TOLUCA, Ill. — Melinda Tiraboschi remembers her grandmother making wonderful food. Always wearing an apron, she measured everything with an old pink coffee cup that she stored in the flour bin.
Tiraboschi was in awe at how her grandmother just seemed to know what to use to make the perfect dish.
Today, Tiraboschi is the one whose cooking skills are admired by others, especially her husband, John.
“At restaurants I am very rarely wowed by food. She’s such a good cook,” he said as they sat at the patio table on a bright August afternoon on their farm near Toluca, Ill.
The conversation followed a Mexican-themed meal of chicken enchiladas, Melinda’s Fiesta Mexican Salad, beans and rice.
“It’s such a feeling when the family is enjoying a meal. It’s so rewarding,” she said. “I think the world needs more table time.”
That table time these days may include her three adult children, son-in-law and grandbaby. All three of her children also know how to cook, Tiraboschi said. She made a colorful, bulging cookbook for each of them. It has pictures of the family having fun in the kitchen, photos of meals made and all sorts of recipes. The big question when they try something new is “Is it Tiraboschi cookbook worthy?”
Tirasboschi learned many of her cooking skills from her mom when she was a youngster.
“My mom taught me to read a recipe,” she said.
Now, during harvest and planting seasons, Tiraboschi delivers meals to the field. Calzones are a favorite because they hold all the Italian goodness inside and are easy to eat. Pulled pork is a popular item on her field menu, as are tacos. Tacos are a little messier to eat, but justify stopping a few minutes to do so, John said.
Along with cooking, Tiraboschi has gained a variety of skills from the jobs she has held over the years, including working in a bank, as a pharmacy assistant and a trained beautician. At age 40 she decided to become a nurse. She worked in an emergency room and later for a surgeon.
Her dedication to nursing inspired two of their three children, Katelyn and Anthony, to become nurses. Mason is a farmer like his dad.
Of her many talents, her favorite activity is baking. Birthday cakes for her kids were a favorite.
“They could pick anything and I’d make it happen,” she said.