The ancient family recipe

Four weeks ago tomorrow, I was at the funeral of a very dear aunt in Jackson, Tennessee. (That’s where much of my mother’s side of the family lives.) Following the service, her son — that would be my first cousin — suggested we all get together around Thanksgiving to make this year’s ravioli. Yesterday was that day.

As I mentioned in a blog post on Sunday, my great-great-grandparents emigrated from Italy during the late 1800’s. They were Giuseppe “Joe” Megaletti Reverdito (1858-1940), born in Cortemilia, and Angelina “Lena” Caroloni Savoria (1863-1919), born in Piana Crixia. Both towns are located in northwest Italy, between Genoa and Turin. They would have sailed from the port of Genoa. They settled in Memphis, Tennessee. It is probable that they did not marry until after immigrating to the United States. Once here, they shortened their surname to “Ditto.”

At any rate, the ravioli recipe belonged to Joe Ditto. (That is also his rolling pin you see in the upper left photograph.) It has been altered somewhat from generation to generation, although we try to stay as close to the original as possible. For many years, my grandmother — their granddaughter — made the ravioli. She would make so many that we would enjoy them for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We don’t know how she did this by herself, because it is a laborious task. She passed away in 1999. Since then, various members of the family have make the ravioli. Yesterday, it was the “grandkids” who gathered to make the ravioli for the very first time. (There are six of us first cousins of my generation, and we still refer to ourselves as “the grandkids.” Four of us six were together yesterday. At one point, there were 4 generations of one family present.)

The filling consists of ground pork, spinach, onion, garlic, and a few other odds-and-ends.  The cousin I mentioned before had already prepared the filling. So our task yesterday was to make the pasta, roll it out, then fill and cut each ravioli. I have made pasta before by hand. It’s just flour and egg. The dough is tough and quite challenging to kneed and then roll out. (Imagine trying to roll out a sheet of leather.) After moving around and experimenting with various components of the “assembly line” we had established, we finally settled into a groove and pressed more than 300 ravioli in about 5 hours (including an hour break for lunch).

For the first time ever, we used a ravioli press (pictured below). Heretofore, they had always been cut by hand. (The elders were mortified.) But my cousin found a press on Amazon and we used it without the slightest feelings of guilt or betrayal.

The ravioli were laid out carefully in storage containers for freezing. We’ll enjoy them when we get together again a few days after Christmas. The ravioli will be served with a meat-and-tomato based gravy that will probably be made the day of. It has been years since I last enjoyed the old family recipe, and never had I helped make them until yesterday.

Overheard at the ravioli making:

“We should start our own YouTube channel.”

“We have just improved upon a perfect recipe.”

“All that’s missing is [our grandmother] to tell us everything we’re doing wrong.”

“What is the word she used for the leftover bits of pasta?” (Googles “Italian word for scraps of pasta”) “It says ‘scarti di pasta.’ We’ll go with that.”

“Of course [our grandmother’s] version [of the ravioli history] was probably embellished, but it sounds good so we’ll stick to it.”


“How did she do this all by herself?”

“They made and sold these to rich folks in Memphis during the Depression.”

Reading from my grandmother’s autobiographical tome 803 Carson Street, “they used to set these out on the back porch because it was colder than the icebox.”


Final long run

Today I reached another goal in my half-marathon training. I always do a long run of 11+ miles during my training, and the 11+ mile run was the next in sequence. That was this morning. It had been 12 days since my last long run, and it’s 12 days until the half-marathon. As the runs get longer, I have to space them out a little farther, and I’m so thankful the weather cooperated. It was perfect. I began a little after 10 a.m. It was 42 degrees with full sun and very little wind. It was sufficient for short sleeves. I slowed it down to my half-marathon pace, and squeezed out 11.5 miles. So my next long run will be the actual half-marathon next Saturday. The thing about increasing my long runs by about a mile each time is that I’ve always got just enough to complete each one. When I ran 9+ miles back on October 30, I thought to myself I could not have gone much further. When I ran 10+ miles back on November 8, I thought to myself I could not have gone much further. And today, I thought to myself I could not have gone much further. But in 12 days, I will have to go further — 1.6 miles further than today. The one advantage I’ll have in Memphis is that the course is much flatter than what I’m used to training on here. Today’s run was quite hilly. (I ended up taking a different course than my usual route.) So if I were to subtract out the hills, maybe I could have gone further. At any rate, my remaining training goal is to work in 4 more short runs (5K to 4 miles), and then take off the two days prior to the half-marathon on December 2. As always, I’m excited and scared all at the same time.

Six generations of Memphians

My 20-year-old is the third generation of his family to attend the University of Memphis, but he is the 6th generation to live in the Bluff City. His great-great-great grandparents immigrated from Italy during the late 1800’s and settled in Memphis. They both died there. Their daughter and her husband lived in a house on Carson Street in Memphis (photographed below in 2012) from the 1920’s until their deaths in 1972. Their daughter, my grandmother, lived there, too. My mother lived part of her childhood in Memphis, although not at the Carson Street address. I lived there from 1991 until 1994. And now the 20-year-old lives there. That’s six generations of the same family literally wedded to one city during the course of a century (a little more, actually).

The Carson Street neighborhood, sadly, is not the same as it once was. It is part of what is now known as Orange Mound, a semi-depressed area of high crime and general poverty about a mile west of the UofM campus. The house was constructed in 1920 and the address 803 Carson Street is engraved in family lore. I’ve never been inside, as it passed out of the family after the deaths of my great-grandparents some 45 years ago.

Friday musings

We have a VP whom the left criticizes because he won’t be alone with another woman. He replaced a VP who has been caught on video numerous times touching other women & young girls inappropriately. Of course, the left is fine with this.

The $500M Museum of the Bible opens tomorrow in Washington, D.C. I very much want to see this.

Q: What is Al Franken’s obligation to the Democrat Party now?
Me: Run for President in 2020.

If Roy Moore is forced out of his senate race, political power will forever shift from the voters to a small cadre of unscrupulous women willing to make false charges of sexual misconduct to scuttle whatever GOP candidates they don’t like.

Don’t think for a second that your average liberal feels genuine outrage over sexual maltreatment of women. The left is made up of miscreants who embrace all manner of perversion, debauchery, and sexual deviancy. The only thing they find immoral is morality itself.

Thursday’s things

One week from today is America’s first Trumpsgiving. The first Thanksgiving happened when the Pilgrims made nice with the Indians and had a feast. The first Trumpsgiving follows President Trump making nice with the Chinese, and I’d be perfectly content to feast on egg rolls and General Tso’s chicken. And maybe some pumpkin pie.

Someone at work had the audacity to ask me if I’m going to the Memphis-SMU game Saurday given the threat of storms. Of course I’m going. I have to go. I haven’t missed a single minute of a single game yet this season. The Tigers are 5-0 with me there. I. Have. To. Be. There.

Two weeks from Saturday, Lord willing, I will run my first St. Jude half-marathon in Memphis. It will be my 5th half-marathon overall. Monday is my final planned long run before the actual race.

So many great things are happening in America right now that it’s seemed like Christmas ever since January 20. Indeed, Trump Claus has been delivering good tidings to the American people at a frantic pace. Even if you’re naughty liberal or #fakenews reporter, good things are still happening in your country.

I am convinced that the allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore are fabricated. This is the establishment’s way of putting outsiders on notice. “If you challenge our power, this is what you can expect.” This is why it’s so important to drain the swamp.

I am also convinced that the GOP establishment was happier with Barack Obama in the White House than Donald Trump.

The last time I shaved was 3 weeks ago today.

College students go through a lot of money. If you think your pre-teen is expensive, just wait.

I do not miss watching the NBA this year. Too much pop culture and politics and not enough diversion. The art of competition should not come with such extraneous baggage.

I’ve always loved The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again for the closing line, “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss.” But now the line, “And the beards have all grown longer overnight” carries a very special meaning, too.

Quote du jour

“It was as if the media thought that money just appeared in the hands of some fortunate souls by way of miracle . . . or some unspoken and undiscovered criminal activity. But never by work. It was the oddest of political prejudices that wealth didn’t come from work, but rather from something else, a something never really described, but always implied to be suspect.” — Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon

48 Eve

All those born on November 17, 1969 are currently enjoying the eve of their 48th birthday. Congratulations to you all for making it this far. May you enjoy many more.

The number 48 is a highly useful number. Unlike 47, which is prime, 48 can be parsed many ways.

For example, 48 is 4 dozen.

It can be written as, 72-1.

– or –

48 x 1
24 x 2
16 x 3
12 x 4
8 x 6
2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 3
42 x 3

In 1980, Mike Schmidt, who was my favorite athlete growing up, hit 48 home runs for the Philadelphia Phillies. it was his career high, and also stood as a franchise record for 26 years. That was the year I got into baseball.

The only prime number that is divisible into 48 is 3.

Half the number of months that will ultimately be spanned by the presidency of Donald J. Trump is 48.

The year ’48 was also the year of “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.” Except that it wasn’t. Incidentally, that was 69 years ago, and individuals born in ’69 are turning 48 this year.

If you go 48 years back from 1969, you’ll find yourself in the year 1921. In other words, the years 2017 and 1921 are equidistant from 1969.

An NBA game lasts 48 minutes.

Until 1959, there were 48 states in the Union. That’s how we got the catchy phrase, “lower 48” (or “contiguous 48,” for those who prefer longer words).

Also, the ratio of the ages of a person turning 48 and a brand-new 16-year-old driver is 3:1, and Hillary blew a 3-1 lead.

Go back to your seat, part 2 (Luke 14:25-33)

People were excited and enamored with what Jesus was saying. He spoke with authority. He had to be very careful with whom He spoke to and gave His life to.

He said that to follow Him you would have to pick up your cross. In other words, He told His followers to follow Him, but that following Him would not be easy.

Jesus knows the motivation of your heart. What if He were honest with you and told you to just go back to your seat?

Remember, in order to be His disciple (not just Christian, but disciple), you have to love Him more than any other person on the planet. Any one else you try to love should pale in comparison to the love you have for the Lord.

God is in control and He is worthy of our love and adoration.

The American church loves the God of comfort more than anything else. He will stir up your life just to see if you trust Him most.

We want to naturally gravitate to what is comfortable to us. It’s what we’ve been conditioned to do. But God calls on us to change the world for Christ.

God can close doors no man can close, and He can open doors no man can open.

There are no gray areas in discipleship. Either you’re all in or you’re all out.

The gospel writer uses two very simple analogies to illustrate these things.

For example, if you are planning to build a tower, you first have to count the cost to see if you can finish it. If you lay the foundation and then run out of resources, you will be mocked.

Also, a king going off to war must first determine if he has the manpower to overcome his enemy. Otherwise, it would behoove him to make peace instead.

This means that in order to be a disciple of Christ, you must be willing to forsake all you have for Him.

Give thanks to God for every single blessing. Because everything ultimately comes from Him.

We have to stop being afraid that God is going to take everything from us. The question is, are we willing to give it all up for Him? He might not ask for anything. Or He might ask for everything.

Don’t play games with the Bible. God knows if you’re a pretend follower or not.

We all have gifts that are to be used in the local church context.

Stop making decisions that you don’t follow through with.

We talk too loosely about our commitment to Christ. He always comes first. When we put God first, all these things will be added unto us.

If God isn’t first in your life, you are bankrupt.

If we aren’t willing to live through the hard stuff, then, yes, we can be saved, but we cannot be His disciples.

Five for Tuesday

Roy Moore is going to win that senate seat in Alabama, and it won’t even be close. I am so thankful he didn’t cave to the pressure of dropping out of the race because of what I am convinced is a false charge of sexual misconduct. Democrats cannot win elections (except in a few diehard liberal enclaves) on ideas alone, so they have to resort to these sorts of tactics. And the establishment Republicans are right there with them. But what establishment Republicans don’t understand is that Democrats are not their friends. If the Democrats were successful in eliminating Roy Moore on trumped-up charges, then it would prove to them that they could rid the playing field of any Republican just by finding some woman to make a false charge of sexual misconduct. In other words, Democrats would hold Republicans to account for the things Democrat men actually do but area rarely held accountable for. Fortunately, the Deplorables have grown too wise to the way the game is played. We are numerous enough to swing elections when given the right candidate to support. These old political tricks don’t work anymore. The irony is that the political establishment and #fakenews media write us off as backwards hayseeds, but we’re the ones using smartphones while they’re stuck on two tin cans and string.

Liberalism corrupts everything it touches. Keurig is the most recent example. The NFL and ESPN are other examples. Just look at the declining fan base and shrinking viewership. It’s purely the result of liberalism.

Yesterday morning I went to the walk-in clinic with what I assumed was sinusitis. I typically get this in the fall and in the spring. Sometimes I can fight it off with OTC nose spray and Mucinex. But not this time. I assumed I’d walk out with an antibiotic prescription, and maybe even enjoy a steroid shot while I was there. Instead, the doctor said it was viral and prescribed a cough suppressant, steroid pack, steroid-based nose spray, and kept me on Mucinex. I had my doubts. But I had a good night’s sleep last night and right now I’m close to 100% recovered. I even ran a 5K a little while ago. And so maybe all I have is the common cold. I mean, does anyone even get colds anymore? It seems like we always chalk it up to sinusitis, but maybe we get colds more often than we think.

President Trump’s multi-national trip to Asia has been a smashing success. It’s perhaps the most successful foreign escapade by a POTUS since Reagan. The mainstream media has hardly covered it. They’ve been too consumed by #fakenews regarding Roy Moore. The reception President Trump gets at every stop illustrates how much he is respected internationally. He has made a number of trade deals that will no doubt benefit the U.S. Remember his complaint on the campaign trail that “their leaders are too smart for our leaders?” Indeed, the era of American incompetence on trade is now over. The last 10 months have likely been the most successful 10 months of any presidency in my lifetime.

Every year our Christmas list shrinks a little. Already my wife and I have finished more than half of our shopping, and it seems as though we haven’t hardly done anything. Every year, the material lure of Christmas becomes less and less. And I certainly don’t understand accruing debt just to buy Christmas gifts.