When Don DiBartolomeo isn’t working at a bike shop or riding his bike — competitively or for fun — he’s helping kids through the Right Direction foundation.
That means always having extra food for kids or anyone else who may be stopping by his Bowling Green home.
During the holidays, a hearty appetizer taken from his grandmother’s recipe box, is usually served or can be pulled out of the freezer for a last-minute dish.
“It’s been around for a while,” DiBartolomeo said of the Hanky Panky dish. “But we tweaked it quite a bit.
“This is a cool appetizer that you could use and it’s basically a baguette, cut up, or you can use Italian bread. Then, it’s a mixture of sausage and ground beef, with Velveeta cheese, Worcestershire sauce and garlic.”
The Velveeta is essential for freezing the extras.
“You’ll make a bunch, then you’ll freeze them and reheat them. Normal cheese, you can’t just freeze and reheat because it gets all funky,” DiBartolomeo said.
His grandmother and mother used to make a spicier version spread on pumpernickel.
“We did regular sausage and added the Worcestershire, that wasn’t in the mix either,” DiBartolomeo said.
Change the dish up by serving it on a different bread, such as rye, or put the whole meat mixture in a pot and dip into it with crackers.
He and his wife Julie have three daughters between them. They enjoy cooking, but love going out to eat even more.
Hanky Panky is always on the menu for the annual Christmas party hosted by the couple. They serve 6-8 pounds of shrimp with SamB’s cocktail sauce — “they have fresh horseradish they put in, so good” — and 16 pounds of beef tenderloin with a ginger-garlic-soy marinade. And always a charcuterie, which they’ve been doing for years, way before it was the party rage.
DiBartolomeo grew up with huge food gatherings.
“My grandparents and parents would cook all the time, and we would have to help. The big thing was we would always get together, everybody in the family, once or twice a year and and make homemade pasta, homemade raviolis, meatballs and a huge thing of sauce,” he said.
“We would literally make thousands of raviolis,” DiBartolomeo said. “Thanksgiving and Christmas, everybody would come over and you would have a traditional turkey, but then pasta, meatballs, the bread, all the charcuterie.”
DiBartolomeo came to the area to attend Bowling Green State University, on a partial lacrosse scholarship. He had been a track fanatic in high school, but fell hard for speed and the team vibe of lacrosse as a freshman.
He’s been biking since he was 10. DiBartolomeo manages Spoke Life Cycles in Perrysburg.
He helped start the Right Direction.
“It teaches kids life skills through action sports,” he said.
The non-profit reached around 3,000 children last year, through camps, clinics and demonstrations around Northwest Ohio. They mostly serve ages 10-19.
Their demos are quite a show with bike riders racing down ramps, spinning and jumping.
The organization has a “gear-up” component that provides equipment to those who need it, or just want to give the action a try.
It’s more than bikes, too.
“We have wakeboard, motor cross, mountain bike, skateboard, scooter, BMX, slacklining,” DiBartolomeo said. “And we will provide all the equipment so the kids can experience it.”