Writing allows me to  hone in on what I really mean, instead of   avoiding it.
Annie's blog about art techniques, creativity and life

ART BLOG article

‘It might choke Arti…’

I want to share this WONDERFUL story and recipe from my friend, Leanne, about her grandpa Tony. She graciously gave it to me for my 2017 calendar. Leanne, who I haven’t seen for (oh, my!) 40-plus years???, went to Stoddard Elementary in Anaheim, California, with me. A long, long, time ago….

But just one thing before I get to that, check out this wonderful video I remembered from childhood. I used to love watching Little Rascals with my brother and this scene always stuck in my mind. I kept thinking about it as I was painting. “It might choke Arti…”


Story and recipe:
My Grandpa, Tony Ragusa, came to America through Ellis Island, as young man. He brought with him, many skills from Calabria, Italy. One skill being he could grow any vegetable in a patch of ground the size of a postage stamp! I was always amazed when he’d find a patch of soil in his small yard, and make big beautiful vegetables grow! He’d come to church with us every Sunday and most times, would bring a bounty of seasonal fruits and vegetables from his garden. I loved it most when he’d bring the artichokes! A beautiful plant to behold, but even more, they were such a treat to have and eat. I watched as my Mom would clean and prepare the artichokes making them ready to “stuff”. Soon enough she let me make the breadcrumb stuffing myself, and gave me the job of “stuffing the artichokes”. I stuffed proudly! (I think I secretly stuffed a little more in mine to be honest.) Oh, the wonderful aroma of steaming stuffed artichokes. Heavenly, just heavenly. There isn’t a time that I don’t think fondly of my Grandfather and my Mom on Sundays past,  when I make the traditional artichokes for my own family now.

—Leanne Martin-Thormahlen

Stuffed Artichoke 

Prep 4 artichokes by cutting off the stem, 1/2 inch off the tops and the thorns off all the remaining leaves. Rinse well under cold water, pulling the leaves open slightly. Let them drain bottom side up.

Mixed together in a bowl:

1 1/2 C. of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1/2 C. fresh finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C. fresh finely grated Romano cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground garlic or garlic powder. 

Slightly spread the leaves. Fill each leaf with stuffing using a spoon or your hand, starting front the middle and work out. 

Place stuffed artichokes in a pot and fill bottom of the pot with a good amount of water for steaming. Pour olive oil over each artichoke. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour. You’ll know it’s done if a leaf pulls out easily. 

Annie Salness Artist


  1. Lisa Manners on May 11, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Hi Annie,

    I love your newsletter! I have my own artichoke story. When I was 16 my parents took the whole family (3 more kids all younger than me) to Europe for the summer. My father was attending a course in Switzerland and my mother and we kids were staying at a pension for the week he was in class. On our last night there the pension made us a special dinner and the appetizers were whole artichokes. My parents had no idea how to tackle them. The owner of the inn had to come out and show us how to eat them.

  2. Annie Salness on May 11, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    What a wonderful story! Thank you, Lisa.

  3. Debbie Ainsworth on September 22, 2018 at 1:59 am

    Hi, this isn’t related to Artichokes although I do love them! My mother passed away August 13 while it’s been a difficult time I have been going to her house to take care of her things. I noticed in the hallway there was an unframed painting by Tony Ragusa. It was very simple and had no date a farm type scene. I was wondering if there is someone who would appreciate it more than me and I don’t know it’s value. My parents were collectibles collector and I don’t know how they got it but I just saw this most and thought Ireply ( with a lot of run on sentences) sorry. I’m tired right now. Hope I get a response 😊

    • Annie Salness on September 28, 2018 at 2:51 am

      Hi Debbie,
      How interesting that you have a Tony Ragusa painting!
      I will check with my friend and let you know.

Leave a Comment