My Beautiful Struggle + story

all that from a lasagna?

having kids makes you old in numerous ways. for example, you can initially only handle one "event" per day. like an old lady who can't get her hair done on wednesday because she has a doctor's appointment (even if the hair appt is at 9 and the doctor is at 3, well, that's just too much for one day!), it seems that i can only do one major outing before i need, er, i mean the kid needs a nap.

so today's event was lasagna. now that i'm feeling functional again, i've been wanting one ever since KLM brought her leftovers to work last week. so today was the day and what an event that was. it was a learning experience. **let it be said that this was NOT my first lasagna, but it was the most thought-provoking lasagna i have experienced.

first, the recipe hunt. several good suggestions via facebook, which is nice. looked at the noodle box, my cousin's tried and true method, but i bought generic so it was a different recipe. went to allrecipes, my go-to method. i really wanted to try the "worlds best lasagna" with over 1200 5-star ratings: it even made it's own sauce. that's what i'm talkin' bout. but alas, i had no tomato paste (does anyone think of the shel silverstein poem about gluing tomatoes with tomato paste?).

i ended up doing a mix of a few recipes. went with sausage instead of ground beef because the top rated recipes did. however, i don't cook much with pig and was agast at the amount of grease! i filled an entire salsa jar! i ended up adding some fresh tomatoes too, because another recipe suggested it. you can't have too much fresh in one place if you ask me.

i was also able to use fresh grated parm cheese, which makes up for the generic block of mozz that i bought at GreatScott. note to self: go with slices. MUCH easier. I also borrowed some allrecipe advice and instead of boiling the noodles i filled my 9x13 pan with hot hot tap water and let them soak while i did everything else. with plenty of sauce they cooked up real nice! saves washing at least one pan. i also went through nearly 1.5 jars of spag sauce. i wouldn't think it would require so much, but i like it saucy and wanted to make sure the noodles were covered.

i finally got the sausage browned (and drained, and drained, and drained), the cheeses mixed, noodles pre-soaked and compiled it into one large masterpiece. the noodles are shorter than the 9x13 pan. do you stagger or pile? i ended up piling but would welcome constructive criticism. baked it while i ran to return the redbox and pick up a book. when i returned it was perfectly done. toss a little garlic loaf in while it "sets" and we have dinner.

it was pretty tasty. i'm not a huge sausage fan, though i did like the variety in having a bit more seasoning. i wonder what "real" ricotta would do for a bolstering as well. the worst part of it all was that i ate alone:(. henry had broccoli. (what age can he start having acidic tomato product?)

i must say that it came into full realization why Stauffers charges $89.95 for one of their ready-mades. what a time eater! i only worked until noon to get that done! i can't imagine what some FT worker moms go through for a pasta bake - they'd be making it the night before (and after already doing one meal and cleaning it up, who wants to make a second?)! so, working moms i validate your Stauffers decisions. although i do think the homemade tastes better. it's in the sauce.

as i was washing the dishes (yes, i was THAT productive today!) i started thinking about all the additions, corrections and substitutions i partook for the meal. and here's my final thought. after all the searching and weighing options and deliberating over the "perfect" recipe, i decided that it's really all about ingredients. when you make something out of stuff that naturally tastes good, it's a good dish. sure, you should balance some things - you don't want a "hint of" to steal the show, but really it's not the recipe that will get you the perfect dish. any chef worth their minutes on the food network will tell you it's a guide, but you have to "season to taste."

i think life is like that too. i'm one that gets caught up in the recipe. finding the perfect way of doing something. i love nothing more than order, consistency and a good rule to follow. but instead i should "taste and see" what is good, as the pslamist said. while healthy balance is necessary to make sure something that should be a supporting role isn't getting the limelight (say... facebook), even if i follow the recipe exactly there's no guarantee that it will come out as the recipe-submitter said. instead, i shall find the best ingredients life has to offer and include them in the dish. even if something is slightly off, i can season it or, better yet, use google to find someone who made a similar mistake and find out how to remedy.

so yes, this is an exceptionally LONG post about a lasagna that showed me how i need to be living. not by the perfect ordering and measurements, but by including the best stuff the world has to offer. and, more importantly, it tastes better when enjoyed with someone else.

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all that from a lasagna? + story