My step father is one hell of a guy. I have known him since I was 11, and since the day he sat down to play Lego with me he has continually earned my respect through his generosity and kindness. But it is not his compassionate and warmhearted spirit that truly won me over, that prize goes to his love of cooking, and in particular his lasagna.
Over the past couple years I have started collecting family recipes, and one of the best is Everett’s Lasagna. This lasagna has changed over the years, and is mostly stored in his head, so getting the recipe out of him wasn’t easy. It came down to my mother and I questioning him until we had it all down (admittedly my mother did most of the work!). I have used the recipe twice now, and both times it was a smash hit.
In the interest of sharing good food I would like to share his recipe with you.
2 cans (28 oz/800ml) of Roma tomatoes
2 cans (150ml) of tomato paste
3 cloves of garlic – crushed
1/2 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1/2 tbsp thyme
2 cups onions – sliced
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup chopped celery
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb (~500g) ground lamb
Parmesan cheese (topping)
- In a large, deep fry pan, brown lamb and drain off the fat. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Fry onions and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Add carrot and celery, cook until soft.
- Return lamb to fry pan with other ingredients. Add tomato and tomato paste.
- Simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes.
- Boil water, and cook lasagna noodles until soft – 15 minutes or so.
- Set up lasagna dish for the oven. Rub the dish with olive oil and then layer meat mix with cheese, noodles – two layers with some meat mix on the top.
- Add the last bit of mozzarella cheese to the top and then finish off with Parmesan sprinkled on top.
- Cook uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 F (190 C).
Today I stand with two clear choices to make for the direction of my life. Do I take path A or B? This is what I must decide. Everyday of our lives we make these simple decisions, but every once in a while that choice is more defined, and has more far reaching affects.
Being at this point is a rather peculiar feeling, the clear possibilities in front of me are tantalizing and frightening, and feels like I’m at the precipice of choice. I can see both paths, and travelling down either one is tempting. Perhaps this is because both options before me are good choices. They have their down sides to be sure, but each offers me a great deal to look forward to.
No matter what I decide I think I will always wonder what was down the other path. At this moment I feel like I can see them both plainly, but that may change in time. The mists of my own indecision are clearing, and I look forward to what may come.
A couple of years ago my mother mentioned to me that she worried that we never had any traditions growing up. At the time I thought she was being silly, and listed off a number of things that I considered to be our family traditions. What I noticed was that as I continued to sort through my memories, that I could nearly smell and taste the food. In a lot of ways this little chat with my mother was us recalling the food and atmosphere of our past.
Since that time I have been slowly building up a list of recipes that I consider to be our families recipes. We had lost a number of them over time, and it has been difficult to get some of them ‘just right’. These recipes are some of my favourite foods, however I wonder how much of that has to do with the happy memories that I associate with the smell. Would the food taste as good in future if I received a distressing phone call while eating it?
I can think of a number of people who can’t eat certain types of food simply because they had a bad reaction to it once. To what extent do our memories impact taste? I can imagine an old couple sitting together over a meal, and sharing a small knowing smile as they take the first bite, each remembering events and times that they shared with this food.
Perhaps I’m just being silly, but I wonder what foods hold the most memories, and whether food will taste better over time when it is often shared with good company.
Some have asked me if there is anything I am looking forward to, and my answer to that is quite simple. Unicon XV. What is this you might ask, well, quite simply Unicon is one of the most unique events in the world. Unicyclers from around the globe gather bi-annually for 10 days of competitions, workshops, maybe a bit of unicycle sumo wrestling , or a touch of unicycle hockey. Why am I particularly excited about this years? Because I am going, yes, I am going to Wellington, New Zealand this new years for what will likely be something I will remember for a long time to come.
Anyway, if you are curious, go and check out the site: http://www.uniconxv.co.nz/