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My mother in law passed away a few days ago. She was a remarkable woman who had many talents. In the forty-one years, I had known her; she never ceased to amaze me. Her physical beauty was the first thing you noticed. She was Sicilian, petite and full of zest. Her voice would beckon you the minute you entered the front door. It seemed she was always in the kitchen.

The kitchen itself spoke of her personality. The decor was from the 1960's—the kitchen, wallpapered in a red and white pattern swirl. The cabinets were red, and the large picnic table was also red. To be honest, I loved it. It was bold and daring, just like her. She lived to please no one, her style always shocking, breaking the mold of suburban boredom.

It didn't matter what she cooked; it was delicious. She would never spare her lovely cups and plates as some people do, trying to avoid dirty dishes. She would serve her dinner in courses with palate cleansers in between—little portions of sorbet or fruit placed in a parfait cup for you to enjoy. I had to this point in my life never experienced the finer, cultured things in life. I would study her, watch her, emulate her; she was an influence in my life.

When she visited our home, the kitchen would be our place to bond—cooking together, laughing, drinking wine. She never followed a recipe, so you had to observe as she prepared. Which brings me to her meatballs; they were unlike the heavy ones my mother made. Hers was almost delicate and full of flavor. And so the following is a guideline for Prospine's meatballs.


2-pounds ground beef

Three slices of white bread

Two eggs

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

Four cloves of finely minced garlic

dash of Worcestershire sauce

pinch of red pepper flakes

kosher salt and ground pepper (1 tsp per pound of meat)

Place the ground beef into a bowl, add two lightly beaten eggs, the cheese, parsley, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Soak the bread in milk and squeeze out the liquid, add to the beef mixture. Toss with your hands until the ingredients are blended. Tip: when working with ground beef, handle it as little as possible otherwise, the meatballs will be dense.

Gently shape into 1 1/2 balls. Again, do not firmly pack the meatball; this should be a loosely shaped ball.

Place on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the meatballs and bake another 15 minutes.


Gigi Lori


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