When you meet someone for the first time, how can you know if you will become a major part of one another's lives?
Nearly 50 years ago, I met Michael Fraschetta at the Barn Playhouse where he was auditioning for the musical "Once Upon a Mattress." Michael was chosen to play Prince Dauntless. Although this was his first role, his interpretation of the role was the best I've ever seen. "Mattress" was among the shows I produced at the Barn.
Michael is a tenor — a beautiful tenor. Whenever I hear Johnny Mathis, I could swear it is Michael singing. He had vocal training with Dr. John Duddy for over 10 years.
Michael and I quickly bonded and became lifelong friends. We certainly share the same values and, most of all, the same wacky humor. One's sense of humor affects mood, temperament, and disposition. At the Barn we were lucky to belong to a community that reflected this and more.
After working for a bank for nine years Michael finally got the courage (his words, not mine) to attend classes at Villanova University and graduated with a BA in human services. He spent the next 25 years providing assistance and support to countless individuals.
Being a sun, surf and sand lover, he and Bill Patton, Michael's partner of 28 years, moved to Sarasota, Fla. They married four years ago when marriage equality became legal.
Michael's maternal grandparents, the Fuscos, lived in Phoenixville on Bridge Street (between Wheatland Street and Nutt Road). He and his parents lived with the Fuscos for a short period of time, which Michael fondly remembers.
Michael possesses a wide range of talents and abilities which he put to work Pennsylvania, New York, and Sarasota, Fla. Michael and Bill are now retired. Before retiring, Bill spent many years as a very creative, successful and extremely well-liked English teacher. Bill is a major classic movie buff sharing his knowledge on many movie sites.
Michael and I don't see one another as frequently as we would like since his move to Florida, but there is the telephone, the computer and occasional visits ... but not often enough.
As much as Michael and Bill enjoy going out and trying new places to eat, this recipe is one of Michael’s favorite recipe when making dinner at home. We all know what the word pasta means — well fagioli means beans — together they make a pasta & beans recipe. Oh, don’t forget to remove the bay leaf before serving.
PASTA A FAGIOLI
1 cup dry cannellini beans*
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
4 cups beef stock
1 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
pinch of black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, fine dice
1 cup ham, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Drain the beans and set aside (8 hours to overnight). In a large stockpot heat the oil until hot. Add onion, celery for 5 minutes, stir on occasion. Add tomatoes, beans, stock, thyme, and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Bring back to a boil, add pasta. Simmer until pasta is tender. About 6 minutes.
*Note from Bette — instead of using dry beans and soaking them, you could use prepared canned beans. You need to be sure you drain and rinse the canned beans thoroughly under running water.
Let Bette hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org. Search YouTube for "Look Who's Cooking with Bette Banjack as well as phoenixvillenews.com (search bar Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching "Bette Banjack's Downtown Kitchen." Her book "2 Cups of Yesterday" is available at the Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.