Gram’s orange spaghetti gave birth to the cousins’ annual bonfire, evermore to be “the orange spaghetti bonfire.”

We don’t remember how it started, but it became a tradition the first year. We are the cousins: Gram’s two daughters and their offspring and their mates.

Gram made spaghetti for dinner on a regular basis. It was quick to make, fed our family of four economically. We loved it.

She called it American spaghetti until one of her granddaughters quipped, “Gram, will you make orange spaghetti tonight?” There was a lot of Velveeta in it and looked orange.

For several years, Gram and Grampa had a tavern in Pecatonica, Ill. My dad always had great ideas but Gram (Donna’s and my mom) always made the ideas happen.

He decided to have a picnic — Big Ed’s Family Picnic at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds. (located in Pecatonica)

I remember so well the tubs of orange spaghetti Gram made to feed several hundred townsfolk and visitors.

Her coleslaw was second to none. How many tubs of coleslaw had she made to go with the dinner? No idea. But that was Gram.

And that was Big Ed. Bigger than life.

As we and our families grew up and grew to be more, we started the end of summer bonfire at the lake.

Actually, the end of summer became the end of October.

One year, early on, I made orange spaghetti for the bonfire. And ever since, the orange spaghetti/bonfire became the tradition of the cousins.

Two years ago the tradition ended. My sister, Donna, won so many battles but in the end she lost the war with cancer.

We did not have the bonfire. The battles with grief were overwhelming.

This year, the tradition is back. Next week I will tell you all about it.

This is a repeated recipe. What else could it be this week but

Gram’s Orange Spaghetti

Ingredients for a family of four: 1 1/2 hamburger, browned and drained, 1 large onion, diced and cooked in with meat, 3-4 largest can Hunt’s tomato sauce, (or any good sauce that is not thin), 1 1/2 pounds Velveeta, diced for melting. 1/2 cup milk or half and half-1/2 stick butter. cook 1-1/12 pounds spaghetti break into thirds and cook to directions. salt and pepper to taste, mushrooms optional but better with mushrooms-canned 16 ounces drained or 8 ounces fresh.(If using fresh, cook without water to get moisture out drain and towel-pat)

Directions: In a small roaster or Dutch oven, mix hamburger, 3 cans tomato sauce, and cheese. Pepper to taste. Remember, cheese has lots of salt. Mix in spaghetti.

Can make ahead of time-you will have to add more tomato sauce or with leftovers.

Serve with good coleslaw and warm bread. Enjoy

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