By definition a dalliance is a frivolous spending of time; a setting aside of work; dawdling; a playful flirtation. That is exactly what cooking is to me. So often we are so focused on work and doing what is necessary to get ahead that we simply forget the joy of cooking and eating.

I rarely cooked when I was living at home, fairly typical for a kid. My mother was more of a baker than a cook since she was a working mother. She found the time to bake on the weekends (cakes, cookies and pies – oh my!). During the week, we were tortured with meals like stuffed green peppers and meatloaf. Both dishes my brother and I thought we were going to die eating. It took me YEARS before I finally broke down and made my own meatloaf and stuffed peppers and actually liked them! Of course now we joke about how her cooking skills back in the day would have landed her as a prime contestant for the Food Network Show, “Worse Cooks in America”.

Fortunately I was exposed to some traditional Italian cooking thanks to my grandmothers. My earliest memories were of my great-grandmother, my noni making ravioli and biscotti on her big dining room table. She use to sit me in her kitchen, with a cup of “milk coffee” and a biscotti, allowing me to watch her play with the flour and dough. As I grew up, I watched her pride and love in cooking for her family and friends and took notes.

I came into my own cooking style when I moved out. I decided I was going to explore vegetarianism and I spent the next several years reading and cooking vegetarian recipes (until I fell off for bacon). I found I really enjoyed cooking various ethnic foods and would have dinner parties for family and friends. This is a tradition that I have continued – to cook for my familia. Thankfully they have hung in there through my experimenting on them with various recipes, particularly the 5 star kind!