Meet Monica & Family!
Hiya, I’m Monica.
I just moved from Maine to New York to go to culinary school, but the best part is that I get to move in with my brother "Captain" Charlie (he's a pilot!) and help take care of my nephew and nieces, Colby, Pepper, and Cherry, in my family’s Brooklyn brownstone.
You see, for many years my Gran baked out of our brownstone’s kitchen as Pop-Pop did magic shows for the neighborhood kids. I remember visiting them as a girl watching him practice his magic while she baked. “There’s magic in the mixing”, Gran would say, when presto! Pop Pop would pull chocolate chips out of thin air for me to munch on. Every time I use her utensils and recipes I find that maybe Pop-Pop’s magic was more than sleight of hand… but Gran and Pop Pop really were magic together. (Wanna hear Monica's story in song form? Click here!)
Adjusting to life in the city hasn’t been easy, but something that helps me get through is my garden that once belonged to Pop Pop. He was known for his green thumb and would insist, “It’s my little bit of country in the big city,”– now it’s mine too. I can’t help but wonder if a little bit of Gran and Pop Pop’s magic managed to seep into the garden. Even in the dead of winter I’ll find fresh blueberries peeking out of the snow, apples hanging between icicles, and fresh basil and mint everywhere!
I’m studying to become a baker so I can open my own bakery—but don’t worry, I know how to make treats for everyone to enjoy, no matter the allergy or dietary restriction. It’s kind of my specialty ever since I moved in with my brother Charlie, his twins Colby and Pepper, and their little sister Cherry. Charlie says I’m quirky, but I think that’s a good thing since I love to laugh, especially at myself-- as I like to say, don't yuck on my yum! Who cares if I get the hiccups when I’m nervous or if I sometimes make a mess when I bake? I always clean up after myself, besides, I look good with a little flour on my nose! But maybe that’s just my quirkiness shining through…
Last but not least, there’s my nephew and nieces. Cherry is the sweetest preschooler you’ll ever meet, and Colby and Pepper—they may be twins but there couldn’t be two more different first graders!
Meet Cherry, Pepper, and Colby
Colby is street-wise and stylish, constantly teasing me for wearing polka-dots with everything. He’s the president of his school’s drama club and knows everything there is to know about New York City culture. Colby’s got a wicked sweet tooth, especially when it comes to chocolate. Sometimes he can be a bit of a show-off, but that’s where his sister Pepper comes in. She’s the yin to his yang; as Pepper would put it, she’s the right brain, while Colby’s the left. Colby may not be as scientifically minded as his twin, but he’s got flair to spare and sometimes his outside-the-box thinking saves the day!
Pepper knows just about everything there is to know (or so it seems!), whether it’s the NYC subway or how to solve a Rubik’s cube. Her mind in constant motion, not unlike Colby’s mouth. She’s a whiz when it comes to calculations and loves helping me bake by adding and subtracting quantities, and watching the chemical reactions. Pepper has Celiac Disease so she can’t eat anything with wheat gluten, which inspired me to make treats that everyone can enjoy together, and inspired her to become the science whiz that she is! She keeps telling me we have to try molecular gastronomy, but I’m still not quite sure what that means...
Cherry is Colby and Pepper’s baby sister, always tagging along and unable to contain her eager, “Me too!!”. Since she’s still learning to talk, she’s a bit quiet sometimes while others she’s a babbling brook. She always knows what she wants to say, even if it needs some translating when it comes out. More than anything else (except hanging with her siblings!) she loves airplanes like her dad and magic like her great-grandpa. She’s also often found with her toy Schnauzer “Princess Schnitzel” in tow.
My brother Charlie is an airline pilot, that's why I call him "Captain" Charlie (Cherry calls him 'Captain Daddy'- how cute is that?). I know being a single dad isn’t easy, but while he’s flying all over the world I get to take care of his wicked cool kids. He sends us back postcards with recipes from wherever he goes. Colby, Pepper, Cherry and I always look forward to baking the international treats and learning about cultures far and wide. Charlie often flies for non-profits, spreading as much good as he can. Remind me and I'll tell you about the time he asked me to help with a freedom flight to rescue some dogs -- No joke!