Sunday, January 4, 2009

Passing the Torch!!!

I never set out to write a cookbook when I wrote Cooking with Love. I love to cook, and came from a family of great cooks, my grandmothers, my mother, my aunts, my cousins, I don't think I ever had a bad meal in any of my relatives houses. It was my nephew Phil and my son Jeff who actually put the seed in my head to write a family cookbook. At the time, my mother was getting on in years and she was wonderful about writing down her recipes and encouraging my creativity in the kitchen. She was a teacher by profession and she taught both in and out of the classroom, her patience was legendary, and of course, that also was an escape on the gene pool journey, because it certainly missed me! They were afraid that once my mother was gone, no one would have any of the family recipes.

At the time, I don't think I fully realized what a legacy a history of family recipes was to the surviving generations, how important aroma - therapy was and is, and how a single food memory can evoke so many other memories, some of them long buried, yet the sight of a particular food, or the smell of meatballs frying can take you on a trip home, or back to the past.

While my mother was the cook, my father was the philosopher. 
He felt that if you cooked with love, nothing else mattered, 
not the look of the food, and not the taste of the food, 
love of what you were cooking and how you cooked it 
was enough to secure a place at the table. 
In fact, we all keep an imaginary bottle of love in our kitchens, 
labeled Sam's Bottle of Love, to sprinkle over our food when we cook
(I even commissioned to have these bottles made in honor of my father)

Who ever thought that my cookbook would become my childrens, my nieces and nephews, my friends, go to cookbook, but I am so happy it has. My parents would be so proud to know that the next generation will still be following the recipes and traditions they set out for them.

I never knew what it was that kept my mother going when she was teaching someone something and they finally "got It." I never knew that you really could feel all the love coming through until just recently when the following occurred...

In the past two months alone, I can't begin to tell you the number of phone calls and e-mails I have received from family and friends asking for help with some cooking problems, or showing off their creations to let me know they succeeded.

It started with my daughter Lauren

calling for help so she could make a pizza. My boys love to cook, but Lauren is just starting to get her feet wet in the kitchen. We walked through the making of a pizza, and a few hours later
this picture arrived on my phone... Success!!!!!!

In November as Thanksgiving was approaching the calls picked up.
My cell phone rang and my niece Jennifer was on the other end

"What's up Jen?", I asked.
She said, "Aunt Elise, I'm have everybody here
for Thanksgiving and I don't know where to start."

"Not a problem, sit down and get a paper and
pencil and I'll walk you through this", I answered.
My poor niece is a very busy veterinarian,
without a lot of time to cook. I told her how to do
everything in advance and she would have no problems.
She called me on Thanksgiving to tell me how
wonderful everything went, that she couldn't
believe she could get almost everything done
in advance and actually enjoy the day and her company.

Now, Hanukkah was coming and my friend Abbe's daughter Lisa
(shown here with her husband John and her children)

called and needed help with some chicken soup and
latkes for Hanukkah.

Here are some of the comments she e-mailed to me

hi elise...i am so excited! thank you so much for these recipes!
i need to buy your book!!! don't know why i haven't yet!
i can not wait to make the soup! may have to make\ some tomorrow or monday for the week, and then again next week! thankfully both kenz and ian
love matzoh balls!!! as for the latkes,
i could sit and eat them all myself!
which i won't, but oh i so could!!!
talk soon!!!

my house smells like heaven! my soup has been
simmering for about 3 hours!
i can't believe how yummy it smells!!!

oh my goodness elise...the latkes were amazing!!!
so easy to make, and super yummy! mackenzie
couldn't get enough of them, and wants me to make more already!!!
i did add a little more here and there,
as we love onions and garlic! so delicious! thank you! thank you! thank you!!!

another success story!!!!

That same week I opened an
e-mail from my friend Rae's
daughter-in-law Lindsey
(shown here with her husband
Josh (my other son)

this is how it read

Dear Elise,
I wanted to share with you that I just made the biggest challah I have
ever seen!!!! I followed your recipe in the cookbook and was
shocked when I went to take it out of the oven. I am uses to the
small challah that I buy at Price Chopper.  I haven't
tried it yet because we are going to save it for Chanukah
tomorrow night.  Rae and Steve are coming
down for dinner and I'm making your brisket as well.

Happy Chanukah!

Steve and Rae said the brisket was delicious as well...again, success!

Then it was my son David called to say he was
spending Christmas Eve with his girlfriend Laura's

family and wanted to make Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip to bring to the house

Here is the picture that came across my cell phone
(note that he has the cookbook in the background)

and yet another success, ready to be baked

I check my e-mails and I have an e-mail from
my niece Sharon (pictured with Philly and Lauren,
and me with Phil, Sharon, and their two boys Adrian and Kaden
at Kaden's Christening)

sending me a video
of my nephew Phil making
his pepperoni rolls on Christmas Eve
(the link is at the top of the blog
but I put it here again for convenience)

and yet another success...

and I can't forget my sons Steven and Jeffrey who
helped prepare all of Christmas Eve dinner
here at home (I know some of
you have already seen this picture, but
they are part of the success story that is
this post, so forgive me)
enjoying the fruits of their labor

another success...

Christmas was over and it was my son David on the
phone again,

"Ma, I'm in Wegman's and I'm making
chili from Mrs. Trociuk's recipe
but I'm making some changes...
Okay, I said, "You have to like what you cook."
I received the following pictures on my I-phone
later that evening

Now our dear friends Haris and Jasminka's

son Edin's first birthday came and Jasminka
sent me an e-mail that she baked his
birthday cake herself, and
"Haris even put the sprinkles on the side."
another successful joint effort...

Marc and I were walking through Home Depot
and my cell phone rang
It was our dear friend Stuart

the husband of my late cherished and
 missed friend Barbara
trying to recreate her Chicken Soup
with a question or two
Questions answered, chicken soup
Another memory preserved...
 Stuart also tells me he's used the book to make
his mother's cookies, and
Barbara's Cheesecake

and the final chapter of this blog came
in an e-mail from my dear niece Nicole
(who by the way did all the illustrations
for my cookbook divider pages)
about 1:00 this morning

Dear Aunt Elise,

Here are a few pictures from baking the cookies tonight. Also, there
are a few different variations of the recipe. I've used a couple and
both came out good. If you were to search it on the web, you'd find a
few different ways of doing them. I suppose it's preference!

1 box of cake mix (your choice)
2 eggs
1/2 cup veggie oil


1 box cake mix
1 egg
1/2 stick butter

Add any kind of "extras" like chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc. and
frosting is optional. Oven at 350, bake cookies ungreased cookie sheet
for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown around edges (if it's a light
cake mix like yellow). Tonight I made yellow cake mix cookies with
mini m&ms and chocolate cake mix cookies with reeses pieces. Both came
out delish! I just think this recipe is great because it's different;
if you're in the mood for something sweet but are tired of plain old
chocolate chip cookies, these are a great alternative and are fast!
Reminds me of that show Semi Homemade with that lady on Food Network,
Sandra Lee. Ever seen it?

Well enjoy! :)

the final success story of the day!!!!!!

If you have a recipe or a success story, please, please, please,
share it me...send me an e-mail, a picture, the recipe,
all of the above, and I'll put it here

Let's celebrate our successes and not
our failures, life is so much better that way!

and now, I'm signing off to go make
some of my niece Nicole's cookies
Thanks Nic!

...and thanks to all of you
I'm so glad I may have had a hand in
Passing the Torch for the
Love of Cooking
to another generation
my Father and Mother would be so proud!!!!!


  1. i always cook with grandpas secret ingredient... my food would stink without it D

  2. Your food would never stink, you have too much heart (and soul)

  3. you've inspired me try to cook new things (and to cook them with love) - I made a mediterranean rotini dish today (I stumbled upon a recipe following some of your links) and it was delicious! My next adventure will be potato rolls from your cookbook since I've finally found dry milk :)
    (If this comment shows up three times, please delete the other two)