Homemade Whole Wheat Lasagna

April 27, 2010

I think if there’s anything that we could get everyone in the whole world to agree on, it’s that lasagna is good. Garfield really knew what he was talking about. (OK, so some people are allergic to wheat, but there’s gotta be a gluten-free version of it out there somewhere.) Am I right?

Lasagna has become somewhat of a staple in our house as of late. Josh loves lasagna and I’ve discovered it’s actually really easy to make as long as I keep some ricotta cheese in the fridge. Even as leftovers it’s a favorite.

Another thing I’ve discovered is that making your own lasagna noodles is really easy and worth it because you avoid the hassle of pre-cooking it and it cuts down on the baking time a lot. Plus since we try to incorporate our own whole wheat flour into everything we can, making our own whole wheat pasta is perfect. And probably healthier than store-bought pasta, although I couldn’t tell you exactly why off the top of my head. I’ll have to research that for you sometime.

So… here’s the step-by-step on making your own whole wheat lasagna. (This recipe is based off of the one in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook but I didn’t follow it exactly.)

Here’s two cups of flour and some basil and a dash of salt. (I use a really tiny pan to make my lasagna because I’m only feeding two people. If you’re using a normal sized pan, you’ll probably want to double or triple the quantities.)

Stir it all together and make a well in the center.

Now take two beaten eggs in a separate bowl…

…and mix in 1/3 cup of water and a teaspoon of oil.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix it all together.

I usually mix it with a fork until I can’t anymore, then use my hand to combine the rest of it. There was way too much flour in it so I threw out the extra flour that I couldn’t get mixed in. The dough was just getting too hard.

See how solid that dough is? Pasta dough is supposed to be pretty dense, but I think I went a little overboard. Try starting out this recipe with a cup and half of flour instead of two. When you’re using whole wheat flour, you usually don’t need to use as much as you would with all-purpose flour.

Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. I don’t know how necessary this step is but I did it anyway.

In the meantime, I traced my lasagna pan onto some wax paper to use as a guide when rolling out the dough.

I usually use three layers of pasta in my lasagna, so I divided the dough into three pieces.

Place your prepared wax paper ink side down on the counter and get ready to roll out your first layer.

***Warning: if you used permanent marker, you may get permanent marker ink all over your counter top.

Roll out your pasta dough with a rolling pin until it covers all the lines. The dough is pretty hard so this step is a pain in the butt. If you have a pasta maker consider yourself very, very lucky.

Trim the excess with a butter knife.

Repeat this process until you have as many lasagna sheets as you want.

Here are my three pretty lasagna sheets!

Now just assemble your lasagna using your favorite recipe and bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. I did 400 degrees for just 30 minutes because I was in a hurry and it turned out just fine. (But my pan is tiny. If you’re using a normal sized lasagna pan you might not get away with just 30 minutes.)

And there you have it! I think the whole wheat gives the dish a lot more substance and extra flavor.

Don’t be afraid to make your own pasta. All you need is flour, egg, water, and oil… it’s impressive and it saves money 🙂

Utah

April 26, 2010

Although I’ve resided in Utah for quite a few years now, once in a while I still feel alien to Utahn quirks and customs. I think, in my heart, I will always be an Ohioan.

Except I’ve officially started calling pop “soda.” Is there no turning back?

Anyway, today I’d like to discuss some Utahn traditions and how I feel about them.

1. Fry Sauce

When I first moved to Utah as a freshman at Brigham Young University, I went to a burger joint and was asked if I wanted fry sauce. “It’s ketchup mixed with mayonnaise,” a native explained to me. Uhhh, yuck? No thanks, I thought. I think I even asked for some blue cheese dressing, which resulted in getting stared at like I was speaking Chinese or something.

I thought fry sauce was like a specialty sauce at that particular burger joint. But I slowly began to realize that every single burger joint in the entire state had fry sauce. And people would inhale the stuff with anything they could dip in it.

Eight years later, here’s my verdict: you know what, fry sauce really is pretty good with french fries. You should give it a chance.

2. Big Hair

Girls in Utah tease/rat their hair like it’s nobody’s business. I’m serious. For proof, I have provided the above portraits of otherwise very pretty and normal looking girls, taken straight from Josh’s high school yearbook. I think it makes them look like they have square heads. I like to flip through Josh’s yearbook and find all the squareheads. It’s kind of like my version of Where’s Waldo? or I Spy. Try it sometime; it’s pretty fun.

I don’t know if these girls know it, but from behind, it looks like they have a large, furry animal on their heads. Sometimes I get stuck behind them in the grocery store and I can’t help but stare in amazement.

How I feel after eight years of exposure: I actually like the kind of hairstyle where you rat your bangs in the front and pin it down but keep the rest of your hair normal. I even sport it myself sometimes, although I never have the guts to wear it too high. It’s a convenient way to make your hair look done when your bangs are greasy and you don’t have time to wash them. The square head thing though? Never in a million years.

3. Country Music

I did not listen to country music growing up. I think the music is cheesy, the lyrics are cheesy, and the singers’ outfits are really cheesy. I think that sometimes they would rather follow a cute rhyme scheme than express a real emotion. You don’t have to know how to play the guitar to play a country song, as long as you know like three chords. All the men sing about how lovesick they are and all the women sing about what cheaters the men are.

I came to Utah and 90% of the radio stations played country music. It was blaring in all the stores. All of my new friends loved country music. There was no getting away from it.

Then I found out that a lot of people actually like country music because it’s cheesy. Sometimes it’s even funny. And I guess they’re good to karaoke to.

Eight years later, I still don’t like country music. But sometimes I listen to it in the car just for comic relief.

4. Hunting Gear

Something you would never see in Columbus is people wearing full-out camouflage and neon orange while going about their daily tasks, like going grocery shopping. Here in Utah, it’s a common occurrence. Especially here in Southern Utah. It’s so common that people just rotate their hunting clothes through their normal daily apparel. They even buy miniature versions for their children. When I worked at the elementary school, I always knew it was hunting season by the number of kids who would show up to school in camouflage.

I’ve always been an anti-gun and anti-animal cruelty type of person, and thought that hunting was just for violent men who wanted to prove how rugged and manly they were. But here, everyone goes hunting. Super conservative looking guys and girls will gear up and go shooting for some weekend fun. Church leaders will take teenagers out hunting for a church activity. The most soft-spoken and gentle people have invited me over to see their shockingly huge gun collection.

Eight years later, I still don’t like guns, and although I might say OK to some target shooting, you will never find me killing any animals.

And I’d just like to say that if you kill a rabbit, you better eat it. That’s all.

Lessons Learned from Dr. Seuss

April 22, 2010

I think Dr. Seuss was one of the most brilliant children’s book writers (and illustrators) of all time. I have a goal to one day own all of his books in my personal library. Not only are they fun out-loud reading for little kids, the morals taught in them are taught really effectively. I feel like the things I learned from Dr. Seuss have stuck with me my whole life.

So the other day I was going through and adding all of his books to my Amazon.com Wish List, which I do sometimes when I don’t have the money to get things I want. It feels kind of like shopping even though you’re not really getting anything.

I found some treasures like The Lorax, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, and Bartholomew and the Oobleck. But I started to get frustrated because no matter how much I searched, I couldn’t find two of my favorite stories, which are The Glunk That Got Thunk and King Looie Katz. Finally, after doing some more research via Google, I found out they’re only available as part of the volume, I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories.

I seem to remember them being separate books and reading them in my elementary school library. But I searched and searched and they don’t exist anywhere. So I guess I’m just not remembering correctly… after all, I was probably like 8 years old when I read them. Do any of you remember them being separate books?

Anyways, these are fantastic stories. It’s been years since I’ve read them, but here’s a brief recap of each as I remember them:

The Glunk That Got Thunk is about this little sister who likes to sit all day and think nice little thoughts. Then one day, she decides to think up something really big and terrible. What she ends up thinking up is the Glunk, which she immediately regrets doing. As the Glunk goes around wreaking havoc, she tries desperately to “unthink” him, but he is just too big. Finally, with the help of her brother, they “unthink” the Glunk together.

I loved the illustrations of the little sister’s cute little thoughts and it inspired me as a kid to doodle and come up with little creatures (or “thoughts”) of my own. The lesson taught in this book is fantastic… who hasn’t had the experience of having a terrible thought that won’t go away?… and I love that the problem is conquered with sibling unity.

King Looie Katz is a story about a king who decides he needs a servant to hold up his royal tail, and then that servant decides he needs someone to hold up his tail, and then that servant decides he needs his tail held up, and so on and so forth, until you come to the last little cat who doesn’t have anyone to hold up his tail. Then, the last little cat with his tail dragging on the ground realizes how stupid the whole system is and that he’s not going to put up with it any longer. So he slams down the tail that he’s holding up, and then that cat realizes the stupidity of it all and slams down the tail he’s holding, and so it continues up the line, slamming tails, until the original servant slams down King Looie’s tail. Then, in the happy ending, everyone decides to just hold up their own tails from now on.

How applicable is this story to society and government today? I love how this story teaches kids that everyone is equal and that nobody should have to put up with the crap that someone imposes on them just because that someone happens to think they are superior. Wouldn’t it be great if the happy ending in this story would really happen?

Seriously, Theodor Geisel was a genius, may he rest in peace.

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Wordsy Wednesday: Textile Patterns

April 21, 2010

For some reason, I picked up an interest in textile patterns a while back. I just find joy in knowing the proper name for a commonly seen print. Today, let’s see how many of them you know. Just look at the picture and guess the name of the pattern.

Example:

Answer: Pinstripe

OK, Go!

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

OK, here are the answers:

1. Madras

2. Fleur de Lis

3. Tartan

4. Madison

5. Paisley

6. Herringbone

7. Houndstooth

8. Terrace Stripe

9. Argyle

10. Gingham

How did you do?

Eggs

April 19, 2010

One of the advantages of living in the country is that people have chickens.

More specifically, my stepmother-in-law has chickens.

So she frequently gives us dozens of these beautiful, fresh eggs:

I love the varying shades of brown. They make me feel closer to nature.

They’re so fresh, sometimes I’ll find one with a piece of feather still stuck to it.

Have you ever used fresh eggs before? I love them. The yolks are more yellow and more whiskable, food seems to turn out fluffier, and they just somehow exude all the correct properties of egginess as opposed to the storebought varieties.

Thanks, Shirley.

And thank you, chickens.

Bangs

April 16, 2010

I’m constantly tempted to get bangs. I think a lot of girls face this dilemma for some reason. When it’s time for a new haircut, it’s always bangs or no bangs?

I happen to like baby bangs, which are usually a little too drastic for most people to want to try. But I think they’re really cute, artsy, and defining all in one. Here are some photos I managed to find to illustrate my point:

(I really wanted to find a picture of Susan May Pratt as Maureen Cummings in Center Stage because hers is the haircut that inspired me in the first place, but a good photo of her doesn’t seem to exist online.)

Baby bangs seem to work well with long, dark hair, which I have.

They also seem to look good on women with small faces and large, pretty eyes, which I don’t have.

(But doesn’t any haircut look better if you have a small face and large, pretty eyes? Curses to those women.)

I actually used to have baby bangs back when Josh and I started dating, and I loved them. I realize I’m committing some kind of confidence suicide posting a picture of myself right after a bunch of gorgeous celebrities, but here it is:

The problem is, Josh hates bangs, which is a sentiment a lot of guys seem to share for some reason. Especially baby bangs. And what’s the point of having a haircut that your husband doesn’t like?

There is no point. So no bangs it is.

Wordsy Wednesday: Collateral Adjectives

April 15, 2010

Today is not Wednesday, but I meant to post this yesterday. I swear.

As a nerd of sorts, one of my hobbies is collecting lists of words. Some of my favorite words to collect are collateral adjectives, which are adjectives that mean “of or relating to” a noun but usually with a different root than the noun. For example, canine for dog, solar for the sun, and cardiac for the heart.

Just for fun and in case you wanted to give your brain a little more of a workout today, I’ve created a mini quiz for you to take. Just read through the collateral adjectives listed and see how many of the corresponding nouns you know.

I think it’s a fun idea. Don’t you?

Easy (these are commonly recognized and used.)

  1. feline
  2. lunar
  3. dental
  4. cerebral
  5. paternal
  6. acoustic
  7. equine

Medium (you probably know most of these if you are pretty well read or have studied Latin or something.)

  1. crepuscular
  2. ursine
  3. apian
  4. labial
  5. sacerdotal
  6. vespertine
  7. nuptial

Hard (you might know these if you’re a word nerd and have a knack for remembering fun words.)

  1. avuncular
  2. pluvial
  3. vexillary
  4. murine
  5. pavonine
  6. littoral
  7. lacrimal

(This picture is a clue for one of the above collateral adjectives.)

OK, now here are the answers:

Easy

  1. feline=cat
  2. lunar=moon
  3. dental=teeth
  4. cerebral=brain
  5. paternal=father
  6. acoustic=sound
  7. equine=horse

Medium

  1. crepuscular=twilight
  2. ursine=bear
  3. apian=bee
  4. labial=lips
  5. sacerdotal=priest
  6. vespertine=evening
  7. nuptial=marriage or wedding

Hard

  1. avuncular=uncle
  2. pluvial=rain
  3. vexillary=flag
  4. murine=mouse or rat
  5. pavonine=peacock
  6. littoral=shore
  7. lacrimal=tears

See, that was fun, wasn’t it? Let me know how you did!

Look forward to more Wordsy Wednesdays in the future!

Making Dinner Out of Nothing

April 13, 2010

It’s that time of month again.

The time when the fridge is completely empty except for a few random jars of… randomness. And a few rubbery carrots. Time when a trip to the grocery store is sorely needed.

I actually enjoy this time of month. I get a secret, crazy thrill out of finding a way to make a meal out of nothing. I think it’s really fun, like solving a puzzle. Is anyone out there with me on this? Anyone?

Anyway, today I was looking at some leftover cream cheese and frozen chicken breasts. The only vegetables we had left were some old carrots, and I refuse to make a meal without any vegetables. There was also a can of cream of mushroom soup in the pantry.

So this is what I came up with:

I used some home ground whole wheat flour to whip up some rolls and wrapped the dough, croissant style, around some shredded chicken mixed with cream cheese (my sister made something like this for me years ago when we were in college and I’ve had it stored in my memory until now.) Each roll was covered with cream of mushroom soup for a sauce. Then, for the side, I chopped up the carrots, cooked them, and coated them with a brown sugar glaze.

Josh liked it a lot, thereby making dinner a success.

I felt pretty good about it. Good enough to go to the grocery store.

What To Do With the Ugly Ones

April 8, 2010

Josh loves anko (sweet red bean paste) so earlier this week I made anpan. (an=anko and pan=bread; get it?)

(I got the above photo from Wikipedia and it is not really representative of the anpans I made. I don’t usually like to reference Wikipedia but the article on anpan seems accurate enough.)

You know how whenever you make a batch of baked goodies, one or two of them end up misshapen or smushed or just plain uglier than the others? Those are usually my “taste-tester” pieces.

Well, Josh had another solution. The anko filling in one of my anpans had burst out in the oven, looking like a tongue sticking out. So here’s what he did:


Yup, he added eyes. This was an entertaining enough occasion to justify taking yet another photo:


Oh, the fun we have here at Trailer 29.

Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood?

April 7, 2010

We have a neighbor named Celia who is one of our most frequent visitors.

She used to come over all the time to ask Josh for a ride to the store. He took her a couple of times, but finally told her that since the store is so close by, she should really just ride her bike. I don’t think she was very happy about that so she stopped bothering us coming over for a while.

We first met her before we’d officially moved in, when we were still fixing things up in our trailer. We saw her outside, just standing there for five minutes or so as if trying to make up her mind to do something, before she finally knocked on our door.

“Hi,” she said.

“Oh hey, how’s it going,” Josh said.

“Hi. I just wanted to come by and say hi,” she said. Then there was a long, awkward pause.

“Well, hey,” said Josh. Another long awkward pause. Times that by about five. Finally, Josh said, “well, it was really nice to meet you.”

Then she asked him for a ride to the store.

Anyways, the other day her mom came by and asked Josh for help fixing their oven door. So he went over and fixed it.

Then, Celia started coming over again, asking him for help fixing more things. He went over to look at their front door and fixed it up a bit. She started coming over more frequently. One of those times, I answered the door, holding my baby.

“Oh, did you have a baby?” she asked.

“I did, here she is,” I answered, trying to sound as friendly as I could.

“Oh, if I’d known I would have brought over some baby clothes or something, but I had no idea!” she said.

“It’s really OK, she has plenty of clothes,” I told her. “Well, I’ll let Josh know your door is dry. Seeya later!”

Two minutes later she came back with these:

“That’s so kind of you,” I said, “who did they belong to before?” I was pretty sure she didn’t have any kids.

“Oh, well I made them for my dog, but she didn’t like wearing them very much,” she replied.

Oh. Umm, thanks Celia.

Once, Josh and I were both busy, so even though we heard her knocking on the door neither of us answered it. But she kept knocking for like ten minutes straight. Josh finally answered it when she started pounding as hard as she could. He told her he couldn’t fix her door unless she bought some silicone.

“What? I don’t have the money for that,” she said. Josh informed her that that was too bad. I don’t think she liked that very much.

So maybe she’ll stop coming over again. At least for a little while.