Rose, Rosie, Roe, Mom, Aunt Rose, Grandma, Nana, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. You broke my heart for the first time last week Mom.
Mom would have been 96 years old on October 27th. But we’ll just give her those few days. She passed on October 14.
She was born in 1918, so long ago. World War 1 ended in 1918. She survived the Spanish flu pandemic. The US House of Representatives passed the amendment allowing women to vote in 1918. Mom started her life on Elizabeth Street in the heart of “little Italy” in New York City. I guess you could say she was “old school”. That’s an understatement. She lived through the Great Depression, which influenced the rest of her life, and World War II, as well did my Father. The influence she had on me and my brother and sister was epic. She made us what we are today. Her and my grandmother were my mentors in the kitchen. Everything I know and cook today was influenced by them. All of the recipes in my blog I cooked because of them. If you enjoy only one of those dishes, you can thank her. What I share on these pages are their legacy. And what a legacy they left.
I’ve been tested throughout my life by my mother. Early on she nurtured me and was always there for me. She bandaged my cut knee and chin and kissed the hurt goodbye. She saved my life a number of times. Once from a stubborn fruit bowl that got stuck on my head and another time when I stopped breathing from a bad fall and she lifted me up and ran with me in her arms to Doctor Gennarelli’s office at the end of my block. As caring and nurturing as she was she played the role as the disciplinarian in the family. My father was too busy going to work everyday and when he was home he would take his time to play and have fun with us. Mom always meant business.
My mother played a major role in making sure my brother Richard was not influenced by the high school gang members that turned out as wise guys from the neighborhood and landed in jail or were killed. She made sure she would know where and with who each of her children were hanging out with, going as far as meeting the families of our friends and getting close to them as we were with their children. My mother would never go to sleep unless we were all home in bed, no matter how old we were and what time we came back in. She always encouraged us to be the best that we could be. And if we didn’t quite make it to the finish line she praised us for our effort and giving it a good try. She was our safety net, our boo-boo blanket, our security blanket.
We loved her, we feared her, we always wanted to please her. We would also get very angry at her. Like the time I was paged at the Atlanta airport on my way home from a trip to Florida. When the airline administrator heard my voice on the phone she was surprised to hear I was a 42-year-old adult. She thought I was a child traveling alone when she got the message from my mother that my flight was cancelled to Newark and she booked me on a flight to Kennedy. My car was in Newark, and I didn’t need my mother’s help to get me home that afternoon. That was the last time I ever gave my mother flight information about my travels. She knew when I left, and I’d call her when I returned. But then again, my mother knew where I was before I even got there. She was always a step ahead of us. Ya just couldn’t fool Mom.
Like the time I played too much hooky from school. My guidance counselor, who my mother was very close with, called the house that day to see how I was doing because I was not in school all week. Much to my mother’s surprise. She knew exactly where to go to find me, and dragged me home with her iron grip. I had no hiding places in my room from my mom. If she didn’t like what I had, or it was contraband, she would make it disappear, without a mention of a word. My mother’s word was law, and if you didn’t agree with her….too bad.
She never thought I could be happy unless I got married again. She would always say, ” I pray every night for you that you find someone who loves you and takes care of you”. I would tell her, “Mom, I’m very happy, I have plenty of friends and family. And besides, Bella, my dog, is always home to greet me when I arrive with her tail wagging.” She always thought that was amusing. All she ever wanted in life was to see her children and grandchildren happy. That is what she lived for. Nothing else mattered to her.
That night, after I found out she died, the first thing I thought of while I tried to go to sleep was my safety net was gone, my security blanket was not there anymore. It was a very lonely and scary feeling. And then I thought, this is what she prepared us for her entire life. These were the lessons taught and learned. Her compassion, her loving nature, her life lessons all came rushing back to me that night. She did for us what she thought was best. She was always there to help us, it didn’t matter if we didn’t need it. In her own way she taught us to live in a very hard and cruel world and to find a safe haven and love in family. To always be close to one another because that is what got her through growing up in her world. You can always depend on family. They never let you down. I still had plenty of safety nets around me, by brother, my sister, my children. I know and realize I will never be alone. Thanks for teaching me that Mom.
Hot soup on a cold and damp fall day is like a mother’s hug. It’s a comfort food that makes you feel good inside. This soup is a very simple soup to make and also very nutritious. If you are watching your calories you can have a serving of this soup and only use up 250 calories. Heck, have two bowls.
Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage and Kale
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 16 ounces of dried lentils, rinsed
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 4-5 Italian pork sausages, a little over a pound.
- 2 cups chopped kale or 12 ounces of frozen kale, thawed
In a medium frying pan over medium heat, add 1/2 cup of water. Prick each sausage in three places with a fork and place them in the frying pan and cover. Cook till the water evaporates. Continue to cook uncovered until the sausages are nice and brown. Remove the sausages to a plate and allow to cool in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the soup.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Add a big pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the lentils, tomatoes and 6 cups water. Add the thyme and rosemary and a couple more pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 1 hour, adding more water if necessary to cover the vegetables.
Meanwhile slice the cooled sausages into half moons.
When the lentils are just tender, taste the soup and add more salt if necessary. Add the kale and cook for about 10 minutes covered, until the kale is tender. Stir in the sausage and cook for another 5 minutes.
250 calories per serving
Peter, so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your cherished memories. My parents were born in 1916. My dad’s mom and seven of his brothers and sisters passed from the Spanish flu pandemic, leaving only my grandfather, dad and his sister. All are now gone along with my mother. Your story brought back my own memories of my mom. Again, thank you for that and for the recipe. A long time has passed since I have made this soup, time to enjoy it again.
Thank you Karen for your kind words. Hope you enjoy the soup.
Peter I’m so sorry for your loss. I think I mentioned before that is what brought me to your page missing my very Italian very old school Brooklyn raised parents. I was only 40 when I lost them both. Your page has brought me joy and memories of my family. Thank you for sharing recipes and stories. Those same things will give you comfort as you always remember your Mom.
Thank you Danielle.
Peter i send my deepestsympathy. loosing a mother is always so verydifficult no matter how old. you a regreat testament to a great woman. i love your(her) recipies and stories.
Thank you John. Merry Christmas!
Oh my ………. Peter I have not been getting your emails…………..went on a search and found this. I send you a lot of hugs from my heart to your heart, and sharing the empty space you felt…and felt it only because you had such a love. I felt it too when my mother died. I was without parents, and I felt like an orphan, totally alone … even though I had a sister alive and well.
Thank you for letting me enjoy your memories, so many I can also identify with. How blessed you are still to have her tucked in your heart for all time, as she helped you become who you are today. How blessed we all are for Rose bringing you into the world. I adore your stories… your recipes…. and now that I found you again…. I am not going to let that happen again. Will try this one….and let you know. I’m snowed in right now, so when I get the items in the house, I will have a ball, and think of your mother, like she was my own too.
Hugs….. and special thoughts, Louise
Louise, thank you so much for your kind thoughts.
Almost 4 years later, I have found this and the story about your Mom. I had to laugh about the story of your flight – I do that to my sons. In their 40’s and they have to check in with me. Then I had to cry when I heard how you felt when she died. So many of us go through those feelings and loss. I have emailed to my 3 children. Many thanks. I am now an email subscriber. Italian food is my number one favorite. Not a drop of Italian blood in me but we have been to Italy 2 times and will go again. Thanks again. Will be baking the Giugiuleni today. Love them.
So I guess Frances, being that involved in your children’s life is not just an Italian thing. Thank goodness. There should be more people out there like you and my mom. Thanks for dropping me a line. Happy Thanksgiving.