Thursday, June 30, 2016

Kitchen Remodel week 1 recap

Crappy, cheap white kitchen

our make shift kitchen during the renovation

Kitchen renovation Pt. 1 week 1 recap

the back workroom

It’s amazing when you go away on vacation for a week, leave your mother in charge of your kitchen renovation what you come back to!

new kitchen in waiting, cabinets, appliances and tile  

My husband and I escaped to the Shenandoah Valley during  messiest and loudest part of the renovation. The major demolition was completed while we were gone. The crappy white cabinets-gone, the awful white tile-gone, the wall between rooms-gone! We came back to a big empty dusty room.  It should be about a six week project. 

All of the cabinets, wood floors, appliances, backsplash tile are in the house and have left us with a pathway from the front door to the back. I hope the progress keeps moving and there are no major problems.

Our designer stopped by and informed us that I could get a bigger cabinet by the stove. Who doesn’t want more storage space so I course I agreed. 
As we move along I’ll keep you posted,

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Biscuit Bash 2016

A sure sign of the beginning of summer is the annual Biscuit Bash sponsored by Art Smith's Art &; Soul restaurant. 12 restaurants are brought in to compete for best biscuit. There are always both sweet and savory creations. There are the secret official judges and then there is the Peoples Coice winner, that's were we come in. We get to sample the 12 creations and we get to vote on our favorite. It's a tough job but we were up for the task. After eating our way through the the competition it was time to critique the creations and to pick our choice... Sweet, savory, spicy,or unusual. Which would get my vote?

Rappahannock fried oyster with tomato jam

They were all good. And it was a tough choice. Do you go with unusual ingregoents such as octopus and foie gras from Rural Society, fried Rappohanpck oysters and tomato jam, a bahn mi on a waffle biscuit? There were the biscuits in sweet catagories-strawberries on a biscuit with thyme, peaches with vanilla ice cream from Goodies Ice cream truck.

BBQ Bus Bahn Mi biscuit

Mistitam Cafe's biscuit rabbit sausage

12 contenders, 12 biscuits who would win the night? For me it was a tie between three. But in the end my vote token went to the BBQ Bus Bahn mi BBQ biscuit. 
The people's  choice winner was.....  Chef Alex McCoy of Alfie's

Thursday, April 21, 2016

How my Swedish dad taught me to make the world's best lasagna

The world's best lasagna

My dad’s passing seems so long ago now.  My dad was one of four children and the oldest son in a Swedish family.  My dad’s grandfather immigrated to the United States in the late 1800’s. He stowed away on a ship to find his fortune in America. His brother also came to the US. And settled in Milwaukee and was a barber. There was a sister and mother who also came to the United States, I could go on and on but this is about food.   
 What does this short family tale have to do with my blog? Well, it is because of my dad that I learned to make the best lasagna, ever. I have come across only one other lasagna that is comparable. Not even in Rome can I say theirs is better than mine. 

My dad's Christmas gift

A well worn cookbook

The sauce simmering

Well we didn’t actually work side by side in the kitchen. He didn't tell me family secrets to making this lasagna. The recipe came in the form of a cook book. He had given my mother The New McCall's Cookbook for Christmas in the 70’s.  My copy is well worn, it has pages missing, the glue is brittle and pages are turning yellow. Out of all the buying and purging this one book has remained in my collection. This lasagna recipe is one I make from the book.  And of course over the years I have made this recipe my own. I add a lot more cheese than the recipe calls for. I make the sauce one day and assemble it the next. It must weigh a good 10lbs (even though it feels like 20)!  Even after all these years I still have the original pan. I have been asked for this recipe by many and it’s hard to say that is an old family recipe but since it was from the 70’s that is long ago, right? So now my "secret" family recipe is out! 

The original pan  

Extra cheese, please

Cheesy hot goodness

So this weekend I made it to celebrate his life and to reminisce a little and to be able to say my Swedish father taught me to make the best lasagna in the world.   

This is the lasagna I learned to make because of my dad 

Adapted from The New McCall's Cookbook


1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or hot) 
1/2 pound ground beef extra lean
1 medium onion, finely chopped 
2 cloves garlic (or to your taste)
2 tablespoons sugar, divided use 
1 tablespoon salt 
1-1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1/2 tablespoon fennel seed 
1 tablespoon dried oregano crumbled
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4?cup chopped fresh parsley divided 
4 cups canned tomatoes undrained (or 1 can (2 lb-3 oz) Italian-style tomatoes, undrained) 
2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
1/2 cup water 

12 dry lasagna noodles (3/4 of a 1-pound package)
15 ounces ricotta cheese 
1 egg 
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound (12 oz) mozzarella cheese thinly sliced
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 


 In a 5-quart Dutch oven, saute sausage, ground beef, onion and garlic; stirring frequently, until well browned; about 20 minutes. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, the basil, fennel seed, pepper and half the parsley; mix well. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and 1/2 cup water; mashing tomatoes with wooden spoon. Bring to boiling; reduce heat; simmer (covered) and stirring occasionally, until thick, about 1 1/2 hours. TO PREPARE THE LASAGNA: In a large pot, cook lasagna noodles until just barely tender. Drain in colander; rinse under cold water. Dry lasagna noodles on a clean, dry towel. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, remaining parsley and 1/2 teaspoon salt; mix. In bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish, spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce. Layer with 6 lasagna noodles, lengthwise and overlapping, to cover. Spread with half of ricotta mixture; top with third of mozzarella. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of sauce over cheese; sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat layering, starting with 6 lasagna noodles and ending with 1 1/2 cups sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan. Spread remaining sauce; top with rest of mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil; tucking around edge.  Bake 25 minutes; remove foil; bake, uncovered, 25 minutes longer, or until bubbly. Let set 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

 Source: McCall's Cookbook, 1973