Its not you, it’s me

Being single, I often find myself sitting across from a stranger, trying to make something spark over a glass of something (insert wine, vodka or gin tonic, or if it’s really bad, vodka martini – straight up, dirty, with an olive). Once I was told I didn’t have to drink to be more interesting and my response, “I’m drinking to make you more interesting.” (This attitude could be why I never got married).

Not so long ago, being single wasn’t an unusual thing. In my 20s, being the single girl, I was admired or considered the norm. But about the time I starting growing out of studio apartments, and into a co-habitation situation, my friends starting getting married and soon enough, having babies. Fast-forward a few years, and I’m left with a garden gnome, a couple of marriage proposals and many life lessons.

More recently, I keep hearing that getting married is out. With the divorce rate at 50 percent and many not wanting to go through the pain and expense of the “starter marriage” I’m wondering if this is true. Has man (and woman) finally evolved passed marriage?

The wedding business is worth billions of dollars in the United States, and we’ll go to them, and believe in them, because doesn’t everyone want to feel they are in the presence of true love, according to a Wedding Crasher?

Moving back to my hometown and into yet, another apartment, I didn’t know what to do next in the love category; with these repeated revelations, I’m sort of relieved that I may not have to do anything at all. However, a part of me won’t let my belief system fall into the marriage naysayer category just yet. Who wouldn’t want a guaranteed someone in their life after a bad day at work, argument with a loved one or someone to take trips with?

The happiest time in my 30-something years was when I was making the smallest amount of money and living in the tiniest apartment. This probably wasn’t because I enjoyed getting creative with noodles and peanut butter sandwiches at dinners and drinking cheap beer, it was probably because I was meeting new people, seeing a life ahead of me that wasn’t pre-determined and wanting to go out there and take the necessary steps to be established.

It could be this excitement that lingers today, which is why I refuse to settle, waiting to be sitting across from that person that will make me say to myself, “this is why all those others didn’t work out.” That being said, I have a date to get ready for.

Hip to be square

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Even after traveling around the world and eating at some of the most extravagant restaurants, and tasting the most deliciously prepared meals, I often wondered how my great-grandmother created equally tasting, yet more satisfying dishes that fed a family of 11 children. What would today be considered cheap eats, these meals are so full of flavor, and have interesting combinations and at many times, exotic.

Besides good conversation to go along with tasty food, is a good story. This past holiday season I found myself taking a bite of stuffed squid, something my Grandma Bucolo would make on Christmas. This tender fish, filled with a bread mixture, almost like a meatball, is one of the best things I’ve ever consumed. Dying to attempt to recreate the recipe, I searched high and low to find “stuffable” calamari or also known as, squid. When buying squid, look for the smaller sized ones. The larger squid tend to be less tender and sweet tasting.

A tube of calamari should be an easy find at the grocer

After talking to one of my many aunts, Aunt Linda told me all about the dish, and I learned the recipe does call for making the stuffing the same a meatball mixture would be concocted except don’t add eggs or beef.

When making the stuffing for meatballs and calamari, she said it’s always best to start with fresh bread to make the crumbs (have I mentioned my family makes everything from scratch). Rolls can also be used if bread is out of the question. Don’t ever use stale bread. Two handfuls of breadcrumbs are enough for this recipe. A small food processor works really well.

2 rolls grated (processed) for crumbs

3-4 cloves of finely minced garlic

Salt and Pepper

About a ¼-cup grated Parmesan cheese

Italian parsley that has been finely minced.

Toss all together and use for stuffing the squid.

Rinse out the squid – inside and out and pat them dry. Fill the squid letting the stuffing drop down to the bottom. Then take a toothpick and skewer the top closed.

Aunt Linda puts “a good helping of olive oil in my fry pan and let it warm up on medium heat.” Tossed in some slivered garlic and sliced shallots (don’t use onions for this – they are too strongly flavored, the shallots are much milder). Let the shallots and garlic sauté, watch that the garlic doesn’t burn or there will be a bitter flavor left. After the shallots and garlic become soft and transparent, transfer them to a small bowl for later use. Add the squid a few at a time to brown them. If you have to add more oil that’s okay. Turn the squid often to make sure all sides have a nice golden color. They don’t have to cook all the way through because they will finish cooking in the tomato sauce. After they have browned, put the garlic and shallots back in with the squid and add all to your tomato sauce. Or at this point you can put the squid, garlic and shallots in a baking dish and finish them in the oven. I like them with the tomato sauce. Let them simmer in the sauce for about an hour. No longer or the calamari will get tough. Then you can boil your macaroni and proceed as though for regular spaghetti.

Baking is best

Keep in mind, this recipe is over a century old, so some ad-libbing may be necessary. I also added my own touch to make it my own and work with what I had. So please feel free to incorporate the following, for example, I prefer to bake.

Preheat the oven 350 degrees

Bake for 20 min.

Let marinade overnight (with homemade sauce on top)

Piping hot

It sounds long and drawn out but really is quite simple. If you try this, good luck!

As time goes on, I am still gathering bits of stories from my grandmother’s sisters, my great aunts. Just when you think there wasn’t another small secret or story to go along with a dish that I’ve eating on Christmas Eve, St. Joseph’s Day dinner or otherwise, with family around, there is always another juicy tidbit to be learned.

Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley on top

Two of hearts

Extra batter? Get creative!

The heat is on. The parties are filling up calendars and most of them are probably related to celebrating the nuptuals of friends, family and co-workers. Coming up with a theme or even participating, can be timely and costly.

A recent party I volunteered to bake something, why I don’t know because I am the worlds worst baker! I took the plunge though and used a recipe that anyone can follow. This is one where I’m cheating. Use a box recipe. If you’re feeling adventurous, dig out those heavy baking books and start from scratch.

A messy concoction can fill nicely into foil cups


A few summers ago I traveled to Italy and wound up in Tuscany. Besides the usual beauty, the romanic escapism and of course the wine that it’s known for, there were olives. More than olives, olive oil.

Coming upon an old olive oil farm, learning about the presses (new and old) and tasting the many types of olive oil that exist, changed my palate forever. Stateside, I was never able to use just ordinary olive oil again. As a matter of fact, I adopted an olive tree.

I do read the blog from where I had my olive oil shipped and came upon this recipe, perfect for the summer!