Lasagna in a Crock Pot

The winter has forced me to gain some winter weight in order to stay warm. I live in New York City, where you must be out in the elements in negative 9 degrees. This year’s winter weather is especially arctic. I walk a lot and eat a lot, so hopefully that balances out, but it really doesn’t. We experience the fullness of the season whipping past our faces, to remind us that we are nothing but a small part of the circle of life. So we must nourish our existence with passion. Such as a passion to consume fuel that excites us upon anticipation, and ecstasy in the moment that the fragrant perfumes come steaming off the plate. I’m hardly able to wait for the lasagna to cool, often time so impatient, I burn the roof of my mouth. But it just tastes better that way.

This colorful analogy has been inspired by making Lasagna in a Crock Pot this past weekend. I had been meaning to get out the crock pot and try some new recipes and I am Italian, so this jumped out as the first I must try. The ingredients are inexpensive and it is so much easier than baking, even though it takes slightly longer. Low and Slow!  Maximum customization! We can build it faster, stronger and with more layers… can’t forget the massive amount of cheese. Thinking of Garfield, the cat I can now identify with, wanting to eat the entire thing, but unable to physically do so… in one sitting. I waited to digest a full belly of layered pasta, cheese, sauce and meat 3 stories tall. I left the crock pot temperature on low, so after I could feel some space let up, I could eat another helping proportionate to the space available, still hot and gooey!

1. Brown meat and diced onion, drain, add tomato sauce. Mix mozzarella, cottage cheese and Parmesan in a bowl. 2. Spray PAM lightly in crock pot. 3. Layer meat sauce evenly on bottom, followed by broken, uncooked lasagna noodles, and then spoon over with cheese mixture. 4. Repeat layering 3 times, add sauce to the top, then drizzle extra cheese. 5. Leave on LOW for 4-5 hours!

I should stress that it is unhealthy to eat this by yourself, so invite some friends or bring it to a gathering. It is sure to be an instant classic. They will never know how easy it was… unless you tell them!

Hungry for New Jersey

I am on a train headed to my home town in New Jersey. I reside in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Leaving the city always makes me feel like a weight is lifted and I can finally relax. I live in NYC because it offers anything and everything at any time… for the most part. Those who can appreciate a wide variety of food, art, and music can agree. But there is still something about that feeling of coming back to the house I grew up in, on the same street I first learned to ride my bike.

When I get to my destination, I am looking forward to a cold antipasto and stromboli from Franks. Mom and my step-father, Dick, always get Italian every Friday night. I got a call from Dick earlier to confirm my arrival time and take my order. Northern NJ has some of the best Italian food anywhere. I grew up down the street from a pizza place, diner, psycho-mart (what we call the dehli because it changed hands so many times) and the lake!

Budd Lake is the largest natural lake in NJ and was once a resort spot with bungalows, some of which were later converted to all-year-round homes. Jackie Gleason had a summer job at the lake when he was young.

NJ is known for its dinners and the Budd Lake Dinner was within walking distance, so I ate there a lot. I could get any kind of food, the menu is huge. The Budd Lake Special Burger had a healthy portion of meat with cheddar, on a seeded roll, lettuce/ tomato/onion with both fries and onion rings! Always a pickle and cold slaw on the side. Open-faced turkey sandwich had that brown gravy poured over the thick cut turkey slices and white bread beneath. But the best… Disco Fries! When I ordered them I would just ask for “cheese fries with gravy”, which translates to french fries with melted mozzarella on top covered in brown gravy. Some prefer gravy on the side. I like drowning in the shit.

So as I draw closer to the ‘rents, I am getting fairly hungry and think I should stop talking about food. However, I will leave you with this:k

Food is sexy and requires love and attention to get it right.