Friday, December 28, 2007

Glimpses of Christmas

A few glimpses of my family's Christmas. We gathered together, joyfully, and helped my father cope with his first Christmas in 54 years without his wife, my mom. The last five years she was barely able to participate in Christmas activities, but sat with us as a quiet observer. It didn't feel that much different this year, her presence was there, now in peace, watching us happily.

Our family Christmas traditions have almost always been Swedish, but this year, as in many, I threw in a few Italian traditions like Italian cheeses after dinner followed by fresh and roasted nuts and Vin Santo. Franciacorta to enjoy with antipasti, Brunello with dinner and of course, Italian cookies - biscotti and crumiri.

Poppa (my dad) and granddaughter, Kate

My mom's star on the tree watching over us (made by my sister Nancy)

Mother & Child


Aunt/Zia Jeni with niece
L'abbuffata/The Feast

I hope your holidays have been joyful.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Passionate Mondays

Here it is Monday afternoon and I haven't written my "Passionate Mondays" post. Although there seems to be a lot of heavy stuff going on in my life this year, and most recently these last four months, I am still feeling passionate about so many things. I am growing and learning, and that I am grateful for. Just this morning, I sat with a dying friend in the hospital. I washed her face and hands, adjusted her body for comfort and just watched over her while she slept. As emotionally difficult as this is coming on the heels of watching my mother die a few months ago, it feels really good to be able to do something so simple as just being with my friend. As I have mentioned before, there is so much reward in giving - it comes back to us threefold, tenfold, maybe more.

Today, I am passionate about being conscious of what we put out there in the universe and sharing inspiration to create positive change in the world. To that effect, I stumbled upon Romancing the Crone's blog and was moved by so many great quotations she has on her site. One of her posts, "Obligation Observations", addresses the issue of blogging with obligation and I really thought it was an important read for bloggers, after all, blogging is putting forth words into the world and I believe it should be done consciously. (If you are just a reader/commenter, and not a blogger, it is still interesting.) I am adopting Mother Wintermoon's logo, with her permission of course, and encourage all my other blogging friends out there to read her thoughts on blogging with obligation, and join me.
One of my favorite blogs, Beauty in the Breakdown, mentioned this great poster she received. I followed the link to Jen Lemen's site, and ordered the poster for myself. Not only is the poster inspirational, but so is the site that is selling it - Cool People Care. Jen Lemen's site also has so many inspirational stories of people doing good and creating good...please check it out. All of this made me realize that there are so many wonderful people out there in the world who are trying to make a positive difference.
Will you join me in being passionate about doing good in the world and sharing stories and inspiration of others doing good in the world - all hopefully to inspire more people to do good. A bit of "paying it forward" you could say. It can be the smallest of gestures, the tiniest of efforts, a simple task, but it can make a world of difference. We never know the full effect of our words or deeds; there are always repercussions, like ripples on the water. So, make every word and deed a good one, and let's effect the world in a positive way. As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Have a Passionate Monday, week and holiday!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Christmas Meme

I have been tagged. You know, I love that image of "being tagged". It reminds me of the tag game we played as children. It was full of that feeling of running and thinking "please don't catch me", while secretly wanting to be caught and always laughing when it happened. So, for me, being tagged is full of happiness.

This tag was from the one and only Her Grace Lady Wanderlust Scarlett the Indefensible of Eschaton End, otherwise known as Scarlett from From the Shores of Introspect and Retrospect. She created this festive Christmas Meme in which I am supposed to share 12 of my favorite Christmas things (memories, traditions, songs, foods, etc...)

Here goes...
  1. Decorations. I love making the house look festive with lights, candles and decorations. I especially love the Swedish decorations.

  2. The meals. I love planning the meals because coming together with family and friends over food and wine holds so much fun and meaning to me. My father's family is Swedish, so we normally do a smorgasbord on Christmas.

  3. Giving. It feels so good!

  4. The idea of birth and renewal. Whether you celebrate the season as Christ's birthday or the older pagan traditions of the winter solstice and the beginning of days growing longer - a new year, both have the hopeful sense of new beginnings and the birth of hope. (For me this is especially needed as I have been surrounded by a lot of sickness and death this year.)
  5. Chestnuts.

  6. Silly Christmas traditions like reindeer antlers on our dogs.

  7. My stocking - the same one I've had since I was a little girl, with a "J" stitched into the trim. It's very worn out and grungy looking, but I can't get rid of it!

  8. Panettone.

  9. Baking.

  10. Seeing a child's eyes light up at the sight of presents. Can there be anything better?
  11. Snow & beach. I love snow at Christmas, but unfortunately don't have any. My dad and I would often go to the beach on Christmas Eve or Day...and I think I will do that again this year.

  12. Memories. Especially this year, remembering all those wonderful memories that my sweet mother created out of our holidays. I miss you mom!

Now, I get to tag others, of course. No obligations, as the season is a busy one, but it seems like a celebratory meme to participate in, doesn't it?

Apples & Thyme - Round Up #2 - An Addition

Just a quick addition to our Apples & Thyme #2 Round Up...

My partner in this event, Inge at Vanielje Kitchen, just posted the most amazing photos of The Truly Remarkable Once a Year Cake, along with her memories of her mother at Christmas, and the joy of finding her Christmas spirit. Please hop on over and see her amazing creations!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Apples and Thyme - Round Up #2

The holidays are upon us and as expected, they flood us with memories - memories of growing up, traditions, food and family. We started Apples & Thyme for exactly those reasons, so that we could have a forum for sharing those types of memories and thereby record and remember our cherished traditions.

These December entries are full of wonderful and warm sentiments honoring each person's heritage. Apart from the touching stories and histories in these entries, there, of course, are some great recipes. Grab a cup of glogg, tea, coffee, wine or your choice of beverage and settle in for some good reading!

Ann at Redacted Recipes writes about her Mom's Constant Kitchen and the joy of learning confidence in the kitchen at a young age thanks to her mother's guidance. She leaves us with an easy, but delicious looking, recipe for pork loin and potatoes - a perfect quick meal for this busy season.

Paul, our down-under friend at Eat Me, brings us memories of time in the kitchen with his Argentinian grandmother and the cooking secrets she passed on to him. Check out the delicious looking Tallarines con Tuco de Carne.

Laurie from Tastes Like Home in Alaska shares with us the Greek tradition of Hilopites and Trahanas, types of special pasta only made at certain times of the year. Her stories are always full of incredible detail and tradition.

Tamara our Rocky Mountain writer recently lost her mother, but is having no problem calling up many happy memories of her mother's holiday cooking - especially the cookies. She shares with us her mom's special Lebkuchen cookie recipe.

Chris from Mele Cotte, who is on a cookie-baking roll at the moment, stops to share her favorite holiday cookie recipe with us - Tarralflucci. Don't try to pronounce it, but do try to bake them...they look delicious!

Marla, all the way up in the Alps of Piedmont Italy at Bella Baita View, shares with us her mother-in-law Elge's recipe for a dessert named after the nearby mountain - Monte Bianco. If this isn't decadence, I don't know what is.

Mrs. W of Mrs. W's Kitchen, like Tamara above and myself, are trying to focus on the memories from our mothers' healthy years (before illness) and celebrate those cherished times. She shares with us her Christmas childhood memories and the time-honored recipe of Ambrosia Salad.

...and there was one - me! My post on my mother's Biscotti - or Biscotti a la Mamma - was the first one I could write about my mother's love of cooking since her passing. I love these cookies and hope you do, too!

Vanielje Kitchen and I look forward to seeing your entries for our our January Apples & Thyme event. Click here for entry dates and rules.

Happy Holidays one and all!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ravioli di Zucca/Squash Ravioli

I realize that I haven't been posting much lately. Life is full at the moment and I still feel a bit like pulling inward, taking inventory, and healing. It must be the season and all that has happened in my life this year.

I am on my way to a three day personal getaway to visit friends in Northern California, after spending today in Santa Barbara to help my father and aunt decorate their house for Christmas. I am sure that those connections will help to renew my spirits and fill me with inspiration. So, I won't get to post a Passionate Monday next week, but will resume the following week. But that doesn't mean that we all shouldn't find ways to live passionately!

I was so very touched by the responses from my last post about charity. I love to hear about everyone's favorite way to give. Thank you all who shared.

I have been wanting to post this recipe for quite some time, as it one of my husband's and my favorites.
Every fall the cooler weather and winter squashes arrive almost simultaneously. It is a good thing since I crave their comfort on brisk evenings. Butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A, but also contains fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, magnesium and potassium. I just read that these squashes originated in Mexico, but they quickly spread to all parts of the new and old world, as you can find them used in most cultures.
This recipe is a labor of love, but if spread over a couple of days, the effort isn't too strenuous. We originally made these raviolis with a simple browned butter and sage sauce. Now we like to serve it over tomato sauce with the browned butter and sage sauce on top. While it may seem like a lot of flavors, they are very complimentary and oh-so-delicious! Please forgive my inexact proportions, but it really is difficult to make a mistake with these ingredients, so have fun with it.
Ravioli di Zucca or Butternut Squash Ravioli
Served over Tomato Sauce and Topped with Browned Butter & Sage
Serves 3-4 as a main course (or 6 as a starter)
Again, the Tomato Sauce is optional. If you are going to use it, make a marinara sauce ahead of time.
Start by roasting a butternut squash (about 3 lbs.) in the oven at 350 degrees until soft and golden, about one hour. (After cutting in half and scooping out the seeds, I brush with olive oil and turn face down on a baking sheet to bake.) This can be done the day before making the ravioli.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Stir in about one cup of ricotta cheese, 2/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, salt and pepper. If you live in Italy, the ricotta that you can buy is so much tastier than what we have in the U.S. that you can use just ricotta without the parmigiano. I would be tempted to use ricotta di pecora/sheep's milk ricotta for its unique flavor. Taste and adjust ingredients to your palate. (This, too, can be done a day ahead. If this mixture sits for a while, some liquid will separate. Drain off the liquid before using.)
For the pasta, I use Marcella Hazan's pasta recipe (but use a little more flour than she calls for - most likely because our flours are different here), but you can use whichever one you like. Or, if you are lucky enough to have access to buying fresh pasta, that makes this recipe much easier! A few of my tips for handmade pasta are:
  • Make it by hand, at least the first half a dozen times, so that you can really get the "feel" for the pasta. You will learn what it is supposed to feel like, you will learn what happens when it is too dry, too wet, etc. Once you master it, then you could make it in a mixer or food processor, but if you are like me, you will get hooked on doing it by hand and never use a machine!
  • I find that the dough when ready will have a silky consistency, not too tacky.
  • When rolling out, don't be afraid to dust with flour whenever the dough feels too sticky.
  • When pasta is done, cut into six wedges.
  • Roll out each wedge, on setting number 1 of a pasta machine, three times, folding in thirds between each roll. Set aside and repeat with remaining wedges.
  • Then take a pasta section and roll through settings 2-6. Repeat with each section, setting them aside on floured cloth when done.
Match pieces as closely as possible by size. Drop spoonfuls of squash filling, leaving at least 1 1/2" between.
Place another sheet on top and carefully press out the air around each mound and press to seal.

Cut between the raviolis and place each one on a floured plate or sheet. Set aside but do not refrigerate.

While you are bringing your pasta water to a boil, prepare the browned butter and sage sauce. We use about 2/3 butter to 1/3 good olive oil and a lot of sage. (Proportions for 4 people would be about 6-8 Tbsp. butter, 3-4 Tbsp. oil, and maybe 20-30 large sage leaves left whole or cut into pieces - your choice.) Saute until butter begins to brown and sage begins to crisp. Be careful not to burn!
Also, while the pasta water is boiling, if you will be using a tomato sauce for a base like we do, then heat that up. We make a simple marinara (be sure that you puree it so that is not chunky for this preparation.) You can also just take a can/box of tomato puree, add a good glug of olive oil and salt and pepper and reduce down by at least a third, which would take almost an hour. It is not quite as tasty as making a true marinara, but it is pretty darn good!

When your sauces are ready, drop the ravioli into the boiling water one at a time. These only take 3-5 minutes to cook, depending on how big you made them. You will be able to see, or feel, the edges change when they are ready. It is a little too rough on the ravioli to dump them into a colander, so we use a slotted spoon to remove them into a colander.

Spread your tomato sauce, if you are using one, on the bottom of the serving platter.

Place the raviolis on top, pour the sage/butter sauce over the top and serve with plenty of grated parmigiano reggiano on the side.

I know you are thinking this looks like a lot of work, but it is worth every minute. It is an addictive dish! Serve it with a fruity red wine like dolcetto, refosco, nero d'avola or a very simple Chianti.

I find that I usually have left over filling. I either freeze it for my next batch, or use it the following days as a bruschetta topping with some drizzled sage butter on top.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Briciole.

Buon appetito!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Passionate Mondays

Today I am passionate about giving and charity.

I know this post has nothing to do with food, Italy or travel, but I can't help but put my two cents in on the subject of giving...after all 'tis the season. Like most of you, I am passionate about giving. I love to give - hugs, help, food, gifts, a listening ear, etc. It seems that during the holiday season, when consumer pressure to buy is at its highest, that we all need to be reminded that sometimes giving the free things in life are the sweetest.

As most of you know, my mom passed away this year. It was during my time caring for her that I realized how much I got out of giving. Caring for her made me feel good. I have read that there is scientific evidence that shows that when we make someone else feel good, we have the same reaction in our bodies on a cellular level that the receiver does. And remember Saint Francis' quote, "In giving, we receive." It was also during this difficult year that I became so grateful for the small things (and some big things) that friends did for our family. A simple gesture like making a pot of soup for us seemed like the most perfect gift in the world.

So, I want to gently remind everyone that sometimes the smallest gifts and gestures can be the best gifts and that spending money is not always or, really, not at all, necessary. Try baking something for your neighbor, or offering to care for their pet while they are away. Try creating an artistic piece for a friend, perhaps a photo you took or an inspirational quote handwritten on beautiful paper. Offer to cook your friend a lovely meal, or give a massage to a loved one. The ideas are endless.
If you do have money to spend, then why not give it to a charity in someone else's name for a gift? There are so many good charities out there and so many people and animals around the world in need. I think it is important to investigate charities to see how much of your gift dollar actually goes toward the actual recipient, and how much goes toward their administration. Here are a few of my favorite charities, all of which have low over-heads.

If you have a blog, why don't you do a post about our favorite charities to help spread the word during this important giving season? If you do a post, please leave a comment here so that I am aware of it. If you don't have a blog, just leave your favorite charity in a comment form here then. Let's spread the spirit of giving!

Have a passionate and giving day!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Passionate Mondays

I took last Monday off, in fact, I took most of last week off from blogging. I needed some more "down time" and just wanted to slow down for the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope all of you (in the U.S.) had a wonderful, long holiday weekend.

Today I am passionate about SARK.

If you don't know who Sark is, she is Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, and she is one inspirational woman. I first became aware of Sark while I was living in San Francisco in 1987 and would read her cards and posters. Many years, books, events, cards, newsletters, and websites later, she is still going strong, relentless in her ability to inspire.

Here are some random "sarkisms":

"We are each directly or indirectly asked to fulfill our dreams and destiny. Sometimes we crawl there, or find ourselves stuck outside of our dreams."

"Leaps of faith can put us in a new spot we couldn't see from where we stood before."

"We deserve to be caretakers for our spirits and dreams, and this means truly sensing and listening four our most alive route. It may not be a common path, or a popular one, yet it will be clearly ours."

"When considering choices in your life, the 'most alive choice' feels like a bit of a risk, makes you giggle, or makes the hairs at the back of your neck stand up. It can be a simple and tiny shift, such as taking a new route. Or as large as moving your whole life somewhere you haven't lived before."

"Learn to fight your inner critics as fiercely as you would an attacker."

I am currently reading her book THE BODACIOUS BOOK OF SUCCULENCE and it is helping me tremendously - helping me to be motivated, to create, to trust myself and to love myself more deeply. She has written many other books which you can find on her website Planet Sark.

Sark's creative energies overflow and are very contagious. Reading her books leaves you wanting to jump up and create a beautiful world for you and for everyone around you. For wherever you are at in life, Sark can speak to that place, nudging you toward what it authentically you, toward your destination, toward love and peace.

Have a Passionate Monday, or as Sark says, "Let the world speak succulently to you."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Insalata di Radicchio e Ceci/Radicchio and Chickpea Salad

I love this salad as it is very, very easy to make, it is hearty and satisfying, it is perfect for colder weather and it is healthy. The toasted ceci/chickpeas add a nutty and meaty flavor to this salad. It turns out that these toasted chickpeas are a great replacement for croutons in any salad.

Out of curiosity I just checked on the health benefits of radicchio and found out something very interesting. Radicchio, according to an Italian study, was found to be one of the vegetables having the highest anti-oxidant content - rivaling blueberries! See this report for details. I already knew that ceci/chickpeas are high in fiber and protein. Add in a few other healthy ingredients and this is a bowlful of nutrition!

Insalata di Radicchio e Ceci/Radicchio and Chickpea Salad

radicchio (any kind)

ceci/chickpeas (canned and drained)

parmigiano reggiano

good quality olive oil

your choice of vinegar (I prefer red wine or balsamic with this recipe)

salt & pepper

Chop enough radicchio for the number of people you want to feed.

Use a small handful of ceci for each person. Put ceci in a skillet over medium flame and let them dry out well, stirring frequently so that they don't stick. When they seem like they are getting really dry and sticking, add a touch of olive oil and stir well. Allow the ceci, while stirring frequently, to brown. (Alternatively, you can keep browning the ceci without olive oil. They will stick and make a lot of mess in the pan to clean up, but it if you are trying to cut out fats, then this is an option.)

Using a vegetable peeler, shave a small amount of parmigiano and add to the radicchio. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar to taste. Toss in warm (or cooled) ceci.

This is my entry for The Heart of the Matter, this month hosted by Lucullian Delights. They had a call for quick and easy recipes for this hectic holiday time, and I think this qualifies! Check out the round-up of other entries around Christmas.

Buon appetito!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Biscotti alla Mamma/Mamma's Biscotti

I still am not quite emotionally ready to write in detail about my mother, or "mamma" as I called her in our closest moments. Her recent death feels like a weight hanging on me. I can say, though, that the creation of Apples & Thyme has felt like exactly what I needed to help me process certain thoughts. My mother's passion was cooking; in the kitchen is where she glowed. Helping me to remember those times and images of her in her "element" is enabling me to overcome the sad images of the painful last years of her life.

Like my grandmothers, and probably like most of your female predecessors, my mom loved to bake cookies at the holidays. I have so many memories of making Christmas cookies with her, and in fact still have her old Betty Crocker Cookie Book that we used over and over again! This is the only time of year when I am motivated to bake cookies (not having much of a sweet tooth.) I remember giving my mom a biscotti recipe years ago, and that simple recipe blossomed into a whole repertoire of various types of biscotti coming from her kitchen. While going through her recipes, which is a library full, we found 17 collected biscotti recipes, not counting the ones in all the cookbooks. I found the original, which was always my favorite and I decided to make it this particularly foggy, cool Sunday. This is a trial run for the holidays. Since they turned out delicioso, I now know what I will be making to give to all the neighbors and our mail delivery person for holiday gifts.
Biscotti alla Mamma (modified just a bit to my taste!)
makes 30-40 biscotti

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped, roasted hazelnuts (you can use blanched or toasted almonds here, and if so, you can add 1 tsp. almond extract if you like, too.)
3 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together sugar, butter, brandy, extract(s). Add eggs and nuts.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt and then add to wet ingredients.
Mix well.
Lightly butter a baking sheet.
Shape dough into two loaves about 2-3" wide and 9-10" long.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until set to about a cake-like texture.
Remove from oven and let cool until the logs can be handled.
Cut in 1/2" diagonal slices. Lay flat on baking sheet and return to oven.
Bake for about 12 minutes (still at 350 degrees), then turn cookies.
Bake another 7-10 minutes until golden brown, or until toasted to your preference.

Here is the important part. Enjoy warm with a well-made espresso for an afternoon snack, just like I just did. While dipping your biscotti, think warm, wonderful, comforting thoughts of your mother, and smile at your fortune of having a mother!
This is my early entry for our December Apples & Thyme event. Entries are not due until December 10th. See my last post for all the entry details, and stop by co-hosts blog, Vanielje Kitchen to see the other half of the entries when they are posted on the 15th.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Apples & Thyme ~ a celebration of mothers and grandmothers and time spent with with them in the kitchen

Our first Apples & Thyme event was a heart-warming success. Thank you all for your wonderful entries. We are thrilled to be hosting this event monthly. So, to remind you, Apples & Thyme is a celebration of time spent in the kitchen with our mothers and grandmothers (or anyone else you wish to blog about) and what they did or did not pass on to us that influenced how we cook and eat today. We would love you to enter and share with us a person and a dish that celebrates your relationship with them. The closing date is 20th of every month, with the roundup being posted on sometime before the end of that month. My co-host in this event is the fantastic Vanielje Kitchen .

Event rules are as follows:
1. Post on your blog before 20th of the month about your mother or grandmother (or any other person special to you) and time spent with them in the kitchen that influenced how you cook and eat.
2. Include a dish which reflects the relationship.
3. Take a picture of the dish and/or person.
4. Include the words Apples & Thyme in your blog title.
5. Add a link to the Apples & Thyme's hosts blogs - Vanielje Kitchen and The Passionate Palate.
6. Please send an email to or, but not both, with the following details: Your name, URL of blog, URL of your Apples & Thyme post and a 100 x 100 pixel picture for your entry in the round-up.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Apples and Thyme - Round Up #1

The first Apples and Thyme round-up is here and at Vanielje Kitchen here.
Inge of African Vanielje and I have been writing back and forth to each other these last few weeks about how this event really touched and moved people. Remembering our mothers and grandmothers (and others) and the time spent in the kitchen with them calls to each of us, across cultures, genders, races, and ages. One can see from all of these entries that we all have strong memories associated with food and kitchens and our experiences with them.

There were many common threads and similar stories. I think my favorite repeated theme is that of amazingly strong women. I don't know that our predecessors had more difficult lives than we do, ours are just difficult in different ways. However when it came to having enough food, growing food, and making it, our predecessors did have a much more challenging time. They did not have the modern conveniences nor the easy access to commodities that we do today. These women managed to not only feed empty stomachs and usually with really tasty food, but survive wars, raise children, often without a man's help and work all while creating wonderful memories that we all carry within us. I read a quote from Maria Shriver yesterday that something like "A woman's real power is taking what we know and passing it on." Isn't this what our mothers and grandmothers (and others) did for us? And isn't that what we are now doing?
Please read these stories for they are all heart-warming and inspirational.

Elle at Confessions of a Novice tells of us of her Italian mother who cooked all kinds of food - not just Italian - in order to please her fussy family. It seems like one of everybody's favorites was these Pumpkin Donuts.

Valerie of 2 Baci in a Pinon Tree in Italy gives us a beautifully written account of her grandmother's cooking traditions and generous spirit, as well as a recipe for her Grandma Betty's Granola Fudgies.

Dolores at Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity shows us that we can have many cooking influences in our lives, not the least of which was her father. The recipe she shares is from her Italian side of her family, but its origins and even its name are a mystery -Touvlach or Toothlach. Can anyone help her figure it out?

Gay from A Scientist in the Kitchen brings us her Filipino childhood recollections of a scrumptious looking Pork & Beans from her talented aunt who spent a lot of valuable time with her in the kitchen and in the market.

Julie at One Wall Kitchen takes us on an intimate journey inside her family's lumpia traditions, and making a party out of it with some friends.

Tina at Sweet Designs shares the story of her great-grandmother who was a big influence on her love of baking. Her snickerdoodle cookie recipe is full of good memories.

Rokh of Tham Jiak shares many details of the life and traditions in Malaysia and her grandmother's cooking talents. Her favorite dish - ho lan shu chu yok (stir fry potato and pork in dark soy sauce) - sounds delicious!

Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook brings us tales of her Italian cousin's grandmother who taught her many Italian specialties, including these perfect-looking gnocchi.

Sarah at What Smells So Good was one of the few entries to offer up memories of time spent in the kitchen with a male - her Dad. He sounds like a great father, and one who makes fool-proof pancakes.

Lynnylu at Cafe Lynnylu recalls how her mother taught them how to live the "slow life" while living off their farm. My heart goes out to her as her mom has Alzheimer's just like my mother did. Like me, Lynn is full of happy memories of her mom and her recipes, like the one for 24 Hour Salad (a dessert!)

From the South of France, Riana of Garlic Breath, brings us a classic Tarte Tatin recipe which came from her adopted grandmother who also taught her valuable skills in living off the land.

Cakelaw at Laws of the Kitchen brings us her mum's super comforting Rice Pudding along with recollections of growing up on a farm.

Jenn, the Leftover Queen, pays a lovely tribute to her mom and her cooking talents. This is another entry which included a birthday treat for a mother, this one for Chocolate Volcano Cake that looks "explosively" divine!

Chris from Mele Cotte brings us two of her favorite comfort foods from her mom's repertoire, along with a poem, photos and a wonderful description of a beautiful mother-daughter relationship.

Angel of Angel's Bento Blog openly shares the trials and challenges her mother had in raising her children in very tough circumstances, but somehow still cooking memorable dishes such as Pumpkin Pie.

Merav at A Tasteful Journey writes a glowing tribute to her grandmother and gives us her recipe for her grandmother's K'Zitzot, a meatball made with chicken and turkey that looks very yummy.

Marla of Bella Baita View in Italy goes back to her Illinois Irish roots and recounts the memories of her mother's home-cooking, and her much-sought-after Sour Cream Apple Pie.

Simona at Briciole offers up beautiful memories of her childhood in Italy and the time spent in the kitchen with her aunt who always made Simona's favorite afternoon snack of crema pasticcera for her.

Anne, our Foodie Froggy in Paris, presents a story and recipe for Tea-Biscuit Chocolate Cake that has been passed down in her family for three generations, but yet no one knows its origins.

Don't forget to head over to Vanielje Kitchen to see the rest of the round up.
Thank you all for participating!