Tessa’s Kitchen Tales
Welcome to Tessa’s Kitchen Tales Italian Recipe Site– It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting here at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and my laptop searching for the right words to start my first newsletter. As I tap my fingers on the kitchen table searching for the perfect words, I think of several opening sentences for my newsletter. It dawned on me that the kitchen where I sit at the table to write my stories and my recipes is ‘the place’ where it all happened when I was growing up. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable, let me entertain you with stories and recipes that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
One of my favorite meals growing up was when my mother made breaded chicken cutlets. My mother would serve chicken cutlets as a weeknight meal, alongside escarole and beans or sautéed broccoli rabe, or oven-roasted potatoes. Get the recipe here…
One dish that my grandmother usually had ready or at least ready to whip up within minutes is Peppers and Eggs. She would always have nice seeded Italian bread in the freezer ready to be tossed into the oven and ready to serve at a moment’s notice. Get the recipe here…
For most families living in apartments or small homes in the Bronx, the kitchen was command central. Besides cooking and a place to eat a meal, the kitchen was the place to do homework and school projects. It was a repair workshop and a gift-wrapping center—you name it, the kitchen was where it all happened. Let us not forget, it was also the common place for coffee klatches. If I had a nickel for every time, I heard my mother or my grandmothers say, ‘come over for coffee’, I would be a millionaire! So many good times were spent around the kitchen table.
I know that many of you are nodding your heads in agreement and I’m sure many bittersweet memories are flooding back in your mind. I continued the tradition of using the kitchen as command central while my children were growing up. As you can see from this newsletter, it holds true until today.
As an only child, growing up in an Italian family, I was always in the company of adults. My cousins lived out-of-state so there were no kids to play with other than friends that I had at school. I spent most of my time with the adults in the family. Occasionaly, I was permitted to have play dates with my friends from school. I observed the day-to-day rituals of meal preparation and chores, heard many family conversations reminiscing about the ‘old days’, or just family gossip. Madonne! If you only knew the drama—LOL!
The Easy Bake Oven
I was the only kid around so I was recruited at an early age to help in the kitchen. One of my first memories was cutting potatoes with a crinkle potato cutter for Nathan’s style French fries to go along side our American hamburger and fries meal. I must have been around three years old! I always asked for toys that were related to cooking. Until today, I remember how elated I felt when my grandmother gave me an Easy Bake oven for my fifth birthday! I started baking at five years old and have not stopped. Baking is my passion. Years later, at around eight or nine years old, Santa Claus brought me a full Play Kitchen. I was one happy little girl!
Growin’ Up and Eatin’ Italian!
In my ‘About Me’ section, I mention that my family and friends encouraged me to start my Italian Recipe Site. I was reluctant to do so since there are so many Italian cooking blogs. There are so many wonderful Italian cuisine celebrity chefs, and there are just so many ways to make a marinara sauce. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, an added stress about what to serve as meals was thrown upon us. It can cost a fortune to order take-out every night! These are tough times for many. I know how difficult it can be to figure out meals your family will enjoy on a budget.
Money was tight while I was growing up in the seventies. My dad worked a full-time job and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. What to cook for dinner has been the question of the day since I can remember. No matter if there was ten dollars or a hundred dollars in the weekly grocery budget, my mother always prepared a delicious and satisfying meal. My grandmothers would reminisce about the Great Depression and tight budgets, and creative ways to feed their families. Sometimes steak was on the table and sometimes there were pasta and bean dishes to eat. To this day, I would rather eat the pasta and bean dishes! There are so many delicious recipes.
I decided to start my Tessa’s Kitchen Tales Italian Recipe Site to share my family’s recipes and entertain you with the stories that I heard and lived through when growing up and raising my own family. Cooking, baking, and brainstorming about ‘what to cook’ is my passion. I hope you enjoy this site. Thank you for visiting the website and subscribing to the Newsletter. Happy cooking!