Home > Freemasonry > 99 Bottles of Sauce on the Wall

99 Bottles of Sauce on the Wall

February 9, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Actually, more like 96 jars.

Quart jars, that is.

Yes, at the end of January I once again donned my operative apron to cook about 96 quarts of tomato sauce.

Why so much, you ask? Because, you know, that’s like 24 gallons of sauce. You could overflow a bathtub with that much sauce.

The answer is that I needed a lot of sauce to serve over the 54 pounds of ziti and 160 meatballs. Along with the bushel of salad, and the several dozen loaves of bread, of course.


Pasta Dinner 2007
Click the pic to see the online album

The First Congregational Church of Southington has a mission trip for the high school-aged confirmands (those that are about to be confirmed), and for the last few years the missions send them to places that need some manpower. Usually they are involved with other groups that rebuild or refurbish churches and schools. This year, they are heading down south to assist with some of the damage from last year’s Hurricane Katrina. About a dozen or so are going, and while they will be put up in shelters, they do need to pay for transportation costs.

A few years ago, seeing the success of the Chicken Pie Scholarship dinner in the Fall, Reverend Rick asked my wife if she’d be interested in doing something similar to help the kids defray the transportation costs. My wife has a heart of gold, so naturally she volunteered my services. She volunteers my service whenever somebody needs to cook for a lot of people. In fact, one year, a couple of the church members had seen me in the kitchen so often that they asked her “Is that man a caterer? Because he’s pretty good and we’d like to have him give us a price on a party.” Naturally, I was a bit upset to learn that she told them that I was only her husband. Even more upsetting is that she sent them away without giving me a shot at bidding on the party. No, I’m not a professional cook, but if somebody wants to pay me for throwing a party, I think it’s only fair to give it due consideration.

The first year that we did this I learned something: no matter how accustomed you are at cooking for family and friends, cooking for large groups (we consistently have between 150 to 200 people) is just not the same. Yes, in theory one just takes a recipe and scales it up, but in practice it’s really difficult to work with the equivalent of four or five 5-gallon buckets of sauce. I tend to make meat sauces, so I needed to keep a pot separate for the vegetarians and cholesterol watchers. And I had to tone down the spiciness. And watch the herbs. And keep stirring.

And can you believe that some people can’t have wine in their sauce? The sulfites give them rather unpleasant reactions. Good thing that somebody warned the minister.

I also discovered that one is not even allowed to drink wine in the church while preparing sauce. Actually, the prohibition probably extends to more than just while making sauce – I suspect that they don’t want anyone drinking wine while cooking anything at all.

Like I said – it’s just not the same.

Anyway, by the third year we we had gotten the hang of it, and I’m pleased to say that this year was one of the best ever. We served about 170 people, and the dozen or so confirmands came down to serve and help clean up, and we were out of there by 9:30 – the earliest ever. Naturally we had some help from people who were carefully screened for the ability to work with sharp tools, hot pans, and who wouldn’t mind being around me for two days. And for the token bit of Masonic content, I’d like to thank Brother Ed for staying after dinner to help with the dishes, and his wife Polly who managed to not ask me about joining Order of Eastern Star as we scrubbed the pots.

We had some leftovers, so we made up large Ziplock bags of ziti and my wife ladled in some sauce and tossed in a few meatballs, and sold them the next morning after the services as “ready made dinners.” The dinner raised about $1,500 after expenses, and the only thing that we had left over was a large bag of ziti and some meatballs.

Anyone want to guess what I had for lunch for the rest of the week?

Categories: Freemasonry
  1. February 23, 2007 at 10:46 am

    If that’s you in the picture, I have to ask, what color is your beard now? Have you perhaps noticed a reddish tinge?


  2. February 23, 2007 at 11:19 am

    PT, I started turning grey early; back in high school I developed a grey streak in my hair, and it’s been downhill ever since. You’d think that my beard would be red after all that sauce, but the real problem was that I smelled like an Italian restaurant for the rest of the week.

    In the summer, I help the church cook up hot dogs and burgers for the annual picnic. Every year I wash grease out of my hair for the next three days.

    Our lodge has a sandwich booth for the Apple Harvest Festival, and until last year we used to slice the onions in a machine. I don’t cry for onions, so I usually end up slicing. No matter how much I shower afterwards, I smell like onions for two weeks.

    Oh, and thanks for stopping by the new place. I’m moving away from Blogger, and I’m really enjoying WordPress. Some great features here; and although there’s not much of a Freemason community yet, it’s starting to grow.


  3. February 25, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Yeah I meant to say, it’s really a nice looking blog now. WordPress has more of a pro look to it, but I’m just wary of moving, with my luck I’d end up losing everything.

    One thing I hate is Typepad. They have a good look and all, but you always have to register and half the time when I register to make a comment it tells me I’m doing something wrong. I registered to comment on one blog, then went straight to another Typepad blog and typed in the exact same thing and was told it was wrong. It’s really a piece of shit, and aggravating as all hell.

    Don’t even get me going on LiveJournal or MySpace grrrrr. One of my best friends is on a LiveJournal blog and I haven’t been to her blog in months because it’s so aggravating, and I even have it on my blogroll (it’s called Journal of A Deranged Mind, or something like that).

    Anyway, your beard actually looks quite good, actually quite distinquished. Everytime I try to grow a beard I end up looking like shit. Oh well.


  4. February 26, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    I’ve had a number of problems replying to posts on Typepad accounts. In fact, now that I think about it, I might have a opened a free Typepad account, just to comment, but I can’t remember.

    There is some irony in that you and I both have MySpace accounts, and can’t stand it. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that the only reason I started one is to be able to comment on the MS pages of some family and friends. I do, however, use Live Journal. It’s not as, um, intuitive to use as some other interfaces, but after a while you kind of get the hang of it. I sort of like it, but I keep changing themes, and that means I have to keep tweaking the settings. I’m not sure why I use it, since nobody I know has LJ. A bit of snobbery, perhaps?

    And at 48, my beard should look distinguished! It’s a disguise, though, since I don’t exactly act my age.


  5. November 10, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Good words.


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