Several years ago, I realized that some of our family’s recipes were rarely prepared and would likely be lost if no one used them. So began my journey, with my Mom, Theresa, as my guide. (She’s pictured on the left.) After Mom was taken from us in 2001, her Sister, my Zia Lea (pictured on the right), took over the reins. Although my cooking skills will never equal those of my two wonderful teachers, at least the recipes are being preserved, used, and now shared. To be sure, a blog of just our family recipes wouldn’t be very long, so, I’ll be adding some of my own favorites as we go along.

For first time visitors, here are a few tips to help you navigate around this blog. In the lower left-hand corner of the picture above are the words “Home,” “Welcome,” where you are now, “The Roots,” “The Tree,” and “Contact.” If you click on “Home,” you will go to the recipe page. Click on “The Roots” and you’ll go to a page containing a brief family history. Click on “The Tree” and you’ll see pictures of some members of the Bartolini clan. All of the pictures here, and most elsewhere within the blog, will enlarge if you click on the image. The “Contact” page may be used if you wish to send me an email. For your convenience, the recipes have been grouped by type and those types are, also, listed on the right. Click on “Family Recipes,” for example, to see a list of all of my family’s dishes. It’s easy enough, once you get the hang of it.

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Mom (l) and her sister, Zia Lea, circa 1928. These are their recipes.

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© ChgoJohn and “from the Bartolini kitchens” (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to ChgoJohn and “from the Bartolini kitchens” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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166 thoughts on “Welcome

    • Thanks, Bill. I’m sure there will be many changes ahead, once I get more familiar with WordPress. This certainly has been an educational experience, on so many levels. Thanks, again, for the kind words.

    • Sorry, Jake, but the calamari recipe won’t be published before this year’s Oscar telecast. It’s just not ready yet. Now that you’ve subscribed for emails, however, you’ll be among the first to know when that recipe is published. Keep checking your inbox and thanks for joining us.

    • Thank you for the encouragment. For the most part, these are the recipes that Mom & Zia learned when they were little girls and that I was raised on. I wanted to make sure that they were written down somewhere — and it’s the perfect excuse for cooking them all again. Wednesday is “new recipe day.” Come back and see what I’ve been cooking. Thanks again.

    • I wouldn’t know, Puddy. You see, I’ve never been to one of those restaurants, nor do I plan on going anytime soon. By the way, I hear you’ve lost your fur coat. Pity.

    • Puddy, I’ve held my tongue for a long time but I cannot anymore. Everytime I read your post, I get nauseated.
      The Olive Garden would LOVE to have some of these recipes!
      Then again, I’m talking to someone who thinks Italian cuisine starts with Chef BoyarDee.
      J/K, Puddy….lol

  1. Hi there, came across your blog through several that I follow and I love what I´ve seen! I too learned a lot of my cooking from my Italian family and it´s so great to carry on the old traditional ways of cooking “proper” Italian food. Grazie! Tanya

    • You are so welcome, Tanya, and thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Your words of encouragement are appreciated. I, thankfully, grew up seeing these recipes prepared countless times. Not all of the Bartolini Clan have been so lucky and I wanted to make sure that they have a website that will teach them. A side benefit is knowing Mom would be pleased to see how well-received her recipes are, just as her Sister, Zia, is … John

  2. Hi ChgJohn, I’m looking forward to cooking your recipes. I tried subscribing via e-mail and for some reason WordPress will not recognize my hotmail e-mail address (which I’ve had since the beginning of the internet) as being valid anymore! In any event, I will keep up to date with you via my “reader” for now.
    - Michael

    • And I’ve just returned from your blog. Welcome aboard! My gardening space is limited so I garden vicariously through a number of others’ blogs. It’s great and yours will make a fantastic addition — except that pickings are mighty rare around here come harvest time. :(

  3. I always enjoy your comments on Celi’s blog and your insights into cookery, things-Chicago, and so forth, so it’s time I had a visit here myself and got to enjoy learning some classic Italian cookery and history through the lens of la Famiglia Bartolini. Thanks for doing this!

    • Hello, Kathryn, and welcome! I started this a year ago as a family “thing” and we’re all surprised at the reception it’s received. It’s been quite an experience. Thanks for stopping by; I’ll be visiting your site shortly.

    • Thank you, Eva, for your kind words. Zia and I are both happy to hear when one of the “younger ones” checks in to say they’ve read this or that or have tried one of the recipes. My plan is working! ;)

  4. There is so much to enjoy here, I hardly know where to begin. I love the recipes, of course, but I also really enjoyed reading about your family and especially looking at the wonderful family photos. My family went to the US from China in 1937, and family photos are like precious heirlooms to us now.
    I look forward to following your culinary adventures. Thanks so much for your generous servings!

    • I so agree with your cherishing family photos. We really do not have many and some of the subjects are only names under the photos. I want to try to give future family members stories and facts of their Great-Grandparents, Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles so that when they see the pictures, they will know something about those individuals. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  5. What a wonderful idea! Preserving recipes from our past is important – good for you. What actually got my attention was that you live in Chicago and I am hopefully traveling there in early March for a couple of days. What can I expect weather wise? I’ll be back to visit and drool over your delicious recipes. Glad I found your blog.

    • Thank you! Our March weather is really a mixed bag and will be a tough one to call this year, given this Winter’s unusual patterns. Normally, you can expect high temps in the mid 40′s with overnight lows in the upper 20′s. We can get snow, rain, or a mix of both. Much will, also, depend upon where you’ll be staying. The closer you are to the Lake, the colder the temps will be. So, if you’re in the western suburbs, you can expect warmer temps, to be sure. I wish I could be more definitive for you but that’s our Spring. The saying goes, “If you don’t like our Spring weather, just wait a day.” :)

    • Thanks, Richard, for your complimentary words and nominating me for this award. You’re right, I’ve already received the award and I just want to acknowledge your kindness by nominating me.

  6. I ran across your blog while searching for recipes for various pasta shapes – namely strozzapreti. I finally decided the Imperia machine my wife got for me years ago needed to be dusted off and I think I may never buy dried pasta again. Thank you for sharing your stories, insight, and recipes – they make for very good reading and make me want to try many more pasta recipes. I completely understand your desire to document and share your family’s love of food – it is very near and dear to me as well to learn all that I can from the “cooks” in the family while they are still here to teach me. I look forward to reading your blog regularly and learning more about food in general.

    • Welcome! In all families, how often do we hear, “This was Grandma’s favorite …” or “this is Aunt So-and-So’s …”? To feed their families, Grandma and Aunt So-and-So cooked more than 1 or 2 dishes. Where’d the other recipes go? I didn’t want that to happen here. Best part of this experience is seeing how much it pleases my Aunt, “Zia“, to see how well-received her recipes are.

      Feel free to come back as often as you like and ask any question that you may have. I’ll do my best to answer them for you. Thanks for leaving so thoughtful a comment.

  7. John, I have given out this website to more people than I can count. The response I get is always the same; “Great”
    Keep it up, bro….
    Italian food rules!!!

    • Gee, thanks, Paul. I’d no idea you’ve been passing this around. Thanks for that and for stopping by to let me know the reception it’s getting. Too bad Mom isn’t here to see this. She’d be amazed, just as Zia is.

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  9. John — checking out your site for the first time. Very cool story behind this. I think I’ll try some of these recipes!! Cheers!

    • Thanks, Krash. I enjoy what you guys are doing over at Sports-glutton.com, too. I can get my sports fix but without the kool-aid. I’m a Cubs/Bears/Bulls fan. Must I drink the kool-aid, too? :)
      Don’t be a stranger!

  10. John, I attended a family reunion back in the late 1990′s in Jasper, Alberta. Beautiful area by the way. Anyhow, for the reunion I contacted everyone in the family (30 attending plus those who could not) and got all their favorite recipes. I put together a cookbook with pictures and commentary that we all still use. This is great what you’re doing!

    • Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. I applaud your forethought, Sue. I wish I’d done that. As it is, I’m almost totally reliant on my Zia, who will be 90 this November, and my own memory. Neither are the best of sources, at this point, I’m afraid. I’m hoping as more members of my family become aware of this blog, there’ll be more recipes to add to the collection. Fingers crossed

  11. I’m so glad I did it because my aunt and two uncles are gone now and we have such nice memories. It’s funny I have so many lovely readers, but my mom is the only member of my family who reads my blog. The others have heard all my stories before – hah!

    • Sorry to hear of your family’s departed members. It’s the same with my family, too. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog, Sue, and it’s a shame more of your family doesn’t, as well. My blog is well read among those who lived at the old two-flat but not at all beyond that. More than anything, I think they read it to see what story I’ll tell this week or next. To be honest, I never know until I decide on the recipe. If it’s a family recipe, the memories just start flowing. Some family members have been asking if — and when — I’ll be including this story or that event. It’s nice and I do appreciate their support. I do wish that they’d try cooking the old recipes, though. That is the point, after all. :)

    • Thanks you very much for the award nomination. I hope you don’t mind but I no longer accept award nominations. I do, however, value them and am grateful for your kindness.

  12. John, I know you don’t accept award nominations any more, but I wanted to let you know I have just given you honourary mentions for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award and The Versatile Blogger Award. I so enjoy following your blog, and it’s my pleasure to introduce more people to it. To see my comments about your blog, please visit http://lifethroughthekitchenwindow.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/awards-❦-very-inspiring-blogger-and-the-versatile-blogger/

    • This was very kind of you, Mar, and I especially appreciate that you created an “Honourary Mention” just so that you could highlight my blog. Thank you for being so generous, as well as understanding that i no longer participate. This was a wonderful surprise.

      • You’re most welcome. Having been through this experience myself now, and seeing how many awards you’re received, I can understand why you’ve stopped accepting them. It’s wonderful to be recognized, but wow, it was a lot of work to fulfill the requirements. Very pleasant work, but I put a lot of thought into it, and this post took much more time than the usual ones. Not that I’m complaining; I was actually thrilled to be nominated!

      • Thank you and you’re welcome! Judy of Petit4Chocolatier recommended your site when I was looking for a specific Italian dessert and I am super happy she did :) Your blog and recipes are wonderful. I still haven’t found that recipe but perhaps you will be able to help me. It is an Italian cake with layers of phyllo like pastry and cream. I had it a birthday and it was divine! I cannot remember what it was called.
        Thank you :)

        • I’m just getting to know Judy’s blog and I really like what I’ve seen so far. Thank you for your kind wr=ords about my efforts here.
          I don’t recall the recipe you’ve described. The next time I speak with her, I’ll ask my Zia if she remembers it. She is my resource for all questions regarding any Italian dish. I’ll let you know. :)

  13. This site is great. My wife is from Emilia Romagna and I spend half the year there. There is so much knowledge in the older generation that is at risk of being lost. Every nonna has amazing recipes. Italians are very fond of their traditions, but there is just such of volume of information, from recipes to dialect to the old ways of doing things, that one gets the sense much will be lost within a generation. Kudos to you for preserving some of it.

    • You are so right. Ours is a world of convenience foods. The old way of doing things and the recipes that go with them are “too time consuming.” They will be lost if we do not try to save them. It starts with each of us and our own family’s heritage. I hope you and your wife can record your families’ recipes, too.
      Thank you visiting and taking the time to comment. Please feel free to return whenever you like.

  14. Pingback: Shine Ya Light | cambios de humor

  15. John, your blog and everything it stands for is phenomenal. I am very glad I have found you and your incredible blog and look forward to many more of your interesting and savory dishes. I enjoy reading your memories of family and friends and the inspirations of your food shopping and delicacies. All wonderful and beautifully done :)

    • Thank you so much, Judy, for your kind and encouraging words. You all have been so kind and accepting, something not lost on Zia or myself. Never did we expect a family recipe blog — our family recipe blog — to be so well-received. It’s comments like the ones you consistently leave that bring smiles to our faces every time. Sincerely, thank you for that.

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  17. I came across your blog and just loved the idea of you keeping on your family food traditions. I also do this with my daughters seeing as I no longer have my parents. It’s important for me to keep them alive through the foods they made and cooked for me and my siblings. Good for you John!

    • Thank you so much, Lidia. You do understand. Every time someone writes to say they tried this or that, A bit of Mom and the rest of the cast in the old two-flat live on. I’m following your blog and cannot wait to give your recipes a try.

    • That was kind of you to say. I just couldn’t sit back and watch these recipes fade away. Now, with some already being prepared, that won’t happen at least for another generation. I’m passing the torch.
      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.
      By the way, LOVE your gravatar. :)

    • Well, I followed you back to your blog very late last night. Once I saw your 3 firemen I couldn’t leave without following & liking your blog. I can’t wait to read of their adventures in the years to come. And BEDLAM is just perfect. :)

  18. What a lovely site you have here–love when recipes and food make connections to past generations. Appreciate you stopping by foodforfun for beer ice cream. Thanks :-) I’m off to enjoy your fun posts!

    • Welcome, Liz. I really had no choice. Anyone who shares a recipe for beer ice cream deserves support from beer drinkers everywhere! Thank you for coming for a visit and taking the time to comment.

  19. Dear John
    I found your blog through Chefindisguise and am really enjoying your site. I love the part about your family roots, I smiled when i read about Michigan, the ‘Thumb’ and lake Huron because I lived in Port Austin for about a year when I was an exchange student in the States :-)
    Lovely that you are celebrating your family roots and where you came from like this.
    Thanks for sharing , I will be visiting here often.

    • Welcome! Isn’t Sawsan’s ChefinDisguise blog great? Sawsan is a fearless cook and will tackle any recipe, while her posts are a pleasure to read.
      My family lives about 20 or 25 miles south of Port Austin on the eastern shore of the Thumb. It’s a beautiful part of the country and I go back several times a year.
      I’m glad you found me and hope you come back. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for leaving such a nice compliment.

  20. Seeing the photo of your mother and aunt almost made me tear up John! I love the fact that you’ve archived their recipes to pass on to future generations… it’s a beautiful tribute to two strong, incredibly talented women. I feel so privileged to read (and later, cook) some of your family recipes, albeit on the other side of the world!
    Found your blog via Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. She’d posted a version of your tuna salad (with the anchovies and spanish onion) so I figured I’d take a look at the original source! So glad that I did. Following you now, Chicago brother! Great job!

    • Thank you so much for not just visiting but for taking the time to leave such a gracious comment. You’ve made my night. Celia is wonderful, isn’t she? Her blog is on my “must read” list. She’s a marvel! I’ll be coming to visit you at your place very shortly. :)

      • Aw, it was my pleasure my friend. And yes, Celia is definitely wonderful… she’s one of my favourite bloggers! I wish Perth was closer to Sydney so that I could meet her!

  21. Hi

    My name is Kevin Gillespie. & I live in Wales. :).

    Thank You for Following my Blog, MUCH Appreciated. :).

    I am now Following your Blog back. :).

    Best Wishes. :)

    • How do you do, Kevin!
      Sorry for the delayed reply but I’ve been away from home. Thank you for following my blog and I look forward to getting to know you better through your writings. Take care.

  22. Pingback: The Super Sweet Blogger Award | Colline's Blog

  23. Hello! I’ve nominated you for the ‘Versatile Blogger Award’ …I think you have more than earned it! To accept it, all you need to do is visit this post on my blog http://wp.me/p3EeAS-cd and follow the rules, which are easy enough. If you’re not into awards, that’s fine too! Congrats! (By the way, there is nothing in the rules that says you cannot receive it twice!) ;)

  24. Hi Jon, I’ve nominated you for the Leobster Blog Award (http://bit.ly/12Gwfc6)! I saw after I wrote the post and nominated you, that you no longer participate in awards. I would like to extend the award regardless because I truly enjoy your blog, no need to feel obligated to respond to the award.

    • Thank you, Amber, for the nomination. It’s always an honor to be nominated, whether one participates in awards. It was kind of you to think of me and I’m very grateful.

  25. Grazie per aver ricambiato la mia visita, sono felice e spero troverai interessanti spunti di very Italian cucina nel mio blog. Possiamo comunicare in Italiano? I hope so, because my English is rusty and approximate! Ciao. Silva

    • Welcome, Dani, and thank you for being so encouraging. I’ve just returned from your blog where I hit “Follow”, as well. Looks like we’ll be seeing more of each other. :)

  26. Thanks for following us. What a lovely blog you have, and such a nice projevct to record family recipes – part of our reason for blogging is the same. I was drawn in by the photo of the yummy apple cake made by your Zia, but all your recipes look lovely, and varied. It seems like you have had some great teachers!

    • Thank you so much and welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. I’ve not had much time to explore your blog but am looking forward to the opportunity. You’re right. I was blessed with a number of good cooks in the house. How lucky can one boy get? :)

    • Thank you so much, Azita, and I hope things slow down a bit around here so that I can take some time to explore your blog, too. I’ve like what little I’ve seen thus far. … John :)

  27. Pingback: Nominated For Awards | Miss Spicy Hat n' Sugar Socks

  28. Hello! We were introduced to your blog by Miss Spicy Hat ‘N Sugar Socks, and are so pleased that we were! What an excellent resource. It is so important to ensure our family meals are retained and shared. Now to meander through your back catalogue…great recipes and beautiful photographs, we’d have nominated you ourselves! Congratulations on a very well deserved award…

    • Hello and Welcome! I’m glad you found me. I’m a newcomer to Miss Spicy’s blog and love what I’ve seen so far. I look forward to taking a look around your corner of the blogosphere, too. Take care till next time… John

  29. Hi John, Better late than never, I just wanted to drop in and say hello, thanks for following my blog! I’m a big Italian food fan. I will look forward to learning authentic Italian cooking from you! All your recipes look super delicious! :)

  30. Pingback: Nominated for The Award Of Excellence | Miss Spicy Hat N' Sugar Socks

  31. I just came across your blog, and I love the concept and how your sharing treasured family recipes and memories with all of us. I am also quite impressed by your collection of recipes, and how you experiment with different recipes. Also I may add that I am now living in NY, and having lived in the Midwest it drives people crazy out here when I brag that Chicago is my personal favorite between the two cities, even food wise I think Chicago has better food honestly, just thought that might make you smile :-)

    • Yes, NYC is a great city and I love visiting it but there’s only 1 city I’ll ever call home. Chicago is much more livable. Thank you for visiting and for taking the time to leave such a great comment.

    • Thank you so much. I was raised in a house with some fantastic cooks. I just couldn’t let those recipes become lost. As it is, there are some that I’ll never recreate. Still, at least I’ve saved the ones that I have.
      I’ve just returned from your blog. I wanted to see what the other 8 legs were. I’m following your blog now and you’ll be seeing more of me. :)

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