Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Confessions of a Balaboosteh

Sitting in bed and re-reading Heinlein's The Cat Who Walked Through Walls for the twentieth or fiftieth time.  Tomorrow is another day (oh shut up, Scarlett!)  Reading a real paper book rather than a digital version helps me get to sleep.  That and the stuff I take at night for the Insane Itching.

Got lots of sleep, mostly good, and put the lasagna into the crockpot to cook for the rest of the day.  As I sit here drinking my coffee, it occurs to me that I need to get dressed and out of here before my body remembers it is supposed to be in pain.  How's that for a strategy?  Rob is emptying the dishwasher and I'm about to pick up after the furries, but first he modeled this rather perfect tee-shirt which I just have to share.

My cooking plans involve a bouillabaisse which is going to simmer (maybe even burble) in the other crockpot.  Beyond that, my brain is devoid of ideas and I will just have to see what is available at BJ's and Publix.  After I peruse a few cookbooks, that is, and these are "my" cookbooks, or rather my recipe collections, 10 or so ring binders filled with copies of every recipe I've ever cooked and a bunch more I'd like to try.  I'm looking for something to do with ground beef, because I happen to have one perfect package in the freezer.  Stuffed Red Peppers.  I got this.  Chicken?  Leftover heaven.

Side dishes.  Hmm.  Well, I've some nice salad, and while Robert will turn up his nose at it, Cory and I will enjoy.  Starch?  Rice is nice and I really want to try my new rice cooker.

 So we went out - the way I shopped you would think I was feeding the Duggar family.  Between BJ's and Publix, we spent well over - well, a lot.  While we were at BJ's, my plan changed when I snagged a beautiful package of round bone shoulder lamb chops and a 10 pound boneless pork loin.  The bouillabaisse went out the window, the chili verde flew in.  Should be an interesting week for cooking.  I was excited to buy tomatillos and fresh, fragrant cilantro.  I'm so easy to amuse, I know.  I also got all happy about those gummy vitamins.

Tonight I am doing nothing more strenuous than setting out cheese and crackers and watching the Magic play the Indiana Pacers.  Maybe knit.  I ate an entire Ritz cracker with pimento cheese for lunch, and it stayed down, so I was full and happy.  For anyone who wants real food for dinner, the lasagna is done, the salad is tossed, and the garlic butter is ready to be brushed onto the French bread.  I picked at some of the melted cheese and sauce from around the lasagna while I struggled to move it out of the crockpot, so as far as I am concerned, I've had my dinner.                                                                                                          

I cut the first piece from the lasagna to create a photo op, and to satisfy my own curiosity about how well this behemoth dish set up.  It cut nice, so I'm pretty satisfied, although that is a really crappy picture.  Taste? Well, that cheese was pretty good.  The meat layer is really good, with my tiny turkey meatballs doing nobly next to the sausage.

But now I have a confession to make.  Several confessions, actually.  First, I don't like lasagna, never have.  That's why I have been perfecting my baked ziti recipe for the past 35 years.  I love baked ziti.

For some reason, although the ingredients are virtually identical, I do not care for lasagna.  It always tastes boring to me, which is why I started to throw in a layer of flavorful vegetables and change around the cheeses.  Despite that, given a choice between even a really good lasagna and say, sautéed chicken livers, I would definitely choose the chicken livers.

I feel a lot of Jewish guilt over this.  How can I, a native New Yorker, diss lasagna?  So I overcompensate by whipping it up twice a year, whether or not we need it.  This was one of those times.  Which brings me to my second confession.

I  will never cook this particular dish in the crockpot ever again.  Ever.  There was no advantage to cooking this in the crockpot (except the awesome food smells that emanated throughout the house for eight hours.)  Removing the lasagna from the crockpot was ridiculous, aluminum foil sling notwithstanding.  I made messes, cleaned up, made more messes, flinging sauce and cheese hither and yon.  The taste is okay, and it set up and cut nicely, but it would do exactly the same thing if I baked it in the oven, in one of my trusty aluminum pans.

So while I utterly adore the crockpot and all the amazing dishes that can be completed in one, take it from this balaboosteh - lasagna ain't one of them.

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