Thursday, December 24, 2015

Manicotti and New Beginnings

We never thought it would end this way.

But we also have hope for a new beginning.

Last week, I blogged about my in law's traditional family Christmas.  We would all travel downstate, some 190 miles (305 km) to a city near New York City, and visit my mother in law's in laws.    Not too many of them are left - my spouse's aunt who will be 104 early next week, the son she lives with, and another of my spouse's cousins who lives in the same neighborhood.

We can't come this year.  My mother in law, in her late 80's and home bound, can't travel far.  The 103 year old aunt, can't, either.  She is basically home bound, too.

The "other relative" has hosted the dinner for years.  Even during her two bouts with breast cancer, she insisted on hosting.  She made her specialty.  She told me she timed it around her bouts of tiredness and other side effects of the medication she was taking.

Tradition.

"I am not an accomplished cook." she told me once.  "But all you need to do is learn to make one dish, and make it well.  Make it better than anyone".  And so, she developed her specialty.

Manicotti.  The kind of manicotti that is pronounced "mon-i-gaut" (accent on the final syllable). Perish the thought anyone in that family would ever pronounce it "man-i-cotti".

I hate the lighting in my house sometimes - gives everything a yellowish cast.
No, manicotti is not the stuff served in pasta tubes in some clueless Italian restaurants (and you know which ones they are).  No.  Monicottis start with light as air crepes, each painstakingly cooked by hand, spread out.  Then they are filled with a pillowy mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, parsley, and love. Covered in homemade tomato sauce simmered with meatballs and Italian sausage, they are a dish worthy of Christmas dinner.

The thought of missing her manicotti hurt us almost as much as the fact that we would not see their maker or the other family.

So I begged my spouse to call, and get the recipe from her.

I didn't know if she would reveal the recipe. But she likes us.  After some hesitation, she gave the recipe to us  She emailed it to us.  But first, she cautioned that my spouse (the family cook) really had no business making it.  Perhaps she would come up and visit us, one day next year.

And no, we can't reveal it.  But we can show the result.

My spouse promised he would not embarrass the family.
He cooked the crepes.
He mixed the ricotta filling.

He assembled the manicotti.

Tomorrow, surrounded by our small family up here (me, my spouse, my son, my mother in law and a brother in law) we will eat this product of love.

Yes.  It will be a new beginning.

6 comments:

  1. are they like raviolis? I think raviolis are made in a similar manner..!
    And I am feeling hungry all of a sudden after looking at these pictures !

    Cheers

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  2. Lovely..tradition..light a new torch..

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  3. Nice! It is good to carry forward the tradition despite the difficulties. Looks yummy!

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  4. I'm sure they will be delicious - cooked with love the main ingredient. Merry Christmas!

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  5. Oh, that's great. Now you can make your own. A new tradition.

    The thing I make very well is chocolate chip cookies. My mother's recipe. (Well, it's Toll House's recipe with a couple minor alterations.) It's good to have a speciality.

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  6. Wonderful! They look great. A new tradition in your home now.

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