Pat’s Best Ever Lasagne

Somebody told me recently about a lasagne recipe that I should try. She said it is the best lasagne ever. I smiled in a my sweet southern way and said thank you! In my mind, I knew the best ever recipe was safe and sound at home in my cookbook! My mother in law has been making it for years, and everybody in my family now has the recipe. Guess what? All those wonderful Southern cooks have proclaimed it is the Best ever!
One thing I’ve learned is that it is a real pain to make. So, if I’m going to all that much trouble , I double or even triple the sauce recipe. I usually make the sauce the night before, then assemble the next day. After the lasagne cooks, let it sit for at least 30 minutes. One thing is for sure, this is slow food. Settle in the kitchen, get somebody to help chop and keep you company. Heck, you can even get somebody yo pour you a glass of wine! Serve this with a great salad and some delicious crusty bread! My wine preference is a Cabernet Sauvignon. Don’t ask me if it is the proper pairing. It is just my favorite. Feel free to share what your favorite is!

Sauce
Tomatoes, 1 lg can Italian brand
Tomato paste, 2 cans
Ground pork, 1/4 lb
Ground beef, 1/4 lb
Garlic, one clove chopped
Onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped
Italian parsley, chopped
Oregano, dried 2 teas
Basil,dried 1tsp
Salt, 1 Tablespoon
Sugar, 2T
Pepper, 1/4 teas
Olive oil,1/4 cup
Filling:
2 lb container ricotta cheese, whole milk
2 eggs, beaten
Parsley, chopped
Romano cheese, use the good stuff for this, not the cardboard nasty kind.

9 Lasagne noodles
1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil in a Dutch oven until soft and the kitchen smells delicious. Brown ground beef in a separate pan, draining and discarding excess grease, add to onion mixture. Brown ground pork and repeat draining and discarding of grease. Add tomato paste and cook for a minute or two. Add remaining sauce ingredients.
Cook for 3 hours covered, stirring occasionally. Let sit for an hour . This can be made a day ahead. Since this is such a lengthy process, I usually at least double the recipe because it is a real treat to have homemade spaghetti sauce this yummy. It freezes really well too.
Filling, mix ricotta, eggs, chopped parsley,

Layer sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, mozzarella cheese, Romano cheese. End with sauce, sprinkle with more Romano cheese. Should make two layers in a 9″ X11″ pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour . Let sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

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Listen for the Whispers

Imagine you feel all alone. You feel confused and empty and lonely and lost. You feel surrounded by fear and conflict.
Imagine your heart and soul cries out. You don’t even know who you expect to hear you.
Then the unexpected happens. That simple cry for help seems to be heard and feels like it is transformed into a fragile transparent life lifeline. Your world seems a little calmer. You feel a little less afraid. All because of a simple cry for help? How can that be? It doesn’t matter. It helped you make it through one more day.
The next time the loneliness begins to creep into your heart, you remember to cry for help a little sooner, a little louder, and the sense of peace comes more quickly. It’s almost like that fragile lifeline has doubled and you feel tugged toward the other end. You aren’t sure what’s there, but you are pretty sure there’s more peace there. With each passing day and each answered cry for help, you begin to hear a whisper. Only it’s not easy to hear . Not easy to understand. Still, you begin to desperately try to hear and understand. What is this? Where did this now heavy rope of braided lifelines come from. You realize you don’t feel quite so afraid or lonely.

You look up and see someone talking across the crowded, noisy room. You can’t hear or understand but feel drawn to move closer. The closer you get , it seems the noise and chaos of the room falls away. You begin to catch words and realize that person is giving you very important instructions. Why can’t you hear all of the words?!
The desperation of your heart opens your ears and all of a sudden , life seems simpler. Your path seems clearer, the path straighter. Is it possible that just the cry of a broken heart and the constant and desperate cry was all it took? You look down and you are wrapped in those fragile lifelines and feel the comfort they give.
This is not s fairy tale. Our Heavenly Father waits for us to ask . He is ready to send a lifeline. He has been answering prayers for eons and ready to send one of his beloved to share a lifeline. He is ready to help. Are you ready to ask? Or maybe, you have heard a cry for help. Is somebody near you crying for help?

Jeremiah 33:3

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Laughter. There is nothing better.

Parenting is so hard. Thank goodness God gave us the gift of laughter. I recently had the pleasure of sharing a good old-fashioned belly laugh with my family. I’m talking about laughing till the tears were streaming down my legs laughing. That stuff is good for you. I’m gonna share my story here and hope that you’ll think about the last time you laughed like that with some of your family. I’d love it if you would share it here…we can all use it.

I had the pleasure of taking our son to college orientation this week. It truly was a pleasure to have him in the car for 8 hours. Of course, the first 4 hours he slept the whole way to the campus! The experience was fabulous and we felt cared for the entire time we were there. Students who were there for summer school were so friendly and when we left my son and I were both excited to know that he had made a great choice of college.

I digress, except to tell you that we were in great spirits. My husband had stayed at home to “pay for all this fun”. His words, not mine. Anyway, our teen daughter had decided to stay with Dad to avoid the long car ride and boring college orientation. My soon to be college boy and I were about half way home full of smiles and stories to share when I received a text from my hubby. As my son read the text, he began truly LOL. All he got out of his mouth was “I went in ___’s room and found…” before laughter prevented any more words out.

Now, maybe your children are perfect and that “…” doesn’t give you a complete anxiety attack. In our house, our children are far from perfect. It is only logical because, we aren’t perfect and are FAR from perfect parents. As all sorts of things that my husband could have found in our daughter’s room  flew through my mind. Great. Here I am in a great mood and having a great time anticipating our son’s future. Holy crap. What , you are wondering, did he find….? A kitten. Yes, she was given a kitten and hid in her room for a whole week before being discovered! She did ask about 3 or 4 weeks ago if she could get one. However, since my husband is very allergic to cat dander, I vetoed that request. She decided that if she kept it in her room, it would bother her Daddy. Those of you who have met her, know how strong-willed and independent this young lady is.

Ironically, she had purchased the litter and litter box, food and a few toys for “Trixie” with her own money. Did I mention she is independent. I love that about her. Eventually I stopped crying from my laughing spree. Later that evening, I shared my story with my Daddy and he had the exact same reaction that my son and I had to the story. He was laughing so hard and loud that my Momma rushed into the room to see what was going on. I passed the phone over to my daughter so she could share her kitten experience. I’m pretty sure we gave my Daddy his best laugh of the day.

So, yes, laughter is good. It helps to change you from the inside out. So, find a way to laugh today!

 

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Questions and Answers

My little community has suffered much in the past year. We lost a beloved high school teacher and coach. His loss was devastating. He died surrounded by friends and family, filled with the Holy Spirit. Yes, we grieve for him. However, we have lost four high school students in just a short 4 months. These students took their own life. I didn’t know them or even their families. Like many suicides, we may never truly know why this seemed like the only option for them.
It sure would be nice to know right? If we knew, then we could feel that much coveted sense of relief. “Whew” we don’t have that in our house! The problem with these teen suicides is that I don’t believe that there is just one factor to consider.
I live in a beautiful community. It is filled with highly educated, driven, very creative people. Many are generous with their time and resources. Like most, we want what is best for our kids. We want them to go to great colleges, we want them to take advantage of the Hope Scholarship, we want them to perform up to their athletic potential. We want them to have every opportunity this great world has to offer. Our schools consistently score in the top in the country. Our high school has won many state championships. We have one of the best drama departments in the area.
Yes, our school is beautiful. However, there are cracks. This type of success doesn’t come without cost. Our middle schoolers begin to hear from teachers in 6th grade ” you need to do well to go to UGA or Ga Tech”. They literally begin to feel that pressure while trying to navigate the first steps of adolescence. They also begin to tryout for feeder programs, knowing that is almost a prerequisite for making the high school team. To improve their child’s success, parents pay private coaches to hone athletic skills. They pay private tutors to improve their academic performance and success during the summer.

Our kids are placed in every imaginable competitive arena. We,as parents are doing this. Our teachers are doing it. Our coaches are doing it. Then we all wonder why these kids are taking their own lives. Some kids just aren’t made for this. I won’t even start on what I think it is doing to the family unit….Add to all this how social media has infiltrated our kids’ culture. Look on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and all you see are smiling happy people. Have you ever noticed that nobody ever posts a picture of themselves having a bad hair day, or a grumpy day, or anything of than having the best day of my life with my BFF? Kids see that everybody else is happy and having a great time. They see that they weren’t invited. They feel left out and alone.

I don’t know what to do, and certainly don’t have any answers to these problems. I don’t even know what questions to ask. I just know that it is not ok to me that kids in my world are unhappy. I am grateful to God that He has connected me with some creative and generous friends and we are going to try to help. We don’t know what to do, but we won’t rest until the Lord tells us to.

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Southern Kitchen Tools

I keep some of my favorite cooking tools in the oven. I’m referring to my iron skillets of course. I have quite a collection! My regular pots and pans took up roost in under the counter and the iron skillets always seem happy in the oven.  A friend of mine came over for a dinner party one night and needed to use the oven. I was embarrassed to have to move all of them out to make room for her stuff. She just laughed and said she said she keeps hers in her oven too!

Iron skillets in the south are surely treated like the heirlooms they are, and are passed from generation to generation. I seem to remember somebody’s husband leaving his wife’s iron skillet out in the yard when I was growing up. He had probably taken “the  scraps ” out to feed the dog and forgot to bring it back in. If that had happened in my Momma’s house, somebody would have been in BIG trouble! These heirlooms are really easy to care for one they are “seasoned”. You see, when you buy a skillet, it looks kind of rough and is dark gray. To jump start the seasoning, you need to rub some grease inside and out and put in the oven. Maybe this is why mine seem happy in there! Clean up is easy too. Just wash with soap and water. I think I’ve read to not use soap, but can’t make that leap. My beautiful skillets are jet black and shiny from use and care.  I have threatened taught my family that the skillets are never to be put in the dishwasher.

I think all of my family keepsakes tie me to those who are part of my journey. My grandmother’s quilts, my iron skillets, my hand-made wooden spoons…it is so important to remember and share the whole story. To remember my grandmothers cooking cornbread or sausage and gravy in her iron skillets, to remember my uncle so generously sharing his beautiful wood work.  To remember the time and love sewn into those beautiful quilts from my great-grandmother, grandmothers, Momma, and Marie. Family quilts…another story for another day… Want to have some cornbread for supper? Grab an iron skillet!

 

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