Ronnie Bissett of Glen Dale is famous now and her cranberry sauce is famous, too, all thanks to her famous granddaughter, Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, starred in and directed a 90-minute network television special, "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving," that aired on ABC on Thanksgiving night.
Filmed in her hometown of New York City, the TV program included a segment in which Lady Gaga and chef Art Smith cooked. At Lady Gaga's request, the Thanksgiving menu featured fried turkey and waffles because, as she explained, the first dishes that the chef prepared for her were fried chicken and waffles.
For the Thanksgiving feast, Smith prepared a variation on traditional waffles that he called Grandmother Germanotta's Salami Pecorino Cheese Waffles. The chef explained that this recipe was inspired by Lady Gaga's paternal grandmother's salami and pecorino Italian stuffing.
Lady Gaga then asked if there were any "Ronnie Bissett recipes" on the menu. The chef noted that Bissett made the best cranberry sauce, an assessment with which Lady Gaga agreed readily. The star added that the holiday feast's menu included her Aunt Sheri and Uncle Steve's Spiced Pecans.
At the end of the segment, Lady Gaga told her fans that the recipes were available online for Grandmother Germanotta's Salami Pecorino Cheese Waffles, Grandma Bissett's Cranberry Sauce, Aunt Sheri and Uncle Steve's Spiced Pecans, Fried Turkey and Chef Art's Gravy.
Ronnie Bissett and her husband, Paul, are the parents of Lady Gaga's mother, Cynthia Bissett Germanotta, who grew up in Glen Dale and graduated from John Marshall High School in 1972.
During her TV special, Lady Gaga mentioned that her father, Joe Germanotta, has opened a restaurant, named Joanne's in honor of his sister, on West 68th Street in New York City, a couple of blocks from the family residence. (Joanne Germanotta died at age 19 of lupus in 1974, a dozen years before Lady Gaga's birth.) Lady Gaga teared up as she talked of her father's dream to open his own restaurant. She said that the beautiful restaurant serves Italian food.
Lady Gaga also told interviewer Katie Couric that she and her mother have established the Born This Way Foundation.
The foundation will provide help to youth who are being bullied.
The show was filmed at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, the New York City girls' school that Lady Gaga attended. In one segment, she talked and made crafts with third-grade students. Sister Angela Bayo, principal of Sacred Heart, stopped in to chat and praised her famous former pupil during the interview with Couric.
As she sang and talked of Thanksgiving, Lady Gaga remarked, "I'm thankful for the health of all my family and friends."
Here is her maternal grandmother's now-famous recipe, courtesy of Lady Gaga's website:
Grandma Bissett's Cranberry Sauce
2 bags of fresh cranberries
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of fresh orange juice
2 cups of natural cane sugar
1 cup of fresh orange segments
Optional 1 cup of toasted walnut
Bring orange juice, water and cane sugar to boil; reduce to simmer.
Add cranberries; cook slowly till cranberries just pop.
Allow to cool and fold in orange segments.
Serve with turkey.
Yields 6 servings.
Back on the homefront, the Wheeling Civil War 150 Fashion Show delighted a crowd that filled the Ohio County Public Library's auditorium to capacity last Sunday, Nov. 20.
Sean Duffy, coordinator of adult programming, said that the fashion show was attended by 194 people, the third largest total ever for an adult program at the library.
Organized by Friends of Wheeling, the library and the Wheeling Civil War 150 committee, the fashion show featured men, women and children modeling clothing and uniforms made in styles that would have been worn during the Civil War era. A couple of the evening gowns were authentic vintage dresses of the period.
P.D. Gregg of Oglebay Institute's Towngate Theatre designed set pieces for the stage, so that the models seemed to be emerging from a house as they made their way down the runway. A red carpet was in place on the runway, and the chairs in the auditorium were turned to face the center aisle.
Kate Quinn, a member of Friends of Wheeling and the Wheeling Civil War 150 committee, narrated the show and made many of the outfits. Judi Hendrickson of Friends of Wheeling coordinated the models.
After the show, a reception took place in the library tax room, where Friends of Wheeling members served tea sandwiches and cookies that they made for the occasion.
Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net