A widow, she lives in Hicksville and has four grown children - three daughters and one son - a stepson and 13 grandchildren. "When we get together," she says, "you know we're there."

How did you get started cooking? I'm Italian - and Italians cook all the time. It's inborn. I learned a lot from my mother - she could make anything out of just about nothing. Now my sister and I do a lot of cooking


What did your family eat? Every Sunday we always had gravy - at that time it was gravy; now they call it sauce. We always had it at 1 p.m. - not a minute earlier or later. Now, I make it for my kids and bring it over at least once a week - with meatballs.

What's the secret to meatballs? The trick is to make them with ground pork. You have to remember to wet the bread crumbs, too.

Do your kids cook the way you do? No. They work. They have careers. One of my daughters has five children and one has four, and they both work full-time. I guess I spoil them because I cook. Now that I'm alone here, it gives me something to do.

If you had only one thing to make a meal with, what would it be? Pasta. I can make anything out of pasta. A little garlic and oil and a little bread crumbs, you can have a meal.

Can you tell us a little about this recipe for chocolate chip cake? I've been making it for at least 40 years now. It's simple - just eight ingredients - and the children love it.


2 sticks unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 ½ cups flour

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare a Bundt pan by spraying with cooking spray.

3. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well, using an electric mixer.

4. Combine baking powder and flour and beat dry ingredients into butter and sugar mixture.

5. Beat in sour cream.

6. Add vanilla extract and beat well.

7. Fold in mini chocolate chips.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

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