Recipe collection brings people together, supports Cathedral Academy at Pompei

By Tom Maguire | Associate editor

They know all about shaping dough, layering ingredients, greasing cookie sheets, and maximizing crockpots. They also know how to simplify.

Under the heading “Kids Say the Cutest Things” and the subheading “How to make a turkey,” a new cookbook with many full recipes also quotes a fifth-grader: “First you take off the feathers. Second wash with warm water.” Why fuss?

Our Lady of Pompei/St. Peter Parish and Cathedral Academy at Pompei (CAP) in Syracuse put together the hefty flip-the-color-coded-pages “Uniting at the Family Table” cookbook to raise funds for the school. The first 500 copies, at $25, sold out in two weeks, so they ordered 250 more.

“It was a very popular Christmas present within the parish this year, and for the families of parishioners,” said the pastor, Father Daniel Caruso, who supplied some recipes himself and appeared on NewsChannel9’s “Bridge Street” segment to promote the cookbook.

“I’ve been on TV before but not cooking like that,” said Father Caruso, who displayed his Easter Meat Pie on the show. He added: “I think it went well. … A number of parishioners saw it. … I think it’s a wonderful cookbook, heavy on Italian recipes because of the nature and the history of the parish. But very diverse recipes in there.”

The cookbook is organized into appetizers/beverages; breakfast/brunch; vegetables/side dishes; soups/salads/sandwiches; breads/loaves/muffins; cookies/bars/candy; desserts/cakes/pies; main dishes; fundraising-event recipes; holiday; and international.

Artwork by students

Sections are introduced with artwork by the students, such as a chunk of cake with icing spilling off the top and steaming spaghetti and meatballs with a mid-layer of tomato sauce stretching across the plate.

Offerings include Lunch Lady’s Chocolate Cake; Mom’s Pineapple Squares; Mom’s Chiffon Cake; Grandma Sarah’s Sicilian Cuccidati; Double Chocolate Fantasy Bars; Friendship Casserole; Zucchini Pizza (by Father Caruso); Scallop and Mushroom Chowder; Aunt Ginny’s Sauerbraten; Jane Lostumbo’s Stuffed Peppers; Fish/Chicken Francaise; Shrimp Mozambique; Vietnamese Fried Rice; and Robert Redford Pie.

Some recipes include tidbits in italics. Tomato and Potato Salad (Italian Style), by Antoinette Pallotta, says: “This was my Mom’s (Rose Creno) favorite summer go-to side dish or anytime dish. We loved eating this with hot Italian bread.” And Raspberry – Applesauce Salad, by Margaret Zogg, says: “This is my mother-in-law’s recipe that is a favorite to many.” Dorito Salad, by Jen Schultz, says: “A MAJOR CROWD PLEASER! There won’t be any leftovers. With love from Miss Jen the Zumba teacher.”

Father Caruso said his Easter Meat Pie is no dessert pie, it’s a savory pie with cheese and meats — “very rich once a year, Easter.”

“We always did everything together” in the family, he said. “My mom and dad would bake bread every week and make the sauce, and my mom was very big about all of the boys learning how to cook and do laundry, and my sisters had to know how to cut the grass and fill the gas tank; everybody learned everything.”

‘A very good cause’

The new parish cookbook, he said, is a socially distanced fundraiser that brings people together even if they cannot be physically in the same room, with “recipes from all different segments within the community at the parish level, the school level. … We are still one. And it was a very positive experience. … It’s going to support a very good cause,” the parish ministry at the school.

CAP has around 100 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Students and families originate from five continents and 17 nations, according to CAP sources, and many of the families are refugees who fled their countries because of wars, famine, and natural disasters.

“So many of our families that send their kids there have great financial need and aren’t able to pay much for tuition,” Father Caruso said. “So this subsidizes the students that are there and helps us to keep the school functioning to reach out to a whole new generation. …”

“Every year we get two or three new students in who speak very little or no English …, but by the time we get to the end of that year, they’re talking with everybody else.”

Lucy Paris, development director for the church and the school, bubbles over the cookbook — “the first 500 went really quick.”

She said the church’s St. Therese Society, which goes back probably 100 years, had put together a “very beloved cookbook, maybe 60 years ago, and people have spoken about it; it’s in demand — if you’ve got one you’re really fortunate, and people hold onto it and pass it down to their children.” So the Society decided to incorporate a lot of that old cookbook into the new one, thanks to recipes sent in by the children of the old-time cooks.

“Uniting at the Family Table,” Paris said, “truly is an expression of what Pompei stands for, and that’s hospitality, warmth, love. And the old Italians, they really expressed their love through food and cooking and baking.”

Old recipes saved!

A page in the cookbook says: “The style is meant to honor our wonderful St. Therese Society through the years by blending a part of the old with the new. The pages will fit perfectly into the old book (if you are fortunate to have the old). As of course the old will fit into the new. Therefore you can combine the two, mix and match, rearrange the way you would like to. …

“It is truly a sharing of all our parishioners, those with us and those that have gone before us. All who have left us an abundance of warmth, hospitality, and this special expression of love. All true to the heart of our wonderful Parish Family!”

A couple parishioners share their recipes for cookies that they brought to the bake sales, said Father Caruso, whose diet has few carbs. “I haven’t tried them yet,” he said, “but they were some of my favorite cookies, and I’m looking forward to when I get to a point in my diet that I can have something sweet; then I would make those.”

Collaborating on a recipe for sauce, the CAP sixth-graders remembered the tomatoes, seasoning, ground beef, water, and garlic, and the payoff: “Pour the sauce onto the spaghetti.”


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