Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – Blogging A-Z Challenge (2018) – Antoinette Truglio Martin – A is for Artichoke

This is the first post of author Antoinette Truglio Martin who began blogging in 2018.. I am going to share four posts from her archives that were part of her A-Z challenge last year.  Since my downfall is and has always been food….I enjoyed browsing Antoinette’s challenge.

“Welcome to my Blogging A-Z April 2018 Challenge. My theme is Food Stories Remembered because there is always a story when food is involved. I consider myself a good home cook with a great appetite for hearty food. I have witnessed the creation of favorite recipes in friends’ kitchens and have learned from the best—my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Recipes may be included. I am remaining uncommitted on this because when I cook, I seldom measure. If you try any of my recipes, you are cooking at your own risk. Grab a glass of wine. Hope you’re hungry!”

Blogging A-Z Challenge (2018) – Antoinette Truglio Martin – A is for Artichoke

Specifically, stuffed and baked artichokes. My grandma served the artichokes at the grown-up table after a large dinner. This gave people a chance to nibble on something and sip the last of the wine while the table was cleared. The artichoke course was the intermezzo, but not really. Artichokes are not meant for palate cleansing. Grandma’s artichokes were large deep green flowers swollen with crisped breadcrumbs.

By the time artichokes came out of the kitchen, we kids had finished our dinner at the kids’ table. We milled around the grown-up table looking to sit on a lap, tattle, or ask permission to play outside. Grandma shared her artichoke with the kids. She let us pull the outside leaves from the flower. We scraped our teeth on the leaf’s underside to eat the baked stuffing that was seasoned with garlic and Parmesan cheese. As the deflowering continued, the stub of the leaf became tender and added another layer to the artichoke experience. Soon a plate was piled with teeth-tracked leaves until, finally, the choke revealed itself. Its pale leaves with little spiked tips stood up. The breadcrumbs had not made it this deep into the flower. Grandma pulled the naked artichoke towards her. “You don’t like this part,” she’d say and ordered us kids to wash our hands. It was fine with us since the fun was over and, by this time, our attention was directed elsewhere.

I may have been in high school when I remained at the table to watch Grandma finish the artichoke. She easily pulled the choke from the base and scraped the fuzzy stuff with a spoon to get to the heart. The grey-green heart did not look appetizing. Grandma split it with her fingers and popped a piece into her mouth. “The best part,” she’d say. She was right. The heart was absolutely delicious. It was tender and tastier than the tough leaves and held more flavor than the jarred artichoke hearts.

Why go through the mess just to get to this small yet incredible part of the artichoke? I expected Grandma to say that we do not waste any part of the food we cook but instead she replied, “You have to work hard to get to the heart.”

Baked and Stuffed Artichokes

Cut the stem off the artichoke and trim the pinchy tops.

Put in enough water at the bottom of a pot so that the artichokes can steam. Steam for 15-20 minutes until an outside leaf can be pulled off without too much trouble.

Run cold water over the artichokes.

Mix seasoned bread crumbs, garlic powder and Parmesan or Romano cheese; whichever you prefer.

Because I don’t like to clean up the mess artichoke deflowering entails, I cut each one in half, and cut out the choke as best I can. If you want to be authentic, don’t cut them in half.

Spread the leaves out as much as you can. Use a spoon to stuff as much bread in between and into the center of the artichoke.

Place the artichokes in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil on top. Loosely place aluminum foil over the artichokes.

Bake in a 350 the oven. After 15-20 minutes remove the foil. Bake until the tops are a little crisp. The outside leaves should easily come up off the base.

Serve with a glass of wine and conversation

©Antoinette Truglio Martin 2018

About Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer

Antoinette Martin believed herself to be a healthy and sturdy woman—that is, until she received a Stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis. Cancer is scary enough for the brave, but for a wimp like Martin, it was downright terrifying. Martin had to swallow waves of nausea at the thought of her body being poisoned, and frequently fainted during blood draws and infusions. To add to her terror, cancer suddenly seemed to be all around her. In the months following her diagnosis, a colleague succumbed to cancer, and five of her friends were also diagnosed.

Though tempted, Martin knew she could not hide in bed for ten months. She had a devoted husband, daughters, and a tribe of friends and relations. Along with work responsibilities, there were graduations, anniversaries, and roller derby bouts to attend, not to mention a house to sell and a summer of beach-bumming to enjoy. In order to harness support without scaring herself or anyone else, she journaled her experiences and began to e-mail the people who loved her: the people she called My Everyone. She kept them informed and reminded all to ‘hug everyone you know’ at every opportunity. Reading the responses became her calming strategy. Ultimately, with the help of her community, Martin found the courage within herself to face cancer with perseverance and humor.

One of the reviews for the book

I had the good fortune to read parts of this wonderful memoir when I was in the same MFA program with Annette at Stony Brook. Returning to the completed manuscript holds extra joy as I read not only the remarkable journey of surviving breast cancer, but I also smiled with pride in seeing this book in print. Annette’s gregarious, kind, soul shows through on every page as she puts the “e” in epistolary writing, using emails with her “everyone” to chart the path and show the importance on our loved ones on such complicated trajectories. While I haven’t lived through a cancer diagnosis, I have been living with HIV for nearly half my life and I so appreciate the raw, throbbing honesty coupled with the (in my opinion) essential gallows humor needed to survive the unimaginable. I very much enjoyed this memoir and recommend it for anyone who wants a closer look at the strength of a woman forging forward into the unknown of disease, armed with her everyone, humor and determination to prevail. Brava!!

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Antoinette on Goodreads:

About Antoinette Truglio Martin

Antoinette Truglio Martin is a speech therapist and special education teacher by training but really wants to be a writer when she grows up. She has been collecting, writing, and fashioning stories forever. Over the years Antoinette had been a regular columnist in local periodicals and had several essays featured in newsletters and literary reviews. Her children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup was published in 1993 (Albert Whitman Co.). Antoinette’s memoir, Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer (She Writes Press 2017), chronicles her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. She proudly holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University (2016).

Connect to Antoinette.

Facebook author page:

My thanks to Antoinette for allowing me to share her posts from the archives and I hope you will head over to enjoy further. Thanks Sally.