My Grandmother taught me

The original Zizi (Zia Juditta), Grandma, and Nonna Magdalena

My grandmother taught me to knit, crochet, tie my shoelaces, and hang my laundry in the sun. She said that that walking keeps you healthy and a meal has a beginning, a middle and an end.  At her house, a meal was antipasto, soup, pasta, meat, a salad, and dessert with coffee and aperitif for it to be a true Sunday meal. Grandma fed my soul and my belly. I’m sharing one of her simplest recipes which I always looked forward to slurping on Sunday.

We travelled North from Hartsdale to Yorktown Heights nearly every Sunday. My brother, sister, me and my parents got in the old Chevy onto Rt 100 and got off at IBM. Along the way we went over the Hudson and I remember it… and sunsets at Grandma’s.At her house, Grandma was the Boss. Grandpa even called her that. When it came time for her to pick a husband, she chose the butcher. I remember her telling me this story quite proudly.

Grandma and Grandpa had a little grocery store in the Bronx and nobody starved at their house in the Great Depression. Grandma was a smart cookie. Grandma was the Boss.

As an immigrant who came into Ellis Island sometime in the teens of the last century, she did pretty well for herself. She came as a teen from a town in southern Italy, Avalina, with her mother and two older sisters. Her father had been a salesman. I haven’t heard too much about him and there are no photos that have been shared. That must be a helluva story.

Sundays were dinner at Grandma’s house and from those Sundays, a love of food was born. Doing stuff with your hands and getting it done was not a matter of a personal challenge for people of her generation. It was how you survived.

Like I said, Grandma taught me to knit.


Inro in process

I love socks. I love knitting. I love to knit socks and I love to wear hand knit socks. Win-win.

Deliciously soft socks are a portable project that I can stuff in a small purse. They’re also usually pretty darn easy. But, there’s a problem. I tend to buy the yarn, stash it and forget it. So this year’s knitting as I’ve stated before, will include knitting socks. The Sock-a-Month tag will help me keep track on that.

The book I’m working my way through to start is Knitted Socks East and West which, Ravelry told me, has its own little group. I joined up to the group but I’m not a Knit-A-Long kinda gal so I’m just picking the socks I like and knitting as I see fit.

As crafting books go, it’s got great photography which translates as mega-eye candy and yarn pr0n for fiber floozies like me. I’ve been lusting after this book for a while. The desire for the book created a need to get started on sock knitting giving me a nice neat bundle all tied up in feeding my addiction and giving it focus.

Inro Sock #1

Inro Sock 1

The Sock A Month challenge is part of a stash busting project I started a while back. Ok, so I didn’t start it so much as a moth infestation started it for me. As I was throwing bags of yarn out the second story window of my studio into the backyard I thought… “Gee, I don’t remember that yarn/wool/fiber shiiiiny!” and “Wow, I have a lot of sock yarn.”

So, the need became a challenge to myself to get the book and get sock knitting. It’s also part of my “Jump off the Curb and Into Life” challenge to myself this year. Patterns I would normally have been afraid to knit, like lace, are in the crosshairs. I’m not afraid to knit socks. As I said, they’re easy. But I’m shy to try challenging patterns in socks. This was a pretty good start. I’ll even go out on a limb and say I’d recommend it for anyone trying to get out of a stockinette and ribbing knitting rut.

“Hey, I thought this was a food blog!” and no, it’s not. (I’m not even sure it’s a blog). It’s a “something” about doing. I just happen to do a lot in the kitchen. Right now I’m being proud because my January socks are done!

Inro Socks on the blockers

Inro from Knitted Socks East and West being blocked.

Blue Moon Fiber being spun

Blue Moon fiber on the wheel

This is a good thing because I now owe two people some hats.  I saw a lovely hat sampled at Lakewood’s Yorkshire Yarns and I’m quite certain I have a comparable pattern in my copious collected books. I’ve decided to use this yarn from Sweet Basil Fibre Works on Etsy. I should use the wool I’ve been spinning. It’s Cashmere, Merino and silk from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Gorgeous colors and a dream to spin up. *sigh*

The socks are the colors of sunsets at Grandma’s. Each stitch I do is a tribute to her. Everyone I teach to knit is given this gift from her through me as a conduit that reaches back to my great grandmother and her mother before her, and so on. It is a long chain of strong women connected, literally, by a thread.

I leave you with the recipe my grandmother gave me in exactly the way she gave it to me. You have to imagine it in a thick Italian accent or it’s no good.

Escarole Soup

Yield: 8 servings

You get a nice big fat head of escarole, you open it out, wash it clean. Then you put some tomato paste and some anchovies in the center. Tie it closed and put it in a big pot. Cover the escarole with water. Let it boil then simmer down and then you can add some olives and serve it. It’s good!

Tweets - Francine

Tweets - Jason


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