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After Lifetime Of Cooking For Family, Delco Woman Shares Her Passion With The World

By Jan Carabeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- At the age of 77, one Delaware County woman has found herself a new career.

She's written a cookbook and is about to embark on a trip across the world as the book grows in popularity.

Elisa Costantini is leaving for Tuscany this Friday.

She is going to teach cooking at a resort for two weeks.

It's her second trip to Italy after people in the country heard about her cookbook online.

But for Elisa, and her family, creating this book wasn't about recipes at all.

There isn't a day you won't find Elisa Costantini in her Newtown Square kitchen.

On this day, she's trying to teach a novice, who is admittedly ruining the gnocchi.

Gnocchi is just one of 206 rustic recipes in Elisa's cookbook, Italian Moms: Spreading Their Art To Every Table.

It brings the Italian countryside to the Delaware Valley.

"What gives me joy is to give, give, give."

Elisa has done that with food since she was a child, cooking for her family in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

"I've been cooking since I was six years old. I made pasta with a machine, I made everything."

But she never knew she would create a cookbook. In fact, it wasn't her idea at all.

Frank Costantini, her son, says, "She was in a deep depression. She had closed her eyes and said 'I'm ready, just take me.'"

Elisa's husband of 56 years died suddenly in 2013, on Christmas Eve.

Their son, Frank, remembers seeing Elisa's joy of cooking slip away too.

"That was the one thing that we realized when something was seriously wrong. She stopped cooking. One day I came across her scribbles of if you want to call them recipes, on the backs of greeting cards and strips of paper."

He turned to Kickstarter, with a goal of raising enough money online to develop the recipes into a book.

"A couple days later we had a few thousand dollars. Thirty days later $27,000. And then reality that we really needed to produce something."

Twelve hundred pre-orders to be exact.

Realizing a publisher was too expensive, Frank got family friends to take the pictures and edit the text.

Now, less than a year after its release, the book has sold nearly 7,000 copies and is about to go into its third printing.

But, that's not the point.

"The most important thing is that it's brought her back to life."

A smile is back on Elisa's face, and a laugh is never far away.

"That makes me feel like a million dollars."

Elisa keeps busy. She still works, cooking five days a week for special needs adults.

As for her book, you can get it on Amazon. For more information, visit:

Elisa donates a portion of the proceeds back to the community, including the ALS Association of Philadelphia.

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