Thursday, May 24, 2018

‘Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen’ Book Debut


Photo by Samantha Husted
| Author Roy Eaton holds up a copy of “Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen,” his debut cookbook. The book showcases over 150 of his mother’s Greek and American recipes.

Naples resident and author Roy Eaton has debuted his first ever cookbook titled, “Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen.” The book follows the life of Stefanie Eaton, Roy’s late Greek-American mother. From her upbringing to the food she loved to cook, “Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen” pays homage to her talents as a chef and a homemaker while simultaneously providing readers hundreds of classic Greek and American recipes.

Stefanie Eaton was born in 1917 in Mystic, Connecticut to immigrant parents. Growing up, she spent most of her time in her family’s restaurant, the College Diner, which specialized in Greek, Mediterranean, and American cuisine. Working in her family’s restaurant was her first introduction to the culinary world. It’s where she discovered her love of food as well as her talent as a chef/baker.

Throughout much of her life, Stefanie toed the line between Greek tradition and a desire for Americanization. The dishes in “Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen” reflect her multicultural upbringing as well as her status as a first-generation U.S. citizen. Recipes like Coca-Cola Cake and apple pie paint just part of the portrait of a woman living in 1950s America. Her recipes for tiropita, spanakopita, and baklava, fill in the blanks.

As a Greek-American woman, Stefanie honored her history and ethnicity through the food she made. Concurrently, she embraced U.S. culture and implemented trending dishes, specifically pies, into her repertoire.

Roy writes, “Stefanie’s cookery, generous manner, outgoing demeanor, sense of humor and hospitality regularly brought together family and friends who loved her cooking and enjoyed her company.”

While Stefanie was a generous cook, she, like many chefs, was guarded when it came to the secrets of her recipes. She would make her pies and Greek pastries for anyone who happened to stop by her house, never taking no for an answer. Roy says that if there was a particular dish of hers that you loved, she would make it for your birthday or on special occasions. But as soon as you asked her how to make that recipe, the one you loved so much, she would become tight-lipped. She would only share her recipes with her sisters and her two nieces.

“She would bake for anybody or cook for anybody and give them leftovers,” Roy said. “Anybody—friends, family, anybody who stopped in, but she wouldn’t give people the recipes.”

When Stefanie died of lymphoma in 1994, she left behind hundreds of recipes, all hand-written on index cards. A little over a year ago, Roy stumbled upon the box he’d inherited. For years he’s toyed with the idea of creating a cookbook to commemorate his mother’s memory and to share her love of cooking with the world.

“Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen” commemorates the life of Stefanie Eaton, a prolific home chef and baker.

Roy writes, “A few months ago, I came across one of mom’s recipe index files and thought it would be an honor to produce a book of her creations as a lasting legacy to the woman who enjoyed life and loved to cook and please others.”

According to Roy, a majority of his mother’s recipes existed in her head. Many of them were never committed to paper and are now lost to time.

“Now that she’s been gone for almost a quarter of a century, I know she wouldn’t want [the recipes] to disappear forever,” Roy said.

As for dishes from the book to test out, Roy recommends the loukoumades or Greek honey balls. Loukoumades are fried dough balls soaked in a sweet honey mixture and served with a sprinkle of walnuts (optional). They’re mouthwatering, sugary, and a fun to make dessert. If you’re looking for something savory, we’ve attached a recipe for Stefanie’s avgolemono or chicken lemon soup.

“Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen” is a cookbook that offers insight to a woman, well loved and of her time. Through over 150 Greek and American (and sometimes Greek-American) recipes, the book pieces together a portrait of Stefanie. “Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen” is littered with family photos and images of the original index cards, of which her recipes derive. It’s a cookbook commemorating a mother’s love of food and a son’s dedication to preserve her legacy.

“I dedicate this book in memory of my mother, Stefanie Eaton. The most kind, generous and selfless woman I have
ever known.”

To order a copy of “Welcome to Stefanie’s Kitchen” go to amzn.to/2GTqkdm. Available in hardcover and paperback, as well as color and black and white versions. For more information on Roy Eaton and his other books visit his website www.booksbyroyeaton.com. All proceeds from the cookbook will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (www.lls.org).

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