Friday, August 7, 2009

Lasagna--in his own words

You all know Seth is one of the best guys in the world already. Here's proof if you were in doubt. He made me two lasagnas for the retreat at Siltcoos. My cabin-mate, begged for his recipe and here is his response:

Right, lasagna.
Ummm, I make it different every time.  But the idea is pasta in sauce.  I once had a white lasagna in Florence maybe that was to die for, but really was just a bowl of widish noodles in a nice white sauce.
So start with sauce.  For that red sauce I just used canned organic tomato chunks, and/or sauce.  Fresh are different and yummy too, but cook them down some.  I saute' garlic in a hot pan, a little salt, a couple of teaspoons of pepper and some dry basil or oregano or both.  Then add a quarter or half cup or the sauce to the pan with a few tablespoons of red wine (or port I think I had for that Lag you had) and stir, but let it damn well almost burn to the pan.  That really kicks up the sauce flavor.  Then add the rest of the sauce and simmer it to reduce it a bit if necessary.  Your sauce shouldn't be too thick, though, 'cause the noodles suck it up.
Meanwhile make filling junk.
Cook some onions in a bit of oil on med high heat 'till they are soft and sweet.  Add white wine and a lid for a few minutes after a few minutes and they get softer and sweeter faster.
Also mushrooms if you wish.  I use another pan so flavors don't get too muddled.  White wine works good on them too.
Make maybe 3 cups of grated cheeze per lasagna,
Mix 1 pint ricotta with and egg in a bowl.
Wash fresh spinach or basil.
And some where in there get a gallon and a half of water boiling in three gallon pot.  When it boils, add a few table spoons of salt.  Then cook a box of noodles.  Put 'em in individually so they don't all stick together ( they will any way), and for maybe 5 minutes.  They should still be a bit tough, 'cause they will cook more .  Tong them out into a bowl of cold water so you can handle them. Cook another  1/2 box the same way.  That should be enough for one. Proly. (You can also used uncooked fresh noodles, or even dry if you add tons of water or sauce to the pan for them to cook in.)
Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
In a baking pan put sauce, then noodles, then whatever, layering in noodles and adding sauce as you go. Just spread stuff evenly. Top with noodles, sauce and cheese.
You should see liquid up the side of the dish, so the noodles are kinda floating.  Add pasta water around the corners and edges.
Cook for around 45 min.  The whole mess should be boiling. Cover for the last 10 or so.  Best left over.
Cheers, Seth

P.S. from Laura: well, that was about the easiest post ever for me at least. 
P.P.S. You cook it hotter than you might think--like 450 to start then 425 when you put it in. Oh, and never heat up anything with tomato sauce touching aluminum foil--the hot acids dissolve the foil into your food. you can guess how I learned that.
P.P.P.S. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fiber Dreamland--Picture Heavy Post!

Another highlight of my summer was our local spinning group's (The Ewes) annual summer retreat with the incredible Judith MacKenzie McCuin. We hire her to come be our teacher for a very small retreat of her and 11 students.  We spent 4 nights at the idyllic Siltcoos Station, which is owned by Lane Community College and which you can rent for educational purposes.
Siltcoos is a big lake (complete with a Lake Monster named Silly--though some think it's Nessie come halfway around the world through secretive means)

We each cooked only a meal or two which left plenty of time for fiber exploration.
Our theme this year was "Yarn Design." Judith helped each of us with individual questions, and in her amazing way taught us so much without it ever feeling like a "class." 

We learned about different plying techniques, techniques for spinning different types of fiber, matching commercial or previously spun yarns, sampling to get the yarn you want instead of the one you make by default, and a lot about dying with Judith's pretty much non-toxic Mother MacKenzie's Miracle Dyes.
She was so much fun to work with! She sprinkles in all kinds of stories, tales and historical/anthropological information as she teaches. Nothing seems to phase her. I can do things with her nearby that seem impossible on my own (though I know theoretically that they're not since I DID manage them at least once). "Be calm," she says if things go awry, because she always can find a way out of the trouble. This was my first time being able to attend (note the 11 person limit) and I now see why so many Ewes plan their summers around this event!


One of the neatest things we did was learn about the renaissance of sericulture (silk production) in Kenya. One of the Ewes, Gwen (that's not her), has been making long visits to Kenya for many years now, and she brought back pictures of the sericulture revival as well as a whole bunch of "seconds" cocoons. 
We cut the silk worms (who were done in through non-toxic baking in big clay ovens) out of cocoons and de-gummed them (the cocoons that is--I took the crunchy worms to my friends' chickens later that week) in a bath of hot water and baking soda. At first the smell was a bit nasty, but after awhile it kind of grew on me.  A few we spread out as an experimental silk hankie. 

The rest we dyed with Judith's dyes 
and learned how to spin straight from the cocoons on our wheels.

It makes thread-like "yarn," and I doubt I will ever have the patience to spin enough to actually make a useful item from them, but it certainly is beautiful. 

I think mine (which I wrapped around a nostepinde and is only about an inch tall but must have at least 25  yards of "yarn")
 looks like a hummingbird nest.

My other favorite activity was using the enormous electric carders which Judith's husband Nick makes.
They are about two feet wide and have motors
 strong enough to run an outboard boat engine. I joked to one of the Ewes, Renee, whose husband loves to fish, that they could run their boat with her carder so they would both have something they loved to do out on the water!  
As the carders are so sturdy and big, they are pretty durned expensive, but I got so much fleece carded that I don't think I'll need to card for quite awhile longer.

Hempsy-Woolsy and Rugby-Bear both accompanied me to the retreat and had a lovely time. We saw bear scat in the driveway, but luckily they were the only bears we met in "person."  They're still napping a lot to recover from all the excitement.

So, if you want me to come visit you next summer, it had better not be in the second half of July, because I'll be planning my summers differently now myself! 

Be calm.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summer Time Flies

     No, we haven't been having a fly problem, just the usual problem of time flying by when you're having fun. We decided to stay home this summer and do Oregon things. One of them was supposed to be blogging (in my mind) but this is the first I've gotten to it as I've been having too much fun doing other things. I guess I'll just try to do one thing (or at least theme) at a time so it isn't too arduous to read. By the way, if you haven't seen Seth's website recently, you should check it out. He re-did parts of it, and it has very little reading, mostly pictures.

    Of course a huge amount of my time has been devoted to fibery pursuits, so I'll start with
 them. School let out on Wed. June 17th and the Black Sheep Gathering started Fri. 19th. I worked on my room Thursday, then left it in total disarray for the rest of the weekend as I took FIVE classes at BSG this year: Popular Wheel Mechanics (with the utterly amazing Judith MacKenzie-McCuin), making felted pendants (with sweet and talented Lori Flood), spinning greased lightning (mohair) (with the ebullient and exuberant Janis Thompson), spinning exotics (with Queen of the Fiber Bins Laurie Weinsoft), and Tips, Tricks and Techniques (knitting) (with the extremely knowledgeable and helpful Joan Schrouder). I was exhausted, but I learned a TON. 

 I  had one afternoon to shop and I used it wisely: buying a Jenkins Turkish drop spindle, a set of new hand cards(I forget the maker--John Day area), some practice wool from Bellwether, a new drive band for my wheel, and a silly book.

I managed to get my rear end back to my classroom for one day on Monday and got things pretty well cleaned up, but I had the summer fiber bug pretty bad by then. I spent the next few days at my friend Dominique's house playing with some white fleeces and dyes. 
We did about 9 batches altogether. Mine are intended to supplement my Hunting Jacket yarn supply because the Ewes (my local spinning group) convinced me that I didn't have enough fiber for a whole jacket. Doe's are basically just her going crazy because she loves to dye.

I also managed to finish a second Noro 2 row scarf and my handspun cardigan that I have been working on for about a year!
I was excited that the one set of buttons 
I had in my button drawer went more than perfectly with it. 
The yarn is a blend of 50%  dyed silk and 50% Lorane (the long dead prize sheep's name from which my mother-in-law gave me her last pound of fleece). I carded it on my old gnarly hand cards and spun it rather unevenly I must admit. I chain plied it to keep the colors from mixing. The plied yarns ranged from a rather decent worsted weight sort of thing to pretty durned bulky. I had to alternate balls every other row to get a half consistent fabric! It was fun though, and I used big #11 needles. I designed it using Barbara Walker's Knitting From the Top. I love how it fits and feels warm, but not too heavy. Next to Elizabeth Zimmermann, Barbara Walker is among my next most cherished knitting authors. Someone told me she's a feminist writer as well! AND she's going to be on the Luminary Panel at the Sock Summit which I will be attending next week.  Like I said, Summer Time Flies.