Every once in a while the cooking bug bites and I get industrious. I make a mean lasagna, or rather, I can make one should I ever get the urge to make one. Last night, for reasons I can't fathom, the mood hit. The kids were getting the standard mac-n-cheese with all the trimmings, so I was in the kitchen anyway, why the hell not?
I'll tell you why the hell not. Lasagna, while easy, is not simple to make. It's the time factor that's annoying and about half way into it I remembered--oh yeah, it's the one hour of prep....argh! The load was lightened by a chat with a fellow blogger who was slowly getting himself drunk and philosophizing on why women had it easier because of our biological imperative. Essentially, if I understand correctly, we women are forced down the birth canal of life and that determines our mission whether we ever accomplish anything else or not. So, it's easy being a woman. We can be fuck ups in every other way, but if we're a good mother, all is forgiven. Our lives have had meaning. Interesting.
I'm not sure I buy his premise, because having fulfilled my biological imperative a couple times over, I still feel like I'm searching for ways to make my mark on the world and progeny doesn't fill the bill. Any crack whore can birth a child. Most kids grow up to be far more successful than their parents involvement would have predicted. And some kids who have everything turn out to be weasels. So, yeah, a mother is important, but to me, there is more to life for a woman than just mothering. And the mothering sword cuts both ways. If the kids turn out great, people figure they should. If the kids turn out bad, it will be the mother's fault.
And certain expectations come with mothering: like cooking. And by that count, I'm an abysmal failure. Except when I decide to cook, like last night. The aroma of sautéed garlic and onions wafting through the house. Mmmmmm..... I should sauté every night for the smell. Want to know how I made it? I can't really do a recipe because when I cook, I mangle recipes beyond recognition so they're my own, but I can give you a general idea of what I do....
1. Sauté garlic, four or five cloves, and half a chopped onion in a tablespoon of butter. Ground pepper to taste.
2. Add in as much ground beef as you like. Some like more saucy lasagna. Some like more meaty. Men tend to like meat. Load it up, ladies! Add salt and more ground pepper.
3. Add a bottle of spaghetti sauce. Now, I like a couple different sauces--Kroger's store brand actually has the most authentic, Italian red sauce. I know. It's weird, but it's really good. (They don't use too much sugar, which other brands tend to do.) I also like the organic version of Prego's mushroom sauce. People can be so snobbish in this area. Whatever. Most people who have high-falutin' ideas about red sauce don't know real Italians. The Kroger brand actually tastes most like Steve's grandma's sauce and she was from Italy and a fantastic cook, but I digress.
4. Cook the lasagna noodles. (Not too long.) Favorite noodles right now: Target's organic brand. Wow. Good stuff, but not all Targets carry it, unfortunately.
5. Get the ricotta (none of the low-fat stuff, are you kidding me? You want low-fat, you don't eat lasagna, okay?) out of the fridge and stir in some oregano and basil. Doesn't have to be fresh. It's nice if it is, but lets not get too anal. It's easier to work with when the mix is at room temp.
6. Grate the mozzarella. Don't tell me you buy the stuff grated. I don't know what they do to make it last without growing stuff on it, but it's not good. The big block is cheaper and make the kids grate it. They love to do it anyway. Now, here's how I trick ya. I buy one small block of really good mozzarella. That's the stuff that goes on top. The regular, cheapo brand goes in the middle. You don't even know the difference.
7. Put it all together. Start with the meat sauce and put it on the bottom of the glass dish. Next, put on the noodles, then the ricotta mixture, then the mozzarella, then the meat sauce and again with the pasta. Do this again and end with the good mozzarella on top. Now, if you like cheesier lasagna, you can put grated Parmesan on top of the ricotta at each level and then on top with the mozzarella.
Put in the oven for about 30 minutes at 375. The whole thing shouldn't take long because everything is warm, still. Lasagna is one of those things that tastes even better on day two. So sometimes, I just put one together, refrigerate it, and cook it a day or two later.
I'll talk more about lucky domestic goddesses later. For now, I'm sharing my flash of brilliance. Watch it people, it's like a shooting star. There and gone.