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Friday, April 24, 2015

How I Make Lasagna

When Kimmie asked for the recipe to my Lasagna from two posts ago, I couldn't say no. I have recreated the afternoon of fun here in words. If anything is unclear or fuzzy, I'm available to answer questions or make meals and sell to those who need them :)

I make the meat sauce from tinned tomato sauce and paste. I use two cans of each-the sauce comes in 20 ounce size and the paste in six ounce cans. First I brown off a pound of quality ground beef and another pound of seasoned bulk pork sausage over medium heat with a big white onion and a yellow bell pepper both diced. I season the meat with black pepper, salt and garlic (fresh or powder) and oregano. Once that's cooked I add the cans of tomato and about six ounces of water and let it all simmer while I prepare the rest.

Cook a full box of Barilla or deCecco lasagna noodles for about eight minutes. Drain and douse with olive oil to keep them separated.

Grate one pound of whole milk mozzarella into a 30 ounce (liter) of whole milk ricotta cheese. Add two eggs and season with salt, white pepper and some more garlic powder. (I never measure seasonings-just do it by eye and flavor, sorry cannot be more exacting but you already know how to make stuff taste good) Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Now comes the fun (read: messy) part of the operation. Wash hands (again) and spray the baking pans ( a 9x13 inch cake pan and a loaf pan this time) with non-stick spray-bottom and sides. Set the pot of sauce, the bowl of cheese mixture and the noodles out in a row and begin by covering the bottom of the pans with sauce. Then layer the three ingredients  in  both pans until the noodles are all gone. I put noodles first then cheese blobs then sauce. Repeat using less than a cup of sauce per layer--too much sauce makes it all sloppy and unable to set up like it should.

I add in a layer of fresh mushrooms that I sauté in real butter separately from everything else at this point. Then put a thick layer of sliced and shredded mozzarella, another 8 ounces should do it. Cover with a Tent of foil (keep the foil Off the cheese) and bake for an hour at 350 F (175 C). Let stand for at least fifteen minutes and then cut into serving sized squares.

Cooking it one night before you actually need it, then into fridge for overnight then into the oven again the next day is how I did it this time. It tastes better the second day after the flavors have had a chance to meld and influence one another. In addition then the day of the event, whatever it is, is not fraught with worry and excess work. You can tell it is hot all the way thru by sticking a flat blade into the middle and feeling it. Or, like my Sweetie, use a meat thermometer !~! I'd shoot for 165 F (75 C) in the center

I like to cut individual pieces and put them into plastic containers that I get at the dollar store (5 for a buck). Then freeze them for later use. The neighborhood smells it cooking and lines up outside the door some days it seems. The box of noodles filled those two pans you see in the picture. The smaller one went home with Burp and gave them two nights dinner with no hassle for mama. Then we had a guy over last night who brought a pumpkin pie for dessert and he loved it too. 

If I were changing anything, I'd lower the tomato paste by one half; I'd use only one six ounce can instead of two. You may need to thin a bit too, do it cautiously tho, the sauce should be thick so it sets as it bakes. Not supposed to be runny like some people eat marinara sauce over pasta.

Reheating is simple. I use the microwave at half power for 3-4 mins. The big oven would take half hour for a single serving, more for larger pieces.

OK, now that you have the basic recipe more or less figured out there are wonderful variations on this theme. Most common is "no meat" and pump up the veggie count with zookini, squash, spinach leaves, eggplant, any tasty greens raw or lightly steamed, hard-boiled eggs... Many people don't want all that ricotta/mozzarella layered and so use a Bechamel (white) sauce instead. Fresh peas and small broc flowers are also delicious. Sauteed mushrooms, on top just before the last cheese layer, add a wickedly decadent taste to the bites in which they are contained.

Have fun, enjoy, share the bounty and the recipe. Hold a lasagna class one Saturday afternoon and bring in a couple of friends to make a Huge Batch and then everyone scores a few meals and an afternoon of fellowship and fun.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sunflowers are the Most Fun to Grow

Helianthus annus is the Latin name for the most common sunflower grown for its edible oil and meat. This species of sunflower is used a bird food, livestock forage, and in some industrial applications. Helios was the Greek god of the sun and anthos means flower. So there we have it. Sunflowers.

Starting off with seeds is my favorite way to do it. Check out that grass trying to horn its way into the bed. I took care of it shortly after I took this picture.

Ten days later, we added a low fence to keep the kids out of the bed.



Another week and Boy, Howdy, are things looking bright !~!

Growing bigger every day.


From ten years ago - a volunteer from the previous year's crop.


Lasagna for the Masses !~!

Is there any better way to express love than thru the gift of quality food, lovingly prepared by clean hands?

I think not (in some circumstances) so Monday I shopped and Tuesday I assembled and stored overnight. Come Wednesday and the day of baking. Dawned overcast and gloomy-looking, I could think of nothing better to improve the day's prospects than to bake off the larger pan I had prepared. The smaller loaf pan went home with Burp and his Mama after work Wednesday for their dinner. Reports came back positive from all three diners at his dinner table.

Oven to 325 F, preheat with the cold pan inside, bake it for another hour and a half and then let sit for fifteen more minutes while you drool and make a quick tasty salad and heat a loaf of bread.


The pan of lasagna weighs nearly three pounds and tastes so incredible... More sauce and another layer of cheese, thickly top and mozzarella, finished the prep of this bad boy. And is it worth every nickel and every hour...

I fed a few neighbors, invited another friend for dinner tonight and portioned out ten servings for the freezer.

It's a good month in LL.

Do you have a go-to meal for when you feel domestic ?~!

Thanks for taking a few minutes to spend with me, I know you're busy with all kinds of fun stuff. Hope your Spring is super.

May each step we take lead the way to Peace.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

In Memoriam-Miko Wheaton Pantoja

Today our small community grieves one of its young members, Miko Wheaton Pantoja. Miko was just seventeen when he lost his life last week in an accident which left us reeling.

His mom is a friend and there are no words to describe what she feels right now. I try to say something and only tears will flow. I have learned that that is ok. Just sitting with LaTuan and holding her hand while we waited for her ride was enough to let her know that I was there for her.

She called yesterday and asked if I could come by and assist her with a few specific tasks to get ready for today's services. So grateful to be of help, I went with a joyous heart. We spent hours together sifting through items and deciding.

I cannot imagine her pain.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sympathy to the Plane Victims' Families

There are no words to describe the feelings that emerge when I hear of a plane crash. Strong emotions come forth and heartfelt tears fill dry eyes. May each person who has loved and lost a member of their life find some peace in the memories.

Life can be so hard sometimes; I often wonder if it's even worth it...

Spring Arrives with Cherry Blossoms & Empty Reservoirs

The sight of my cherry tree blooming brings me joy unsurpassed by any other fresh fruit. We grow blueberries on two tiny bushes, apples on two growing Gala trees. The olive trees sport new growth and its verdant green brightens the entire area of the yard.

Without snow to cover the grass, we experience year round temperatures that most people yearn for and seldom see. The mid-sixties to low seventies surrounding us this spring rarely show before late summer and early fall. The change in the climate proclaims itself violently with nearly dry reservoirs and water rationing in our future. We had an entirely dry January for the first time since record-keeping began; doesn't this tell us anything ?~!



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Taking Stock...

This time of year brings to mind the idea of pulling together the year's accomplishments and major thoughts. An easy way is to use a template, so I did.

Dec 21, 2014


Making : time to rest and regroup while the Little One is home with mama
Cooking : Pot Roast but dreaming of cake
Drinking : Cran-Cherry juice w Tang mixed in for flavor
Reading : Ohlone Indians-residents of the SF and Monterey Bay Areas 
Wanting : to be able to make my own sox out of wool…
Looking : at my sweet husband’s face and loving him more each year
Playing : Cribbage Pro w my Kindle-no real life players
Wasting : as little as possible
Sewing : nothing at this moment
Wishing : my brother would talk to me
Enjoying : time off
Waiting : for daughter to take next step 
Liking : the warmer weather
Wondering : if success is within reach
Loving :  my dear friend Teresa who just spent the night with us
Hoping : Teresa finds her way in the desert
Marveling : at how independent some women are
Needing : nothing at all
Smelling : fresh air from outside
Wearing : leggings and pullover shirt-double layers all the way !~!
Following : too many blogs to keep up-must prune
Noticing : my hip’s steroid shot has worn off already
Knowing : it’s too soon to get another shot
Thinking : about the future and where we fit into it
Feeling : nostalgic
Bookmarking : news sites
Opening : my eyes to the brutality of the police against people of color all around the world
Giggling : at very little these days

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Four Years Old IS New to Me

My eleven year old Mac mini finally gave up for the last time and was replaced by a newer model. Only four years old, the new OS is also my favorite national park: Yosemite.

Both are still atop my desk as I transfer over my Contacts. Unable to make the Migration Assistant work after numerous attempts, reading everything we could find and saying words I won't print here, I am gradually getting the addresses of my three hundred closest friends and businesses transferred over one at a time by hand. Primitive I know and yet... what's a gal to do. I pulled over my documents and photos but the address book is not compatible and so I take this opportunity to sort, update and purge my contacts.


Surrounded by screens, I work my way thru the process of bringing the new Mac Mini (visible at the very top of the pic to the left of the Volcano and between the two monitors) current with the info from the old Mini which is under the Volcano. My Chrome Book is on the tiny folding table so I can look up anything that happens during the transfer.

My Kindle Fire, tho not visible in this pic, is also close at hand; probably on the desk in front of the Volcano. See my "old" flip phone by the REI mug? I have had it for yeeeeears. Damn thing still works so I am loathe to replace it altho an Iphone must be somewhere in my near future if only for the camera.

It's been a month of learning new electronics: Yosemite and Fire have tasked my brain and I sometimes forget which keyboard works the front-most monitor, I'm having a good time and hoping to have it all done in a week or so. Maybe then I'll find the surface of my big wooden desk.

Drought Conditions Abate

We have water in our reservoirs and puddles in the yard. It's great. More to come too. The brown grasses all need to be mowed in their green gloriousness and the flowers are poking out despite the lateness of the year.

What's happening where you are ?~! Share with me...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

From Scuffed to Chuffed !~!

Shoes

As a woman I am expected to love and want to own them in many colors and styles. Not the case... Years ago I had to ask Sharyn what the DSW gift certificate she had won would buy her and I just know despite her love for me, she thought it was "precious" that I didn't know about Designer Shoe Warehouse.


Still haven't been to their website and likely never will. I am however human and part gypsy by proxy. Fabric is one of my loves, as we know so when Inkkas.com appeared on the scene couple or three years ago, I went cuckoo like Cocoa Puffs over their shoe line. High tops in the most wonderful South American fabrics.

For my birthday I wind up with not one or two, but Three.Pairs.Shoes. At one time. A heretofore unprecedented event. 

They're some big ole shoes, huh ?~!



Fast-forwarding to a few months back: Enter a new style from Inkkas: the Slip-on. I wanted a pair and yet I was pushing aside my shoe inventory of seven pairs trying to find a specific shoe every day already. More shoes, I asked myself ?~!

I have no justification to buy Another Pair of any kind of shoes, never mind slip-ons when I own a pair of scuffed, formerly white Quarks that weigh only a few ounces each and fit great.

So I painted 'em one day on a whim. 

You get to decide...


They are perfect !~! Colorful without being garish. Still plenty lightweight. Slip-ons with character !~!


Now I just have to arm-wrestle Elmo when I wanna wear 'em.

Sometimes I win.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Men at Work


Build a climbing structure from PVC pipe while teaching Young Lad to use tools: measuring tape, screwdriver, joining pieces in straight lines and in angles, tapping hammer.

Later he climbs all over it and learns to reach while steadying himself, getting up and down and in and out safely, how big his actual parts are as he squeezes through a space barely bigger than he.




Watching remote control trucks, trailers, fire engines, bulldozers and the men who build and operate them fascinates both these guys. They discuss how each piece of machinery works, what it's named and why, where it can be found... The chat goes on and on all the while sinking the seeds for an education that will last a lifetime.


Next week he turns two. Hard to believe it's been two years since this bobble head came into being.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Birthday Wheels for Baby Boy

Turning Two is Monumental

For such an auspicious occasion, I thought only new wheels would do. May I present...



Happy Birthday, young Lad. Lynda loves you.