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Article posted: 3/20/2012 6:00 AM

Mundelein mom shares family favorites

Juliann Lucansky loves cooking Italian classics for her family but is eager to expose them to other cuisines.

Juliann Lucansky loves cooking Italian classics for her family but is eager to expose them to other cuisines.


photos by Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 Juliann browns Italian sausage for her Italian-style stuffed green peppers.

Juliann browns Italian sausage for her Italian-style stuffed green peppers.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

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By Abby Scalf

Juliann Lucansky and her father often will debate whose marinara sauce is better.

Even though they both acquired the recipe from her paternal grandmother, Juliann admits she still wants Dad to make the sauce.

For the Mundelein mom, it's a chance to stay close to family.

"It is something he makes better than me and I love to watch him," she said. "Even though I love to cook, I love to have my dad help me cook the family pasta sauce."

Juliann's first memories of cooking and making that special marinara sauce were time spent with Nana.

"I was always able to help cut the noodles. That is one of earliest memories of big diamond-shaped pastas that we would cut together," she said. "She also made a lot of fried vegetables. I remember learning to turn a piece of vegetable so that it was not going to get filled with oil."

Juliann continues to cook her family's Italian favorites for her husband, Pat, also from Italian upbringing, and their kids, Matthew, 4, and Patrick, 5.

Whether it's to make the sauce or other Italian specialties, the family relies on the backyard garden, just as she did through childhood.

"That was something I loved when I was little. My nana had her garden. My husband now is also an avid gardener. Anything we cook from the garden is fabulous," she said.

Juliann said family and friends send ideas, like layering zucchini planks in lasagna and oven-drying tomatoes, to use up the bounty..

"When you are growing it yourself, the last thing I want to do is waste a batch of anything," she said. "I want to use it to its fullest potential."

Just as she worked with her nana at the stove, Juliann is excited to have her son Patrick join her.

"Since prenatal, he has been listening to the Cooking Channel. He was born not with a silver spoon but perhaps a pasta serving spoon in his hand. He has always been in the kitchen. It's a good time for him and me," she said.

Patrick has not only taken an interest in Italian classics, but he also wants to dabble in other cuisines. Juliann is happy to oblige.

"We had a gathering with a friend of mine who makes tortillas, and recently he asked about making tamales," she said. "We experiment now."

• To suggest someone to be profiled here, send the cook's name, address and phone number to Deborah Pankey c/o Cook of the Week, Daily Herald Food section, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or to

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