Over a dozen years ago, Francena captured the recipes she learned at her grandmother’s side and recorded them as a gift to future generations. Since that time, this charming and folksy cookbook has sold 10,000 copies.

Filled with family photos from the 1950s, you might think Francena was related to the Godfather—or my extended family. Written for the love of food and tradition, Francena’s recipes for Stuffed Mushrooms, Chicken Parmesan, or Breaded Veal will take you back to your own Nonna’s kitchen.

This will remind you of those wonderful church and community cookbooks.  It’s a family treasury of Francena’s family favorites. Perhaps your grandmother made braciole (with beef) in January, as mind did, or Cucuzza (fried zucchini) in August. These are not difficult recipes. These are friendly and achievable!

Our favorite quote: “Olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, onions, and pasta are staple ingredients I always have on hand.”

You won’t find the Braided Easter Egg Bread, Panettone for Christmas, or Polenta for any season. This is a classic Italian family cookbook with recipes from the mid-century, packed with family heritage, and filled with such recipes as Frittata, Eggplant Parmesan, Manicotti, and Baked Ziti.

Each recipe page includes a beverage recommendation, usually wine, among them such as Merlot, Pino Grigio, Sangiovese, and Asti Spumanti!

Enjoy this tribute to a grandmother to as Francena has recorded for future generations.

We have been granted permission to share Francena’s Biscotti recipe with you. You can click on the recipe image and print the recipe.

You can purchase the book for $12.95 including postage and shipping (cash, check, or money order). Please contact Francena at this link.

In this fabulous job at Olio2go, we are immersed in Italian culture and reminded of Italian-American experiences on a daily basis. We have memories of our grandparents who bridged cultures in small towns, our own travels to Italy, and our remembrances of the traditions that we have kept and those that we have let go.

My grandmother, Lucille, could take two pork chops and serve all who came to dinner, with a little of this and a little of that. The table filled quickly with antipasto selections, pasta, and vegetables. Miraculously a bounty could be found at her house. My grandfather had a garden in the back yard with grape vines, tomatoes, zucchini, and chard. My writing here doesn’t do justice to the abundance of love expressed through food in that house.

As emigration from Italy to the U.S. has tailed off, we have fewer who can carry forth the traditions from the old country. It is now up to the U.S.-born to carry on the traditions for the future generations. If this is an interest of yours, be sure to join the National Italian American Foundation (NAIF).

Recently, I came across an alumni magazine with stories of the influences of grandparents and returning to one’s roots. Land Recognized is the story of a young woman’s journey back to Italy. On page 30 of the PDF, Land Recognized reveals the thoughts of her journey to Italy in search of a connection to her grandmother and her family’s history.

Popular novelist Adriana Trigiani weaves tales of her Italian American upbringing through her novels and her family memoir. From Big Stone Gap, through the mills of Pennsylvania, she crafts wonderful weavings of her experiences and those common to so many of us who had the joys and experience of Italian-American small town life. Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers brought back my own memories of Lucille and Josephine. In the last pages, I began to think of all of those friends and cousins who would enjoy this book!

Adriana Trigiani has also published a cookbook, Cooking with My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes from Bari to Big Stone Gap, sharing more of her family’s Italian-American heritage.

We’d love to know your favorite traditions and we’d also like to know your favorite books to share with other Olio2go readers!