The Godfather’s Pasta Sauce

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Godfather sauce

I’m gonna make you a pasta sauce you can’t turn down!

I have been addicted to The Godfather’s pasta sauce ever since I first tried it at Pileggi’s Italian Café in Oakwood Square. In the past whenever I would visit Pileggi’s I would always have the eggplant parmesan. One evening a few months ago I noticed an entry on the menu labeled The Godfather. It sounded good so I thought I would try it and it was love at first bite. Served over a large plate of linguini, it was heaven Italian style!

Those of you who have been reading my posts for awhile may remember that I have been learning to cook. From Eating My Mistakes to Ken’s Famous Coney Sauce my culinary education has been an adventure.

After tasting The Godfather at Pileggi’s I thought I would try to recreate it. The first thing I did was to put “godfather sauce” into the Google search engine. Not to my surprise a myriad of hits came up. The recipe that seems to the most favorite one is a recipe that supposedly first appeared in Glamour magazine in 1973. The sauce is based on a scene in the movie The Godfather where Clemenza is making spaghetti sauce for a group of his fellow mobsters. The exact recipe didn’t appear in either the movie or the book so it is most likely and educated guess by the author of the article. I found the recipe that I decided to use and refine on the website.

One of the fun things about learning to cook is getting to the point where you feel confident enough to make changes to a recipe thereby making it your own. What follows is my version of The Godfather’s pasta sauce. Buon appetito!

I hope you enjoy this sauce as much as I do. If you don’t, I will send Vito and Rocco over to have a talk with you. Enjoy!

The Godfather’s Pasta Sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion chopped
2 – 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 – 6oz cans tomato paste
¼ cup sugar
4 links of DiRusso’s medium hot Italian sausage, cooked and sliced into ¾” pieces
1 lb mini meatballs, cooked ( I use Farm Rich)
A splash of red wine (Chianti works well)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil. (1 teaspoon if using dried basil)
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian oregano.

1. Heat the oil over medium heat for 1 minute in a Dutch oven or large pot.

2. Add the onions and cook while stirring constantly. After two minutes add the crushedgarlic and continue cooking being careful not to burn the garlic. Cook until the garlic becomes aromatic and the onions begin to become translucent.

3. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium high. Continue cooking while stirring until the ingredients are combined to a smooth consistency.

4. Add the sugar a little at a time to taste.

5. Add the sausage and meatballs. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for one hour stirring occasionally.

6. About 5-10 minutes before serving add the basil and oregano to taste.

7. Add a splash of red wine and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. If you are serving this to children or someone who does not tolerate alcohol either omit the wine or transfer a sufficient amount to another pot before adding the wine. One trick to burn off some of the alcohol is to plate the pasta and sauce and place it under the broiler for a minute or so. Some of the alcohol will still remain but this lessens the bite of the alcohol while leaving the wine taste in the sauce.

8. Serve over the pasta of your choice; mine is linguine.


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Ken's Famous Zucchini Bread


3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2-1/3 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 cups grated zucchini (unpeeled and don’t squeeze out moisture or grate the seeds)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
12 oz. Craisins®

Preheat oven to 325°
Grease two loaf pans with shortening and powder with flour, shaking out all excess flour.
Mix the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until the sugar is nicely creamed.
Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended.
Stir in the Craisins®.
Bake for 55 minutes on a rack 2/3 up in the oven and test for doneness. After testing (I use a kabob skewer instead of a toothpick, thereby insuring that I test all the way to the bottom of the pan.)
Optional: After the first test I crank up the oven to 375° because I like a little bit of a crisp crust on the top.
Continue testing until the skewer comes out completely dry and clean.

An Updated Night Before Christmas

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T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.

Ma on her iPad, me on my Kindle, both patiently waiting for old Kris Kringle.
The grandkids were posting selfies with their iPods showing Santa that they were indeed being good.

When all of a sudden, there arouse a load noise and I jumped from my recliner not sure what to do. My wi-fi is down cried my grandchild one. Mine is down too cried grandchild two. What is wi-fi? Cried my wife in her moo-moo.

In a hurry I grabbed my laptop’s mouse and to my chagrin there was a red X where my wi-fi bars had been. Just then on my roof I heard the sound of a ladder. I opened the door and stepped outside to see what was the matter. I looked up and saw Ralph, Santa’s chief technical elf. He looked down at me and said with a smile “Don’t worry my friend, I’ll have things fixed in awhile. “It seems as though your router is broken. Overworked and overloaded.”

Then whistling Noel, techno Ralph went to work and in a thrice he got working each and every device. Now said my new friend “Each of you must now help yourself.” “Update IOS, your systems are a mess. Update, Java, Adobe and Google, and then all the rest.”

Before he left Ralph said “Remember that Christmas is not just about bandwidth received. But rather it’s about the breadth of your caring and love that you give.”

So loading his ladder he started to go. And I heard him proclaim as he went into the night. Log on to Apple, log on to Amazon; log on to Ebay and Overstock too. Happy online shopping to all and to all good night.







On December 14th, 2012 my grandchildren spent the day at their elementary school and came home safely. But sadly 20 of our children didn’t make it home that day. Horrifically murdered by a lunatic we lost 20 of society’s most precious assets. Make no mistake those children that were lost belonged to me, to you, and to all of humanity. With that loss now comes the time for us as a society to take a stand against violence.1 Ribbon copy

A lot of the discussion in the media is about gun control. While gun control is one very important part of taking a stand against violence it is not the entire solution. To effectively take a stand against violence we must come together and face the underlying culture of violence that pervades our society. From the television shows that our children are exposed to, the movies that they watch, and the video games that they play, and more importantly the everyday behavior of the adults in their lives our children are exposed to violence on an alarming scale. If you can’t hear that alarm then you need to wake up.

What can we do? Where do we start?

We can start with the person in the mirror. As you examine your daily life ask yourself if you are routinely watching those television show that show graphic violence. If you are, maybe it is time to turn those shows off. Once you do, you will not only be taking a step to end violence, you will also be taking a step towards a calmer, more caring self. It is especially important to monitor the shows on your television if you as an adult have the television on and it is tuned to such shows when there are children in the room. Far too often parents use the television as an electronic baby sitter with little care exercised about what is on that television. Children, especially young children are emotional sponges who soak up the emotions around them. Let’s not fill those sponges with undertones of violence. Turn that damn television off and read a book with your children.

We need to be more selective about the movies we take our children to see and the movies we purchase or rent to watch at home. Even Disney movies are filled with violence. Most parents slough off the violence in children’s movies saying it is only cartoon violence. A young child’s psyche isn’t developed enough to understand that the cartoon violence they are watching isn’t real. I recently took my grandchildren to see Disney’s Wreck It Ralph. Many of the scenes in it were so intense that my seven year-old grandson covered his eyes, clenched his arms in front of him because that cartoon violence scared him. Don’t buy into the theory that if it is from Disney that it must be appropriate for young children.

To me video games are a large part why our children are becoming desensitized to violence. Unfortunately many adults not only let small children play violent video games, the play them with them. Some of the video games that are sold in America are so graphic that I don’t think that anyone, young or old should be playing them. Recently I was at a Christmas party were Santa Claus made a visit. Before Santa’s arrival the parents of the children present snuck presents into Santa’s bag for the kids. One by one the kids sat on Santa’s lap and opened the present that they thought was from Santa but was really from the child’s parents. One eight year old boy received a video game entitled Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The game was rated 17+, which means that it not only wasn’t intended for young children but that it was illegal for anyone under the age of 17 to even purchase it. The rating label listed the following items which the game contained: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Drugs. Are these the type of games that we should let an eight year-old child watch? Far too many parents are purchasing those violent video games for their children. And what is worse; they are playing them with their children. When parents spend time playing with their children it has a huge impact on them. What little child isn’t going to think that all that violence, gore, and mayhem is accepted behavior when they are experiencing it by playing a video game with dad!IMGP2163

The point is, we have a culture of violence that is threatens the very fabric of our society. If we as a society don’t decide that a change is needed it will only get worse. How many more children have to die before we say that it must stop?

While gun control is getting the lion’s share of the media attention there are many other facets of violence in our society that need our attention. Besides those already mentioned, we need to address the mental health problems in today’s America. For several generations now funding for mental health care has been slashed. As a result far too many people are on the street that should be institutionalized. Had the shooter at Sandy Creek received the care he needed maybe those children would not have died.

I feel that one very important thing we must do is to combat the disproportionate influence of the National Rifle Association and others such as the radical members of the Tea Party. Their pressures on our elected officials have given them much more power than they deserve. We need to stand up to those who would keep us from being heard in the debate concerning the future of our children. If we must, we should borrow a page out of the NRA’s playbook and let our elected officials know that if they succumb to the pressure of the NRA and the Tea Party that then they will face a greater pressure from those of us who truly care about the future of our country.

The debate concerning violence in America is currently a hot topic. If you truly care about our children please keep that debate going. For the sake of our children don’t let the passage of time silence that debate.

Don’t Call Me Sweetie!


The first instance I can remember about being classified as old came one day when I stopped at Wendy’s for lunch. I was in my early fifties at the time. An young man who was most probably still in high school took my order and when the total was displayed on the register I told him that he must have forgotten something because the total was a bit less than it should be. He said that it was correct but it was lower because he gave me the senior citizen discount. I felt offended! How dare he think that I was a senior citizen. I was tempted to show him how a senior citizen could jump over the counter and give him a black eye. However, I thought better of it and didn’t say anything. Hey, ten percent is ten percent. That money could go into my retirement account.

As time went on I encountered more of society’s preconceived notions towards aging. The most egregious were in the work force. Once I turned fifty it seemed as though every employer thought that I was now brain dead and I had to fight for every real job that I got. It seems as though people today feel that anyone over a certain age is only fit for jobs such as door greeter or cart boy.

But today I experienced the most demeaning age based perception of all. Today I went for my annual physical. I absolutely love the current doctor I have. He is extremely capable and treats me like a real person, not a dollar sign. But one of his nurses is another matter. A few minutes after signing in, the door to the doctor’s inner sanctums opened and a nurse called “Kenneth”. I rose and walked towards the door. As I reached the door the nurse said “this way sweetie.” This way sweetie? Did I look that old to her? Couldn’t she see the vibrant fully alive young man in front of her?

We walked to the scales and she said “stand up there sweetie.” As I mounted the scales my shoulders slumped and I could feel the weight of almost sixty-eight years bearing down on my. “Now let’s measure your height sweetie.” My shoulders slumped more. I measured a full four inches shorter than I did last year! I know that people shrink a little as they age but four inches is not normal. The repeated “sweetie’s” were taking their toll. “Let’s get your weight sweetie.” The years bore down more heavily. I couldn’t bear to look at the reading on the scales. Surely it must have been ten pounds more than it should be.

We walked into the examination room and she said “jump up on the table sweetie.” I’ll show her! I literally jumped up on the table. However, I overdid it and flew completely over the table and landed on the floor. “Sweetie! Are you O.K.?” As she helped me up I could feel my back rounding at the shoulders and I could feel the old man’s hump developing as she helped me onto the table. “Let’s take your blood pressure sweetie.” 200 over 150! “Did something get you upset today sweetie?” Little did she know!

Just then the doctor came in. He looked at me as said “Ken! You look like hell. What’s wrong?” “Just feeling my age doc.” I replied. The physical went well and my spirits slowly perked up. The doctor said I was in good shape and that I had the body of a man in his forties. He told me to get dressed and the nurse would be in to escort me out. After I dressed, the nurse came in and said “Well sweetie looks like you will make it another year.” I looked in the corner for my walker and not seeing one made my own way out.

I realize the nurse thought she was being pleasant to the nice old man. But I have a real problem with people who want to classify me as old. I keep active, both physically and mentally. I enjoy learning new things and love the company of little children. I still want to work; that is if society will let me. I could always work others to death and I still can; it just takes me a little longer.

Society as a whole says that I should sit at home and “go gentle into that good night…” Dylan Thomas in his epic poem written for his dying father said,

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light…

Not only am I going to rage. I am going to kick and scream. I am going down fighting. The darkness will have to sneak up on me and catch me unawares. I intend to live this life the best I can. No rocking chair for me!

My favorite philosopher Satchel Paige said “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.” He was also fond of saying “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are.” Good words to live by.

As for me I intended to forge ahead despite society’s attempts to stereotype me. I don’t see myself as old. If you see me as old then that is your problem. If you won’t hire me because I have reached an age at which  you think I can’t contribute any thing more to society, then you are wrong. I still have a lot to contribute.

You can categorize me as old if you want. You can discriminate against me because of my age. You can try your best to make an old man out of me. Bring it on!

Do what you will. I can take it.

But Don’t, don’t ever call me sweetie!

A Sea of Beige

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I’m drowning in a sea of beige

Its latex waves crash upon my shores,

Its lifeless waves wash away grains

Of color from my beach

Until all is merged in its sea.

Meant not to offend this

Neutral tint is offensive to me,

It robs me of life giving contrast.

It takes away all

While adding nothing.

Beige is not a color

It is a statement, it says

I shall not offend –

I will not stand out

Except in my sameness.

Any statement with other tints

Is soon covered by

Beige’s relentless tide

And swept away to sea

To die a lonely death.

I cry out for brightness,

For contrast.

But my prayers

Are met with the

Muted silence of beige.


The very word

Offends my senses

And threatens my being

With its muted presence.

This monotone monster

Follows me as

I retreat into my corner,

My refuge, my sanctuary.

But its sameness engulfs me.

Its insidious viscosity

Permeates my body

And my soul.

It overwhelms me

Until at last –

I become BEIGE!




I have been blogging for a year now and every once in awhile an acquaintance will ask me why I blog. I usually answer that I like to write. But it goes deeper than that. I write a blog for several reasons. But before I go into those reasons let’s first look at just what it means to blog.

According to Wikipedia the term came about by combining the two words web and log or weblog. Web for the internet and log as in a journal. The most accepted meaning of a blog is that is a journal posted on the internet. A blog can be hosted on sites such as The Patch, which is a network of local interest news sites,  or for a nominal fee you can have your own private  blog on a website such as For a few dollars a year you can have your own special website and blog to your hearts content.

Blogs can be narrow and focus only on one certain subject such as: food, sports, pets, politics, etc. This narrow focus is the most common; however I prefer to write about a variety of subjects. You can blog about what ever you are passionate about. You can share your expertise on certain subjects with others. You can even blog about what you are mad about and use your blog to vent and tell everyone what is wrong with this world of ours. The choice is up to you.

Now back to why I blog. First of all I do like to write. Writing provides me a creative outlet. I like the challenge of trying to express myself in a thoughtful and hopefully intelligent manner.

Some of my blogs such as Expletive Deleted and Eating My Mistakes have been written with the intention to entertain the reader. In both those blogs and others I try to bring out some humor while I point out some of my failings as a human being.

Other blogs are meant to tell a story. Some stories such as Watching Momma Die are sad. Some stories are joyful; such as Grandpa Daycare.

Some of my blogs have been written with the intention to help others where I can share my experience on subjects such as Butterfly Gardening and my six part series on Going to Disney World With Little Children.

With my apologies to my readers I have used my blog to vent. In pieces such as  I’m Voting For None of the Above I used my blog privilege (and it is a privilege) to vent about things that bother me. However, I did it in thoughtful and civil manner. I formulated my thoughts and tried to present the rationale behind my position unlike many of the people I see posting venomous comments in the comments section of some blogs.

One thing is sure you can’t wear your heart on your sleeve when as a blogger you present your thoughts to one and all. Every writer has critics. Some critics are thoughtful and considerate. Others will, if you let them rip your intellectual heart out and trash it with their irrational comments. This happened to me when I wrote my first blog on Ohio Senate Bill five. Many of the comments were mean spirited and intended to hurt. One particular Tea Bagger called me a “union thug”. How could a grandpa such as myself be a thug to anyone? I didn’t let her venomous comments get to me though. And funny, but after I sent Vito and Rocco to talk to her I never heard from her again.

One of the many benefits of blogging is that it helps you formulate your thoughts and put them into some semblance of order in a rational manner. Sitting down and writing with the intent to explain your thoughts to others causes you to examine those thoughts. And in doing so you can bring focus to your feelings. Just the simple process of putting your thoughts on paper can bring clarity and at times resolve many of your concerns.

Many bloggers write with the intention of gaining the approbation of others. They try their best to please the reader with the hope of gaining more readers and acclaim. However I don’t write for others. I write only for myself. Like most people who write I like it when someone says something nice about my writing but it is not an essential ingredient in my writing. Walt Whitman, the American poet said in Leaves of Grass “I exist as I am, that is enough, If no other in the world be aware I sit content, And if each and all be aware I sit content.” For my writing to be of worth to me it must be meaningful to me. In that way I will most likely never be a conventionally successful writer because first and foremost my writing must be honest, open, and of import to me. Many people who write do so just to get published. As a blogger you are in effect your own publisher. and you control your output. It is all up to you.

There is another more personal reason that I write. I believe that human beings have an inherent need to connect with others. The English poet John Donne said in his poem

No Man Is An Island:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

This need to connect with others is primeval. From the first homo erectus to walk on two legs to the homo sapiens of today the need to connect is imbued in our being. The desire to know that we are part of humanity resides within us all. So my writing is my way of reaching out and connecting with others.

I have found that sometimes the most difficult part of blogging is just getting started. The mere act of putting the first word on paper can paralyze oneself. Many people have told me that they would like to write but they just can’t get started.  I may spend days or even weeks before I start writing a blog. Sometimes it takes all the strength I can muster just to get started. But once I am able to get that first word on paper or into my word processor the piece at times takes on a life of its own and as if by magic it completes itself with my presence a superfluous accessory to the creative process.

One thing that helps is to jot down any and all ideas for a blog that may occur to you. I keep a legal pad on my desk where I scribble down ideas for blogs. I currently have six sheets of paper filled with ideas. Some ideas are just snippets of a larger theme; most are only one or two words that convey the intent of a future blog. Rarely do I flush out a blog when I first think of the idea for a blog. The thoughts behind  this blog first cried out to me some months ago.

So how about it? Why don’t you join me as a blogger? Blogging on is easy and inexpensive. I am sure that you too have something to say and I look forward to reading your first piece.

THE MUSEUM – A Grand Reopening

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Well, after almost nine months “The Museum” is once again open for business. The Museum is the name my grandchildren gave their arts and craft area that was dedicated to their use in my rec room. For years the kids created their masterpieces using all sorts of medium, from crayons to watercolors. No matter how those artworks looked to outsiders we considered them great works of art and the best of them were taped, glued, and using any means available attached to the walls of my rec room. About two years ago after having visited an art museum with their parents they christened the rec room “The Museum” and with great seriousness took great pains to display their artwork. They and I were very proud of the museum so it was with a great deal of sadness that it was destroyed last July. On July 19th 2011 we had a rain storm of epic proportions. Over five inches of rain fell in just three hours the result of which was that the sewers in my area backed up into our basement and destroyed The Museum.

At the time Donna Noble, a parenting columnist mentioned The Museum in her article Nurturing The Artist Part III. Over the next eight months or so doing all the work myself I not only rebuilt The Museum but created a new, improved and expanded version of  The Museum. In the old museum the kids shared a work table which consisted of an old table top sitting on top of crates and measured about 3 ft. x 5 ft. My first inclination was to buy individual tables for each grandchild. When I told this to my six year old grandson he suggested that I cut the old table in half and save a lot of money.

The new work area.

He was so proud of the fact that he was going to save grandpa a lot of money that I could do no else. So at great risk to my external digits I drug out my old circular saw and dutifully cut the table in half. This was just the start of an experience that will serve as the basis of my new reality show – DIY or Die Trying. I purchased wood to make stands for the new tables and since I was not too adept at woodworking I also purchased a power router, a table saw, a reciprocal saw, and various other power tools that to me seemed to be designed for the maximum damage that they might do to ones body.

Although I didn’t know what I was doing I persevered. I slapped mud on drywall. Routed my own baseboards from a product know in home improvement circles as MDF (medium density fiberboard). I even did something I have always been afraid of – doing electrical wiring. I added spotlights over each kids work area and I must say that I am proud of myself; no sparks or fires and I never got shocked once. Of course I take all precautions when working with electricity. I put on rubber gloves and rubber boots. I turned off the main power supply switch and actually pulled the circuit breaker for the rec room. When it come to amps and volts I try to prepare for watt ever comes up. (Pardon the pun).

Despite all the difficulties, expense and risk to life and limb I managed to finish the new museum and we held the grand opening a few days ago. The kids were delighted with their new work place. They quickly sat down and I thought they were each going to create their first masterpiece for The Museum.

The kids creating their first work of art for the new museum. Or so I thought.

Not being one who ever had a sibling rivalry I was a little dismayed by what occurred. Instead of creating their first work of art for display each kid staked their claim to the space available. My grandson made a sign stating that his area was know as “Alec’s Art Room”. Not to be outdone my granddaughter quickly made a sign with an arrow showing one and all where “Siena’s Art Table” was.

All in all rebuilding the museum was quite an experience. I learned a lot: a lot about myself and a lot about power tools. I was hesitant to even rebuild the rec room. I could have put the insurance money in my pocket and let the rec room go back to just being a basement. My nephew Tim Bishman is a realtor and he said that rebuilding the rec room would be great for the resale value of my house. Thanks a lot Tim! In this depressed housing market I think I am going to have to wait awhile before I get my money out of this rebuild. And I doubt if I will ever get back the value of my labor. But, there is something else to consider and that is the value of nurturing the artist within my grandchildren. Even though neither may make art a career I feel the value of the acquired creativity and appreciation for art just for art’s sake was more than worth it.

From the Mouths of Children



In an era where many despair for today’s children an event happens that makes you think that just maybe today’s kids will turn out alright.

Yesterday my son-in-law’s mother passed away after a long bout with cancer. This morning my son-in-law found a note taped to his bedroom door written my my seven year old granddaughter. The note reads: “Dad, I know grandma was your mother. I want u to know this: She will always be in our hearts. Siena.”

I know it is natural for a grandparent to be proud of their grandchildren, but I couldn’t be prouder of my granddaughter than I am now.

As Others See Us

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My six year old grandson did this portrait of me for an assignment in his kindergarten class. Unfortuantely it is a very good image of me.

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