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My funny valentine. February 14, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I exchanged Valentine’s gifts and cards this morning: for him, a board game, German Shepherdopoly (our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, also signed his card); for me, a copy of Tony Bourdain’s latest collection of kitchen-themed essays, Medium Raw. We were both not just pleased with our own gifts but eager to read/play the other’s, so I’d rank this as a successful Valentine’s Day.

All was not bliss, however, and not just because OFB forgot to clean the litterbox (as I recently discovered). We’d decided to postpone our Valentine dinner until Thursday, when we’ll go to Wild Rice, a favorite Japanese/Chinese/Thai restaurant. Tonight we’re going to celebrate with our Friday Night Supper Club friends.

I’d made a batch of my luscious spaghetti sauce this weekend (you can search for the recipe by typing “spaghetti sauce” in our search bar at upper right) and had plenty left over, so I volunteered to make and bring lasagna* and a yummy loaf of bread; our friends would provide salad and wine.

Not exactly stress-inducing, right? Wrong. Suddenly two extra guests were added to the list, bringing the total to seven. And unlike so many dishes—soups, sauces, chili, stir-fries, you name it—lasagna won’t expand to feed additional mouths.

In a normal home, this wouldn’t be a problem: You’d just make either a bigger pan of lasagna or two pans. But ours is not a normal home. We have a vintage Caloric (yes, that really is its unfortunate name) gas stove, and its oven stopped working several years ago. I’m convinced that all it needs is a good cleaning, but finding someone who can still work on Caloric stoves is difficult and finding the money to pay them, or replace the venerable and much-loved stove with even a used model (it’s extra-wide), is impossible. As a stop-gap, we bought a countertop convection/toaster oven, which is usually ample for me and OFB. It is not ample enough, however, for either a large pan or two pans of lasagna. I’ve had to restrict my baking, roasting, broiling and etc. to pans, trays and the like that would fit into the toaster oven.

Big deal, you might think, just make two pans. But I only have one pan that would work for lasagna. It would be a huge pain to have to cook two pans one at a time anyway. And then there’s the issue of the ingredients. My homemade spaghetti sauce is rich, thick, chunky, incredible. But what if I don’t have enough for two pans? Will some diners get a luscious piece of lasagna made of premium sauce, and others get a boring serving made with store-bought? Aaaarrgghhh!!!

So of course I was roaming the house screaming and wringing my hands over this, much to poor OFB’s dismay. (I’m sure he would have loved to say “And happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!” but fortunately he resisted.) And I need to buy birthday presents for a good friend I’m seeing tomorrow and for our neighbor, whose birthday happens to fall on Valentine’s Day. Pressure!!! The day already seems far too short, and of course, the money far too tight.

I decided to focus instead—for a minute or two, anyway—on the pleasant, stress-free prospect of our Thursday supper at Wild Rice. OFB has a bag of clothes to give to Goodwill, which is just down from the restaurant, so I wanted to remind him to be sure to bring it.

Wait—Goodwill! Last time we went over there, I’d found a square Corning casserole dish and top that I knew would fit in our toaster oven, yet be big enough to make a good-size lasagna. I’d snapped it up, but hadn’t yet used it and had forgotten about it. Whoa, problem solved! Surely I can get eight squares of lasagna out of that dish without having to even try to make a second one. And one lucky person can have seconds!

What a relief. Looks like Valentine’s Day is going to be a success after all.

Wishing each and every one of you lots of love and joy today and every day!

               ‘Til next time,

                             Silence 

* I’ve been struggling with the lasagna/lasagne issue for several years, but have finally come up with a solution that satisfies me. In Italian, in this case, “a” indicates singular and “e” indicates plural. There are several pieces of lasagna pasta used to make the dish, so the pasta would be lasagne. But there is only one dish: lasagna.

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