"Helping" Mom make my 3rd birthday cake.
Ciao - Hello and thank you for visiting my website and food blog! I'm Nicole (Nicola) and love creating delicious meals and aperitifs for others made with love in a cozy, comforting environment. You'll notice many recipes and experiences are Calabrian Italian inspired as I have had this profound pull towards Italy throughout my life. l love the culture, the relaxed life-style, sense of community, appreciation for delicious food and aperitifs, lingering Sunday dinners.
Calabrian cuisine feels very familiar to me (in addition to loving their hot Calabrian peppers) I think because it often reflects utilizing what we already have to work with, being resourceful, while not wasting anything. This resonates with me as growing up my parents instilled these inherent beliefs in us as all my grandparents lived through the Great Depression and then passed down these values to my parents. Such a gift to me having learned this, which is why it also describes my cooking creations - as a reflection of these familiar values.
My husband Vincent (Vincenzo) has deep Calabrian familial roots, and we have since been fortunate to travel there three times so far where we always return home inspired to imbue our home lifestyle with as much Italian influence as we can.
Nicola's Cucina was born after turning 50, from a lifetime of experiences “can only connect the dots by looking backwards” from one of my favorite quotes - a most piquant one by Steve Jobs that has always resonated with me. I have had a very rewarding life so far working professionally in healthcare as a registered nurse, health coach, clinic manager, and volunteer work, however this site does not use my prior credentials for its content. Rather, Nicola's Cucina is offered in the spirit of sharing my life's passion hoping to help inspire others in finding recipe ideas to make at home; sharing links of great products, resources, local small business owners, companies I have discovered. Photographs were taken by me unless other photo credits assigned.
Since I could walk and “helped” my Mom make my 3rd birthday cake, I have been drawn towards and am passionate about the culinary world (self-taught) and helping others - cooking, baking (favorite toy of all time was an Easy Bake Oven); making food for others became a way to show my love for them. A story illustrating this is from when I was either seven or eight years old and my great aunt and uncle who were farmers visited us. I didn't know why, but felt this very strong urge that I needed to make a large breakfast for everyone the morning after they arrived. Said not a word about my plan and found a French cookbook for new ideas, springing up out of bed early while it was dark and everyone was still sleeping. I made an omelette and French toast which both turned out fairly decent as I had made these before. Then I attempted a souffle which promptly fell flat on its face. So I made a second one which lucky for me turned out (somewhat) edible. I think I remember also having made a potato dish such as hash-browns. By the time everyone awoke that morning, the kitchen was warm and cozy with all these comforting breakfast smells filling the house. Up until just several years before his death, at his 90th birthday party my Great Uncle Ray recited this very story back to me of how I as a little girl made he and my Great Aunt Elsie this large gourmet breakfast a long long time ago. This story is I think, a defining moment in my life as it was when I learned just how truly joyous it is to show my love for others by cooking for them, thereby discovering this passion of mine.
Always I have been drawn to twinkle lights as they feel comforting and at home to me. When traveling, I would feel tugs towards the ambient places - the ones with the inviting soft lights which often meant walking around Italian cities, towns, and villages for hours just so we could find a special place for that night's cena - dinner, one that spoke to us with its twinkly charm. Our home sparkles with these lights (led to save on energy) up both inside and outside year-round (often changing colors to reflect current holidays or seasons).
It was during my work of almost 10 years in gyn-oncology where I was fortunate to have had extraordinary life lessons. I learned first-hand watching my dear patients that life truly is short, it's the little things in life that matter, time is precious - especially with those we love. That it really is up to us to live our lives as fully as possible - each and every day, and as if each one is our last. In our home we don’t wait for "special occasions" to set a nice dinner table, use the good aperitif glasses - every day is treated as a gift finding something to celebrate no matter how big or small. To me, there is nothing better than sharing time - such as a nice, lingering dinner with good conversation and beverages with our loved ones. With folks home-cooking more than ever, I felt the time was right to create and share Nicola's Cucina - 50 years in the making! What a better time than now, to get to know one's cucina (kitchen)!?
For now, my husband Vincent and I have created what feels like Italy (our happy place) throughout our home and the Italian garden we created together after a severe storm demolished our backyard taking down our beloved trees. Once we started viewing our loss as an opportunity to build something cherished together - it was as if a magic wand had been waved, and everything fell into place to create our Italian garden sanctuary, which we then got married in shortly thereafter in a small backyard ceremony surrounded by dear family and loved ones. Our special garden grows exponentially each passing year with new gifts of lovely flowers, growing trees, and lots of birds and bee friends. Even an adorable pair of bunny rabbits found us! Our investment in building our Italian garden that became our wedding venue was still significantly less than renting most wedding venues which we are fortunate to now continue to enjoy every day. One day, we hope to return to Italy, perhaps even to live there. If so, Nicola's Cucina will follow us down our new path depending on what life has in store for us as I continue to share experiences, inspirations, and ideas for living your Vita Bella (beautiful life)!
Grazie Mille - Thank you for stopping by to visit Nicola's Cucina. Arrivederci - Until we meet again!
Welcome to Nicola's Cucina food blog - Calabrian Italian inspired! Grazie - Thank you for stopping by. I hope you will be able to find here some helpful ideas in food for making delicious meals and cocktails at home; inspirations you can use and incorporate into your life. Please feel free to stop by again, and or subscribe to see new and newly updated blog posts, constantly evolving from Nicola's Cucina!