Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pasta Fears and Noodle Mutilation

I don't know why, but I've had a fear of making lasagne. Perhaps it was because my cousin's was so good, I didn't think I could ever top it. Maybe it's because the list of ingredients is so long. I've tackled making a baguette but not this particular pan of pasta and sauce. The baguettes were more like bread sticks...dense, rock-hard bread sticks. We're still trying to figure out where that went wrong. But I digress. I got a craving for the dish once my appetite returned (I actually craved bacon first – still do, but that's beside the point). The frozen variety wasn't cutting it for me anymore. I decided enough was enough with avoiding the recipe. There was plenty of time to experiment. I even have someone that can share the big pan of food. Jon loves pasta, but the average lasagne recipe yields way too much food for two people even with freezing some of it. The time had come. Oh, and don't worry about my over doing in the kitchen. I'm taking breaks between each step and doing as much prep as possible sitting down.

The first thing I realized as I tackled Tyler Florence's recipe for The Ultimate Lasagne, is that all that time I spent getting coq au vin and beef bourguignon right came in handy. I can prep Mirepoix in my sleep now. I really enjoy chopping the veg and the herbs. It's like meditating, I suppose. The rest of the recipe involved steps I've done a lot lately like browning meat and reducing sauces. The only thing that set me in fits were those danged noodles. They were big and hot and slippery and annoying. I broke a quarter of them getting them in the hot water. The cooked ones weren't very cooperative either. Jon pointed out that a relaxing past time shouldn't involve angrily muttering at cooked pasta. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I will take a time out here to sum up my feelings about the 2009 Football season for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sigh. Early on, I had the mind set that the team was not going to do very well. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised at how the regular season finished. I felt that any headway made in the playoffs would be a delightful bonus. I wouldn't mind them losing two weeks in a row to those accursed Cowboys if the losses had been less lopsided. The Eagles aren't that bad and, more importantly, the Cowboys haven't been that good. Thus, the season ends for me with a sense of dismay and supreme annoyance. I take solace in the remaining playoff as there are a lot of really great teams. The games should be fun to watch. My only hope is that one of those exciting teams crushes Dallas' ambitions in the most humiliating fashion possible. In other football related musings, I was not that disappointed that Temple U lost its first bowl game in forever. I was shocked that they got to go to one in the first place. I was never a big booster of the team as I thought the University's money would have been better spent in other areas. But for Bill Cosby's sake, I was glad they finally made it to the big time. Maybe next year.

The lasagna is now in the oven. The kitchen is a mess, and I am quite certain that my handling of the noodles would get me a stern reprimand from Mr. Florence. It couldn't be helped. Things just went sideways when I was trying to wrangle the hot, steamy noodles. Then, they got more tangled as I tried to find ones that I could use in the pan. The end result looks okay and the meat sauce tastes good enough to eat out of the pot (which I've been doing though I spoon it out into my little tasting bowl). The apartment smells wonderful. I think it will be delightful. Sometimes, delicious cuisine is not pretty.

One of the great things about the blog in the past couple of months (aside from the great support I've received from you all during the illness) have been friends and readers sharing their recipes and cooking tips. I mentioned writing a recipe from an experiment by a good friend of mine. As it often happens when you really want to make something, Nick was missing a key ingredient. Going out for some smoked pork for his collards was unappealing. He found that he had hot Italian sausage in the house. So he took the sausage out of the casing and browned it with some onions and garlic, quickly sauted the greens then added liquid to braise. He used water. I use chicken stock. The result was a spicey soul food dish with an Italian twist. I replicated the recipe with my own tweaks. It turned out quite nicely though I can't eat something that spicey too often even though a nice piece of buttery cornbread works to cut the heat. I enjoyed the experiment. Moreover, it was really fun to chat back and forth about food. I'm always looking for new ways of making chicken or roasts or soups, so if you have a favorite recipe, do share. As I've said, I have lots of time to experiment.

I was going to do an epic treatise on Daytime TV and how it's driving me insane, but that will have to wait for next time. Meanwhile, I will leave you with my new favorite quote for the week. This is from CSI: Miami. What would cause the biggest pop star in the world to burst into flames? Yes, the new shows are back.

Stay tuned!

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