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Rachael Ray 50:

Memories and Meals

from a Sweet and

Savory Life: A

Cookbook [PDF]



Rachael Ray is a multi-Emmy Award-winning syndicated television star, an iconic Food Network

personality, bestselling cookbook author, founder and editorial director of her own lifestyle magazine,

Rachael Ray Every Day, and founder of the Yum-o! organization and The Rachael Ray Foundation. She

splits her time between New York City and the Adirondacks with her husband, John, her family, and her

beloved pit bull, Isaboo. Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. 1The Princess Who

Lived in a FortOnce upon a time, by a lakeside in the woods, there lived a beautiful little girl with dark wavy

curls, rosy round cheeks, and a heart so big, a soul so bright, that her energy was boundless morning, noon,

and night. My favorite fairy tale is actually the reality of my motherâ€s childhood. Iâ€ve spent my life

in pursuit of it, because the pictures in my head of how things once were are the most beautiful scenes

imaginable to me.My mother, Elsa Providenzia Scuderi, was born on July 18, 1934, the first of ten kids. She

grew up in a house on the edge of Lake Champlain in Ticonderoga, New York. The main feature of the

house was a tower of stone that helped to keep the house warm and cozy in the harsh, cold winter and cool

during the long, hot days of summer. The tower stood at the heart of this home, and was actually a handstacked,

artisan-crafted chimney that ran through the center of the house from bottom to top. It was built by

her dad, my grandpa Emmanuel, a master stonemason. The house is gone now, but the stones of that tower

still stand today. To look at it back then, I suppose to some people it was just the too-small house of a bluecollar

worker with too many kids. To my mother, it was a fortress and she was a princess.Growing up by a

lake is wonderful in and of itself. (Mom would raise me on the same lake years later.) During their childhood

summers, Elsa and her sisters would gather the tall grasses that grew by the lake and make skirts, while the

boys swam and chased each other. The uncles would play tricks on the children, like diving deep and

floating a hat on the water to make the kids think theyâ€d drowned, then rising up like a lake monster to

scare them! Grandpa would play his concertina and all would sing and dance around big bonfires, Zia (Aunt)

Patrina waving her moppina (Italian American slang for a dishcloth) over her head, leading them on.In the

spring and winter, Daddy Emmanuel would wake his kids in the middle of the night and take them outside to

sit in the notches he carved for each of them in the old tree that had fallen down long ago. He would tell

them stories of sea turtles and of his life as a boy in Sicily. They would listen and giggle and yawn and try to

keep their eyes open, waiting and watching the dark night skies for the northern lights. Then, when the light

shows began, Emmanuel would sing to his kids, serenading them with Italian arias and old standards like

“O Sole Mio.―My grandpa was a wonderful gardener, and tended huge vegetable gardens, fruit trees,

rabbits (Elsa learned at a tender age not to name them), and chickens, necessary skills with so many mouths

to feed and a limited budget. At their house there was always plenty of food, and not just for the ten kids but

for the whole community. On sunny Sundays, Emmanuel would enlist help to move the kitchen table outside

to accommodate guests. Heâ€d make a huge, industrial-size braising pot full of Sunday Sauce—meats

and homemade sausages and tomatoes canned with basil. Heâ€d cook pounds of spaghetti and toss it in

the red sauce and serve it with lots of grated cheese. Heâ€d arrange the meats separately on large wooden

platters and boards. Next, heâ€d set out a huge wooden bowl of mixed greens from the garden dressed

with lemon or vinegar and olive oil, salt, and pepper. The last stop on the buffet he would man himself.

Emmanuel would grab the machete that hung from a strap on his belt and worked as an extension of his arm,

and he would swipe at ripe hand-melons from his gardens, whacking them open. One by one, heâ€d scoop

out the seeds with the side of his hand and fill the melons with vanilla ice cream from a five-gallon tub. The

quality of his familyâ€s life was all about the quality of their food and their time together.These painted

pictures in my mindâ€s eye, these scenes, remind me of an old nightclub song. I think itâ€s Russian,

and the lyrics put to it in English have always spoken to me. I sing along every time I hear it.Those were the

days my friendWe thought theyâ€d never endWeâ€d sing and dance forever and a dayWeâ€d live the

life we chooseWeâ€d fight and never loseThose were the days, oh yes those were the daysBack then, food

was also a commodity. When the kids were good, theyâ€d get treats like their own bucket of fruit that they

didnâ€t have to share with their brothers or sisters. Mom is a lit

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