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When I was a child my yaya was my world. I loved spending time with her and she was always in the kitchen. My fondest memory with her is making a special dish from our Armenian culture called Manti. It is a labor intensive dumpling soup from the Caucasus. The dish is a staple amongst Armenian families and all of my friend's yaya's make it. To make Manti you make the dough from scratch, roll it out thinly then cut it into squares. Once your squares are ready you stuff them with a meat mixture and then pinch them together. Then this is either boiled or baked in the oven before it is put in a bowl and topped with yogurt, and depending on where you are from either a red pepper or butter sauce. My yaya and I would bond over this recipe, my role only being pinching together the dumplings while she made the rest of the soup. I wanted to create a illustration that showed the steps for this dish, specifically focusing on the part that I would help her with.
These potato rolls are my Grandmother Affie's. We made these on special occasions, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. As I got older, it was my responsibility to make them while my grandmother, mom, and aunts made everything else. I always liked making them into a clover shape because I thought they looked fancier that way. My mom also makes cinnamon rolls to share on Christmas morning out of this dough. These were always my favorite.
First time visiting an aquarium with our daughter, it's during our recent trip in Osaka. Greeted by a tunnel once entering. Enjoyed looking at variety of species available, magnificent views. We had a limited edition soft serve ice cream in the cafe. It's an unforgettable experience for us.
Fave Memory - When I was a child and I used to have lunch with my grandparents it was always a joyful day.
Every Sunday the family met all together. Before starting to eat my grandpa used to take a handful of cheese and let it fall on the dish of pasta, saying “it’s snowing!!!” A thin white layer appeared, and it started to melt due to the heat, just like snow. He used to repeat it every time, and every time I was enchanted by those flakes falling down softly.
One of my favorite food memory's is around savoring things from the garden...my mom and I use to experiment with canning, pickling, fermenting and drying a variety of goodness...fruit, veggies and herbs :)!
One day my sister and I came home from school to that overwhelmingly delicious scent of turkey cooking. Mom, however, explained that her friend Ina's oven had broken down. And since Ina had a thawed turkey that HAD to be cooked, Mom baked the turkey as a favor to her. ?!? Who knew Mom had such a sense of humor! She continued to surprise us with turkey off and on, but we didn't fall for the "It's for Ina" trick again. I never did discover her super secret turkey thawing station, though she finally spilled the beans to me last week!
Fave Memory (or, more accurately, based on a memory).
My dad had very strong opinions about food (i.e., is it sweet or is it sour...decide!). But I didn't know that he had equally strong opinions about serving dishes. He HATED my two rabbit tureens that had heads made out of bell peppers, etc. I always thought it would be fun to prepare him a meal of "animals" constructed of other foods. So I drew up these three animals and composed a short poem about each one, as if it was a Halloween potion. Because the poems reference the body parts of the animals, I decided to show the organs of one animal via an "organ x-ray". I do think that Dad would have liked that part, since he was always up for a good pun.
After thinking about it longer....I don't just love summer time canning...but baking too! My mom and I loved throwing in fresh fruit and flowers in or on our baked goods. So much beauty to be found amongst Mother Nature's Bounty :).
Occasionally Dad would have to work out of town for the weekend. Since he didn't consider pizza a "proper" meal, the first thing that my mom, sister, and I would do is get a pizza from Genii's. Then we'd bake and decorate cupcakes all night long while listening to music (Mom loved disco!) and dancing in the kitchen.
Fave Memory (of my husband and in-laws).
Seriously, I love my mother-in-law. She raised five kids as a single mom while working full time. However, seriously, who believes that their kids LOVE soggy cooked spinach and eggs, dotted with bits of cheese? OK, I would love the cheese and today I would eat the spinach, but not as a child!
AGLIO E OLIO and The Feast of Seven Fishes- Fave Memory
Christmas Eve has always been my favorite family holiday. The night was always filled with anticipation for what was yet to come. The holiday was just beginning!!
Christmas Eve is also The Feast of Seven Fishes, my favorite Italian Food tradition.
As relatives argued the true meaning of the seven fishes, a parade of seafood would hit the table. Seven different kinds of fish were required for the event. There was mom’s beloved filet of soul, schmelts (tiny filets of fish lightly floured and sautéed), shrimp scampi and sometimes clams orreganato. We no longer had Nana’s, Baccala or Eel, which had been banished from menu by the late 70s. But, we still had more choices then you could possibly imagine! Preparation started weeks in advance, procuring the finest seafood and freshest produce.
But, by far, my favorite dish was the Pasta. Every Christmas Eve, mom served her bowl of steaming hot spaghetti called Aglio E Olio (the bowl actually said Spaghetti on it) to her eagerly awaiting family. (Eye-ya Oy-ya) as it was pronounced in our best southern Italian dialect, is a savory sauce made with garlic and anchovies and garnished with fresh parsley. Mom coaxed magic out of a few very humble ingredients to create a silky sauce that was comforting with a big bold and nutty flavor. Not for the faint of heart- with all those anchovies-it was the Umami of your dreams!
We always knew that we had to save room for our next six courses!! But, our bellies kept getting fuller as we continued to slurp our way through this year’s batch of Aglio E Olio!
I’m sure the rest of the dinner was just as delicious. But, I guarantee you that as we were clearing the table and setting out cookies for dessert, we were already thinking about next year’s Christmas Eve Aglio E Olio (or at least leftovers, if there were any).