The Family Table: Feeding a Crowd, However Big or Small

Readers share their treasured recipes
April 16, 2021 Updated: April 16, 2021

Submitted by Phyllis Pellerito Jacobek (retired librarian and mother of six children, Nana to 17 grandchildren), Mokena, Illinois

My grandmother was born in Calabria and came to the United States as a young girl. She never spoke English well, and so it was difficult to understand her stories as I was growing up. She loved to cook, however, and she left us with this family recipe, which I have made for my own family many times and have now passed on to my daughter and daughters-in-law.

grandma maria
The author’s grandmother, Maria Pellerito. (Courtesy of Phyllis Jacobek)

Based upon how many were going to be at dinner, the recipe could be adjusted to add more servings as needed. I remember Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s. She would add eggs and more cheese as friends or relatives would drop by. She always had enough food to feed the group!

My children could not get enough of this recipe. I am in my late 70s now, my children in their 40s and 50s. This is what they ask me to make when they come to visit because they remember how much they loved it as children.

Nana’s Chicken and Egg Patties

I would cook a whole chicken. Today, you can buy a rotisserie chicken, discarding the skin and bones and shredding chicken to bite-sized pieces. You can also cook pieces of chicken until done, or make chicken soup, take the chicken from the soup, and cut it up, and make however big a batch you need.

In a bowl, add chicken, 6 to 12 eggs (depending on how many are eating!), 1 to 2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Beat mixture until well mixed.

In an electric frypan, add 1/2 cup olive oil and heat. Spoon egg-chicken mixture and drop by tablespoons into the hot oil, brown until golden, turn over, and brown other side. Put cooked patties on paper towels to drain. Continue cooking until you have used all of the mixture in the bowl.

I would serve these chicken patties with hot mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, and vegetables. The leftovers would make delicious sandwiches the next day on homemade Italian bread slathered with Miracle Whip.

___________________________

Submitted by Mary Jo Wagner, Anamosa, Iowa

I’m from a family of 10. My mother could make this and expand on it if someone dropped in. I was always amazed that she could feed extra people so effortlessly!

Potato Soup

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup cubed Velveeta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, optional
  • 3 tablespoons parsley

Cook bacon until crispy. Set aside.

To drippings, add potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, garlic powder, water, salt, and pepper. Cook covered, about 15 minutes or until tender.

Combine flour with small amounts of milk until dissolved. Add to potato mixture along with remaining milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils. Stir constantly.

Add butter, cubed cheese, and sour cream, stirring until melted. Garnish with bacon and parsley. Yum.

___________________________

Do you have a treasured family recipe that holds a special place in your family history, heritage, or traditions? We would be honored if you would share it with us.

Along with the recipe, tell us its story—who gave it to you, its journey through the generations, and the personal meanings and memories it carries. Is it a special-occasion dish, or an everyday family favorite? Does it connect you to your cultural heritage, or to a certain loved one?

How have you kept the recipe alive, and why is it important to you to do so?

Send your recipe and comments, along with your full name, state, and contact information, to food@epochtimes.com, or mail it to: Food, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.