Saturday is the day that you need to spend with your family and so is Sunday.

I told her that I usually go to Mass on Sunday. She then proceeded to tell me how a nun told her that she had a special dispensation for attending Mass. I was starting to feel a little over whelmed. Giuseppe sat at the head of the table, and snickered. I felt as though he understood my non verbal cues.

It was cold all that week, and this evening was no exception. She poured me some water, and then brought in soup for all each of us. She then told me not to fill up on this course, since it was the first one. She said, “Since you are an American, you probably don’t understand that there are more than one course for a dinner.” I responded “Not all Americans believe there is one course to a dinner.” I would learn later that she did not like that response. I was suppose to just be quiet. Here is the recipe to the delicious first course that night.

Vegetable Soup

What are you going to need?

11/2 cups of chick peas (or beans you prefer)                                  6 cloves of garlic/chop 3

1 red onion chopped                                                                                into small pieces.

1 leek/ chop bottom part/                                                      One celery stalk/ cleaned and chopped

4 large carrots chopped                                                           Fresh shredded parmesan cheese

12 large potatoes

Like I said before, one of the most valuable lessons that Cesarina taught me was to make due with what you have, change your recipes, experiment with them.

If you are going to use fresh beans you will have to soak them overnight, if you are using can beans, you are going to rinse the beans clean. I use the can beans. If you are using dried beans that have soaked overnight, you will need to rinse them, and add enough fresh water to cover them. Add a couple of cloves of garlic, and cook them on low. It will take about an hour or until they are tender.

In a large stock pot, you are going to drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of the pot, and then add in the onions and leeks. Stir them around until they are golden brown, add the garlic, celery, and  carrots, and keep stirring. You will want to tumble them around to pick up the flavor of the onions and leeks. Add 7 cups of water, and then add the potatoes. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot for about an hour. Check the potatoes to see if they are tender. Add another cup or two of water, it depends on how thick you like your soup. I like it thicker.

Now, you are going to add your beans. If you like some whole beans you are going to use the broth with about half of the beans in a blender to puree them. You could also use all the beans to puree. Sometimes, I even puree all the soup with a blender wand. The beauty is there is no wrong way. It really depends on your mood.

So, after you have taken half of the beans out, add them to the soup. The pureed half with the broth you are going to add too. Allow the flavors to mingle together in the pot. About 15 to 20 minutes.

Allow each of the guests to determine how much grated parmesan cheese they would like on the top of their soup.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olive Oil and Basil

What will you need?

5 garilc cloves  1/3 cup of olive oil    dash of salt and pepper, and a dash of oregano   1/2 pound of plumb tomatoes about 5 large basil leaves Combine these into a broad bowl that you are going to serve your pasta.

Skin the tomatoes, and chop them fine, chop the garlic in small pieces. Clean the leaves of the basil and rip it into small pieces. Add the olive oil, and salt and pepper and oregano.

If you are using box pasta, you don’t want to “throw your pasta down” until everyone has arrived. Toss the pasta in the bowl, and serve to your guests while it is hot.

Baked Halibut with Green beans and Garlic

What will you need?

4 Halibut Steaks       Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper       oregano and sage

Preheat the oven to 400

Brush olive oil over your halibut steaks, while they are on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Add a pinch of oregano and sage to each of them. Place them in the oven until they are white. Which will take about 10 to 12 minutes.

Green Beans   2 or 3 cloves of garlic sliced thin.

You can even make these the day before. Cesarina usually served her green beans cold.

Cook your green beans…I steam mine.

Add the sliced garlic, cover them, and put them in the fridge.

Fruit Tart 

What will you need?

1/2 cup of sugar              1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder         2 large eggs

1 3/4 cup of all purpose flour    Grated zest of one lemon         1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (softened)

1 pound of strawberries, 1/4 lb of raspberries, and 1/4 lb of blackberries 2 tablespoons of honey

Add all the dry ingredients into a bowl, then add the butter and egg.

Preheat the oven to 375

butter and flour (or use olive oil then flour) a tart pan or pie pan.

Use a rolling pin to flatten out the dough, if is warm out, you may want to harden the dough by adding it to the fridge for 15 minutes.

Always sprinkle some flour before you start flattened your dough. It will stick to your surface. Once it is flattened and rolled to the desired thickness, place it in the pan.

While the tart shell is baking, it will take about 20 to 25 minutes, clean your berries.

Cut the strawberries into small pieces, and add the raspberries and blackberries. Add the honey, then stir the honey love the berries.

Once the tart has come out of the oven and cooled, add the berries in the shell.

It is so delicious, and any fruit added to the pastry is yummy!

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Cesarina IV

After coming to America, Cesarina and Giuseppe were married. The two of them started out living in an apartment in Oakland, California. Cesarina had loftier ambitions than living in an apartment. They were fortunate enough to live in an apartment building that had many other Italian born people as occupants.

One day, an opportunity that they couldn’t pass up presented itself. Some friends of theirs that cleaned banks were going to Italy, and asked if they would like to take their places. Cesarina and Giuseppe filled in, but the bank managers liked them so much better. Cesarina and Giuseppe started a business of their own, cleaning many of the banks in Oakland at night.

They saved their money, and they found a home in the Rockridge district of Oakland, California. Soon after they signed the note to buy a house, Cesarina was pregnant. ¬†Cesarina, had much to do, the house was ugly, and it had fleas. She could not believe this was the America that dreamed about before moving from Italy. She couldn’t believe that Americans lived in such filthy conditions. There were many nights that she cried herself asleep with the words running through her head…”California is the end of the world.” How could she change this “America” that seemed more like a nightmare?

Giuseppe spoke English, but Cesarina did not yet speak English. She continued to work along with Giuseppe, until she was in labor. She was pulling a floor waxer when her water broke. So many well wishes from America and Italy.

She was beginning to feel a sense of pride again, her house, was becoming her home. She made her own curtains, and scrubbed her own floors. The words of Maria never left her. She was determined to make her own way in America. She was determined to live an American dream. Maria told her “Once you become wealthy, do some cleaning yourself. It not only allows you to appreciate what you have, and how far you have come, but allows your brain to solve problems.”

Even though she had only given birth a few months earlier, she was ready to take Roberto with her everywhere and anywhere she had to go. Roberto was packed up with all the tools of the trade. He was put in his hi chair with wheels, and wheeled around the bank as they cleaned. As they saved, they looked at property. They would often walk around the neighborhoods where they wanted to buy homes. They did what they had to do to keep their dream alive.

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As soon as Roberto was old enough to walk, he too was helping them clean. What ever he could do, he was polishing, emptying trash cans, and making sure he stayed out of trouble. When he would get tired, he would often crawl into a chair at a desk then fall to sleep. After everything was all done, they would carry him out of the banks then on to the next one.

The presidents would often want to meet the family, and Cesarina would invite them to dinner at her home. She was so proud to cook a nice hearty Italian meal for Americans. They would be astonished at how well she cooked, and how she kept her house. Here is a typical antipasti course she would prepare…

Her house would be bustling with activity and energy before a dinner party. I have a huge booklet of recipes we have made, and sometimes…I just watched. She would dawn her apron, and you better not get in her way. If she was taken photographs of guest, it better be before she “threw down” the pasta. Pasta doesn’t enter the water until all the guests have arrived. She was a dynamo, and wielded a wooden spoon, she would use it on anyone that got in her way.

Antipasti plates were put out with at least three different cheeses, salami, prosciutto, and coppa.

Bruschetta

What are you going to need…

8 cloves of garlic.                                                     Salt and oregano

15 pieces of rustic thick crusted bread.             Corse ground pepper

EVOO.                           10 fresh plum tomatoes  10 fresh basil leaves
Heat a skillet or grill, while the grill is heating, peel your garlic and crush it. You want the juices of the garlic! Wash to tomatoes, and dice them. Was the basil, dry it, and rip it into small pieces. I like to add a little more garlic to the tomatoes and basil, add some salt and pepper to taste, with a pinch of oregano.

Add your bread to the heated skillet, and flip it after it is lightly browned. Take the crushed garlic, and smear it on the bread. Add your tomato mixture, and drizzle some EVOO over the top after all the pieces are added to the dish. There should be enough to be very generous with the toppings.

Sometimes to mix it up, you can also add some mozzarella cheese on the side that has the garlic, then add the tomato topping.

Fried Zucchini Flowers

Mmm, just writing this recipe makes my mouth water.

Sometimes Cesarina made these stuffed with mozzarella cheese, and sometimes plain. Either way, they are scrumptious!

If you don’t grow your own zucchini, you will have to buy them from the farmers market. The male blossoms are longer, so they are better to use. What do you need?

15 male zucchini blossoms. Salt and pepper (mozzarella cheese if you are going to stuff them)

11/4 cup of milk,

1 egg       1 cup of flour,           olive oil

Add the wet ingredients together, and gently add the flour a little bit at a time. Add the salt and pepper last, and just a pinch of each. Open the flower to remove the pistils, wash the inside and out. Dry with a towel. If your adding the cheese, do it now,

Heat your frying oil, before it smokes add the blossoms, once they are golden brown flip them over, and add them to a plate that has paper towels to absorb the extra oil.

By this time, all your guests will be talking about how lovely each item of food is, and they will be asking for the recipes of each one.

If you happen to make all three of these dishes, only add Mozzarella to one. It would be almost vulgar to have cheese on two of your antipasti dishes.

Soup were for winters, and salad in the summer… ( I will have to post some great meals from my book)

If there was one quote¬†that I would have to choose as the most important that Cesarina taught me, make due with what you have. I used to say “We didn’t use that last time in the recipe.” She would tell me, there is no recipe that is on stone, just use what you have! I never had a bad meal at her house, well except cow brains…that is another story. UGH!

They finally had enough money to move up the hill in Rockridge, and she moved into her dream house. She started renting her little house that she was her first home. The family started buying more property because of the philosophy of her father…Just as the tree roots in the soil, so should we. Invest in real estate. Roberto invested with his parents. They owned several properties together. She was living the American dream! She took her son to Italy every summer, and he attended private schools. He was becoming an investor too.

Next time…Cesarina and I meet each other.