Donatella Diaries: Recording Mom's Recipes for my New Cookbook

Summer has gone by so quickly, but I really haven't had time to play or relax. I have been busy working on my new cookbook, due out next spring, with well known cookbook writer Kathleen Hackett. Kathleen and I recently spent a day cooking with my mother and aunt at my childhood home on Long Island.

For all of you who come from an Italian household, you can understand how difficult it is to get recipes—they are never accurate and almost always missing a key ingredient because nothing is written down. There are often conflicting opinions amongst relatives like my mom and her sister, my Aunt Donata, about everything like our family meatballs. My mother and aunt began arguing about what meats went into the mix; while my mother uses beef and pork only, my aunt insists there be veal as well. The discussion became quite animated, as they often do, and poor Kathleen thought they were arguing. She doesn't realize that's how Italians communicate—by disagreeing about pretty much everything.

While we were all in the kitchen cooking, Kathleen was like an inspector—following my mom's every move with her notebook, swooping up pinches of this and handfuls of that, hoping to calculate more exact measurements to be included in recipes for my book. It wasn't easy! My mother and aunt are not used to this investigative work, but for me they made an exception. Despite the challenges of the day, Kathleen and I managed to record some of my mom's favorite recipes to be revealed in my new book. At the end of the day my mom and aunt insisted on cooking a fantastic meal for all of us—with plenty of leftovers for Kathleen to take home, of course!


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