Happy New Year’s Eve! This month has been a crazy one with family events, cooking, baking, Christmas and more. I almost haven’t been able to keep up. I hope we all go into the new year enjoying our time with family, friends and a lot of good food.
This month, the Italian-Canadian buzz online has been about recipes, family and eating. A lot of eating. Enjoy….see you next year!
It’s been one year of An Italian-Canadian Life blog and I’m asking you – should I continue?
Two years ago, I considered doing a blog about being Italian-Canadian. The reasoning was intensely personal (you can read about that here) but I put it off for quite a while since I work in the online content world, I didn’t want to do more of the same. Last year, I needed a change in my life, so I thought starting the blog might give me that. Launching An Italian-Canadian Life came with some rules though: I would post at least once a week, preferably twice, and I would do it for one year then decide if the project was successful enough to be worth continuing with. The error in my rules was that I didn’t set out what “success” would be defined as in one year, but truthfully, I had no idea what success should look like. Who says how many visitors to your site is a success? And who would have known how many other opportunities would have sprung up because of the blog?
So here’s my one year evaluation. I’m sharing it with you all as a means of openness but also for you to evaluate too – is the blog worth continuing?
Here’s what An Italian-Canadian Life has managed to do (as of today):
– attract 36,500+ views and 100+ comments
– publish 98 posts…99 in a couple of days
– be featured in print by Il Postino Canada, a monthly Italian-Canadian newspaper based in Ottawa
– be selected as one of Lidia Bastianich’s Favourite Bloggers
– be nominated for the Ninjamatics’ 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards
– get recipes featured on Foodgawker and TasteSpotting
– connect me with many like-minded Italian-Canadians/Australians/Americans and others around the world (Loving my new online family!)
– give me an excuse to document, measure, save and treasure my family’s traditions and recipes and learn new ones from other Italians
To be fair, I need to do a “con” list too. The blog has been a challenge to my time management – I had to learn how to fit in doing the writing I’ve wanted to do for this blog. When I cook or bake and want to take pictures along the way, it definitely lengthens the process (testing the patience of my mother, husband and guests!). Because I’ve been so enthusiastic about this blog, I have dedicated time to it which meant taking time away from finishing a university certificate I’ve been working on, and I’ve got an upcoming deadline for that certificate that is now a crunch.
Above all though, I’ve had an a year of fun with this, a year of learning and connecting with family, friends and new friends. I had no idea how much I would learn about being Italian and about connecting online personally. I had no idea how many people were looking for a turdilli recipe or a colluri recipe either, and I’ve been glad to give that to them. I also would have never guessed how many personal messages I would have received from readers thanking me for writing about An Italian-Canadian Life. It’s been a good year.
I’m leaning towards continuing with the blog, it’s probably just too much fun to give up, but I’m also open to suggestions, changes, ideas for the future. Let me know in the comments!
The holiday season is upon us and I want to give a big thank you to my readers, subscribers and the community I’ve found online. I’ve had a fabulous first year with this blog so I’m gifting to you, my readers, two of my favourite recipes for the holidays. The first is up today: my family’s Italian Potato Doughnuts recipe. The second, a favourite cookie of mine, comes later this week. Merry Christmas from my kitchen to yours!
Italian potato doughnuts, also known as Colluri in my family, are a winter/holiday specialty. When the weather started to turn really cold in November, my grandfather would start on a big batch of these and invite over extended family to enjoy them with a glass of wine. These doughnuts are fluffy and easy to scarf down even though they are made from potatoes. The dough is also perfect for making panzerotti – pouches filled with sauce and cheese – or sardine-filled snacks. And if you want to make it Canadian-Italian, spread the dough flat, fry and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar for a Beavertail.
While we call them Colluri, really these doughnuts go by many names. I am tempted to say the name is different for every region in Italy, but I’m afraid the truth is it’s different for every town and, possibly, every family. Whenever I mention these doughnuts to another Italian, they say “oh yeah, but we call them….” Some of the names they also may go by: cullurielli, ciambelle, bomboloni, buffarede, grispelle and zeppoli. For me, zeppoli are much more like Jerry’s version featured on this blog last week. But like I said, each family has their own name for things.
The most important part of this doughnut recipe though is that it makes quite a few dozen. Which means it calls for a lot of people to eat them. Which means a lot of people need to help make them. Which means family is together, the house is loud, the food is plentiful and well, we all end up stuffed and on the couch. A perfect Italian Sunday, particularly in the winter. Best thing is, they are a great treat for Christmas and are amazing warmed up in the toaster oven so the outside gets nice and crispy even two or three days later. You have to try these.
Italian Potato Doughnuts
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
10-12 medium potatoes, boiled and peeled (use a dry potato like Yukon Gold or Russet, rather than a waxy potato)
3-4 cups cold water
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ounce hard liqueur (whisky, rum or brandy)
2 tablespoons salt
5 pounds all-purpose flour
Shopping for Christmas presents is not always the best thing about Christmas (I maintain it’s the baking, but you already knew that). For Italian-Canadians, no one can be harder to buy for than Nonno and Nonna. I know this because I struggled with it for years. Though I no longer have grandparents with me, I now help shop for my husband’s grandparents and often get questions from coworkers and friends who would love some gift ideas for Nonna and Nonno.
As someone who turns to the internet for solutions, searching for “gifts for nonni” won’t get you far. Most recommendations will be for an Italian-flag t-shirt of some sort. That’s pretty lame. So I’m writing the post that I would have wanted to stumble upon when I was searching for gifts for Nonni and I’m hoping it will help others.
Of course with gifts, it’s key to take into account what your Nonni are interested in….knitting (so they get yarn), fishing (so they get new lures), cooking (so they get a new pasta cutter). But at a certain point it’s difficult to get them anything that you haven’t already purchased them or something that is useful to them. Sure you think the new pasta machine attachment for the KitchenAid mixer will save all sorts of time, but Nonna still wants to roll the dough by hand. You can’t beat tradition.
But you can beat the stress of shopping for Nonni, at least this year. Here’s my top 5 gift ideas for Nonni: