Wrapping Things Up

Lasagna

Lasagna

Here we are coming to the close of another year.  It has been another eventful one.  There is no lack of excitement going on over in this neck of the woods.  It hasn’t been easy but there isn’t one thing I would change if I could.  Not one.  Well, maybe just one.

I am not a person of complacency.  Thankfully I live in America and what a great foundation for a good life.  Wherever we live, we would still strive for happiness.  But, everyone’s definition of happy is different.  The glass half empty comes to mind.  When my older girls where younger I had a terrible fear of death.  I would have anxiety over flying, the girls choking, or what would happen if I left them with a sitter.  Something shifted inside me that lead me to understand that life is short.  Death is something we will all experience and no avoiding it in our heads is going to make it not happen when our time comes.  I can’t tell you what exactly happened to me to make that shift.  But I am not afraid of living or dying anymore.  And I do believe that the two go hand in hand.

That being said, you may not like what I have to say.  My words may seem volatile, or irrational, maybe funny, always exciting, lovingly truthful, with a touch of crazy, sometimes sad, but it will always be human.  It will be my human emotion through this journey of personal triumphs and failures.  But it is my journey.  It is my journey of growing and thriving as a business owner and a single mom of three beautiful girls.  It doesn’t define me as a good/bad person, a good/bad chef, or a good/bad mother.  It is an experience.  I know that some of you think of me as a strong woman who has always got it together, but I do not.  Through experience I have come to redefine my definition of confidence.  To me, it isn’t being 100% sure of a decision.  Confidence, to me, is making the best decision despite what could be the outcome- all while feeling good about the person looking at me in the mirror.   It is feeling good about myself, even if the outcome is not perfect.  However, I now have an editor, so ultimately she can be blamed when things go really south.  Readers-blame her.  There is no doubt I can throw a fabulous party and cook a damn good meal.  But there is so much more that goes with it.  Maybe one of you can learn from my personal successes or failures.  I may not be perfect in what I am doing personally, but I will always take risks to make things unique and wonderful. This is evident with G&H.   That is what I hope my blogging does for you-gives you confidence and courage.  If you are just 1 person or if you are 101 people.  Writing is my therapy.  I want to write it out and share with you the things that I do right or learn there may a better way.  And I do this, always, one meal at a time.

It is also therapy to share my recipes.  I get bits and pieces of recipes from everywhere.  I have a library of cookbooks and with the internet, there is no loss of information.  I  love sharing them for you to try them out yourselves.  G&H is here to make it for you when you don’t have the time, but I completely understand wanting to play in the kitchen.  Here is the lasagna recipe that a client ask for a few weeks back.  It is such a lovely compliment to want a recipe!  Thank you-

Ingredients

~1 Lb Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage in casing

~Bulb of Garlic

~4 26 ounce containers of Marzano italian crushed tomatoes

~1 Roasted Fennel (optional)

~Sliced Mushrooms (optional) 8 ounces

~Fresh Mozarella thickly sliced  16oz

~Whole Milk Riccotto 16 ounces

~1 Egg

~1/2 Cup Parmesan (plus more for sprinkling on top)

~1 Package Barilla No Boil Lasagna Noodles

Directions

The sauce is the most important part of this dish.  I learned from some Italian friends the way to make a good tomato sauce.  Simmering it on the stove for a long time is the secret.  It is a weekend type of dish.  Start your sauce on Saturday and let it simmer over night and then put it all together on Sunday.  To make the sauce, brown your sausage and break it up in the casing.  Add all of your bulb of garlic.  I just smash it and peel it.  Next add your containers of crushed tomatoes.  If I have fennel and mushrooms, then I will add them.  If I don’t, then I won’t make a special trip out for them.  When everything is in your stockpot, let this simmer on low for 8 to 12 hours.  The tomato sauce will become this deep red color.  Hold back from eating it now, because you will want to!  Mix your egg, 1/2 cup parmesan and ricotta in a small bowl.  Start with a layer of tomato sauce, then noodles, ricotta, then mozzarella slices.  Do this as long as you have ingredients to layer and room to pile it up.  Your last layer should be the tomato sauce and sprinkle some parmesan over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly hot.  Serve this with an italian loaf and garden salad.  Yum- a perfect Sunday family meal.

Cooking, throwing a party, helping clients to make wonderful memories, having this forum to share feelings and recipes, and celebrating life are all things I enjoy and give me great happiness.  I look forward to sharing many more recipes and experiences with you in 2014!  Here’s to living!