By Gini Rainey
Well, without giving anyone’s age away here, let me say that I have just returned from sharing dinner with my husband for the 51st time – his birthday, not mine. He is waaaay older than I. We have had many, many, many memorable celebrations for his birthday – some more memorable than others. Like the surprise party I gave him for his 30th birthday, when he shared later that he didn’t like surprises. So remembering this, there was the half-century surprise party I gave him at El Charro’s when I was only expecting about 18-20 people and over 50 showed up. He had mellowed by this time and really did have a good time seeing family and friends at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
Well, tonight, after having a family celebratory dinner at The Jalapeno Tree last night, the two of us went over to our favorite Italian restaurant for a little pasta and wine. And, hopefully not stepping on anyone’s toes, I mentioned to Mario, our server, that the mood music was a little different than what we expected – it was Jesus rock. I told him that I would have thought that something by Frank Sinatra would be more fitting, and while remaining politically correct, he explained that he and the owner had a little discussion about that choice and he, being the gentleman that he is, gracefully deferred to her choice.
So, (segue here) on that note, I was birthday-gifted a really great cookbook, “The Sinatra Celebrity Cookbook,” a few years back by my cousin and her husband. Compiled by The Affiliates, a volunteer organization of men and women dedicated to supporting the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center and its mission to break the cycle of child abuse, this fund-raising book was published in 1996. This book is a virtual compendium of the stars of Hollywood from the late 20th Century.
With lots and lots of great recipes on its 260 pages, it also has photos of the contributors as well as a lovely center section with color photographs of the Sinatra’s and some of their friends and the children whose lives they have touched through their humanitarian endeavors. The purchase of the cookbooks benefited their foundation at Eisenhower Medical Center, Rancho Mirage, California.
With a really great section dedicated to pasta and sauces, there are also sections filled with everything from appetizers to desserts. But, I must say that one of my favorite pasta sauces is my own, and I would love to share it with you. First, brown 1 pound of ground chuck in a large skillet, then drain off any grease that remains. Then, stir in a 6 ounce can of tomato paste, a 14.5 can of diced tomatoes, a 7 ounce can – drained – of mushroom stems and pieces, and 12 ounces of water. Now, add 1 tablespoon rubbed dry oregano, 1 tablespoon rubbed, dry basil, 2 tablespoons dry, minced onion, ¼ teaspoon celery salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 2 bay leaves. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour and serve over pasta of choice, we like thin spaghetti. Top with your choice of grated parmesan or asiago cheese, and you’ve got some mighty fine eating. Oh, and put Frankie on the stereo, dim the lights, light the candles, and a bottle of Mark West Pinot Noir will finish it off with finesse.