We dedicate Recipes from Euro Kitchen to two spectacular chef’s that have inspired us; my paternal grandmother Katarina and my Italian mother-in-law Maria who have inspired us to live and eat well and to all those that have passed before us that have created spectacular meals in their own right. 

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So here’s the story! Some of my fondest and earliest child memories come from my mentor in life; my paternal grandmother Katarina.  She has long passed but her vision and passion lives on inside of me.  Being a poor peasant farmer from the Southern Region of Slovenia, she lived off the rugged hill side. We immigrated to Canada in the late summer of 1966, (I was about a year old).  There were hardships and we lived frugally those early years.  I learned at a very young age to make something out of nothing.  My grandmother Katarina, was the matriarch of the family, we worked side by side as she taught me all of life’s pleasures and her passion, to cook and bake. It was amazing what she could do with a cup of flour, a couple of eggs and some shortening/oil and some flavourful essence.  She was my inspiration and set me on a track of what I am today.  Every day was an adventure and being a hostess and the life of the party was where it was at.  We didn’t have much but every square inch of our table was covered with delectable delights. Dare you have anyone over and not put in 200% effort.  She was my mentor and trainer in the early years, followed by several years of college working with award winning Canadian chefs and pastry chefs my craft was born. It wasn’t until college that I discovered that everything I was being taught (French cuisine) I had already learned through her; I knew all the basics and flew through college. Before the memory fads I’ll be introducing everything I learned from her! She was a wiz in the kitchen and never used measuring tools; it was a handful of this, a pinch of that and masterpieces were born.

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Maria, my mother-in-law was truly a gifted person in the kitchen.  It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that we’re all sitting down to dinner when one of my son’s out of nowhere said, ‘we should have a séance and channel Nonna (Italian grandma) back so we can learn how to make all those marvelous meals she used to make’. He was quite young when she passed, he may not remember much about her but he still remembers her cooking and cherishes those fond memories!  She too immigrated to Canada in the fall of 1966 with her husband, son (my husband) and daughter.  They didn’t have much but I’ve heard countless times that in their few precious possessions she brought over olive oil and many food items with her in fear there wasn’t any in her ‘new’ homeland.  Prior to immigrating, she was the eldest of eight and she was molded by her grandmother and an elderly woman she lived with in the Calabria; Southern Italy.  Being the oldest she didn’t attend school but her mission was to help run the household. She was a woman who lived simply, took tremendous pride in everything she did and made but most of all valued family, honour, respect and tradition.

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