Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Buon Natale a Tutti!

As the Christmas holiday is rapidly approaching, I just wanted to wish a BUON NATALE to all of our readers who have read, and continue to follow, this page! Our family would make time to visit our loved ones on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and, the day after Christmas. I have also been sharing with my family members how, when I was very small, I would look forward to seeing the HUGE trees at the Carpenter estate, decorated on Route 100 in Montchanin. I no longer see the trees today, but I still happily see them in my mind. Best Regards to All, Jim-

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's Zucchini Bread Season

The zucchini's are in full swing right now. We have a friend of the family who have been giving them to us left and right, and they are all about the size of torpedos. I have memories of my mother making zucchini bread when I was a small boy, and now the time has come for me to teach my family how to do the same. There are many zucchini bread recipes out there, but ours is one of the simplest ones. We do not use nuts, pineapples, or anything else in the bread (mainly because the kids won't eat it otherwise!). Just the basics..

So the pressing question is, have you made any zucchini bread yet?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Almighty PIZZELLE

At this time of year, the almighty Pizzelle flourishes across the dessert tray of many Italian families. We all recognize them immediately: a flat, round-shaped cookie, almost resembling a waffle in some sense. Yet different..

When one sees this cookie, its appearance creates a bit of a fa├žade regarding its ingredients: after all, how much variation could go into a cookie that always seems to look like the same thing, when found in so many different families’ dessert lineups? They must all do theirs the same way, right? WRONG.

The ones that I had seen most prominently when growing up were the plain kind (more commonly known as “vanilla”), as well as an anisette-flavored kind, and I think on some occasions I’d learned that there was a lemon variant out there. However, in recent years I was introduced to a chocolate version that one of my cousins in the Ghione family likes to make. That was neat to see, because I only remember my mother doing the vanilla ones (or anisette, which look the same).

Over the years, I’ve always tried to take a moment to ask the baker what it was about their personal Pizzelles that they felt made theirs different from the others that were made out there. I don’t want to threaten the security of anyone’s family recipe secrets out there (you know how protective we Italians are of our recipes), but the answers that I got (which were few and, even provided conditionally, hehe) included all kinds of things from using a specific Pizzelle iron type, to totally ELIMINATING certain ingredients which others believe are mandatory to use in the make-up of the Pizzelle, to all kinds of little nuances. The art of making these cookies really does have an underground chain of customizations which, even though the cookie may LOOK the same as the Pizzelle type you know and love from your family, there just might be something different about that one at a friend’s or other family member’s.

There are also variations as to how that cookie should be, texturally- some believe it should be crunchy, so you can dip it in your coffee. Others believe it should be a softer cookie instead. There really are a lot of different ways to spin a Pizzelle! But at the end of the day, the important part is this: as long as you made some time to make some for the Holiday season, you’re good to go..


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lou Robino

I would like to take a moment to ask all of our readers to say a prayer for one of my extended family members, Lou Robino. Lou was born at Squirrel Run in 1915, and up until recently, was doing extremely well for a man his age.

In recent weeks his health has begun to decline, and for the sake of the Squirrel Run Community out there, I would like to ask for you all to think of him and his family during this time.

For those of you who attended the Winterthur Exhibit that Frank and I were a part of in 2010, Lou was there to be a part of it all as well. His photo even made the Delaware News Journal. I have attached another photo of him with this article.

I have spoken with Lou many times about Squirrel Run, and taken many notes from him to help in retaining all of those wonderful memories. At a time when pretty much all of the "old timers" in my family from Squirrel Run have passed on, Lou gave me yet one more opportunity to learn some more about that magical place.

This one's for you, Lou.........

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Last Chance To See It Before It's Gone

To all of our readers who are familiar with the locale surrounding the Squirrel Run and Hagley areas, I wanted to send this update out: I am trying to remember, in my quickly-aging mind, who it was that once told me that their family lived in (or near) the home shown in the pics attached. I have an idea who it might have been who told me that story, but until I have confirmation I will wait to share it. Nevertheless, I am sad to report that the home in the attached images is doomed to be knocked down. I was in the area today for some other events, and while passing the home I noticed the sign adjacent to it which read, "Demolition Plan". I guess I shouldn't be surprised, knowing that this home has been in this particular condition for quite some time. However, I was wondering if the DE Historical Society was going to pick it up to save, or if maybe the Childrens' Hospital located behind it would find a way to leverage the existing structure. Apparently not the case.

I did not have time to read the sign to see what the future holds for this lot- however, I am very happy that I was able to capture some images of it before it was too late. For those of you who read our blog and enjoy the topics we cover, I would greatly appreciate any comments or stories that are remembered regarding this home. These old pieces of local history are fading fast.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Remembering September 23, 1923

Today marks the 88th anniversary of the gathering of “Tutti i Giusvallini” on the grounds of what is now the Hagley Museum. Those who still remember this gathering, and others like it, all share many of the same sentiments …. wonderful memories of family and friends during a time when their little community took care of itself and neighbors watched out for each other. We hope that some of these values continue through the generations yet to come. We the younger generations have a lot to live up to, and we are fortunate to call these strong people our family.

For those of us whose families were a part of this iconic image (and event) from 88 years ago, we are happy to take a moment to honor them today. Not only are they remembered for being a part of the historic photo, but for all that they endured while coming to this Country from their homeland. Many left the last of their family behind, never to be seen again, while others lost family members who had survived the trip, but died after arriving here. The banner photo you see above perhaps symbolizes the bravery and determination of our ancestors to make a better life for themselves and their children. We would like to believe that we and our own children are an extension of those peoples' dreams realized.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The July 4th Tomato Challenge.

When I was a boy, my grandfather had an extensive garden. My sister and I saw it so regularly that we eventually became desensitized by it. We figured everyone must have a garden so extravagant, with such a variety of fruits and vegetables, since Grandpop Salvo made it all look so easy.
It wasn't until I was much older that I learned about one of the little challenges my grandfather would have running "behind the scenes" of his lavish garden. My father told me one day that Grandpop Salvo and his gardening cronies had a yearly challenge running amongst them. The challenge was simple in nature, yet a pretty involved task: have a red tomato either on the vine, or picked, by 4th of July..
At face value, it doesn't sound like much of a challenge. But anyone who has ever grown a tomato plant knows there's more to it than meets the eye. Yeah, tomato plants are pretty self-sufficient and all, however they require a great deal of watering, monitoring, and even protection from the local wildlife! Therefore, anyone who thinks this challenge is for the faint of heart is definitely missing some facts.
This is my second year of growing tomatoes myself, and last week I put word out to my gardening family members that the 4th of July was right around the corner, and I reminded all of them about Grandpop Salvo's tomato challenge. This year, my Aunt Alma seems to be the one in the target audience to have the first red tomato. It's a CHERRY tomato, but hey- we can't get picky now, can we?
I hope that this article sparks some fond memories for our readers. If your family follows the same tradition, we'd love to hear about it!