I want to share a little bit about my personal philosophy on cooking and recipes. To do this, I am going to tell a story about my late grandmother, Joella (Jo).
My grandma was a small but fierce Italian woman and a truly legendary cook. Because I lived at my grandparents house with my dad and my sister for the first few years of my life, some of my first memories are watching my grandma cook in the kitchen. I would jump onto the step stool and help her in the kitchen. After we moved into our own place (a whole mile away) we still spent a lot of time at my grandma’s house, so I continued to watch her cook.
Sadly, our family lost my grandma when I was eight after her battle with cancer. How I wish I could have had more time with her. I would have loved to cook some awesome Italian meals with my grandma, but I believe her spirit of cooking lives on in me, just as it has in my Aunt Tracy. She truly embodies my grandma’s sense of cooking and hospitality. I feel blessed for all the times I get to cook with my aunt, because it does feel in a way like I gained some more time with my grandma.
Despite this all, I feel like I have learned so much more about my grandma and her cooking through the stories I have heard about her. Almost every time I meet someone who knew my grandma, they will tell some story about her cooking (all glowing reviews, I must add). My dad’s friends from growing up all go on and on about how they loved coming over to my dad’s house because they knew it meant eating Joella’s cooking.
I will say that there is one story in particular that has always stood out for me that has helped me better understand my grandma’s cooking and better understand my own. This was a story my Aunt Cris told me years ago. She was talking about how she was at my grandparents house when my grandma was making her famous homemade pizza.
My aunt had asked my grandma for her pizza recipe. My grandma told her, “You take some flour, you take some oil; you’ll know when it’s enough.” At first, my aunt thought my grandma didn’t want to tell her the recipe, but then she realized the issue was that she didn’t actually have a recipe. She just threw together some ingredients and made pizza. She knew what ingredients to use but couldn’t explain measurements because she didn’t measure anything. She didn’t have to because she had that cook’s intuition to know when the look and feel of her dough was right. That’s how she was with most of her cooking, because she was that good.
As I have gotten older, I am finding that my style of cooking is very similar to hers. I go off my instincts and most of the time I can tell when something is right. Sure, I can follow a recipe very well, and I often cook from recipes. However, I find more often that I am using the recipe as a guide and doing what seems right to me.
The whole point of this story is that like my grandmother, I have difficulties explaining to people how to make certain dishes. am going to do my best to come up with measurements and directions when sharing my own food creations. I cannot promise they will be perfect, but I will work hard to include helpful notes if you want to try any of my recipes.