A word from Toni...
This time of the year with the chill in the air and the golden sun setting earlier each night, we are called to tuck in. And if we have a high school senior we know our family is shifting. When my oldest and only daughter, Page, started her senior year of high school all I saw were last times. Dinners were a daily check-in for my family of five and with her senior year—Last World Series, Last Election Night—I cherished our time together even more.
That same year I started my cooking class business, La Cucina Semplice, with the intention that I would be so busy working on a new project I wouldn’t notice that something precious was coming to an end. Ha! What surprised me was the fact that the recipes I was crafting for the classes had a message, a metaphoric message of letting go, and trusting.
Here’s the recipe from Chapter One: The First of the Lasts
The Recipe: Coniglio alla Polenta
(Slow-Cooked Rabbit in a Rich Olive-Infused Tomato Sauce over Creamy Polenta)
As with the serving after the preparation of coniglio alla polenta, by the time senior September rolls around, you’ve already done the work. (Yes, coniglio is the Italian word for rabbit, but it’s my experience that chicken works almost as well. And chicken is an easy substitution for those of you who are too chicken to eat rabbit.)
Just as you’ve lovingly nurtured your child, with this dish you’ve carefully selected the best ingredients and brought out their unique flavor. Now all you have to do is put it on the back burner under a low flame and it will all come together
beautifully, just the way it is meant to—the sauce and your child’s future.
What You Need:
1 skinned rabbit, cut into 8 pieces or 4 chicken thighs and a full breast, cut into 4 pieces (skinned but bone-in)
2 sprigs oregano, finely chopped
4 leafy stems sage, finely chopped
3⁄4 cup white wine
3 cups tomato sauce
1 quart of broth (I like to use chicken broth)
1⁄2 cup dry-cured black Italian olives
The best pan for this dish is a deep, 14-inch sauté pan. I don’t use nonstick very often, because I like the food to stick and then to splash it with wine or broth to loosen the browned sticky bits.
Cover the bottom of the pan with a nice coat of olive oil and sprinkle the chopped herbs over the surface. Salt and pepper the sizzle.
Once the herbs are dancing, which will happen only if you keep the flame up, place the rabbit/chicken pieces pretty side down. Don’t put a lid on it, and keep the flame up. It’s going to make a bit of a mess spattering on the surface of your stove, maybe a little on the floor. If you’re tripping about the heat, the sizzle, and the spattering, ask yourself, Why am I worried about that? This question will come in handy this senior year with the challenges you’ll face and the recipes in this book. Once you’re done with the prep part, you can just wipe it up. Okay?
Wait to meddle (I know that’s hard, Mom) until the rabbit/ chicken moves when you shake the pan. This signifies that it’s time to turn the pieces over. Do that and let the nonpretty sides of the cuts brown a bit. Keep the flame up! More mess is coming. Splash with the wine.
Shake the pan, and with a flat wooden spoon, loosen any pieces that have gotten stuck on the sides or bottom. Add the tomato sauce.
(I usually have some tomato sauce canned or in the freezer, but not always. For my money, the best prepared tomato sauce is Pomi.)
Add 3 cups warm water, the quart of broth, and the olives. The olives are important. You’ll recognize them by their lack of brine. There’s no vinegar. They are dark black and wrinkled like old leather.
Once the very soupy sauce starts bubbling, put it on the back burner, turn the flame to low, and you’re done. Let this dish slowly reduce for at least 3 hours. Don’t cover it. Start the polenta in the time frame needed to serve it for your dinner hour. Follow the directions on the polenta bag. Right before serving, I like to add a plop of butter and a big soupspoon of grated parmigiana to the cooked polenta. Spoon the polenta and the tender rabbit/chicken pieces and sauce in two oven-warmed bowls. Serve family-style.
Toni’s writing career started when she stapled her first "book" together and launched it at a reading attended by her brother, Scotty, and her Boxer, Lonesome. The title-less story was a mash-up of Hansel and Gretel, The Six Swans, and a Box Car Children adventure, with the protagonists (sister, brother, and dog) risking everything in their quest for a magical lump of coal that would save the town. It was an immediate success. During the fifty years between her first and second book, The Goodbye Year: Wisdom and Culinary Therapy to Survive Your Child's Senior Year of High School (and Reclaim the YOU of You) she has, in no order of importance or chronology.
· opened a "Top 100" San Francisco restaurant
· published scientific articles on the efficacies of antibiotics
· sang the National Anthem at high school football games
· published essays, recipes, and cookbook reviews
· sent three children off to college
Toni lives in Marin County California, which is a long way from her Western Pennsylvania hometown, Heilwood. She is busy on her next book, which may revisit the power found in a magical lump of coal.
For many mothers, a child’s senior year brings about a serious look back on the past eighteen. Every event—from Halloween to Mother’s Day—becomes The Last Time Toni Piccinini knows exactly what that’s like, and in The Goodbye Year, she offers the loving support every soon-to-be Empty Nester needs. Think of Toni as your bossy-but-loving Italian auntie, with modern sensibilities and a packed pantry. With the wisdom she’s acquired from saying goodbye three times to her own children, she reassuringly holds your hand while encouraging you through the insanity of the college application process, the rejections and the acceptances, and the teary dorm drop-offs. Even better, she reminds every mother that the best is yet to come—freedom, creativity, flexibility, and the Me Years.
Other stops on the tour:
Tuesday, October 8 @ The New Book Review
Toni Piccinini and her unique book The Goodbye Year take today's spotlight at The New Book Review. Find out more about letting go from this culinary genius and mother of three.http://thenewbookreview.blogspot.com
Wednesday, October 9 @ Kristine Meldrum Denholm
Toni speaks candidly to Kristine and readers about the process of publishing The Goodbye Year and offers tips on surviving this milestone period of parenting. Don't miss this guest blog post and book giveaway. http://www.kristinemeldrumdenholm.com/
Thursday, October 10 @ Steph the Bookworm
Don't miss today's giveaway of Toni Piccinini's The Goodbye Year and read Toni's guest post titled: "Recipes to Survive Uncertain Times. http://www.stephthebookworm.com/
Friday, October 11 @ Mom~E~Centric
Join Toni Piccinini as she enlightens readers about "What to Expect Your Teens Last Year of High School" and provides additional insight about her highly recommended book The Goodbye Year. Toni has also graciously offered a giveaway as well - don't miss this blog stop! http://momecentric.com/
Monday, October 14 @ Margo Dill
Toni talks openly to Margo's readers about "Mothering Teens" and offers a giveaway copy of her engaging book The Goodbye Year. http://margodill.com/blog/
Wednesday, October 16 @ Words By Webb
Find out more about the intriguing and multi-talented Toni Piccinini in her candid interview with Jodi Webb and get entered into the giveaway for The Goodbye Year with is a must read book for parents (especially those who love
cooking or eating good food)! http://jodiwebb.com/
Thursday, October 17 @ CMash Reads
Don't miss the giveaway for The Goodbye Year and a guest post by author, Toni Piccinini as she provides insight into "How to Rediscover Oneself Again After Kids Leave Home". http://cmashlovestoread.com/
Monday, October 21 @ Memoir Writers Journey
Toni Piccinini stops at Memoir Writer's Journey and shares her thoughts on " " as well as offering a giveaway about her touching memoir concerning loving, mothering, and letting go - The Goodbye Year. http://krpooler.com/
Wednesday, October 23 @ Book Worm
Toni Piccinini stops by Book Worm with her guest post and offers a giveaway of her highly acclaimed memoir The Goodbye Year! http://bookworm66.wordpress.com/
Thursday, October 24 @ Lisa M. Buske
Join author, chef, and business owner Toni Piccinini as she shares a guest post "The Best Recipes for Entertaining" with Lisa M. Buske and offers a giveaway of her humorous memoir The Goodbye Year. http://www.lisambuske.com/blog.html
Wednesday, October 30 @ All Things Audry
Join Audry as she reviews Toni Piccinini’s memoir The Goodbye Year! Thank you to Audry for this fabulous review and to Toni for offering readers an opportunity for a book giveaway to read this fascinatingly entertaining story for themselves!
Monday, November 4 @ Chaos in the Country
Nichole Smith reads and reviews Toni Piccinini's humorous tale The Goodbye Year and offers a giveaway of this memorable memoir! http://www.chaosinthecountry.com/
Thursday, November 7 @ Choices
Giveaway of Toni Piccinini's highly favored story of parenting and letting go (sort of) The Goodbye Year and guest post about "How the Goodbye Year Came to Be" and the writing process. http://madeline40.blogspot.com/
Finding Toni online: (direct links on photos above too)
Book Hashtag: #TGYPiccinini
How does a story like this inspire and encourage you?
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323