“Little Gram” was Mary Ferante, nee Taomina. She was our sister-in-law Marie’s Grandmother, and, while not exactly a blood relation to us, was nevertheless “Little Grandma” to us as well. She was spry, active, and ready to talk politics or cooking right up to her passing in July 2008 at 105. Yes, one hundred and five.
This cook book was compiled by Marie’s sister Pauline in 1996.
Who in our family doesn’t have warm memories of eating at Grandma’s? We all have opened the door to her home and smelled the aroma of spaghetti sauce or fresh bread or those fabulous chocolate chip cookies. Who hasn’t snitched a tasty, hot meatball out of the sauce or cut into a chicken cutlet that Grandma just took out of the frying pan? And those of us who are older can remember get-togethers in Pennsauken when the relatives from Youngstown would visit. The adults would sit around the dining room table and talk of “the old days” and everyone would be picking at leftovers and eating desserts.
Even lunch at Grandma’s is a treat. Why is it slices of salami and provolone seem to taste so much better at her house then when we buy our own? Maybe it’s because she also serves them with an eggplant appetizer or froissia and slices of her homemade bread. Lunch goes on forever with all of us just talking and eating while Grandma keeps getting up to give us more food. Have you ever noticed her refrigerator always appears empty, and yet there’s always plenty to eat?
Some of the recipes contained in this booklet are familiar to many. Some Grandma use to make years ago when her four children were young. They were created to feed a large family on very little money and she hasn’t made them since. There are even a few that have been borrowed from other family members but somehow seem to taste better when Grandma makes them.
At ninety-three, Grandma is still interested in learning and growing. She watches cooking programs on TV and if she sees a recipe that looks interesting she jots it down. Or if she picks up a little trick or two that makes preparing or cooking something a little easier, she’s willing to try it.
The recipes as written are taken from Grandma’s own notes. I modified a few to make them easier to follow or to update them for today’s cooking techniques.
The quotes are not verbatim. I took the liberty of drawing on some of my many conversations with Little Gram and added comments as I felt she would speak them.
Grandma no longer makes many of the wonderful foods we all so enjoy. Her hands bother her and she doesn’t enjoy doing too much cooking anymore, especially for large groups. That’s O.K. She has given us all these recipes so we can make them ourselves and carry on the tradition of eating at Grandma’s.
If there are any of your favorites missing, just let Grandma know and we’ll be sure to get them typed as an addendum to this book.
To all the members of Grandma’s family, “Buon Appetitol”