Uncle Frank’s Italian Sausage

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Uncle Frank and his pilfered sausage making machine. It’s a whiz but he’s not sure where it came from or when it got there. It’s a mystery. If it’s yours, give him a call.

Another fabulous family cook pops out of the woodwork of our wacky family tree!  Uncle Frank is the husband of my mother’s younger sister, Dot.  He is a retired DC fireman, father of 10, currently a custom home builder, and (most important for our purposes here) a very good cook.  Lucky us!  Breakfasts at the Principe house would put an IHOP buffet – should an IHOP buffet serve Rapa brand scrapple – to shame… and that’s just on your standard Wednesday.  Breakfast not your thing?  Pfft! If you need a soup, Uncle Frank’s your man.  Other than one unfortunate incident where he went all not-in-a-good-way-free-form on a pot of pasta fazool (yes, I do have the memory of an elephant … a bizarre elephant but an elephant nonetheless), that man can toss things into a pot and come up with the most delicious combinations.

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Jack Daniel’s Cake With Buttered Whiskey Glaze

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I must start with the caveat that this is not actually my recipe but BD’s.  And, truth be told, it’s not even his.  Many years ago, when shoulder pads and perms were in vogue if unfortunate and our meeting was but a fleeting dream he could only hope to attain (my blog, my version), he found himself in a liquor store that had a Jack Daniel’s promotional recipe for this cake on a tear-off pad.  He availed himself.

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Old Nonnie’s Minestrone

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I’ve finally bitten the bullet and asked my mother to cook with me for the blog. It’s not that she’s not a good cook. To the contrary, she’s an excellent cook. It’s just that it’s my mother and I wasn’t sure I wanted to boss her around in my kitchen and tell her how to cook and where to stand and how to measure … I jest to amuse myself. Those reasons were exactly what got me moving.

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Lentils and Rice: Zhudra

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Sixty picture later, I’ve just given up.  It’s simply not a pretty dish. You’ll need to take my word that it’s delicious. Earthy lentils, bitter (in a good way) onions, and lots of black pepper combine to make one of my all-time favorite bean dishes.  It’s hearty and filling.  It’s even vegan if that’s your thing.  It’s a comfort dish that transports me to Aunt Myra’s kitchen and some warm happy memories.  She is a terrific cook and introduced my childhood to mint in green salads (that one took me a while to get used to), Syrian meatloaf, and this wonderful lentil dish.  Later in life she introduced me to jug wine but that’s a story for another time.

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Lucy Vitiello Polvinale’s Biscotti

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There are few things that universally say “Christmas!” to our extended family like Nonnie’s biscotti.  Not to be confused with our Nonnie (queen of the pasta fazool), this nonna is my mother and her siblings’ grandmother.  Lucy Vitiello Polvinale aka Old Nonnie (or Nonnie from Florida if she was within earshot) was a pistol of a lady. Though vertically challenged to the tune of 4 foot nothing – give or take – she could whip up a feast for the hordes while telling fabulous stories in her wizened old Italian-accented voice, barking orders at Cizzie (the Florida Cizzie, not to be confused with present day Aunt Dot Cizzie) and encouraging the feeble attempts of any protegee, young or old, who thought it wise to belly up to her counter to roll gnocchi or simply bask in her wonderful presence.

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