The year is ending at Sunday Stealing

human contact

the year is ending
not quite this soon, but close enough

This Sunday Stealing is The year is ending. I have a ritual closer to New Year’s Day. But it doesn’t preclude trying these on for size.

1. Wintertime comfort foods, habits, hobbies 

At least once a year, I make lasagna. At least two of them because it’s less labor-intensive. I’ll do that for sure. I hate turning on the oven when it’s warm, but I LOVE doing so when it’s cold. Using the same Betty Crocker recipe, I have to adjust the quantities. It’s because of what has been annoying-labeled shrinkflation, though it’s been happening for decades. Thus, my 32-ounce cans of tomatoes are only 28 ounces.

2. Favorite seasonal/holiday music and songs 

This List from four years ago will do.

3. The people I want to spend more time with next year 

I hope that some folks who stopped attending church because of the pandemic – the service is on Facebook – will feel comfortable enough to return to in-person services.

4. How much I could change my life in 1 year if I focused 

One can always pick one thing to do; I might pick working more on genealogy. But this would inevitably mean NOT doing something else, and I’m unwilling to unbalance myself in that way.

5. The valuable lessons I learned this year 

I need human contact! One example: we had been doing church remotely from March 2020 to June 2021. Getting back together was a joyous occasion, and I never attended remote church again if I were in town unless I was sick.

Then in January 2022, because of a local surge of COVID, we went back to remote only. I HATED, HATED, HATED it. I couldn’t focus on the sermon. When we were back in person about a month later, it was such a relief.

This year

6. How I’d describe 2022 in 10 words 

Daughter’s College; wife’s leg infection; COVID for three; Wordle streak.

7. My favorite Reads of 2022 

I have an online subscription to the New York Times. It’s currently $4 a month. I’m enjoying it immensely. I used to read the newspaper daily in the late 1970s and 1980s but shifted to just the Sunday paper. Then it fell off the list.

8. Best movies I saw in 2022 

I’m still contemplating this. But the two films I most enjoyed in a movie theater in 2022 were The Wizard of Oz, which I’d seen many times on TV; and Cabaret, which I had not watched in a half-century.

9. Favorite TV shows/episodes of 2022 

This will sound snarky, but it is not intended as such. Watching the game show JEOPARDY, I always root for the so-called “super champions,” who have won ten or more games, to lose. To paraphrase Hawkeye Pierce on an episode of M*A*S*H, “I want someone else!”


10. Memorable experiences from 2022 

Going to Carnegie Hall with my daughter. Lots of live theater in the summer. Seeing, at different times, two of my oldest friends, who I first met in kindergarten. My sister’s high school reunion, with such a gracious host putting us up.

11. Three people I enjoyed spending time with this year 

Uthaclena; Lee; Bruce.

12. How I handled challenges this year 

With aplomb, of course.

Actually, new stuff usually makes me initially grumpy. Then, eventually, I discovered it’s not so bad, and I’m pretty good at it.

13. What I’m leaving behind in 2022 

COVID. (From my lips to God’s ears.) I did receive the bivalent shot targeted at Omicron last week. I’ve never had any reaction to the vaccines other than a sore arm at the injection site.

14. How I changed most from the beginning to the end of the year 

Perhaps a soupçon more optimistic

15. What I want to tell myself before the New Year

There are no federal or statewide elections this year. My email box should be far less crowded.

Also, when in doubt, eat applesauce.

The annual baking of the lasagna

Note to OGA: not as good as yours

lasagnaUsually once a year, always in the winter or late fall or very early spring, I bake lasagna. I mean, why turn on the oven when it’s 86F (30F)? But when it’s 23F (-5C), that’s another matter entirely. And I generally make at least TWO of them, because the mess from making one just isn’t worth the effort.

On page 247 of Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook is the recipe for Italian Sausage Lasagna. Oddly, it’s in the Meat section of the book. Usually, I don’t put in any meat at all. I have added spinach, though.

This year, though, we had a half pound of chicken sausage, left over from my daughter’s experimental meal the night before. She told me that taking it out of the casings was “disgusting.” Oh, how bad can it be? It’s like ground beef, right? Well, no, actually. It felt clammy. Never again. I’ll slice it instead. The recipe called for two pounds, but we go with what we have.

I cook the chicken sausage, two mediumish chopped onions and some garlic that my wife had in the fridge. Did I add a couple teaspoons of sugar? I don’t recall. Need a lot of tomato. The recipe wants 32 ounces of tomatoes and 30 ounces of tomato sauce. I’ll at least double it.

Cook it all together until it boils, then let it simmer. The book says for 45 minutes, but I’ve gone longer and shorter than that. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix a carton of ricotta cheese, 24 ounces, and a carton of cottage cheese, 32 ounces, with a half a cup of Parmesan.

Don’t cook the lasagna noodles

Then spread the sauce mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. Add the dry lasagna noodles, because dealing with wet pasta noodles is too much like work. Then more sauce, cheese mixture, sauce, mozzarella, noodles, sauce. Basically the idea is to have enough sauce and other liquids so that cooking the pasta is unnecessary.

Cover and bake 30 minutes, and uncover for another 15. Unless your oven is running cool, which ours does, and end up cooking covered another 20 minutes and uncovered for 10 more.

They turned out OK, one with wheat pasta, and one with the traditional style. But note to OGA: not as good as the lasagna you’re bringing over to my house on March 14, OK?

Lasagna – Weird Al Yankovic.

30-Day Challenge: Day 5 – Favorite Food

Do I HAVE a favorite food?

It’s much easier to pick the things I DON’T like.

Ah, a tough one. Certainly, I’ve stated my love of spinach lasagna. Partly, it came from the realization that I didn’t have to cook the noodles beforehand; no, you don’t need to buy those special noodles, you just need extra tomato sauce. But I don’t have it very often. Same goes for dishes with duck, or a beef steak.

I do know that I tend to like things mixed more than plain. Cheerios and shredded wheat is better than either component.
orange juice and cranberry juice
cottage cheese and apple sauce
sharp Cheddar cheese and a Ritz cracker

Thing is, I don’t like that many things over and over. I eat a lot of chicken, but it becomes tolerable only because it’s prepared in different ways.

Though I have gotten into ruts. If I have a bagel, it’ll always be cinnamon raisin, if it’s available. Likewise, strawberry ice cream, lamb saag (spinach) from the local Indian restaurant. My candy choice tends to be plain M&Ms, which I eat in color order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown); it’s part of the enjoyment.

Do I HAVE a favorite food? I suppose it’s spinach, a function of propaganda from daily doses of Popeye on television as a child.

It’s much easier to pick the things I DON’T like: things with peanut butter; things with the artificial banana flavor (I like bananas) or almost any fruit; anchovy; cauliflower; sauerkraut. Don’t drink coffee, beer, vermouth or Scotch, so I don’t like coffee ice cream, e.g.

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