Monday, November 24, 2008


"Nanny Ogg quite liked cooking, provided there were other people around to do things like chop up the vegetables and wash the dishes afterwards."
-- Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
Always fun to have friends over for dinner. Especially Home on the Range Lasagna dinner.

There were the typical type of discussions -recent favorite reads, why it's hard to find classic Heinlein in used bookstores and why the 147gr JHPs with a 9 mm are just better for killing bowling pins when it's about 12 degrees out. Then after a cold beer and some appetizers, the conversation wandered into the differences between Star Trek's, for one guest who had not watched a a lot of them. After going through Deep Space Nine, etc, we continued on our own, including a "southern version" of Next Generation with "John Luke Pickin" and it went from downhill from there. I about dropped the lasagna laughing when the verbal picture was painted of "John Luke" uttering the command to "sic the hound dogs on the Ferengi's!" All around, a evening of wit and fun and spark.

Barkley of course, had to join in, getting a head rub while listening to Turk demonstrate bowling pins exploding in the cold, while I looked on from the kitchen that's off the big family room. Lasagna's not that hard to make, but most people use bottled pasta sauce to which some hamburger has been added. Not at the Range, if only for the people that are like family to me. It makes a world of difference over that bottled sauce. A few ingredients, and only a few minutes to assemble before simmering. Ground sirloin, spicy hot breakfast sausage cooked up with roasted garlic, Brigid's blend of secret herbs and spices (OK, not secret - recipe will be posted shortly), some stewed tomatoes and a hour or two on low, low heat.

Layer it up with thick pieces of sliced fresh Mozzarella (not the shredded stuff) on top of another layer of two kinds of cheese whisked with eggs and fresh parley. Top with the homemade meat mixture.
Another layer of noodles cheese and finally sauce and some Parmesan. This baby weighed about 20 pounds. Enough to feed the whole posse and have leftovers. It's ready for the oven. I bought one of those huge disposable pans, as I wanted to make A LOT.

Now put it in the oven for 30 minutes while the topping on the garlic bread gets a quick broil and the last of the Portabella mushroom turnovers with cream cheese pastry appetizers are scarfed down.Hey - where did they all go? Those darn Ferengi !

Barkley tries the Vulcan Mind Meld on Tam, to no avail. He did however, get plenty of attention and a biscuit or two while everyone helped clean up, making for a perfect evening for all.


  1. It's funny how having a bit of cooking savy lends itself to all kinds of positive social endeavors. Superb lasagna will always be enhanced with an overnight reservation in the fridge for another debut. Thanks for the motivation Brigid!

  2. OK, all the food stuff, I REALLY hate you... :(

    Not your fault, I'm seriously diabetic, so, OK, carry on...

    Been meaning to do this for a while too, I am adding your wonderful blog to my Fred's Faves list...

  3. Ah MAN!!!!

    Lasagna and bless Moses I spied a bottle of Woodchuck cider being consumed.

    Mail me the leftovers!!!!!!!!


  4. Have to agree with you on the dearth in supply of Heinlein books. It is great to find one in a used book store, kind of like finding treasure.
    I really enjoy his so-called "juvenile" novels, which probably is a commentary on me. Hmmm. Farmer In The Sky is a particular favorite.

  5. I see someone has the good taste to drink Woodchuck Cider. The only hard ciders I like better are Strongbow (a British import) and my own. I've got 4 gallons fermenting. They should be ready to drink by New Year's Eve.

  6. i NEVER take for granted a host or hostesses efforts in making a meal, especially from scratch. never mind that they can't always be in the room with us... the energy of their spirit is remembered long, LONG after the conversation is over.

    some people think food is just food, but they've never been cared for by someone who cooks with love. bet your friends know just what i'm talking about, b. ; )

    all we have our those moments.

  7. The Heinlein juveniles are being reprinted. By Baen, I think. I picked up "Tunnel in the Sky" last summer.

    You can't keep an old Master down and out of printl

  8. Here's the recipes.

    Home on the Range Lasagna.

    The original version came from Ree at Pioneer Woman and I just added some of my own spice touches.


    In a pan fry up a pound and a half of good quality beef (or venison if you are so inclined) with a package of Jimmy Dean's Hot and Spicy breakfast sausage (or Bob Evans Hot if you can get it), two cloves of garlic (I roast first but that's optional) and a dash of dried minced onion (a dash is for me one shake of the container), or a couple Tablespoons of diced fresh onion. Not more than that.

    When cooked, drain off most of the grease, but leave a small bit in the pan (a few Tablespoons). With this amount, it makes the fat per serving reasonable, but it will add a lot of garlic and goodness flavoring.

    Add in 28 ounces of stewed tomatoes, two small cans tomato paste, a quarter cup of coca cola (yes, it tenderizes the meat and adds a bit of sweetness to counteract the cayenne that's coming up), two healthy tablespoons of parsley, and two T.of dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon of red cayenne pepper and three or four shakes of the salt shaker.

    Simmer covered on low for about an hour. Or two. . uncover the last 15 minutes Should be thick, and not soup like.

    Cook up 8-10 lasagna noodles.

    While they cook, beat 2 extra large eggs. Add 3 cups cottage cheese (trust me, even people that HATE cottage cheese like this), a good half cup of parmasan cheese and a couple more Tablespoons of parsley and about a half teaspoon of salt. Blend well.

    Lay 4 or 5 noodles in the pan. (I spray with PAM first). Cover with about half the soft cheese mixture, and half a pound of sliced mozzarella. Top with half the meat mixture. Another layer of noodles, the soft cheese and another half pound of mozzarella cheese and the remainder of the meat sauce. Sprinkle some parmesan on the top and bake for 20 minutes if going in the oven immediately, or 30-35 if it sits in the fridge for a while before supper.

    Mushroom turnovers with cream cheese pastry.


    9 oz softened cream cheese
    1/2 lb of minced mushrooms
    1/4 cup of sour cream
    1/2 teaspoons of thyme leaves
    1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
    1/2 cup of butter or margarine
    1 large onion
    1 teaspoon of salt
    1 egg, beaten

    In a medium bowl, mix well cheese, flour and butter to form a dough. Wrap the dough, chill for one hour.

    Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms and onion in 3 tablespoons of butter until tender. Stir in salt, thyme and 2 tablespoons of flour until blended, turn off the heat, stir in the sour cream. Put aside.

    On a floured surface, roll out half of the dough (to about 1/8th of an inch thick), cut into 2 3/4 inch circles, roll scraps of dough into a ball and chill. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

    On half of each circle of dough put a teaspoon of the mushroom mixture, brush edges with beaten egg. Fold dough over filling, press edges together with a fork, prick tops. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.

    Brush turnovers with egg. Cover and chill (I only chill them if I am not planning on cooking them right away, they taste good either way).

    25 minutes before serving, preheat oven to 450 degrees F, bake the turnovers for 12 minutes until golden brown. You can also do as I did and bake them ahead of time and freeze and reheat for just a few minutes at 400 degrees.

  9. I hope I can make it to a gathering someday, just to bask in the collective brilliance.

  10. Christine - you would fit right in, and be most welcome.

    Nite all, avoided the leftovers and off to bed with a cup of tea.

  11. There's few things I can think of better than a gathering of friends and family at dinner. No doubt every one of your guests left feeling blessed as well as stuffed, Brigid. The warmth remains in hearts after the parting.

  12. I think it is most dangerous to visit B, your waist line will never be the same ;)

  13. Once again these recipes look fantastic and are saved in the recipe vault. Thanks!

  14. Brigid - is there any way to search your archives for your recipe posts, or have you actually published your cookbook yet? so many things look soooo good, but i usually dont have the recipes at hand when im en route to go shop for groceries.. a search/index would be amazing! Doc H USN

  15. Sounds awesome on all fronts. Good food, good drink, good friends... just don't get any better then that.

  16. Good god, that looks great! I *have* to make it up, at some point...

  17. Homemade lasagna is a wonderful thing, the only comfort food I like better is Osso Bucco.

    We've got a perfect pasta sauce recipe we've had for years from an old Time/Life cookbook which, unfortunately, we don't make often enough. Default is Barelli's or some upscale bottled sauce enhanced with good Italian sausage rather than hamburger.

    You can't have too much cheese, either, Mozzarella and fresh ricotta for sure and usually some Provolone.

    It's always better on the second day.

  18. Doc H - I am going to think about some way this winter to archive the recipes and such. I'm working on a regular "book type book", so I don't have time to do a recipe book right now, but will come up with a way readers can get to them easier. Probably after February when things historically are less hectic at work.

  19. My Oh My....

    shamelessly lifted for trial at home.

    Thank you VERY much.

  20. Aaron - it's good, and honestly, not all that hard to make, just needing a bit of time.

    My motto - if I can't make it after having a pint of Guinness and a sore arm from 300 rounds, it's not going into the cookbook.

  21. The food was...words fall short. Even better than the recipe and photos make it appear -- and they're incredibly good!

    Exceeded only by the company, of course.

    In re RAH, I am on my third copies of many of his juveniles buy hardcover editions on sight. After you've worn out Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and The Rolling Stones a couple of times (and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress thrice), you start to get the point.

    (BTW, I'm the hard cider drinker -- this is a chink in the armor of my occasional claims to be Temperance, but it's a low-alcohol adult beverage the taste of which I like. Woodchuck is good, Strongbow is better).

  22. Do I see someone wearing a hat, indoors, at the dinner table, for a a lovely homecooked meal.


    O Tempora, O Mores!

  23. I want to come to dinner at your house. I found you via The Suburban Bushwhacker and I will be coming back.

  24. Staring at the lasagna....Looks excellent! I'd sign up for left over detail ;)

  25. If I may contribute to the hard cider discussion... If available on tap, Strongow is fantastic. I bit of an artisan cider, not available everywhere, is Spire Mountain. I particularly like the dark and dry variety...
    And Heinlein juveniles in hardcover, have not seen one for sale in years. That would be a great find.

  26. So, When can we expect the Home on the Range Cookbook?


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