Alzheimer’s disease first touched my family when my dad’s mom was diagnosed in the early 1990s. My second son was born on her birthday, but she never knew him or of him. A decade later, my mom’s dad died of the same cruel disease. His mind was gone long before his body, though. Now, dementia is taking its toll on my mother-in-law. The classy woman that I met when I married my husband, the gal who always had on lipstick and dressed to the nines, that was so finicky about what she ate, that was known for never forgetting any of her nine siblings’ birthdays, is long gone. For any of you who have watched a loved one suffer like this, you know how painful it is for all of the family members.
When I had the opportunity to receive and review the new cookbook, Recipes to Remember: My Epicurean Journey to Preserving my Mother’s Italian Cooking from Memory Loss, I jumped at it. Did you know that cooking is one of the first abilities that goes when Alzheimer’s or dementia sets in? The victims can no longer remember whether or not they have added ingredients or how long the food has been in the oven.
Barbara Magro, the author, knew that she had only a precious window of time to gather all of the recipes that she could from her mother. With the help of family and friends, she compiled recipes from holidays, meals from her childhood as well as memories of times shared with family. The book is divided into three parts. The first part is a biography of Barbara’s family with photos and stories. The second section is the recipes. The final, shortest part is an informational section about Alzheimer’s.
Recipes to Remember is all about family. The recipes it contains are not gourmet. You won’t find Mario Batali serving this food at his flagship restaurants. These are real life recipes served by a working Italian mom. Most of the dishes can be whipped up in half an hour and take ingredients you can find in any grocery store. But that doesn’t mean they are not delicious.
I chose to put my own spin on Costate di Maiale conPeperoni (Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers) and Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil). Being gluten free and in a hurry, skipped breading the chops and used rice pasta which happened to be in shell shapes instead of spaghetti. I did whip up some regular spaghetti for my family in a separate pan, but that did not make an appearance at the food photo shoot. Basically, these are very flexible recipes. The flavor is still fantastic.
I am anxious to try the Sausage Stuffing for Turkey for Thanksgiving this year. I have been looking for a gluten free alternative and this sounds amazing. Other recipes on my list to try are Pasta e Piselli, Peperoni Arrostiti, Carote al Parmigiano, Cavolfiore al Formagio and Pollo alle Bergamo. All of these exotic sounding dishes are simply Pasta and Peas, Marinated Roast Peppers, Carrot Parmesan, Cauliflower with Cheese and Chicken Stuffed with Sausage. Italian food never seemed so accessible!
- 2 pounds sweet sausage
- 1 large mozzarella
- ⅔ cup Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons parsley
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Remove the sausage from the casing and mash it in a skillet, over a medium flame, turning frequently until it is fully cooked.
- Drain the grease and place the sausage into a large bowl.
- Add the mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, eggs and garlic powder.
- Mix together and then sprinkle the surface with a little more mozzarella and Parmesan.
- Stuff the Thanksgiving turkey with the mixture and then bake the leftovers in a square baking dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Serve as a side dish.
fine print: I received a free copy of Recipes to Remember, but all opinions in this post are mine.