Drove out to Pittsburgh way too early this morning, arriving mid-day to what I thought would be an afternoon of yardwork, which I totally love. While staring at the trimmed peonies and wondering how they bloomed this year, I heard a familiar voice: Mrs. Bucci!
As she was walking up the street I recalled the moment almost ten years ago that we first met, shortly after I had bought my house. Back then she was walking up the street too. When she saw me sitting on the stoop, she barked, “How much-a you pay for this-a house-a?” I answered and she raised her voice in disbelief, telling me I paid-a too much.
Today we exchanged greetings as her daughter and grandkids pulled up in a car, and she invited me over to see her birds (one of which I had given her many years ago). I should have known that once inside I would be offered food!
We started with coffee and pizzelles, a typical cookie from her Abbruzzese past. I learned her recipe: 2 spoons of sugar, two spoons of oil, two eggs and flour. Who the heck knows how much flour? Like all Italian grandmothers, she neither measures nor consults. She instead cooks by instinct, which rarely translates to outsiders. I’ve always wanted to make pizzelles, so asked her to teach me the next time I’m in town.
Her grandson, in the meantime, was asking her to make him some chicken soup, so I ran up to my car and grabbed my camera. Here’s my explanation and her video of her process.
Grammy’s Chicken Soup
Boil some water and pre-cook a cupful of pastina or orzo.
In a separate pot, make a chicken broth using a powdered soup base.
When the pastina is almost cooked, drain it, rinse it under cool water, return it to the pan and add the chicken broth. Cook a little longer, adding broth as needed:
Beat a few eggs with grated parmigiano and slowly pour it into the soup, stirring to break it up:
Serve it in a bowl and say that it’s really no big deal.
Later that afternoon, while ripping out the vines beginning to strangle my hostas, I got to thinking that isolation looms on the dark side of independence, and decided instead that my day was all about celebrating the joys of interdependence: driving with Ann, cooking with Angela, offering to edit Pablo’s emerging dissertation, convincing Giuseppe to join Kim, Nick and I for a meal. No fireworks necessary.