Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Salon: Returning to My Roots

I began My Cozy Book Nook in 2009. I joined the book blogging community with gusto - thrilled to find others as excited about literature as I am.

While a bibliophile at heart, my interests expanded over time. I wanted to blog (connect) about writing and journaling and photography. But this created a blog-identity crisis. Am I book review blog - a lifestyle blog - do I even have a niche?! Consequently, my blog posts were sporadic at best.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Word-of-the-Year 2018

I have participated in the My One Word challenge for the past five years. Words that have guided me in the preceding years include Balance - Peace - Delight - Fun - Nourish.

I typically start thinking about my new word around November 1st. This year that culminated with the final post of the 31 Day Blogging challenge where I listed daily affirmations to help combat Impostor Syndrome. The word that resonated with me at that time was - BELIEVE.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Baccala through the Mail

This post is a part of the Virtual Advent Tour. Thank you, SpriteWrites, for allowing me to once again be a part of this fantastic blogging tradition. The following is an excerpt from my newest book, Italian Family Christmas

The Feast of Seven Fishes is the traditional Christmas Eve meal of southern Italy. The religious significance of this feast is deeply rooted in Roman Catholic tradition. Each of the seven fish courses relates to the holy sacraments. A modified three-course version represents the Holy Trinity. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Totoro Family Recipes: Spinach Bread

This will be the 27th year I have prepared the Christmas Eve Vigil. My husband experienced this Italian Feast every year of his upbringing - and I was fortunate enough to take part in this time-honored tradition with Cora for about ten years. But when we moved to Kansas in 1990, Cora passed the torch to me. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly - and I am honored to continue the tradition.

My children grew up around the Christmas Eve table laden with a variety of fish dishes and Italian delicacies. Over time, we each have selected our favorites.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Totoro Family Recipes: Strufoli (Italian Honey Balls)

My husband's grandmother, Cora McKee, was from a small region about one hour east of Naples. The Feast of Seven Fishes is typically a southern Italian custom, and most of the peasant-style dishes Cora prepared for the Christmas Eve feast find their roots in Neopolitan cuisine.

Strufoli, bite-sized balls of dough fried to a golden brown and drenched in honey, is no exception.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Italian Family Christmas

I first had the idea to write Italian family Christmas in December 2016. I wanted to document our holiday traditions to leave as a legacy for my children.

The cornerstone of our celebration is Christmas Eve - when we prepare the Vigil, or The Feast of Seven Fishes. This tradition was introduced to my husband's family by his adopted grandmother, Cora McKee. It has been a part of southern Italian heritage for centuries.

The origin of the Feast is linked to the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Some Italian families pare the feast down to three courses, representing the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

By the time I joined the family, the tradition remained without the religious symbolism.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Totoro Family Recipes: Poor Man's Pecan Pie

I'm not sure where my mom found this recipe, perhaps in one of her many church cookbooks she collected throughout the years.

The pie got its name because it tastes like a pecan pie but uses oatmeal to replace the expensive nuts. Seeing how I was never fond of nuts to begin with (and neither were my children), this pie became an instant family favorite.

In fact, one year my son requested this pie instead of birthday cake.

For those who enjoy the taste and texture of nuts, you can easily decorate the top of the pie with pecan halves.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Twelve Ways to Bless an Author

Writers write. It's what we do.

We write because we have a story or message that aches to be told. We write because we can't NOT write. It is a part of our DNA.

We also write to connect with others. We want our words to bring joy, knowledge, and/or healing to those who find themselves in a similar situation or season in life. We may write in solitude, but we envision our audience as we pen our next work.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Totoro Family Recipes: Angel Bites

Most of you would recognize this confection as Puppy Chow, but in our family, it is affectionately known as Angel Bites. Personally, I think we should rename the recipe and call it "Heavenly Crack" ... because once I take a single bite, I can't seem to stop.

My mom collected angels for years. At one time she was even a member of the Angel Collector's Club of America. At one of their annual conventions, she purchased a fundraiser cookbook that included this recipe, and it was love at first bite.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Totoro Family Recipes: Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread, along with Sausage Balls, are family favorites on Thanksgiving morning. I take the bread out of the oven around 8:30am so it is still nice and warm by the time the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade begins.

However, for those who prefer to sleep in rather than watch the Parade, both recipes are quite tasty served at room temperature.

The combination of gooey Cinnamon Bread and savory Sausage Balls makes for a filling breakfast treat. And we eat enough of both to keep us satiated until the traditional dinner is served around 4:00pm.

I don't remember where I first found this recipe. It was shortly after we moved to Kansas, circa 1990, and I vaguely remember finding it in an old recipe book my grandmother gave me.

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