Catarina! Handcrafting a Delicious Life

The stove, the bins, the cupboards, I had learned forever, make an inviolable throne room. From them I ruled; temporarily I controlled.  I felt powerful, and I loved that feeling.

— M.F.K. Fisher, A Gastronomical Me

Hello and welcome to mangoes and mojitos, my royal journal of living a deliciously hand-crafted life!


I’m here, sitting at my kitchen table in Madison, Wisconsin ready to share with you all I know about cooking simply and enjoying the whole foods our grandmothers cooked for us when we were children.  As I write this page, a pot of greens and cloves of garlic simmers together on the stove, laundry is tossing about in the dryer, the beds are made and Billie Holiday quietly croons on the radio…


I savor these moments for my life isn’t always this organized and calm and most of the time I can barely hear the timer on the stove beep, let alone hear the smooth tones of Billie or Ella or Miles for that matter.


My husband (who is a bit of a gorilla — unintentionally breaking things by pulling too hard or twisting too tight or taking down a hook clean off the wall when reaching for the the kitchen towel) and I put three beautiful children on this earth — intentionally.  They fight with each other, slap each other, and sometimes they play together, mostly outside and always in the mud.


We laugh a lot and yell a lot, and in an effort to reassure our neighbors living on the right side of our duplex that we are good people, I always make a double-batch of chocolate chip cookies and send it over on a plate with my littlest.


On our side of the wall, life is messy, blissfully chaotic, and is going by way too fast but it’s all mine and I am Queen of this crazy castle…Queen of the Left-Side Duplex.


Growing up in a predominantly Italian-American family, I was raised to believe that not only was a good home-cooked meal possible on a tight budget but that it was an honorable way to fill our bellies and bring our family together.


Which brings me to my name: Catarina! as my stocky little Nana would yell from the kitchen.  And believe me, I would come quickly to the table, to the sink to dry the dishes, or to the garden to use my small hand to grab a tomato from a tangle of green vines.


Living in the upper Midwest means living among an abundance of fresh and locally grown vegetables and fruits, locally raised beef and pork (and bison) and of course arguably some of the world’s best grass-fed yogurt and cheese, cream and butter.


There are many talented small-batch artisans in my circle making such delicious products as: jams, pickles, sausages, wine, whisky and beer…. the list goes on.


I know this first hand because I write about Madison’s culinary finest for Madison Magazine

 at and I’m looking forward to sharing their stories with you on this blog.


Thank you for pulling up a chair and sharing it all with me.  Now, I’ll make you a little something to eat! 


5 thoughts on “Catarina! Handcrafting a Delicious Life

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