Updated: Apr 22
Welcome to Mama Bird’s Kitchen! My name is Alice Birdsley, long-time food lover, doting wife, and mother of three nearly full-grown kiddos. Over the years I have fed the masses, whether it be through catering gigs, volunteer meals for church, or, of course, my family and friends. If you know me already, you know that I eat, sleep, and dream of food. Some might say it is in my genes, dating back to the days of my Italian grandfather’s butcher shop in New Jersey. We lived the true Italian-American stereotypical life, meaning Sundays were precious and reserved exclusively for family dinner. Having a butcher in the family meant dinner was centered around a big cut of meat, lamb and beef being the usual suspects. The most glorious part always was watching Grandpa carve the show-stopper, and him slipping me the perfect, crispy tendrils of fat that literally melted in my mouth. Can you taste my childhood yet?
Growing a few years older and a few big moves later, I enjoyed less meals at my grandparents’ table and more at my mother’s. I usually sat in the kitchen and watched her cook before gathering around our family table nearly every single night. We rarely went out to eat unless it was a celebratory birthday dinner at Red Lobster. Being raised this way taught me that enjoying a meal at home together is a priority and I embedded this same value into my own family. Having observed my mother, I picked up a couple of techniques and tricks, carrying them into my college years where I cooked almost every meal. They were simple dishes but they were way more affordable than going out to eat and better than a dining hall, so win-win all around! Some of the meals, even continuing into my kids' toddler years, included time-saving starter kits (i.e. Hamburger Helper) but I kept cooking and learning new things every day, carving out more time to make more well-crafted dinners.Things truly got real when the Food Network became prime television. My eyes were widened and essentially glued to the tv. Every show they aired I watched, absorbing as much as I could and then turning around and making my favorite recipes for my family. Television shows turned to a cookbook collection and piles of magazine recipe clippings, which turned to creating recipes of my own. My kids developed an appreciation for food deeper than my own childhood affinity and my carnivore husband, Jeff, certainly never complained about the influx of gourmet food. However, I have been asked to kindly never make vegetarian chili again. Noted!
My love language is to cook. Well, technically, my love language is giving gifts and receiving words of affirmation, but what greater gift is there than scratch-made food and compliments about how tasty it is? If you stick around, I’ll share some of my tried and true recipes from over the years, the weeknight-solutions and last minute resolutions that are necessary from time to time, and even some menu planning ideas if you like to think ahead. I love my classics, but new recipes are always on my mind so you all will be the first to know when I try one out. Blogging is a little scary to me, but it’s an exciting new challenge. 15 years ago a friend tasked me with a different challenge - catering a wedding with 250 guests. I had no idea how to cook for that many people but with the help of my husband and the grace of God, I served 9 different appetizers all night long and it was a smashing success. Like I said before, I am a long-time recipe reader, first-time food blogger, but it seems a little easier than catering a gigantic wedding. Let’s hope I’m right! Join me on my journey and welcome to Mama Bird’s Kitchen.
To start this thing off, you’ll find pictures of my beloved grandparents, Joe and Agnes Calamusso, and their butchery, J&A Meat Market. My husband Jeff and I are also J&A, and I like to think of that as their sweet little blessing. Enjoy!