The RV Chronicles — Getting schooled, and then some

‘Every year you wait to go back makes it harder to go back at all.’ — Dad, 1990.

I tend to do things the hard way. Always have. And for no particular reason.

Whether it’s choosing to write a 3,000-word piece just hours before a deadline or sitting through a few extra lights to avoid making a simple left turn, I regularly manage to create unnecessary obstacles.

In June 1988, as a 17-year-old, I registered for summer classes at a local community college. My previous four years were marked with occasional successes, but mostly mediocrity. I scored unusually high on the SAT with no studying, but studied feverishly and failed miserably at every mathematics course required of me. (Fine, maybe feverishly is a bit of a stretch.)

I was sad, bitter and listless. I was tired of the smells brought about by yellowed book pages, musty cinder block and lye-based hand soap. And it showed.

My loose plan was to find a job in my beloved radio medium and go to school on the cheap while becoming the next Ernie Pyle or Edward R. Murrow. As I became more entranced by speaking into a microphone, my higher education aspirations faded.  I had already won three Associated Press awards for news reporting by the time I was old enough to drink legally. I also garnered more than a half dozen dropped classes on my transcript by then, and an F — in broadcasting 101.

Just as I experienced with the SAT, I have always — for whatever reason — been blessed sufficiently to arrive at my destination. Though I’ll never attain the immortal status of Murrow or have my work canonized à la Pyle, I advanced in my broadcasting career, wrote for a few newspapers and eventually found myself in the PR business. I tell people regularly that Mondays have always been my Fridays, because I love my work that much.

But there has always been something missing … until now.

Who knew all those years that I was married to my college sweetheart?

College sweethearts.

It was a journey of more than 27 years, with plenty of left turns, jams and miles of doubt, but I finally arrived at my destination once again. This time with a partner.

On December 12, I donned the traditional cap and gown and sat next to my beautiful bride as they called our names in alphabetical order to receive our college diplomas. It was surreal. Memorable. Beautiful.

I –we—did it the hard way. But we did it together. And that makes the quest all the more worth it.

Now, if I can only figure out what I want to be when I grow up.


I spent my final two college semesters studying in the Jimmy Rockford — 12 hours during the summer and 18 hours over the past several weeks. I worked full-time in the process. Why am I telling you this? To convince you that Bolognese and Gruyere-Parmesan Bechimella are truly ideal for busy schedules. Sure, the sauces take some time to prepare. But they keep well and can be used in a myriad of dishes. (Be sure to try the bechimella over vegetables.)

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Pappardelle w/ Ragù alla Bolognese & Gruyere-Parmesan Bechimella


Bolognese & Gruyere-Parmesan Bechimella — These aren’t your average pasta toppers.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pappardelle w/ Ragù alla Bolognese & Gruyere-Parmesan Bechimella
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
  • 12 oz – Pappardelle or other pasta
  • Fresh basil and/or basil pesto for garnish
Ragù alla Bolognese
  • ¼ cup – Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – Small yellow onion, peeled and minced
  • 2 – Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – Celery rib, minced
  • 1 – Medium carrot, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 oz – Bacon, chopped finely
  • 2 – chicken livers, chopped finely
  • 3 – Sweet Italian sausages, removed from casings
  • 1 lb. – Ground chuck
  • ¾ cup – Dry white or red wine
  • 1 cup – Hot milk
  • 1 cup – Beef or chicken stock
  • 1 28-oz can – Tomato purée
  • 1 TB – Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp – Freshly ground black pepper
Gruyere-Parmesan Bechimella
  • 1 TB – minced onion
  • 1 ½ TB — unsalted butter
  • 2 TB — all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups — milk
  • ¼ cup — grated Gruyère
  • ¼ cup — grated Parmesan
  • 1 TB — Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp — Black pepper
Make the Bolognese**
  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and garlic. Stir frequently until translucent — about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add celery and carrots. Cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add chicken livers and bacon. Continue cooking until livers are just cooked (a little pink is fine).
  5. Add ground chuck and sweet Italian sausage. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another 5-7 minutes.
  6. When meat is almost cooked (still a little pink), add wine.
  7. Stir occasionally until the wine has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat slightly and add hot milk.
  9. Cook mixture, stirring occasionally, until the milk has evaporated, about 10-12 minutes.
  10. Add stock, tomato purée, salt and pepper; Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2½ hours.
Make the Bechimella*
  1. In a saucepan, cook the onion in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring until onion is softened.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk, scalded, in a stream — whisking until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Simmer the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is thickened to the desired consistency. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl, add the Gruyère, Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste; and stir the mixture until cheeses are melted.
Prepare and Assemble the Dish
  1. Boil pasta per the package instructions.
  2. Top each serving with a large ladle of Bolognese; drizzle with Bechimella; garnish as desired.
*Can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave.
**Can be made ahead and also freezes well.




  1. These recipes sound great and your accomplishment is also great! Congratulations to you and your bride!

  2. RuthAnn Schmidt says:

    This sounds awesome – with the exception of the chicken livers (ugh!) – so I will not be using them. I don’t suppose there is a reasonable substitute for chicken (or any other) livers? Also, I am impressed by your tenacity; most of all I know you (and the rest of the family) are blessed to have Catherine as your kind encourager, strong partner, and loving wife. Congrats to both of you. Let me know about the livers, huh?

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you for your words. 🙂 Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the livers. Just like someone used to say to me “you won’t even know they’re in there.” 😉

  3. Well Adam. Pasta is the college student’s favorite dish. However I’m sure that pasta would be more like mac and cheese, and less like this. Maybe it is worth waiting all those years for a degree. And now make the most of it. It looks like you are more than well on your way. Congrats and lots of happiness to the both of you. Frankly, I am in awe. Just shows what one can do when you put your mind to it!

  4. I love how you started this post with a quote from your dad. Their words have a way of rolling around our minds far longer than they would have ever dreamed. Congratulations on your and your wife’s achievement. How much more you’ll appreciate it coming at this time of your life. It’s great inspiration for all of us who have put off dreams. Maybe I can learn Spanish! Then finally, how you transition into this beautiful recipe … perfect!! You’re writing keeps me coming back time after time, but these recipes always have me drooling. Again, congratulations. We can’t wait to see what you’re going to be when you grow up!!! 😀

    • adamjholland says:

      You are very kind, Tammy. Thank you. My father and I are total opposites. He’s the quiet reserved ‘technical’ guy. I’m the outwardly (often offensive) guy who still calls on Dad (or my son) for technical expertise. It took me many of my years to realize that he owns some serious wisdom. My thoughts drift to him no matter what I set out to do. Perhaps I will some day be able to impart the same amount of wisdom with few words, just as he does. (But I doubt it.) Thanks again. Your words flatter me.

  5. Kris Swank says:

    Congrats to you and Catherine!!! I understand the long way round to the degree… I finished mine after both my kids had theirs finished but it does feel good!!! So happy for you both.

    Your pasts and sauces looks really good! Any suggestions for substituting for the Gruyere? Have a massive allergy. I really enjoy your recipes!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Kris. Your words mean a lot to both of us. As far as substituting for Gruyere… You want something that is dry and sharp — Romano..Asiago.. Even Cotija (a Mexican cheese).

  6. Boy this sure looks hearty and delicious – I’ve never tried anything like it so it’s going to be on my must try soon list.

    I’m very happy for you and your wife! I am of the thought that we all arrive at our rest stops in life at the time we are supposed to so we get to our destination when the time is right. however, I have no idea how in the world you worked (at a new job no less), juggled school and a blog at the same time as being apart from your spouse and one of your children! You were one determined dude! Congratulations to you both!

    • adamjholland says:

      You aren’t the first person to wonder about how I managed my time, Kelli. Just know this: school is a hell of a lot easier when you’re paying for it. ~ I do my job because I love it. (Really, if I can juggle all of this, so can anyone else.)

  7. Oh Adam, this post is wonderful! Congratulations to both of you!

  8. Congratulations, kudos, YAY! Wonderful graduation photo, too… and perhaps proof that two heads are better than one? 😉 Best wishes to you both!

    P.S. Looking forward to your broadcast later this morning, Adam.

  9. Congratulations Adam! And love that quote from your Dad. I’ve never finished college and have thought about getting my degree over the years, so yes, I agree with what he says. But maybe it’s never too late. About this time of year I start craving Italian. Don’t know why…the closest thing that I had as a kid growing up on a farm in Kansas was a can of Spaghetti-o’s. Italian was not part of the fare… until the Pizza Hut opened in Hutch when I was a teenager. Anyway…Chicken Parmesan last night and Italian feast is planned for Christmas Eve.

    • adamjholland says:

      There are quite a few of us out there, Lea Ann. (Education and Italian!) Chicken Parmesan is the bomb. As is, veal and eggplant (my favorite).


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