Late last night I realized that yesterday was the first birthday of Journey of an Italian Cook. Happily, I had these delicious Italian-Chocolate-Brownie-Muffins courtesy of Italialicious. I visited my son up in Collegeville yesterday for his birthday. I couldn't figure out whether to bring the Italian-Brownie-Muffins or the French Walnut Cake. I put it to Facebook and the answer came back 2-1 for the Brownie-Muffins. Of course, my son weighed in and that really was the deciding factor. I wound up with 20 of them so fourteen went up north for the the college kids and the rest stayed down here for my daughter and to celebrate the blog's first birthday. A fitting treat. And delicious. What I really loved was the aroma. You could smell the sweet chocolate before it touched your mouth. And the aroma has no calories.
I learned a lot in a year:
1. It is a good thing I went into playwrighting because I never would have made it as a food stylist or photographer.
2. Bloggers are some of the more generous, creative people in this world - and a special hurrah to the food bloggers.
3. My family is not as weird as my children think - many people's families have their most important memories entwined with food.
I started the blog as a way to create a memoir of recipes and memories for my family. The Italian childhood I experienced in Queens, NYC is light years away from their Midwestern home in White Bear Lake, MN. I wanted them to know about my great-aunts who brought a complete saurbraten dinner (and a pitcher of Manhattans) on two subways and a bus to take to my parents on New Year's Eve. They will forever be my three Magi.
I want them to know more about what is was like to be able to have three kitchens at your disposal. If dinner wasn't appetizing to my childhood palette, I could walk to Aunt Rose's or Aunt Fay's and get myself invited for dinner. I want them to someday say to their kids as my Uncle Rocky always told me, "Aren't we the luckiest people in the world? We're having pasta for Sunday dinner!" And through my blog, they can meet Uncle Rocky. And I have come full circle. As I have teased my mother and my aunts in the past about their habit of gnawing on bones, my children now have a wealth of stories about their own mother's odd habits.
I sit here with seeds remembering the tomatoes from last year and the years before. And there's always a story. I remember with glee when my son was given some hot peppers and he devised a recipe, photographed the finished product and sent it to me - with notes! And then there was the week before Easter, where I cooked up some Italian Wheat Pies. It was snowing, Christmas Carols were on and it sent me back to remembrances of Easter's past.
Blogs evolve. Eighteen months ago, I started a blog about my 20-odd years of working with kids in theatre. Some colleagues mentioned to me that if I didn't write my experiences down, I would never remember it. I now use it as part musings, part mentoring and a little bit of marketing. My sister and I recently started a blog (Cover Girls Cooking) as a New Year's Resolution. We would commit to cooking the cover recipe of Bon Appetit or Tastes of Italia (or both!) every month. It is a fun challenge - not knowing in advance what you are cooking. It is also a grand excuse to commit to an extended family dinner every month. And it lures my children home from college. And - you really only need to blog once a month - the night of the Cover Girl Dinner.
When I started this blog, I hadn't read any others. Oh the arrogance! Now, my goals for this blog are changing. Food will always be tied to musings and memories. I will always look back with great pleasure, but with the help of this amazing cyberspace community, I will also be looking forward.
Oh! And the Italian-chocolate-brownie-muffins. You will want the recipe. As you can see, I tried it out for you. And you can find it on Daziano's blog Italialicious.