Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back At Grandma’s Kitchen

In my blog titled “Survey Results Part 2” I disclosed what subjects you wanted me to blog about next. Some answers were amusing, but several of them did indeed spark ideas for future blogs. I have already used Randy and Judi’s suggestion to write more Koos oriented blogs when I wrote, “What’ll You Have”. Today’s blog should satisfy Mary Beth, Patty 4-Names and Auntie Janet all at the same time. Plus, Sharon C. will be pleased that it is not about Survivor!

In 1993 my cousins Susie and Annie put together a Vagnoni family cookbook titled, Back At Grandma’s Kitchen. The book is a collection of Grandma’s recipes along with those of my Mom (Milly), Auntie Janet, Auntie Joanne and Aunt Bonnie. In addition to all of the fantastic recipes, cousin Susie provided a wonderful family history. Before I share some of the recipes, here is some of what she wrote:

Ermalinda D’Angelo (a.k.a. Grandma) was born in a small town near Rome, Italy called Portia on July 25, 1904. She was the second born child of Joseph D’Angelo and Mary Perozzi-D’Angelo.

In 1906 the D’Angelo’s decided to make the big move to America, where they settled in Birmingham, Alabama. The family moved back to Italy for one year in 1912, returning to the United States in 1913 and settled in Kenosha, Wisconsin. That is where she met Enrico Vagnoni (a.k.a. Grandpa).

Grandpa came to the United States when he was 16 years old. He lived in Pennsylvania where he worked on the railroads. He entered the Army and served in World War I as an infantryman and was stationed in France. He later moved to Kenosha where he worked at Simmons Mattress Company.

Grandpa was the first in his neighborhood to own a car. This made him a real ladies man. Luckily for the Vagnoni family, Grandpa only made room in his car (and his heart) for Grandma. They married at Old Mount Carmel Church on September 6, 1924.

Shortly after the first child was born: Emil (1925). It wasn’t long and Helen (1927) was born, followed by John (1931), Joseph (1936) and David (1947).

The Vagnoni clan had reached a critical mass in 1965. At least twenty of us packed into Grandma’s house every Sunday to stuff ourselves with a wonderful meal.

Finally, a decision was made to buy a large, old cottage on Camp Lake. The house was christened “La Casa de Lago” {the house on the lake) and gave the family many years of wonderful memories. The most memorable being Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th anniversary on September 6, 1974.

Some of the Vagnoni family enjoying the first cooked meal at the “Cottage" at Camp Lake.

I would like to thank Susie for writing that. It brings back many beautiful memories. That is only a portion of what she wrote back in 1993. In March of 2009 I did a blog titled, “A Good Kind Of Sadness”. It chronicles some more Vagnoni family history at “La Casa de Lago”. Check it out; there are a few more pictures.

Now for the yummy part – some recipes!

Grandma 'Noni’s Cheese Bread©

½ cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast (Red Star Instant)
2 tbsp sugar
1-cup warm milk
1 egg
2 tbsp margarine (soft)
3 ½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
¾ cup Parmesan cheese

Mix together the yeast, sugar, warm water and warm milk (not hot). Add egg and margarine. Blend together in bowl and add flour, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and ½ cup Parmesan cheese.

Cover with damp cloth and let rise until it doubles in size. Make into two loaves and top with melted margarine and remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375° for 30 to 40 minutes.

Grandma 'Noni's Homemade Pasta©

9 cups flour
14 eggs

Make well in middle of flour. Add eggs and mix together. Sprinkle kneading surface with flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes). Rub a light film of oil on dough and cover with bowl. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

This dough can be used for any kind of pasta you desire. You can use a pasta machine or roll it out and cut it by hand.

Grandma 'Noni's Ricotta Biscotti©

2 sticks soft oleo (or 1 cup shortening)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
1 tsp almond flavoring
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
I tsp salt
Powdered sugar

Cream together oleo, sugar and eggs. Then add ricotta, vanilla and almond flavoring. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and add to mixture. Mix well.

Form into balls about the size of a walnut. Dough will be sticky, flour your hands to roll into balls. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 375° for 12 to 15 minutes.

Frost with powdered sugar icing.

Okay, that’s enough recipes for today. If you want, I can shoot out a few more from time to time. That’s only if you enjoy things like raviolis, gnocchi, pasta sauce and maple nut chiffon cake. Let me know.

Hopefully this blog took care of Mary Beth and Patty 4-Names’ desire for a blog about food. I am pretty sure that Auntie Janet will smile when she reads it; cousin Susie just happens to be her daughter. How’s that for family?

Now that I think of it, I honored one other request with this blog. Julie asked that I write, “Whatever your heart tells you to blog about.” Thanks for the suggestion Julie. Until next time…from the booth.


Julie Schuler said...

I love to hear a great family story! Thanks for sharing it, and the yummy recipes.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

You are quite welcome, Julie!

Leplume said...

A very satisfying blog post indeed! But...I would love to read your Grandma's Homemade Pasta Sauce recipe! I bet it's a goody!!

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Mary Beth, since you asked so nicely I will post the pasta sauce recipe sometime this weekend. i will see what other requests I get and do 3 or 4. Thanks for being satisfied!