National Spaghetti Day

National Spaghetti Day on January 4th offers an opportunity to pick your sauce and add it to that long, thin cylindrical pasta of Italian and Sicilian origin.  There are a variety of different pasta dishes based on spaghetti, and the sauce determines most of them.

In celebration of National Spaghetti Day, here are a few fun facts about spaghetti to get you in the mood to celebrate:

  • Italians never use a spoon and fork when eating spaghetti, this is only an American habit. In Italy, you twirl a fork against the dish to eat it.
  • The world’s largest bowl of spaghetti was created in March 2010 by a restaurant outside of Los Angeles, called Buca di Beppo, who filled a swimming pool with more than 13,780 lbs of pasta.
  • Believed to be one of the first times TV was used to stage an April Fools’ Day hoax, on April 1st, 1957 BBC convinced its watchers that spaghetti noodles grow on trees and that frost impairs the flavor and growth of each spaghetti strand.
  • “Spaghetti” is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, meaning “thin string” or “twine.”
  • World War II was one of the most important times for spaghetti in American history due to the American soldiers, who found spaghetti when introduced to European cuisine and began to request it when they came home.

Spaghetti Pie – Serves 8-10

Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the pan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 pound ground beef (85 percent lean)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought (I like Rao’s)
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 3 to 4 minutes less than the package recommends, so that it is very al dente. Drain and reserve.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the beef, 5 to 8 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Transfer the beef to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel. Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the marinara, ricotta, parsley, eggs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the cooked spaghetti, beef and onions and toss to evenly coat. Transfer to the prepared pan, top with the mozzarella and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Products you can use to make this: Microwave Pasta Cooker – Item #2633, 12″ Nonstick Skillet – Item # 2737, Rockcrok Everyday Pan Item # 3139

Dear Dad – I miss you!

It was 5 years ago today that I (*we – see below) had to make the hardest decision of my life to date.  My beloved father was admitted to the hospital because his heart was not beating fast enough.  Shortly after he got to the hospital he coded.  They tried for a while to resuscitate him.  Eventually they intubated him and were able to get his heart beating again.  Little did we know it took over 5 minutes for this to happen.  All we knew was that he was alive and this brought joy.

Unfortunately this joy ended up to be short lived.  My father never really came back to us.  He subsisted on the ventilator for the next two weeks while we tried to get someone to tell us what was going on.  In the end they came back and said that he was probably without oxygen for too long and that he had brain damage and that  was why he could not get off the ventilator.

I had an event with my Dad during this time which I will always remember.  I was visiting him and I had my best friend with me.  He was his usual, mostly unresponsive self when we got there.  I had  a conversation with his doctors about where we needed to go.  He was coming up on 14+ days on the ventilator.  At this point they usually put the patient on a more long

term system and insert a feeding tube.  There were decisions to be made.  My friend and I were in his cubical (he didn’t have an actual room) chatting away.  His beloved Red Sox had just won the pennant again.  I brought him a championship hat and we chatted about the game like he was right there.

At some point he started to get agitated.  He hated the ventilator tube.  His random body actions would always be to pull that out.  I looked him the eyes at one point and said “you know I love you – right?”  to my surprise, he nodded his head.  Clear as day to me.  I had to look at my friend to confirm she saw the same thing.  I then said to him “you want that tube out, don’t you?”  He again nodded.  I cried.  Decision made.

From that point forward I knew that he did not want to go on this way.  Fortunately – my siblings knew that as well.  I come from a big family.  I have 9 siblings. To get us all to agree on something was nothing short of a miracle, but in this instance, we all knew what my Dad would have wanted.

This all takes us to 5 years ago today when we (I was his health care proxy, but this was a decision I would never make alone) made that decision.  They took him off the ventilator in the early evening.  I stayed at the hospital for a while, but I could not stay until he passed.  For me this was the passing of a man that I loved in a way I would never love another.  He was my hero, I could not watch him die.  My sisters were much better at this, so thankfully he was not alone.  To this day I have no idea how they did it – but I am glad that they could.

So tonight – I am saying good-bye to you again Dad.  You are missed more than you can ever imagine.  I love you!