A Trip to Italy

This week, my students and I traveled to Italia. We learned about the country’s culture and cuisine, as well as some words in Italian. It was a great time!

Roma, Italia 2006

Our winter session in Arts & Imagination has begun! We had two full classes this week with a total of 32 kids. On Tuesday, we had the older students (Gr 3, 4 and 5) and today, we had the younger ones (K, 1 and 2). Both groups were unique and lots of fun. Lilliana was my sous-chef in both classes.

As part of our curriculum, we are traveling all around the world together, visiting a different country each week. This week, we visited Italy and cooked up some Lasagna Rolls, Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs, Tomato and Cheese Tart and Nutella Bread! YUM!

The students were all amazing, so helpful, so energetic and so very enthusiastic. Today, the younger ones asked if they would be cooking the food themselves and if they could eat it. (So cute.) When I told them that was exactly what they were doing, their faces lit up. Their enthusiasm and love of such simple things in life is to be admired!

Nutella Swirl Bread, DELISH!

As part of our class ritual, students have to rate all the food they eat (1, not my favorite 3, good or 5, excellent) and overall, everything was between a 4 and 5. I tell you this, not because it means the food was good, but to point out that if kids are given the opportunity to cook and eat a variety of food, they will surprise you and themselves by coming back for more when they thought they weren’t even going to like it!

In our classes, we are careful with our words too so that we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. After all, each student worked hard to prepare their meal so I try to teach them to be appreciative of each others efforts.

I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to teach again this semester. It’s going to be a fun session, filled with lots of joyous memories from our trips all around the world. Now, where will we go next week?

In loving memory of Julian Michael Cerrato

On January 19, 2011 our baby Julian died in my arms. It was the very last time I ever held him, that I ever kissed his soft face, that I ever saw life in his gorgeous eyes. I held him so close that day and wanted him to live so badly but he couldn’t, his little body couldn’t do it, not even in his most favorite place. There are so many sad memories from that day. I remember holding him for hours, while the doctors and nurses called the funeral home and made their arrangements. I couldn’t let him go. I held him and held him, hoping he would wake up, hoping his heart would start up again, hoping he would look up at me with those gorgeous, special eyes and smile, but he didn’t.

At the end of that terrible day, I had to turn him over to the man from the funeral home. I will NEVER forget that moment, handing my sweet little baby boy, that I had just given birth to a few short weeks before, to a complete stranger! Just a few weeks back, I was at the hospital, filled with excitement, waiting to meet my third beautiful baby and now I was back in a hospital, saying good bye to him. It’s just not right.

The nurse wheeled me outside with Julian in my arms, because I had to meet this man that was taking him from me, I had to see where he was going, and it was so un-bearable to hand him over and watch him leave me, forever, in the back of some strange sedan. I can’t even express my heartfelt pain and sorrow that day. It is something, among many things, that will live with me forever, all those times at home and all those times at the hospital, the good days and the bad days and the very, very bad days. It all changed my life, forever. It changed all of our lives, forever.

There are still days when I wake up and hope this was all a terrible nightmare but it’s not, it’s my life, this is all real and it all just really sucks! There is no better way to put it. Losing a child is by far the worst pain that I have ever, ever felt. It is life-changing… I am living in this nightmare and I can’t get out, my days haven’t been the same ever since he left us and they never will be the same.

Sure, I can “cope” as best as I can, I still play and love my children, I go on dates with my husband, I created Food Jules. I’ve done all that I can to be “strong” but through all of this exterior, inside, I am weak, I am sad, I am angry, I am lost, for this is truly the worst pain that anyone can ever live. This hole in my heart will never be healed, I will never stop missing him and hoping that I can one day see him again. We all need something to look forward to and that is mine… to one day, be together with him again, to one day be happy that we are together again! We miss you, Julian.

“Each life is a miracle that changes the world and leaves it a better place than it was before.” Today and every day, we are honoring the life of someone very special who will always be remembered with love. Julian has truly changed our lives and the lives of many, those that were blessed to meet him in person and those who he has touched through our stories and pictures of him.

We will always talk about him and we will always remember his beautiful, sweet, loving, special person that he was. He was amazing, he was special, he was a gift to us and he will be always be in our hearts, in my minds and in our souls. Until one day…. we will be together again and I will say once again, “hello, my handsome man”.

My New Best Friends!

It was love at first sight. Yeah, I know, I’m a little dramatic sometimes, but when I set my sights on these beautiful looking pans, I just had to have one (or two) for myself! They are so versatile, easy to clean and they cook food evenly, besides they are so darn pretty. I just love my new Le Creuset pans! (Hey, retail therapy never hurt anyone…. well, except my pocket)

Le Creuset Oval French Oven

I started my Le Creuset collection with two pans; one large frying pan and one large oval french oven pan, both red. I have been using them almost every day since I got them the week after Christmas. They were my gift to me and I am getting my money’s worth! I got them at the Le Creuset Outlet in Clinton. They had some great sales for the holidays and the prices were un-beatable, better then amazon and same as the prices you find at Marshalls and Home Goods. Trust me, I looked everywhere for months, in search of the best deal. Since the prices were on par to my local Home Goods, I thought the outlet would give me the variety that I wanted since I was looking for some specific sizes/color. (oh yeah, I also own a few Le Creuset casserole dishes that I picked up over the years at TJMaxx and Home Goods. They are so easy to clean and they were dirt cheap!)

Beef and Vegetable Stew in the Le Creuset

So far, I’ve cooked Vegetarian Chili, Risotto and Beef Stew in my risotto pan and the pan has so much space, it’s great for making these hearty meals. I highly recommend that you add one of these beauties to your kitchen!


Back to Business

Well, the holidays are over (phew) but the emotional trials continue as our family has suffered another major loss with the death of my sweet, Godfather To-Manuel, who joined Julian on Monday morning after a short battle against cancer. It is truly a tragedy for this world to lose such a loving, caring soul. He was a great man and an important part of my childhood and of my parent’s life so we all are going to miss him, greatly!

Manuel Pedreira

It is heartbreaking to see others suffering such a loss. Seeing him in the hospital bed all hooked up to IVs and a respirator brought back so many memories of this same time last year at Yale with our baby Julian. I can’t believe that one year ago, I was in the hospital room with him, taking care of him, holding him, comforting him. I was with him and now I am not. It really is so strange how things change so quickly in life. One minute, everything is good, life is good, everyone is happy and then the next, your entire world is overturned. That’s what happened to us and now that’s what has happened to my cousins, my Godmother, my aunt, my family.

All we can do is move forward and remember all of our loved ones, remember all of our memories with them, trying to stay connected to them, somehow. That’s all we can do. The journey isn’t easy, there will be very sad and difficult days but hopefully, as time passes, those days will be fewer. Hopefully.

As life continues to happen all around us, Food Jules has been in a hiatus over the last couple weeks, taking a step back to get through the emotional and physical battles of the holidays. However, now that the holiday season has ended, our classes will start up again soon. Here is a quick sneak peak at our upcoming classes.

  • Fri, January 13th – Teen cooking class, Monroe Library
  • Sat, January 14th – Kids cooking class, Monroe Library
  • w/o January 28th – Arts & Imagination cooking classes, Fawn Hollow Elementary and Stepney Elementary Schools

Food Jules continues to provide fresh baked goodies to Food Works every Friday morning. Tomorrow, we’ll have Organic Blueberry Crumb and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins as well as Cranberry Orange Scones. So stop over at Food Works for your healthy, sweet treat!

Cranberry Orange Scones