Daily Archives: July 13, 2010

The Lasagna Update

So. It turns out my adventures in making a lasagna were actually adventurous.

The morning after my epiphany, I had to work early. My mom was going to the store and generously offered to pick up the ingredients necessary to concoct my culinary masterpiece. Among them: one pound of ground beef. Also, unsolicited, she put the meat out in the fridge to thaw last night. Very nice of her.

This afternoon, I checked on the hamburger. Something did not look…right. I’m by no means an expert in meat and meat products, but when I purchase ground beef in the grocery store, it’s a nice red color. And when I thaw it out, it is also a nice red color.

The meat in this package had a sort of dark brownish hue; the color was off enough that it concerned me. “Uh, does this look weird to you?” I asked my mom. She took a peek. “No, it’s been thawing since last night. That’s why it’s not frozen anymore.”
“But it’s brown. Like, a gross shade of brown. Is it freezer-burned?”
“It’s fine!” she insisted, exasperated.

So come Lasagna-Making Time, I remove the meat from the fridge in order to – ironically – “brown” it. I place it on the table. It is still the ghastly grayish-brownish color. I am concerned, but for some reason I trust my mom’s previous judgment. But in she walks, sees the meat on the table and says “Oh, God, that looks horrible!” She then picks up the meat to show to my dad. “Jim! Look at this! Is this rancid or what?”

Dad determines that something is definitely off about the meat and offers to run to the store to pick up some more. Good old Dad! As he heads out the door, Mom calls out after him: “Maybe pick up two pounds? I don’t know if one is enough…” (Note: I plan on feeding four, non-linebacker, people with this meal).

So I halt the noodle-boiling until Dad returns home.

The meat he brings is the reddish color I expected. The previous pound of ground beef is promptly disposed of, it’s hideous color having been attributed to improper thawing-and-freezing last week.

Uh. Aaaaanyway, everything else goes very much according to plan. Except when I realize that I might want to add more spaghetti sauce to the ground beef. I mean, I obviously doubled that part of the recipe, right? Oh, what the hell!

In the pan, unbaked, it looked perfect. And coming out of the oven, fully baked, it was a sight to see. But then I tried to slice it into individual servings, and it completely dissolved into a saucy mess.

Don’t get me wrong: it tasted very, very good. But my plans to photograph a sliced serving were for naught, as we almost had to resort to ladling the mixture out onto our plates. Also, because I doubled the recipe, the pan weighed no less than 45 pounds.

We will also have leftovers until at least next week.

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Note: Yes, Mel, I did pick a no-ricotta recipe. I am not a ricotta fan; it’s okay in small doses, but when it comes to canneloni and similar recipes, I just can’t handle it. It’s not even the taste, it’s the texture. I know it’s probably weird. However, for the record, this particular recipe needed much more cheese. Maybe a little ricotta wouldn’t have hurt anything.

Adventures in Garfield-land

Last week, I had a very sudden and clear thought. The second it appeared in my brain, all other thoughts vanished. I could only focus on this singular idea, and nothing else. The swiftness and intensity with which it was thought was overpowering. And so, I sat there, watching television, when I realized:

I want lasagna.

I didn’t want it right that very second (though, really, is there ever a bad time for lasagna? I mean, it’s a food that shows up after both funerals and weddings.  It’s universally accepted), but I knew it had to be soon. So off to the Internet I went, found me a recipe, and gathered a list o’ ingredients.

And today, folks, is the day I’ve been waiting for: this afternoon-ish, I shall make my lasagna.

It might have occurred to you that this all is a little strange, this obsession with lasagna. On the contrary, my excitement is over the opportunity to cook something, from (almost) scratch. It surprises some folks to learn that I really, really love to cook; this is surprising because I’m not all that great at it. I mean, I’ve not yet poisoned anyone (of which I’m aware), and the finished product is generally edible, but when it comes down to it I’m just as average as the next guy or gal (though maybe under-average when it comes to pot roast. I’ve never made one and don’t really know what I’d do after, you know, sticking it in the oven). Lately, folks have assumed that baking is my forte, and though I’ve ended up with some pretty awesome cupcake experiments, it’s not necessarily my joie de vivre. Sure, I like playing around with things (mostly, adding enough chocolate chips to a batch of cookies to test the laws of physics), but I’ve been weirdly lucky in that – mostly – my baked goods have been well-received.

Common sense would say I should stick with what I’m “good” at it, to go with what I know. But common sense doesn’t control most parts of my brain, particularly the part that tells me I’m hungry (this is why I end up putting salsa on EVERYTHING, with the exception of Rice Krispies or peach cobbler). Common sense isn’t driven by my overwhelming desire to make a lasagna from scratch, and serve it with (bagged) salad and (frozen) garlic bread.

More importantly, I’ve managed to ignore my common sense for oh, 28 years now. Ain’t gonna start paying attention now!

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The picture is sort of disgusting (also, who serves corn on the cob with lasagna? Am I missing something here?), but here‘s the recipe I’m using today.