We made it into O, The Oprah Magazine! Even if it’s just a blurb, we are honored to be in such good company! For as long as I can remember, I have loved and admired Oprah Winfrey, and everything she stands for and her spiritual offerings that she shares with all of us so freely! A couple of months back, I submitted an online answer to O Magazine’s question, “What do you turn to when you need a pick-me-up?” I wrote about my tried-and-true Sunday baking therapy ritual that allows me to get back to being me. I’m a “maker” by nature… In other words I like to use my hands for baking and writing. I like to have a finished product that I can be proud of. When things seem out of control, creating something helps me get centered and gain new perspective in the process. I thank my Grandma for this. While it seems like a small thing…the love for baking she instilled in me as a child…it has greatly helped me as an adult to overcome many tough times.
Speaking of making things, for the last year I have been immersed in a cookbook manuscript I have been writing and hope to get published, “My Grandmother’s Dulce de Leche.” While the book introduces dulce de leche and it’s many personalities, along with more than 100 recipes of how to incorporate it into your everyday life, it has also given me an opportunity to tell my story about why at the age of 35 I decided to get into the food business, and pursue my passion. It has been cathartic to say the least and I hope my story will help someone take that leap of faith. Below is an excerpt from the introduction. I’m honored to share it with anyone willing to listen!
“I visited Dorita in Argentina on her 93rd birthday with a bottle of our new liqueur under one arm and my daughter, Poupée, wrapped in the other. She was ten months old and would be meeting her Great Grandmother for the first time. We toasted to life that day, and our new baby girl. I’m not sure if Dorita ever knew the depth of our dulce de leche aspirations and the legacy and company we were hoping to honor her with, but it was within the silence of her dining room that day that I finally found peace.
My daughter, who bears my mom’s name, was fast asleep next to me. Dorita had fallen asleep in her chair after pouring a little too much dulce de liqueur in her coffee. I found myself between these two glorious women, and had never felt more awake and alive. In that moment, I came to realize that the extent of the dissatisfaction I was feeling all these years with my life was the result of failing to look properly at that which was right in front of me.
In the quiet of Dorita’s room it dawned on me that La Dorita was not a gift for my grandma. It was a gift for me. My mom and Dori, my great grandmother and namesake, Josefina, my father’s mother, Buby—they all conspired to make sure that I would receive the gift of dulce de leche to survive their loss, and learn to live a new life without their physical presence. They were all there in that room with me that day. And each one of them whispered to me, “Your journey is about standing on your own.”
Dorita peacefully passed away six months later. She was ready to go and although we let her go, we continue to celebrate her each day in the everyday rituals of our family kitchen. It’s in the kitchen that I feel closest to my mom and Dori. It’s where we talk. I immerse myself in late night cooking after getting the kids to bed and am true to my Sunday baking therapy ritual. After my family, cooking has become my second passion in life. They are almost synonymous, one with the other. This adoration was instilled by my incredible grandma and mom, two supreme matriarchs who recognized the power of gathering around a table to bring and keep people together. The key to Dori’s cooking was simplicity, good ingredients and trusting yourself to combine them well.
It’s in the kitchen I feel closest to my husband, Gastón, recounting our day’s events and children’s anecdotes over a bottle of wine as we strategize the next step for our dulce de leche business. It’s there that, to quote the words of Oprah Winfrey, I remind myself to “be grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.” Regardless of the path that my dulce de leche takes me on, I am committed to seeing where it takes me.”
Love you to the moon and back, Dori!