Saturday, February 26, 2011

And The Winner Is............

I think back to the memories I had as a young girl, of the Academy Awards. It was a very special night. You were able to see all of your favorite stars walk the red carpet and see what beautiful gowns they were wearing.(even though we only had a black and white TV at that time.) I remember my family would gather around the one small TV we had in the living room and watch the Oscars together. As I would stare at the TV, I would dream about the day that maybe I would be able to see the stars in person, or maybe even walk down the red carpet myself. The only draw back to this was that I was young and school the next day was a priority, so my bed time was 10:00 pm. As we all know the Oscars most of the time ended around midnight, between all of the thank you speeches and the music, it just seemed to never end. But because I was a good student and would always get up in time for school, my parents would let me stay up to watch most of it. They knew that this was a special night for me. I still find myself watching the Academy Awards now that I am much older. I am glued to the TV (now color) watching the stars of 2011 walk the red carpet. Still fascinated about what and who they are wearing. Here are some facts about the Academy Awards show that I never knew, see if you know some of these facts.

Did you know that, the first Academy Awards were presented on May 16th, 1929, at a private brunch at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people. The post Academy Awards party was held at the Mayfair Hotel. The cost of guest tickets for that night’s ceremony was $5. Fifteen statuettes were awarded, honoring artists, directors and other personalities of the filmmaking industry of the time for their works during the 1927-1928 period.
The Academy Awards was first televised on NBC in 1953, NBC continued to broadcast the event until 1960 when the ABC Network took over, through 1970, after which NBC resumed the broadcasts. ABC once again took over broadcast duties in 1976; it is under contract to do so through the year 2020 which was just established this year.
For the 17th consecutive year, master chef Wolfgang Puck has been selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create the menu for the Governors Ball, the annual celebration immediately following the Oscars.
“Celebrating the past, present and future of the industry and the Academy, the Governors Ball is always an unforgettable experience,” says Puck. “Our goal each year is to honor Hollywood’s brightest stars and most accomplished artists with a culinary masterpiece. Only the finest ingredients and flavors will do.” Wolfgang Puck Catering will serve the Academy’s 1,500 Ball guests, which will include winners, nominees, presenters and telecast participants.
The 2011 menu created by Puck and chef Matt Bencivenga is inspired by Latin flavors from classic paella to coastal seafood, along with signature favorites such as smoked salmon Oscars and pastry chef Sherry Yard’s gold-dusted chocolate Oscars.
Plenty of Moet & Chandon, the exclusive champagne of the Oscars will also be served. Throughout the course of the night, approximately 1,200 bottles of Moet Imperial will be poured.
Viewers at home are invited to try making Moet’s Silver Screen Punch, a unique blend of fresh fruit, vodka, and Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne. Below is the recipe for the punch, which will actually be served at the Ball.
If you want to see more info on Wolfgang Puck and his menu for the Oscars, go to :

Moet’s Silver Screen Punch

1 (6 ounce) can of pink lemonade concentrate, partially thawed
8 ounces pineapple juice
1 cup of frozen strawberries
½ teaspoon grated ginger
1 cup ( your favorite) Vodka
1 bottle Moet & Chandon Imperial
1 pineapple, cut into rings and frozen

In a blender, combine pink lemonade concentrate, pineapple juice, strawberries, and ginger. Blend until smooth. Pour into a punch bowl. Add Vodka and stir to combine. Just before serving, pour in Moet & Chandon. Add frozen pineapple rings and Enjoy.
Well, I hope that you enjoy the show and let us all make a toast to all the winners…..

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cooking Oils " 101 "


If you frequently cook in the kitchen then you are probably familiar with using oil. Oil is used as an ingredient and is also used for frying. One of the most common cooking oils is vegetable oil, but do you really know what that is? Do you know what oils are best used for frying or the proper way to store it? I have listed a few of the different types of common cooking oils and the proper use of each of them. You may find this to be important information as you continue cooking and baking for your family.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable Oil is probably the most commonly used of all the oils. It can be found frequently for use in recipes and can also be used for frying. Vegetable oil is actually a blend of several oils, such as corn, soybean, palm and sunflower.

Canola Oil

Canola oil has been said to be one of the most healthy of the cooking oils because of its low saturated fat content and high mono unsaturated fat. It is commonly used in frying, but only with medium frying temperatures, about 450 degrees F.

Corn Oil

Corn oil is relatively low on both saturated and mono unsaturated fats. It is popular in margarine and used in both frying and baking. It should only be used when frying on medium temperatures.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower Oil is low in saturated fat and high in Vitamin E. Many food manufacturers are recognizing the health benefits of sunflower oil and are using it as the preferred oil in such snack foods as potato chips. It can be used in the home to fry, cook, and for use in salad dressings.

Olive Oil

There are different varieties of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin, extra light, and refined. Extra virgin olive oil is the most common of those used. There are many uses for all varieties, such as stir-frying, cooking, sautéing and as an ingredient in recipes. Olive Oil is also frequently used in salad oils. It is the most healthy of all the oils as it is high in mono unsaturated fat which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Many people use it daily in their meals, drizzling it over a wide variety of foods.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is a great oil to use when frying in high temperatures. It is a common oil during the Thanksgiving holiday as many people are using turkey fryers to fry their turkeys, but can be used anytime when frying.
Storing Oil

All oils remain liquid when kept at room temperature so it is best to store oil in a dark, dry place, such as your pantry. Oils that are high in monounsaturated fat will keep up to a year, while refined olive oil, having the highest of monounsaturated fat, can last a few years. Extra virgin and virgin olive oils will keep about a year after opened. The shelf life of most other oils after opened is usually six-eight months.
Another important fact to note is how to properly discard used cooking oil. It should never be poured down your kitchen sink. Oil can congeal and block pipes. The best way to discard it is to pour it into a leak-proof container and discard it with the rest of your garbage.
Now that you have learned about the different oils, I have a recipe that you may want to try. This is a dish that my family absolutely loves. It is called Fried Cauliflower or in Italian it is Cavolfiore Fritto. My Mom would make this dish for holidays, mostly because it takes some time to prepare and was always a treat. But everyone loves it so that she started to use this recipe at our dinner meals as well as holiday time. In Italian families frying foods, especially vegetables is part of our culture. I remember when I was young, I would help my Mom prepare to fry the cauliflower. My job was to “bread” the cauliflower with the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Then my Mom would take over the frying. Now, I do the breading/ frying and my Mom and I have taught my nieces how to make this very crispy and delicious cauliflower winter vegetable. You can also use the same method to fry artichoke hearts, asparagus, eggplant and also another Italian vegetable called cardoons (like a long celery but tastes like an artichoke.) I hope that this gives you a better understanding about oils, and you enjoy our Fried Cauliflower recipe.

    Fried Cauliflower                                                                                                      Ingredients:

1 head of a fresh cauliflower
1 1/2 cups of plain or seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of flour
2 eggs, beaten ( Use more if needed )
Vegetable Oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste


Wash and cut the cauliflower into florets. Then cook in boiling water for about 5-6 minutes, until they are fork tender. Do not cook too long as they will be mushy. Drain them and let them cool. In a shallow dish, combine the seasoned or plain breadcrumbs mixed with some flour and mix well to combine. Set aside. In another shallow dish, beat the eggs and set aside.
Dip a few pieces of cauliflower in the eggs and allow some of the egg to drip off. Coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Place the breaded cauliflower on a sheet pan. Repeat this process with the remaining pieces.

Now fry the cauliflower in 1/2" of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, fry until golden brown, which should only take a few minutes or so. Place the fried cauliflower on a few paper towels to drain off excess oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving plate and watch how fast your family will eat them.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

President's Day Celebrating Italian Style

Presidents' Day (Monday Feb 21st) is celebrated in honor of two of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. For many years, Americans celebrated both Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday separately. Beginning in 1971, Congress combined these celebrations into "one holiday, Presidents’ Day" which now honors all past presidents.
As an Italian American, instead of traditional Cherry Pie, I would like to honor our President’s with a recipe called Biscotti that originated in the city of Prato, Italy.
Biscotti is the only traditional name, which in the Italian language is the plural form of biscotto. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning " twice-cooked/baked." It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Being very dry, biscotti traditionally are served with a drink, into which they may be dunked. So make a cup of tea, a pot of coffee, or pour a glass of sweet dessert wine and enjoy your Biscotti in honor of our Presidents. Here is a wonderful tasty recipe made with dried cherries and pistachio nuts. Hope that you enjoy the long weekend and the Biscotti.

Biscotti with Cherries and Pistachios


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried sweet cherries chopped

Directions:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and dried cherries.
Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes.
The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in re-sealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Learning to Crochet and Memories of my Nanni

Today, I would like to share some of my crochet projects with you and memories of my Grandmother who I called Nanni.

Besides cooking/baking as well as many other interests, I love to crochet. It is my creative outlet, my passion, my stress reliever, and my comfort. My favorite patterns to crochet are doilies, but I enjoy all crocheting of any kind. I love all kinds of yarns and colors. I mostly enjoy taking a pattern and change it up a little so this will then create a new pattern. I also knit but my preference is to crochet.

My love for crocheting became apparent when I was taught by my Grandmother (Nanni) at a young age. She never used a pattern to crochet but she would look at an item and create the exact same thing. That is how she taught me, I never learned how to read a pattern book till much later in my life. My Nanni was a Milliner/ Interior Designer by profession. A milliner is one that makes, trims, designs or sells women’s hats. Some of her many talents included crocheting, playing the piano by ear, designing clothes for herself, and being very creative and as we would call it today “crafty“. She owned her own business and called it “Roberta Originals”. I have many memories of going to her store in Astoria, Queens and helping her for the day. She would take me on the bus and we would go into New York City in the garment district so she could get her supplies for her hats. It was always an experience to be with her as she would teach me about many ways to be creative. Sometimes when we would be in the garment district she would bring me to a store that would carry buttons, scarves, feathers, felt, material and many other brick brac that she used to create her “Originals“. My Nanni you could say was very flamboyant in her ways. She always dressed to the nines and would expect me to be very prim and proper. Her hats were so beautiful and always different. All I had to do is have a hat on, (at that time they used hats when I was a young girl) she would take a chiffon scarf out of her closet and drape it on the hat, and a new hat would be born for me to wear. After we would go shopping at Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, and B.Altman’s I would be hungry and tired. So that was a clue to go to Schrafft's Restaurant for lunch. How wonderful that was, on Fifth Avenue. Schrafft's, was a very impressive place for a young person, especially with waiters and waitresses dressed in black and white starched outfits. My favorite was the ice cream floats after our lunch, coffee ice cream with whipped cream and a cherry on top. We would try to get a booth by the big windows so I could see all the people hurrying by and I always looked to see if I could spot a celebrity which would have been just to die for. Things were different back in the late 1960’s, celebrities would be walking around Manhattan more and you didn’t have the paparazzi trying to take a photo. My Nanni and I were very close and she took me on many more adventures when I was young and then even when I became a young woman. I always admired her zest for life, her strength, and I think that her love of creativeness rubbed off on me. My Nanni passed away at the age of 97 on February 22, 2000. I am very lucky to have inherited some of her hats which have given me many fond memories of our past together.

Here is a pattern of a crochet afghan called “Kitten’s in a Row”. It was a delight to crochet. A very easy pattern to read. I have crocheted this afghan for many family and friends. Everyone loves it, especially cat lovers. This particular afghan (that is pictured), I entered it into a county fair and I won a Red Ribbon ( Second Place )for the afghan category. I used 8 skeins (Red Heart Super Saver) for this one, but according to how big you want to make it, you may need more. (Bevs Country Cottage- website)
This pattern is easily adaptable for a afghan blanket for a preemie to an adult. Note that using a different weight yarn (e.g. a baby weight) will require a different size hook. This afghan is square. The adult sized afghan is approximately 40” x 60”. But you can make it any size you wish by adding more or fewer rows.
For more information and to see the instructions on this pattern go to:

You can also see all of my projects that I crocheted on Ravelry  
which is a free social networking website. It functions as an organizational tool for a variety of fiber arts including knitting, crocheting, spinning, and weaving. Members share projects, ideas, and their collection of yarn, fiber, and tools.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day

As Valentine’s Day, approaches, ( Monday- February 14th ) I thought it would be fun to know some facts and traditions that we hold dear to our hearts on this day of Love.

Approximately one billion Valentine cards are exchanged each year...the largest seasonal card-selling occasion of the year next to Christmas.

Most Valentine's Day cards (83%) are purchased by women. However, the number of cards purchased by men (currently 17%) is gradually rising, thought by some sources to be due to the fact that men often purchase two cards for their significant amusing one and the obligatory romantic one which they believe is expected of them.

Half of all consumers prefer to receive a humorous Valentine, followed by a romantic greeting (31%) and then a more risqué form of card (8.2%). More than one-third of women (36%) and 26% of males prefer to receive a romantic Valentine. 13% of males prefer a more sexy Valentine, whereas only 3.5% of women prefer this variety of card.

February 14 is the most important holiday for florists, accounting for 32% of annual sales. 73% of people who buy flowers to send on Valentine's Day are male...only 27% are female. California produces 60% of American roses, but the vast majority sold on Valentine's Day in the United States are imported...mostly from South America.
Approximately 110 million roses...the majority of them being red...will be sold and delivered within a three-day time period during the Valentine's Day celebrations.

36% of males and 28% of females put off their Valentine's Day shopping until February 14 or the day before...64% of consumers will plan to do their shopping a week or more prior to the date.

Males tend to spend more money on Valentine's Day gifts than do females and are more likely to buy big-ticket items...the average amount spent being $95.00.

Approximately 3% of pet owners will give a Valentine's Day gift to their pet.

Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone on Valentine's Day in 1876.

The rose, undoubtedly the most popular flower in the world, speaks of love and has been the traditional choice of sweethearts during every century. Precisely how it came to be the universal symbol of love and beauty is unclear. However, the rose was a sacred flower of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love, and the color red is associated with strong emotions. The rose is symbolic of both peace and war...both love and forgiveness. The letters of "rose" when rearranged, form the word "Eros"...God of Love. In terms of the sentiments expressed by the different colors of the rose, the commonly accepted meanings are: Coral -- Desire
Lavender -- Enchantment and Uniqueness
Orange -- Fascination
Peach -- Modesty, Gratitude, Admiration and Sympathy
Pink (Pale) -- Grace, Joy and Happiness
Pink (Dark) -- Thankfulness, Friendship and Admiration
Red -- Love, Respect and Courage
Deep Red -- Beauty and Passion
White -- Innocence, Purity, Secrecy, Silence, Reverence, Humility, True Love
Yellow -- Joy, Friendship, Jealousy, Hope and Freedom
Black -- Farewell

Red/White -- Unity or Engagement
Yellow/Orange -- Passionate Thoughts
Yellow/Red -- Congratulations

Rosebud -- Beauty, Youth and a Heart Innocent of Love
Red Rosebud -- Purity and Loveliness
White Rosebud -- Girlhood

Single Red Rose in Full Bloom -- "I Love You"
One Dozen Red Roses -- "I Love You"
Tea Roses -- "I'll Remember Always"

Another flower particularly associated with Valentine's Day is the violet, which has a special connotation since legend states that violets grew outside the window of the jail where Saint Valentine was imprisoned. In the language of flowers, the violet is symbolic of faithfulness while a violet stone...the also considered lucky for sweethearts.

I hope that you enjoyed some fun facts and you have a wonderful
Happy Valentine’s Day” with your loved ones.
Here is a recipe for a delicious
cookie which you may want to bake for your special Valentine.
Enjoy !!!!

Linzer Tarts
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raspberry, strawberry, or blackberry preserves
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined in an electric mixer. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Place dough onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 2 3/4-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With 1/2 of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a heart or circle shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an un-greased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread your favorite preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut out cookies with confectioners' sugar and press the flat sides together, with the preserves in the middle and the confectioners' sugar on the top.
Yields:25-30 cookies depending on the size of your cutouts

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad !!!!

My Dad & Mom
Today is my Father’s Birthday, February 9th. He is many years young.
My Dad has a lot of compassion, love and strength. He is sensitive and will do anything he can for you. Commitment has always and still will be very important in his life. If he commits to anything, come hell or high water he will be there which is an attribute to his character. I always admired his dedication to his job, and his faith in God, as well as his family. He can be funny, warm, honest, fair and shares his wisdom to others. I have many memories of my Dad but this is one of my favorites.

In the years as I was growing up my Dad (better known as Bob) owned an Italian Deli in Astoria, Queens. He was partners with his dad my Grandfather.  It was a wonderful time in my childhood as my brother and I would go to help sometimes on a Saturday. Christopher my other brother was really too little to help, so he would stay home and I always brought him home a treat from Dad’s store. We would help my Dad put the milk in the refrigerator case and I always loved to put the Italian bread in the sleeves and place them on the shelf. The smell and warmth from the bread that had just come from the bakery ovens would make my mouth water. I (being older) would also get to watch my Dad make homemade Italian sausage. I used to watch him put the meat in the grinder and all the aromas of the spices that would get mixed in to give it flavor would fill the store. My Dad also had a huge refrigerator in the back room of the building where he would store all of the salami’s, prosciutto and many provolone cheeses. Lunch at the store was a real treat, cause you could have a choice of any meat or bread you wanted to make your sandwich. After lunch my bother and I would be able to pick an ice cream from the freezer section which was a double treat. But as the years went by, my Grandfather gave up his part of the deli as he was getting on in years and my Father sold the business. It was really hard on our family when he was at the deli because he worked so many long hours, holidays and sometimes 7 days a week. We hardly saw my Dad so those days that we were with him at the store was very special to me. At least we were able to spend time with him. After the store was sold, my Dad worked for JC Penney as a senior control buyer in the corporate office which was in Manhattan, New York City. He worked for JC Penney for many years and enjoyed the fact that it was a 9-5 job and was able to spend more quality time with the family. He is now retired and enjoys bowling, singing in the church choir and spending time with family, friends and of course my Mom.

You are an inspiration to me and I will always look up to you and say thanks for being my Dad. Hope that you have many more wonderful Happy Birthday’s to come.
Happy Birthday Dad ! Love you, your daughter--Dottie J

This recipe is for you Dad, which is one of his favorites:

Pastina with Egg and Cheese

1 cup uncooked pastina
3 cups of water

A pinch of salt
½ cup of milk
1 egg
1 tbsp. butter
Pecorino Romano grated cheese

Directions: Boil water with a small amount of salt. Then cook pastina according to directions. Approximately 6 mins. Now add butter. Beat egg in small bowl then add by stirring quickly so egg doesn’t cook. Add ½ cup of milk and stir. Serve warm with cheese on top. Makes a great dinner side dish, for breakfast, or just a warm snack. ENJOY !!!!! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday: Steelers vs Packers

Nicholas, Lori & Lauren (Oct 2010)
Today is February 6, 2011 and unless you live under a rock, you know that today is Super Bowl Sunday. Most of the country is planning to watch Super Bowl XLV (45), The Pittsburgh Steelers VS The Green Bay Packers.

I, on the other hand like some people will not be glued to the TV set watching the game. I do not like football, and do not even understand what is going on even though I am rooting for the Steelers. So as you read on, this will explain why I am rooting for the Steelers to win the Super Bowl.

My family mostly the men, are true die hard fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. My Dad, and my brother are sports fans too, but it all seemed to start with my late brother Christopher. Chris was a fanatic with sports of all kinds, but he was a true fan of the Steelers. So much so that when he had his son Nicholas ( now 21) he taught him all the aspects of the game including Football Fantasy. He had many of the Steelers memorabilia including tee shirts with his favorite players numbers on them, mugs, crying towel, hats, etc. You get the picture. As the years went on, Nick’s mom Lori and his sister Lauren ( 16 ) became true fans as well. Last year all three of them went on a weekend to see a game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in October 2010. The real stadium, that was one of the highlights of Nick and Lauren’s year. They had so much fun and enjoyed not only the game but met some really nice people at the tailgate parties before the big game. They were in full Steeler regalia, hats, shirts and even put eye black under their eyes. The Steelers won the game that day and you could imagine how special that was for them not only to be there in person but to witness the Steelers win. Nick, is one of the biggest Steeler fans I know and the tradition continues. If Chris, was with us today I know he would be very proud of not only his son Nick, but also his daughter and wife, who is always rooting for his favorite team. So for that reason and that reason only, I hope that the Pittsburgh Steelers win. Go Steelers !!!!!          

Here is a great recipe for an appetizer for a Super Bowl Party:
Have Fun & Enjoy…
Clam Dip

2 cans of Minced Clams
1 Stack of Ritz Crackers (crushed in blender)
1 stick of melted butter
2 Tablespoons minced onion
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon of parsley (dry or fresh)
1/2 Teaspoon of Garlic powder
1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice
Directions:Mix all together and put in a baking dish. Top with Pecorino Romano grated cheese. ( Or whatever you like )
Bake at 350 ° for about 30 - 45 minutes or until browned on top.
Serve ( hot or warm ) on crackers or small pieces of toasted Italian bread.

My Brother Chris

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Comfort Food

Another day of snow, rain, sleet, and ice is what is on tap for today's weather here in Long Island. That sounds like a day for comfort food.  Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, and drink something warm and cozy all under a big crochet or knitted afghan.  To me that sounds wonderful ! Comfort food is what we all need once in a while to bring back those warm days of being home with family. Memories of winter when I was growing up were always days of comfort. Especially when it was snowing.  My brothers and I would come home from school and we were always greeted by my Mother with open arms. The house was warm from the oven that was cooking our dinner. As the aromas encircled our heads we knew that something good was cooking in the kitchen.
The kitchen was and still is the heart of our home. Our family did everything in the kitchen.  It was a small room compared to the kitchens of today, but that made it even better as it was our gathering place.  We would talk at the kitchen table, we did our homework there, and read the newspaper among many other family projects. It always seemed that as my Mother was cooking or baking we gravitated to that room. Maybe because it was a happy place to be with everyone while we were waiting for dinner.  Sometimes my Mom and Dad would take out a deck of cards and play Rummy or Kings Corners with us, remember at that time there weren't any of the electronic games or computers that we have today. Not even cell phones. We had one phone in the house with a few extensions that would go into my parents room. But the main phone was in the kitchen.  So cards and board games were always at hand. I remember the kitchen windows would be foggy with steam from the warmth of the kitchen, as we tried to look out to see when my Dad would be coming home from work.  
As it was time to set the table for dinner, my brothers and I would argue over who would put out the napkins and silverware.  As we had our dinner we would talk about the days events, and God forbid that the phone would ring and it was one of our friends, that was a no-no. Dinner time was for family and nothing could come between that.
Now dinner was always a hearty and comforting meal, especially on cold days. Meat loaf, stews, hearty soups, pasta dishes, and pot pies were the menus for those days of cold, snow, and rain. Pot pies were always fun and good to eat. You had the top crust which smelled and tasted like a pie, plus the warm cut up pieces of chicken and vegetables in a delicious gravy. Once you opened the little individual pies the gravy would float over the crust and all of the insides would flow out. My Mom and Dad insisted upon a salad every night with dinner. It was made with lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. Sometimes we would put in the salad, red onions, cut up fresh peppers and radishes. Then after we finished our dinner, dessert would be a welcomed friend. Either pudding, Jell-O, fruit, ice cream or a piece of cake. Memories are so much fun to think about. Especially when they were always good times with my family in the kitchen. 
I am going to post a recipe of one of my favorite comfort foods,

Chicken Pot Pie....    
  Ready In: 1 Hr
Ingredients:1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crust
1 (10.5 ounce) can Campbell's Chicken Gravy
3 cups cooked cut-up vegetables*
2 (4.5 ounce) cans Swanson Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained or fresh cooked cut up chicken breast

Stir the gravy, vegetables and chicken in a medium bowl. Spoon the chicken mixture into the pie plate. Place the remaining pie crust over the filling. Press the edges to seal. Cut several slits in the top crust.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
*Use a combination of sliced carrots, peas and cubed potatoes.