Name: Angela DeSalvo and Anna Romano
Blog name: Nonna's Way
Where were you born? Brantford, Ontario Canada
Where are you living now?
We were both born and raised in Brantford, Ontario Canada and are proudly raising our own families here.
Why did you start your blog?
We discovered that we had a passion and common desire to document and share stories and recipes from our parents’ and grandparents’ past because, we like others, have realized that our families’ favourite recipes and preserving techniques are not on paper! It really hit home for both us with aging parents and relatives passing both here and away that a desire was sparked with almost a sense of urgency to capture and document all we can about our parents’ and grandparents’ past lives.
After collaborating on a small cookbook involving local nonnas, we had such a great response and thoroughly enjoyed the process that it prompted us to start our blog.
How did you decide on your blog name?
It is pretty common hear grandchildren in our Italian families say “that’s not the way nonna does it” hence nonnasway! Did you know that nothing ever tastes as good as the way nonna makes it?!
What do you blog about?
Working closely with nonnas, we blog about their family’s traditional recipes documenting the recipe ingredients and steps involved. In addition to the food, we blog about Italian culture and traditions including how our parents and grandparents continue to grow, harvest, preserve and prepare their food.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you?
We thought about this long and hard and we both agreed that the minestrone recipe was the one that encapsulates us the most. When we think about why we started our blog and what we have committed to blog about, this post captures it all. We watched Anna’s parents, 86 and 77 years of age, cooking up a 40L pot of minestrone, much the same way that they would have seen their parents do back in Italy when they were kids. Using their own home grown ingredients that were either preserved, frozen or maybe still available in their garden, such as the tomatoes, carrots, celery, swiss chard and onion, the flavour and wholesome nature of this soup warmed not only our tummy but heart and soul.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
We realize that perhaps not everyone likes eggplant, but we love it and we know that if people give this recipe using farm fresh eggplant, they would give it a second chance too. This stuffed eggplant recipe is delicious and one that will for sure leave you wanting more!
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
The pasta with vegetables and chicken surprised us most. We had a great response from different social media to this recipe. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised as it is very colourful with all the vegetables and our very own sundried tomatoes. For us this is an every day, go to dish so it made us appreciate the fact that our readers are also looking for simple and easy to prepare dishes with readily available ingredients.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
With almost one year under our belt, much like our fellow bloggers, we have similar challenges such as keeping up with all the social media, finding ways to streamline the process and having enough time to blog consistently.
In addition, we find that our nonnas are often “camera shy” and although they love to share their recipes, techniques, tips and tricks, we need to spend time making them comfortable in front of the camera and with the idea of seeing themselves on the “computer” and social media.
We also feel the challenge of creating a good following and trying to get a handle on how much our readers want to read in terms of recipes vs the stories of the food.
Also, we recognize that at times we need to blog just for the sake of blogging and capture more spontaneous opportunities for a post. We need to be willing to accept a snapshot or less than ideal photo of a great dish we are simply preparing for dinner and not lose the chance to share a great idea with our readers on the whim!
Breaking out of our local community and building a larger audience is definitely a priority for us.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
This question was actually difficult to answer because there are so many amazing food blogs out there!
We loved the name of Cilantro and Citronella which initially attracted us to it. Then we discovered a great mix of recipes many of them using similar ingredients as we do. I love the way she has categorized her recipes by cuisine.
We love Indian food and my son wanted to make a recipe he was told about from the Lemon Bowl. The variety of recipes, ingredients and spices used is appealing. There are several flavorful and convenient slow cooker recipes too!
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
We usually cook at home and like to venture beyond our Italian cuisine. As mentioned in the question above, both of our families love Indian food and this Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken With Cauliflower is the recipe we referred to above. There are lots of leftovers for lunches. Perfect!
What are you working on next for your blog?
As we work together with the nonnas, we have been privy to some great stories about their childhood in Italy, their journey to North America and their experiences as immigrants. We would like to share more of these memories on the blog, possibly even video interviews, along with the recipes.
We have also been working on an Italian cookie recipe book that should be completed very soon and available for our viewers. We are quite excited about this as it’s a great collection of Italian favorites.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
Although, both of us are Italian, our parents are from 2 different regions of Italy. Often when we are discussing what to feature on our blog, we realize thatalthough we are talking about the same recipe, the way each of us knows it may be completely different. We often get carried away talking about growing up Italian and remembering/reminiscing about our favorite foods like nonna and mamma used to make when we really should be finishing a blog post!
What makes your blog unique?
There are so many great blogs featuring great recipes. We try to weave our past into our present by asking nonnas what they recall about a particular recipe growing up in Italy. For the most part, the recipes we feature are decades old. It’s a well known fact and a source of humor that our nonnas and mothers do not have recipes written down…”it’s all in their heads” and “you just have to know when there’s enough flour”! So behind the scenes of a post can be challenging yet entertaining as we try to gather all the ingredients and especially proper measurements. For example, we now know that half an empty egg shell is used to measure 2 tablespoons of oil and empty ricotta containers are the perfect measure for flour! Who knew?!
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
We are particularly appreciative of the information found in the blogger resources as we work to grow our readership. We also love reading the featured blogs, as we can relate to their challenges and joys and we find them a great source of inspiration and determination to blog on!
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