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.