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A Recipe For Love

I have read on more than one occasion that we shouldn't use Food to socialize. I have read about the "dangers" of teaching our children that food equals love. Self help books say that we shouldn't give food such a big role in our lives. Food is sustenance, nothing more. We should eat to live, not live to eat. It's not healthy to find comfort in food, or so we are told.

Well, as an Italian girl from Brooklyn, I say, "What a load of bologna!" (See what I did there? I used food as a METAPHOR!!)

I am proud to use food as an expression of love and I have yet to have anyone object to it. When a friend is sick or has had surgery or a baby - I get straight to work pulling out my big pots and making soup. Chicken Noodle, Pasta Fajioli (we say Fazool), Minestrone, Chick Pea Soup....they all do a body good. In the process, I feel better too. I feel useful.

Last year, I delivered a pot of minestrone to a friend of mine with a nice, crusty loaf of bread. You could see her mood brighten as she sat up a little taller. She made her way to the table, took a deep breath to enjoy the delicious smell of it and started eating. She dipped her bread and cleaned her plate and smiled. Now tell me again how that's not "Mmmm, mmmm, good!"

I highly doubt that rice cakes and tofu or some other "sustenance" would have inspired the same reaction.

I watched my Mom make a week's worth of meals for her dear friend who had undergone brain surgery and I never forgot it. She labeled the containers and even included instructions and serving suggestions. Although things were uncertain at the time, Mom could always be certain of her baked ziti. She was also certain that her friends would get hungry, and if you're going to eat, shouldn't it great?

I will also add this: If snow days and sick days don't make you think of tomato soup and grilled cheese, there was something severely wrong with your childhood.

When my friends and I gather for a dinner party, we all have fun getting together and tasting the various creations each couple has made for that night's theme. We've done Cuban, Indian, Chocolate, Steakhouse, My Big Fat Italian Wedding...many more than I can even remember. It's exciting when we all get the notice of the theme and then our imagination take us on a journey as we take on a culinary challenge. The day of the party, I find I am anticipating with great delight what everyone will make. How nice it is to know we are all thinking of each other as we cook our assigned dishes! How sweet to experience the thoughtful preparation! Yes, being thought of, being cooked for, going the extra mile for someone, this IS love. Let's stop apologizing for it.

What else should we do when we gather? Play cards? Sure! But not without snacks!
Watch the game? Yes! But not without a beer and chicken wings! We can finally see that movie? Absolutely! Pass the popcorn!

My Great-Aunt used to set an extra place in her dining room every Sunday before serving up a macaroni feast. Every week that unexpected (or should I say "expected"?) guest arrived. Why? Because they knew they were always welcome.

There's always a place for you at my table my friend. Have a seat. Let me fix you a plate. Later we'll talk - over coffee.

Taste that? It's love.


Recipe: Minestrone Soup

More of an ingredient list than a recipe, here are the basics of my minestrone soup. The beauty of it is that you use whatever veggies you have handy. Don't worry if you don't have them all, but Olive Oil, Onion and Garlic are required.

3 TBS Olive Oil
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 medium onion - diced
1 basket of sliced mushrooms
2 Zucchini quartered and diced
2 carrots diced
1/2-1 pkg of frozen chopped spinach (thawed)
2 cans of cannelini beans
2 qts of chicken or vegetable broth or stock
Salt and Pepper
2 TBS tomato paste (optional)
2-3 leaves leaves of basil (never hurts!)
1/2 lb of small sized pasta (elbows, mini-shells, mini-farfalle)

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil. Be careful not to burn.
Add sliced mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste.
When mushrooms have softened and begin to brown, add 1 qt of broth.
Add zucchini and carrots. Add second qt of broth.
Simmer under vegetables are tender.
Add chopped spinach.
Add 2 cans of beans with liquid. Cooke until tender.
Add paste if desired or to thicken soup. Add Basil.
Boil water for pasta.
Cook pasta as directed. I don't add the cooked pasta to the soup as it absorbs the soup and makes the pasta mushy. Put a serving of pasta in each bowl and then add the soup.
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!!

Other veggies you can use - squash, diced tomatoes, grean beans, potatoes, cabbage, anything! Be creative!

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This post first appeared on The Girl Out Of Brooklyn, please read the originial post: here

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A Recipe For Love


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