For the past three years, Wren & Willow has had the pleasure of creating and publishing cookbooks chalked full of recipes from our dear family and friends. This year was no exception as we concluded our cookbook trilogy with One-Hundred Italian Eats by Wren & Willow. This year's book was a tribute to Italian family roots and heritage, and how food has a magical ability to bring us all together. Regardless of your family heritage, I hope you also have special memories and stories from around your dinner table. Allow me to share part of my heritage with you. -Laureen Miliziano Skrivan
One of the greatest memories of growing up in a large, extended Italian family on the East Coast, were the feasts. My grandma Josephine would spend days before the meal chopping, preparing, and cooking, never once looking at a recipe, and like magic, she would produce a seven-course meal that could feed the entire neighborhood. Grandma’s home in Trenton, New Jersey was humble; her dishes and table cloths did not match, but we knew that as we gathered around small card tables set up in the living room, we were about to indulge in a meal better than the finest Italian restaurant in town.
Her love of family and food was passed down to my father, George Miliziano, who loved nothing more than sharing a good Italian meal with his family and friends. Before eating, he would always take off his work shirt and wear a plain white undershirt so he could eat his pasta and gravy (that’s Italian for tomato sauce), with unbridled passion and without fear of splashing on his nice clothes. He would sit down, bless the food, and then declare Mangia! or Eat! His favorite time of day was dinner, and even as the dishes were still being cleared, he was already hankering for his next meal.
Now that both my grandma and father are gone, it is my privilege to carry on the love of good Italian food and pass it along to my children and grandchildren. It is a pleasure for me to watch my children learn how to host and have large gatherings in their homes with too much food for us all to eat. I know my father would have loved watching his great-grandchildren learn how to eat pasta with gravy and good meatballs, always while wearing a white t-shirt.
Some of the recipes in our new cookbook do not have precise measurements – that is the Italian way of cooking. This made for a challenging task when collecting recipes as many relatives simply replied, “What recipe? You just know how much of each ingredient is needed.”
The Italian way is to enjoy the meal for as long as possible, just like Grandma Josephine did. She always served a seven-course meal, which extended the time family and friends spent together. Every Italian is shamelessly proud of their heritage. When I meet a fellow Paisan (Italian), we have an instant bond and connection because of our deep roots. If you get a hankering to be part of the Italian food club, One-Hundred Italian Eats by Wren & Willow will help you create the very best Italian comfort food to serve to your family and friends!
If you would like your own copy of One-Hundred Italian Eats by Wren & Willow,
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Grandma Sodaro's Fig Cookies by Rosalie Miliziano
Laureen fondly remembers her mother baking this cookie recipe at Christmas time. Laureen's daughter, Alicia, now bakes them for special occasions and is teaching her daughter, Gabriella, to make them to carry on the family tradition.
5 C. Sifted Flour
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 C. Sugar
1 1/2 C. Shortening
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 C. Milk
2 C. Chopped Figs
2 Boxes of Dates, chopped
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 1/2 C. Honey
Directions: For the cookie dough, mix together the flour, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, shortening, vanilla, and milk. Once all ingredients are thoroughly combined, allow to chill in the refrigerator while fig filling is constructed.For the fig filling, place figs, dates, cinnamon, honey, and the juice of the orange in a small pot. Allow to simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.After dough has chilled, roll out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out cookies and fill with 1 tsp. of filling. Fold the dough over to contain the filling inside of the cookies. Repeat until all cookie dough and filling is used. Place cookies on greased cookie sheet and allow to bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Found in our cookbook, One-Hundred Italian Eats by Wren & Willow
If you visited one of our job sites in the last year, odds are you would have found Kelly there, putting the finishing touches on another beautiful project. Kelly Ultican is the head of our Detail Division and is also a skilled tile setter by trade. His attention to detail has not only benefited his craftsmanship, but also his art. In his free time, Kelly enjoys drawing people, landscapes, and still-lifes using a technique called stippling. Kelly is a diligent worker and always knows how to lighten the mood! We are glad to have him on our team.
Kelly manning the entrance to our annual Speakeasy event. No one gets through him!
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