Trav’s Corner: Blog Lasagna

11:30 Decide to make lasagna for dinner. Do a quick inventory and realize I no longer have a good pan for lasagna. This will need to be purchased. I can make the sauce now, but lunch first: pinto beans over spring greens with chopped roma tomatoes and hot sauce.

12:22 Assemble ingredients for sauce: 1 lb ground beef, 1 pkg Johnsonville Sweet Italian sausage (removed from casing), 1 onion (chopped), 8 cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped), dried basil, & oregano, ½ a bottle of 2003 Terrazas Malbec Reserva, V-8 low sodium, 1 regular size can of diced tomatoes, 4 large cans of crushed tomatoes. Grabbed a small stockpot.

12:29 Heated up pan over high heat with a little olive oil. Threw in ground beef and sausage. Stirred it around with a wooden spoon, breaking up meat until finely crumbled. Threw in 2 tbsp basil and one tbsp oregano. Let the water cook off, then stirred occasionally, letting the meat brown and caramelization develop on the bottom of the pan. Poured off some of the grease, and then threw in the onions. Sweated the onions some, threw in the garlic and stirred for about a minute. Poured in the red wine and brought to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan with a spoon. Added about 1 ½ cups of V-8, brought back to a boil. Added all the tomatoes, brought back to a boil, tasted and added 1/2 cup of sugar. Covered and set aside to cool. Done at 1:10.

3:59 Purchased 9 x 11 Pyrex pan w/silicone lid. However, realizing that I have a lot of sauce, also purchase two “deep lasagna pan” foil containers. 

4:52 Begin assembly. Preheated oven to 350. In each pan, put the following layers, bottom to top: sauce, uncooked noodles (4 across, then one broken noodle going sideways (alternate sides of sideways noodle)), sauce, mozz, noodles, sauce, mozz, a 24 oz container of small curd cottage cheese mixed with an egg, noodles, sauce, mozz, noodles, sauce mozz. I regret not getting parm to mix with the mozz. I have to open a 26 oz can of Del Monte “Traditional” spaghetti sauce to finish the last layer and a half of the second lasagna. Covered with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Thought about how every time I tell someone about this, they ask “won’t it melt?” To which I have always bit my tongue and said “no, it won’t. Seriously.” Put the lasagnas in the oven at 5:27. Set timer for 1 hour and twenty minutes. 

6:47 Looked at lasagnas. Noting that there was no overspill from the pans, decided on another 15 minutes. 

7:01 Took off covers and set timer for 30 minutes. 

7:30 Took out of oven to rest and cool. 

7:40 Couldn’t wait any longer. Cut a piece. Mmm…

 

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Texas Prairie Martini

There’s a part of me…a rather LARGE part of me…that loves a nice cold glass of liquor. The best alcoholics choose vodka as their boisson de choix, and who am I to argue with the experts?

There’s nothing like an ice-cold martini. Some prefer the Xmas tree lingering taste of gin, some like a little bit of vermouth; it all depends on the mood and most importantly depends on the drinker. That being said, there’s an equal if not greater part of me that’s North Texas white trash pedigree with a palatte for food that is hard to describe to most normal humans. We like our taco burgers, our Pittsburg Hot Links, and our pickled eggs. You put the two together and you have this incredibly dynamic mix of either delicious cocktail greatness or just a country washboard glass of goodness.

Up north of the Blackland Prairie where I grew up is the beautiful town of Muenster, Texas. If you want to throwback to the best of anything north of Dallas, you’ll find that this little town has it all. It’s a German town of about 1,500, and these people keep their town as clean as they can. There are two schools, one 2A school and one Catholic school (Sacred Heart ISD). The two schools are literally across the street from each other. Muenster hosts their annual Germanfest celebration, a half-concert/half-food festival in the last week of April every year. We don’t miss it in our family…I think we look forward to it more than we do Christmas. If you get a chance, you should make a day or even a weekend out of Germanfest in Muenster, Texas.

In downtown Muenster, there’s my favorite grocery store on the planet: Fischer’s Meat Market. Not only do they have a great selection of beer, wine, and Affiliated Foods groceries (the gears in any white trash family in north Texas), they have an incredible butcher counter (the back part of the store is also a slaughterhouse where you can take your beef to be dressed out), fresh German bakery items, and an entire row of canned/jarred food items that any north Texan would fall all over him/herself over. You can get apple butter, Hot N Spicy mustard, pecan pie in a jar, or any type of jelly you can think of including jalapeno jelly, muscadine jelly, or peach preserves. Right in the middle of this goodness is one of my favorite things in the world…pickled eggs. And not just any type of regular old pickled chicken egg; they have pickled quail eggs. This is the inspiration to this drink: leaning back on Lake Nocona on the Texas Prairie and sucking one of these down is as close to nirvana as possible (without the heroin).

First of all, to make a proper martini, you’ve got to chill the glass. Fill a martini glass with ice and then water and let it sit for a few minutes.

 

In the meantime, let’s review the ingredients list:

In that Aggie pub glass, we’re gonna throw in a few cubes of ice, three fingers of vodka, and another finger of the olive juice. That’s a pretty dirty martini…you can cut down on the olive juice if you prefer it to be sweeter and less olivey. What is a finger? Hold your finger up to the side of the glass and fill it up to the top of your finger. Then dump it all into the silver shaker, cap with the pub glass and shake three or four times to get it all mixed together. Dump out the ice water in the martini glass and clean out the extra water. Strain the vodka into the glass.  If it’s short, pour a bit more vodka into the glass, but don’t worry about stirring…that will come later.

Now comes the fun part. At Central Market, you can find a white cheddar called Isle of Mull. It’s incredibly sharp, but absolutely delicious. Take a bamboo skewer and run a couple of pickled eggs onto it. Then break off a hunk of cheese, and then top it off with a single olive. Break off the extra part of the skewer, but leave just enough to be able to hang onto it. Holding the broken end of the skewer, swirl the cocktail swizzle around in the vodka a couple of times to mix in the extra vodka (if necessary) and then serve with it across the rim of the glass (so the cheese doesn’t fall apart).

Voila…a Texas Prairie Martini, the perfect white trash cocktail and an awesome way to enjoy your cold liquor.