Friday, March 16, 2012


As I age and my girls grow up, there's nothing I like more than teaching them about our history - about where we come from and who we are.  That's why they are both named for women in my family, from both sides.  I want them to treasure who they are, who their ancestors were, and what they can become together.

Obviously, a huge part of my childhood revolved around good food.  Not just eating it (though there was plenty of that, too), but planting, growing, harvesting, picking, cleaning, canning, sharing.  My oldest daughter is three, and last fall she helped me can about 50 quarts of tomatoes.
I remember distinctly canning peaches in my mother's kitchen: all of us lined up in a row doing our job.  Happiness.  My grandfather - Pop - had an enormous garden.  I could get lost in there.  And I sometimes did, on purpose.  He tied his beans with grass, had the best corn in the world, and we'd eat the tomatoes like apples, juicy seeds dripping down our chins.  I loved being sent to the garden to get ingredients.

This week, I was invited to speak about Italy for a church presentation about cultures of the world.  I was also invited to bring a traditional dessert.

Biscotti.... literally, "twice-baked".  I grew up with these every Christmas - my Italian family eschewed the more Americanized biscotti made for dipping; Grandma's were always made with anise oil and we ate them plain.  They're not too sweet (though the Christmas ones do have a nice glaze), crunchy, and deliciously like, well, family.  I like to make them now more often than at Christmas, and with varied flavors.  They are always an easy, delicious treat.

These biscotti have no almonds - I had none, but are still tasty.
Cocoa Almond Biscotti
Preheat oven to 350*

Mix until fluffy:
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
Add and mix:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons raspberry syrup
Add and mix:
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
Add and mix:
  • 1+ cup almonds (I prefer whole, but you may also used slivered)
Form two logs, each about 9"x2".
Placed on a greased cookie sheet with room in between (they will spread).  
Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely.
Cut into 1/2" slices on a diagonal.

Bake 5 minutes per side.  Cool on rack.