Spaghetti Pie

This “signature recipe” (which I sometimes call baked spaghetti) is one that I learned around the age of ten, in an agricultural extension cooking class. I get rave reviews whenever I make it. The trick is to over-spice the mixture slightly before baking it, as the baking process slightly diminishes the spices’ impact.

  • 26 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce (or make your own)
  • 16 ounce box of spaghetti
  • 2 cups sliced mozzarella
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 13×9-inch baking pan. Prepare spaghetti according to package directions, except remove and drain pasta when still slightly firm. Mix with spaghetti sauce and spice to taste. Break egg into mixture and stir thoroughly. Layer half of spaghetti and sauce in baking pan. Cover completely with sliced mozzarella. Layer remaining half on top and cover it completely with mozzarella as well. Bake 20-30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling on top. Makes 6-8 servings.

My usual variant of this includes adding a pound of browned ground beef into the spaghetti sauce (you can also add bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.). I also usually use shredded cheese on top instead of sliced cheese. Here are a couple of other variants that have successfully worked for me:

  • Substituting alfredo sauce for the normal red spaghetti sauce, and adding chopped chicken and green peppers. Be careful here as alfredo sauce already contains parmesan cheese.
  • A “skinny” version using spaghetti squash, skim milk cheese and only the egg white instead of the entire egg. Needs extra spicing over and above the slight over-spicing I recommend for the basic recipe.

I trimmed back the catnip this morning and brought some in for drying. A big drawback of anosmia is I can’t tell if it’s fragrant or not. So I gave a sprig to Emily to use her as a smell tester. She was unimpressed. A little while later I went back into the kitchen to check the dehydrator and she was guarding it as if it were her first born kitten. Plus, the leaves had been nibbled. The little faker!


Do We Dare Forget?

Hunley v Housatonic

This isn’t science fiction art! Rather it’s an artist’s rendition of the first successful submarine attack, which happened in February 1864 during the U.S. Civil War.

I can’t think of a single cultural group whose practices and beliefs are all good or all bad. This doesn’t surprise me, as I also can’t think of any human beings that are all good or all bad. Even the worst of the worst often have some small redeeming quality.

But more and more, I wonder if I’m the only one who holds these kinds of opinions.

I’ve hesitated to speak of my dismay about the Confederate statues coming down in New Orleans, because the fact that my skin is white means that most who would hear the opinion would dismiss it as a racist or privileged attitude. That’s unfortunate, because the reason for my dismay is anything but. It’s rooted in the fact that black-and-white thinking and closing our eyes to the past are both practices that risk a disaster for the future.

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Starting Herb Garden 2.0

2017 Herb Garden v 1.0

Herb Garden Attempt #1

Earlier this year, almost on a whim, I dropped by one of those insidious home & garden stores to pick up a single plant for a planter I’d been gifted as a housewarming present. I walked out with two extra pots and three plants: catnip, Greek oregano and lemon thyme. A week later I went back for three more: peppermint, chocolate mint and sweet basil. I was excited and looking forward to having fresh herbs to cook with later this summer and into the fall; I even got a dehydrator for preservation.

Unfortunately, during the next four weeks we got constant rain. The oregano and thyme drowned. I was able to save the other four, but then I went out of town for a week and forgot to make arrangements to get them watered. I was hopeful enough to water the plants that were lying on the ground when I got back, but then, two days later, we got torrential thunderstorms.

2017 Herb Garden v 2.0

Herb Garden Attempt #2

The catnip, which is in a coco fiber liner in the planter, was the only one that made it.

Such is life, I suppose, and there’s a lesson to be learned here: self-watering plant containers can and do clog and overflow, and even plant containers that claim not to need drainage holes…do. It’s a newbie mistake, but hey, this is my first real garden attempt as an adult and, in my own defense, I had followed the instructions I’d been given.

So yesterday I cleaned up the mess that used to be an herb garden; and then sucked it up and trekked back over to the store to pick up five more plants. And this time, the containers got drainage holes in them. Hopefully Herb Garden 2.0 will be more successful than the first, especially since I’m not planning on traveling out of town again for the rest of the summer!