Tag Archives: Grandma Felicia

From Sista Felicia: Don’t forget to leave your shoes out tonight….

Italy Magazine best explains why in an article published October 31st, 2011.

“The 1st of November is a national holiday in Italy, known as Tutti i Santi or Ognissanti, which celebrates all saints and is followed by All Souls Day on the 2nd of November, a day devoted to honor loved ones who have passed away.

Il Giorno dei Morti begins at dawn with a somber Mass for the dead, offering prayers and alms for the deceased. After Mass, families visit the graveyard to pay tribute to the faithful who have gone before them. At the cemetery, the graves of family members are decorated with mums and candles.

Yet, the day is not only a solemn affair and the remembrance of the deceased can turn into a celebratory occasion in certain regions, especially in Sicily.

In Sicilian, this ‘day of the dead’ is known as “U juornu re muorti.” Children wake up hoping to find a treat from relatives not yet forgotten. The ‘muorti’ bring presents of toys and sweets. The tradition serves to strengthen family bonds, linking children to family members who have come and gone before them.

Until a few decades ago, this was in fact the only celebration of the year when children received presents, usually sweets and toys. Today there are many other occasions during the year (Christmas, Epifania, Birthdays, etc.) and the tradition risks to loose its strength. But parents continue to warn their children to behave in hopes that “i bonarmuzza re muorticieddi” (the good souls of the dead) might bring them presents. The young ones wake up on the 2nd of November to hunt for presents that had been hidden around the house.

One of the most common treats is Frutta Martorana, sweets made of almond paste that are expertly crafted to look like fruits. The marzipan delicacies are a specialty in Palermo, Sicily, where they are said to have been first made by nuns at the Monastero della Martorana. The nuns prepared the ‘Frutta’ in honor of a visiting archibishop at Easter time. The bishop was so impressed by the convincing display of fruit and vegetables that he declared that a miracle must have occurred to allow such a bountiful harvest so early in spring.”

Today, November 1st, 2012 All Saints Day

I awoke this morning and immediately reached for my cell phone to send a text message to my daughter Amanda at boarding school, reminding her that today is all Saints Day, and to go to the campus Chapel to say a special prayer. I reminded her to place her shoes next to her dorm room door tonight before she went to bed and to think of special times with deceased family members and to have happy thoughts of them as she dozes off to sleep. This custom my Grandmother Felicia and Grandpa Joe kept alive in our family for as long as I can remember. It got me thinking about the good times spent with them at this time of year…

Halloween for My Family was Always a Special Night.

Grandma Felicia & Grandpa Joe resided on Tolman Avenue, overlooking Gloucester’s beautiful Harbor. It was “The Place” to be On October 31st. Our entire family would celebrate at their home with extended family and friends. It was always our last stop of the evening, “The Place” where we all wanted to be. For many of us it may have seemed like it was only for the giant-size candy bars Grandma was known to give, but truthfully it was for her delicious covered pizza, sweet treats, and endless bottles of Twin Light Soda. Back in those days it was simply unheard of to give giant-size candy bars to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. I have said many times before that my Grandmother Felicia was way ahead of her times, in so many different ways. She should be credited as “The Inventor of Super Sizing Food,” after all, she was doing it long before it was fashionable! Her tradition of handing out giant-size candy bars is one example of how modern she was. Although she was known as a beautiful modern woman for her day, she remained old fashioned in her ways of sharing traditions and keeping them alive.

My Grandfather Joe and Grandmother Felicia were known to be great story tellers. I remember especially that on Halloween night Grandpa Joe would have all 7 grandchildren’s undivided attention while telling crazy stories about some deceased family member or how they almost became deceased. Like the time when pirates boarded the Benjamin C, his fishing boat, which is a great story to be told another time but, to sum it up quickly, the pirates took over the boat, then left he and his crew on an island where the Indians came out of nowhere and scalped his hair right off his head–and that’s why he was bald! Needless to say the stories that he told in their downstairs kitchen are forever priceless. Through his repertoire of old stories, some fiction and some not, my cousins and I learned about our heritage and deceased relatives. Through his gift of storytelling he gave each and every one of us an understanding of how important it is to keep deceased loved ones connected with future generations.

We left their home each Halloween night filled with sweets and stories. In the midst of a mass exit from their home Grandma Felicia had a magical way of stopping the chaos to deliver a very important message every year. It became quiet while everyone stood by their back door (the boys dripping in sweat from running around the house and makeup running down my cousin Licia’s and my faces) as she reminded each of us to prepare for All Souls Days on November 2nd, by placing our shoes by the front door the next evening before we went to bed on November 1st All Saints Day. She would remind us not to be afraid of the souls of deceased; that it was a good thing that they visit while you sleep. She recommended we welcome their visit by sharing stories and fond memories of departed loved ones before going to bed on All Saints Day.

I encourage all of you to take some time tonight to reminisce with your children and to keep the memories of deceased ones alive, and to tuck a little something into their shoes placed by your front door. In the morning I guarantee you will see joy in their eyes and a smile across their face when they realize they had a visitor from their someone special while sleeping.

I’ll be missing my Amanda tonight and tomorrow morning but I know she, too, will keep our tradition of Celebrating All Saints Day and All Souls Day, no matter how far away she may live from home.

Aileen Kern Steps Up and Makes Grandma Felicia’s Apple Spice Cake! (with pics)

Hi Joey!
You said you wonder if all the people who say they’re going to make the cake really make the cake.  Well, I made it last night and it’s absolutely delicious—see attached photos.  Many thanks to Sista Felicia for all of her great recipes and step-by-step photo instructions–I really enjoy them.
My husband Doug and I are major fans of your blog and read it every day.  We stayed in town recently to attend a family wedding in Manchester and went to the block party and the Joey Show at Lat 43—both were a blast.  We saw you and Felicia at the booth running the Fiesta videos, but you looked pretty busy so we didn’t stop by to say hello.  Next time we’re in town, we’ll be sure to stop by down the dock to say hello.  We’ve been coming to Gloucester for about 30 years and it’s like a second home to us.  We plan to rent an apartment there next spring.  Can’t wait!! 
Take care, and thanks again for providing us with our daily Glosta fix, even when we can’t be there in person.
Best regards,   Aileen Kern   (Glenmont, NY)

Grandma Felicia's Cake & Aileen KGrandma Felicia's Cake closeup

Grandma Felicia’s Apple Spice Cake Recipe From Sista Felicia

Grandma Felicia’s Apple Spice Cake

all photos Sista Felicia

3 Granny Smith apples
2 Macintosh apples
2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pinch ground clove
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 Tablespoon vanilla
½ Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup white sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
Recommended ingredients: use fresh apples from your local apple orchard.  I highly recommend taking some time out of your busy life and spend a few hours picking apples with your family and or friends. I promise ….It will make your life a little sweeter and the cake!



Icing ingredients:
3 cups confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3    tablespoon warm milk (add more or less milk to get desired icing thickness)
·    Combine all  ingredients in a bowl and whisk into a smooth and silky icing
Preheat oven 350 degrees
Step 1: using an apple cutter cut and core apples

Step 2: remove the skin with a pairing knife and cut into bite size pieces


Step3: place apples in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoon of cinnamon and set aside

Step 4: in a separate bowl sift together all dry ingredients


Step 5:  using a handheld mixer or stand mixer set on a medium speed beat eggs 2 minutes then add oil, vanilla and orange juice and continue to mix for 1 additional minute

Step 6: on a lower speed carefully add dry ingredients


Step 7: continue mixing until all ingredients come together forming a smooth cake batter


Step 8:  fold apples into cake batter

Step 9: flour and grease bunt pan or spring form pan (Baker’s Joy is a must have in your pantry during baking season)

Step 10: add the cake batter to prepared pan and place on a foil or parchment paper lined cookie sheet

Step 11: bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden skewer is inserted and removed cleanly
Step 12: cool 10 min and remove cake from pan

Step 13: Drizzle with vanilla icing