Originally published on Food and Fond Memories on November 20, 2012 by sandyaxelrod 6 Comments (Edit)
Recipes to Remember My Epicurean Journey to Preserve my Mother’s Italian Cooking from Memory Loss by Barbara Magro is so much more than just a cookbook. It is a look into an Italian family whose love of food and each other brought them together to celebrate life. They did this on Sundays as well as holidays. This fact made me feel immediately connected to the author and her family. When I was growing up in Philadelphia there wasn’t a Sunday or holiday that we didn’t all congregate at my grandparents home for a feast. The other thing that drew me to this wonderful book is that her mother is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. My Mother-in-Law died from Alzheimer’s Disease.
This devastating disease robs you of your memory. Not the memories of things that occurred in the past but of the things that may have happened moments ago. In Barbara’s mother’s case she couldn’t remember if she put the garlic in her Linguine with Clam Sauce a minute or so after she did it while preparing the traditional Italian feast of the seven fishes Christmas Eve 2005. Shortly after that Barbara and her sister began noticing more symptoms and had their mom examined by a neurologist who confirmed their fears. Interestingly enough it seems that cooking is one of the first skills that can no longer be performed by dementia sufferers. This was not the case for Steve’s mother only because she didn’t cook to begin with but it wasn’t long before she forgot whether she had eaten or not. And in the end I think that is what killed her because she wasted away to 64 pounds!
Alzheimer’s is hardest on the caregivers. What can be worse than someone who gave birth to you and raised you not knowing who you are? Another tragedy of this horrific disease is that the caregivers often pass away long before the patient. In a wonderful chat with the author she told me that this happens a shocking 65% of the time!
Barbara Magro’s main focus of her book Recipes to Remember is to preserve her mother’s delicious recipes. And delicious they are! As most good Italian recipes they are simple to make with just a few high quality ingredients. The flavors just shine brightly making you want to eat until you are way beyond full. Last night I prepared the Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken Cacciatore) for our dinner and it was outstanding. I really only made two slight changes to the recipe in her book. The first was to add sliced pimento stuffed green olives because that was the one ingredient I remembered from a recipe long ago lost that I made when Steve and I were newlyweds. The second was that I did not serve it over pasta. I opted instead to bake a loaf of herbed Italian bread and served that so we could sop up every last drop of the luscious sauce. The sauce is so good you could drink it and we practically did. There was a little of the sauce left over with everything but the chicken and I just couldn’t toss it. It was just too good. So tomorrow I plan on using it to make Steak Pizzaiola.
As if the recipes aren’t reason enough to buy this book there is an added bonus. A portion of the proceeds from each book sold goes to the Alzheimer’s Association. So whether you want to help wipe out Alzheimer’s or just want a collection of fabulous Italian family recipes visit www.recipestoremember.net and purchase your own copy of this wonderful book.
Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken Cacciatore)
by Barbara Magro from her book Recipes to Remember
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onions, sliced
1 whole chicken, cut up into small pieces (Substitute wings, legs and breasts for the whole chicken)
1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 medium green pepper, sliced
1 (8 ounce) package of sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons dry oregano
2 teaspoons dry basil
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the garlic until brown. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Remove onions and set aside.
Add more oil as needed and brown the chicken, turning until brown on all sides. This can be done in batches. Return all the chicken to the skillet and add the onions, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and green pepper. Add the mushrooms, oregano, basil and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover all the chicken with the tomatoes.
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the wine and cook uncovered for 15 minutes more, or until the chicken is tender. Remove bay leaves and serve over linguini or spaghetti.
Serves 4 – 6