Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Counting Blessings

Over the Christmas holiday, I made home-made pasta just like my maternal grandmother did. She used to make a pasta shape we called cappelini. They were little hats made to resemble the round, wide brimmed hats the priests wore in Rome, cappello Romano.

I remember I was 7 or 8 when she came to stay one week during the Summer to watch my brother and myself while my mother worked.  Grandma was working at the kitchen table, shaping the pasta (or maybe dusting it off) and setting it on lightly, floured cutting boards to dry. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion. The cabinet with all the glasses rattled. Grandma pulled her rosary beads from her pocket. The beads were flying through her fingers as she called down all the saints in Heaven. The brother had been playing in the garage with a can of hairspray and a match.  During the same week, or it might have been the same day, The Brother asked Grandma if he could help her make the pasta. She gave him the job of sprinkling a little bit of flour over the little hats. He must have gotten bored, or thought he could speed up the process, or the siren call to see what would happen if he touched a match near a can of hairspray was too great.  He dumped the entire 5 lb. bag of flour over the little hats and ran off. Grandma had to dust each hat individually. In any event, that was the last time Grandma ever came to stay overnight at our house. As she related to my mother, "He's a nize-ah boy, mut a somanabaitch."

I can picture the hats, but couldn't for the life of me remember how she formed them. Instead, I made a farfalle: butterflies or bow ties. I made three batches, rolling the dough out by hand. Yes, I have a pasta machine, but that became dedicated to rolling out Fimo clay. I rolled the dough as thin as I could and still it was not as thin as Grandma's. She didn't own a pasta machine either. I enlisted the aid of The Young One to help shape the pasta,  Barely through the second batch, we were pretty sick of the process. I couldn't help but think my grandmother made pasta every single week. Wednesday was pasta making day. She made batches for herself, her two daughters' families, and to give as thank you gifts to people who did favors for her. I don't ever recall seeing a box of Prince macaroni in her house.

Making home-made pasta: a bag of flour and some time and effort. Channeling Grandma and remembering her, priceless.

Do you make family recipes the way your mom or grandmother did?


  1. I've never made pasta before.

    Sadly, I don't have a family legacy of cooking or baking.

  2. LOL You don't even eat boxed pasta, Erica!

  3. Love the artwork and what a cool story and tradition with the pasta.

    My mom was a meat and (boiled) potatoes kind of cook. And I think my grandmothers were too, living on the farm and all.

    My hubby cooks though and teaches our boys how to make anything they want to learn. I think that is pretty neat.

  4. My son is the pasta maker in our family. A hit with everyone is his butternut squash ravioli. mmmmm

  5. Oh google why won't you listen to me!!
    Previous comment by Bev!