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Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised by Italian-American parents in a close-knit Italian and Jewish neighborhood, I grew to appreciate good food early on. And even though my Mom had no real passion for cooking, she dutifully cooked for her family every day, making mostly traditional recipes handed down from her mother.
When I was old enough to assist in the kitchen, my main duty was applying breading to chicken cutlets, veal cutlets, pork chops, etc. Boring! But then I ventured into from-a-mix brownies, which were less than a smashing success. Still, I persevered, and eventually mastered a friend's recipe for a sour cream and cream cheese cheesecake that was an instant hit. It became the traditional birthday cake for our family and remains so to this day!
Once married, I started serious cooking, sometimes making the traditional foods I grew up with, sometimes trying to recreate the lost traditional (Sicilian) recipes of my husband's family, and sometimes collecting recipes from books, newspapers and magazines (the internet hadn't been invented yet). The cookbooks I own are filled with pencil notations such as “keeper…make with these changes” and “awful…don't make again!” so I could keep track of the worthwhile recipes.
These days I search for ideas on the internet, and collect recipes that sound interesting. Then I take what I consider to be the best parts of these recipes, swap out unhealthy ingredients, and massage them into reworked recipes which I then follow. This book is the end result.