Friday, March 15, 2013

A Spring Poem

I am in a writing circle, which is probably one of the most inspiring and educational things that I've done in a long time. We are a group of women (always less than 10 in a circle) that has a facilitator. She helps us with our writing by offering advice, tools and writing prompts. We read our weekly writings to each other and offer assistance on ways to better our pieces.

I am not good at writing poetry and we took a crack and writing a prose poem in ten minutes in a recent circle. We each pulled seven words out a box to write a prose poem. As we're all sick and tired of the snow, the words and theme were Spring!!

The unpredictable windy weather in March,
Starts to strip off the shroud of winter.
There are no issues forth except finding the time to smell the scent of new tulips,
And wake up to dew on the bright green grass on an early July morning.

A little corny, but that's what you in ten minutes! :) More importantly, I hope spring is on its way since today is March 15 and it is lightly snowing outside.

I am ready to see beautiful flowers, bright green grass, and a lot of sunshine! Until then, I have photos of flowers.

Mushroom Lasagna

Oh how I love mushrooms. I could eat mushrooms everyday whether they're oysters, portobellos, or just plain old button mushrooms! Growing up, mushrooms were a large part of our diet. An interesting tidbit from my family life is that my stepdad used to "hunt" mushrooms. He read many books and took classes on foraging mushrooms. Mushroom picking is a skill and one must know what they're doing because there are many poisonous mushrooms.

I recently ran across a great recipe on the Smitten Kitchen, which is an Ina Garten recipe for a mushroom lasagna. I was a little hesitant about making this at first because when I think of a lasagna, I think of noodles, cheese, tomatoes, and meat. This recipe doesn't have meat or tomatoes. I decided to make it on a recent evening, which left Pete and I oooohhhhing and aaaahhhhing during the entire meal. Even little Maggie enjoyed the flavor of the noodles, she just wasn't sure about the mushrooms yet!

My only complaint about this recipe is the amount of pots and pans used to make the lasagna, but it is worth it! I will also warn you that this is a rich lasagna!

- Kosher salt
- Good olive oil
- 3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
- 4 cups whole milk
- 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1.5 pounds portobello mushrooms (I used cremini mushrooms and some button mushrooms). Cleaned, separate the stems from caps, and slice caps. Discard stems or keep for another use.
- 1 cup freshly ground Parmesan (I used an Italian Cheese Mix)
- I clove garlic, minced (a Lindsay addition as I can't have lasagna without a little garlic!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside. (I do not know if you can do this recipe with no bake lasagna noodles)

For the white sauce, bring the milk and garlic to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture a ladle at a time until all incorporated. Add 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat.

Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.

To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8x12x2 baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Compiled lasagna before going in the oven to melt all the cheese!