Friday, January 16, 2009

Mischief Managed

The day before yesterday, I drove out to the airport with my half-brother and his nephew to pick up my other brother who was coming back to the States after the holidays in Norway.

In the car ride back into Manhattan from the airport, my jet-lagged brother asked my six year old nephew how things were going at school. He answered that things were going well at school and that he often got stickers for his good work. "What do you do with the stickers you get at school?" my brother wondered. He answered that he usually puts them on his shirt. My brother thought it'd be funny if my nephew would put the stickers on the teacher's butt instead. My nephew thought this was a hilarious, but odd thing to do. But he's 6.

Kids love my brother, mostly because he teaches them ways to be mischievious, and doesn't tippy-toe around them like a lot of adults do, much to the other grown-ups joy (because he takes the time to play with the kids) and distress (once they realize what he's teaching them). At Christmas, for example, he taught our cousin's little girls how to make the screeching sound when letting air out of a balloon. The girls loved it, but somehow it didn't go over too well with everyone else who was trying to carry on conversations.

My bro decided to stay in New York for a day or two before heading back home, so yesterday we had two of his friends who live in New York over to my place for dinner.

I made our mom's lasagne recipe, which she's been making for as long as I can remember, from the time when we were kids and it was my (then) teenage half-brother who was indoctrinating us with mischievious things to do, and not us teaching his son shenanigans.

I love this recipe and know it by heart and am thrilled that my mom taught it to me.

Mom's Yummy Lasagne

Tomato Sauce:
1 package ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can of mushrooms
1 big can of tomato sauce
chili powder
garlic powder

Cheese mixture:
1 egg
1 big container cottage cheese (not the jumbo one, but the big one)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 package frozen spinach
1 package grated cheese
1 pack ready-for-oven flat lasagne noodles

In a semi-large pot, brown the meat, onion, and mushrooms. Sprinkle over salt and pepper. Add the tomato sauce, and add spices to make the sauce more interesting. Taste a little and see what it's missing. Cook the spinach (with salt and pepper!) in a bowl in the microwave. Mix together the cheese mixture in another bowl.

Put one layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a lasagne pan. Sprinkle lightly with grated cheese. Lay out a layer of lasagne noodles, a layer of cheese mixture, a layer of spinach, a layer of tomato sauce, then a light sprinkle of grated cheese. Start with the lasagne noodles again, and do another layer of each all the way to the grated cheese. (if your lasagne dish is really deep, you might have room for yet another layer of each, but that'll be up to you and if you have enough ingredients left) Lay out another layer of noodles, a final layer of tomato sauce and sprinkle heavily with grated cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil, bake at 375°F for about an hour removing the foil for the last 10-15 minutes.

This is important: let the lasagne sit for about 15 minutes to set once out of the oven, otherwise the lasagne will fall apart. (One of my bro's friends who was here for dinner said that he'd never had lasagne with so much integrity before, haha! Yes, this is one unified, honest lasagne....)

It was a very nice evening, drinking wine (Malbec! from Chile, which, although I know practically nothing about wine, is turning out to be one of my favorite kinds), eating, and being merry. My bro's friends are a lot of fun to hang out with.

I forget why, but at one point one of his friends had her hand over the other's mouth, probably because she was trying to say something and he wouldn't stop talking. (It's ok, they're a couple.) My bro's friend then licked her hand, and she immediately took her wet-with-saliva hand and smeared it across his forehead. She said, "That just goes to show that you didn't grow up with siblings, otherwise you would've known that would backfire."

This blew my mind. I used that same trick for YEARS when I was a kid, (licking my brother's hand whenever he had it over my mouth, trying to get me to be quiet when I was mid-sentence in screaming, "I'M TELLING!" at the top of my lungs) and never did it occur to the master of mischief to get back at me by smearing my own saliva all over my face. I am happy that I'm now 23 years old and my brother no longer uses that method to try to get me to be quiet. I made it through childhood with that one secret weapon intact.

Don't look beyond the fact that he'll probably be teaching the smear-your-sibling's-own-saliva-all over-their-forehead trick to one of our nephews in the near future, though.

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