The Scribe has forgotten about this website. He has abandoned you, gentle reader! But fear not! In my generosity, I return to you as guide and mentor. I have decided to renew my efforts and once again become the laboring oar in this unloved and dark place of the internet, futilely categorizing, filtering, condensing, and describing the downfall of the Lambert clan through food. It only seemed right: we need more aging, overly-educated malcontents with a weakness for beer, manga, and video games out there writing articles. To that end, my treatise on the post-Snowden balkanization of the internet, written entirely in the style of Dada performance poetry, will be available soon (as an aside: hi NSA!). Speaking of espionage, I bet a lot of the NSA's cyberspies love themselves some pizza. It's only logical, amiright? NSA supergeeks -- and let's be clear, that's not an insult -- love the same things I do during long stints in front of their computers. I mean, maybe my computer skills are limited to crushing Gandhi before he goes nuclear in Civilization 5 rather than ruining an ex's credit because they are a manipulative troll that wears the skin of a human, but both gamers and scary agents of an even scarier shadow agency enjoy stuffing our faces with greasy, cheesy, crusty pizza. Mmmmmm-MMM! So this one's for you, bored NSA cyberspy. Turn off Doctor Who for a second and pay attention. In our youths, the Scribe was fond of Armand's, a local deep dish pizza place. An improvement over Dominoes, the crust was thick, chewy, and a little hard. Because the Scribe had an uncanny ability to weasel things out of our mother -- for a while there he got a new G.I. Joe* almost every week while I got nothing -- we'd frequently find ourselves driving to Armand's to get pizza. Spinach and garlic was the usual, but there was also a free slice for picking up. The Scribe almost never let me have the free slice. How little we knew. Sure, Pizza Hut was an abomination from the Third Circle of Hell,** but that meant Armand's, by comparison, was classic Chicago-style deep dish. And after biting into a piece of wire baked into a pizza at a shitty local joint a year or so ago, and their subsequently shitty treatment of me when I asked for my money back, my admiration of Armand's only intensified. But on a somewhat-recent trip to Chicago, I was mortified to discover we were profoundly misled. Armand's is the equivalent of frozen pizza when compared to the artery-clogging majesty of real Chicago deep dish.
I was searching for a decent recipe before I got home.
Here is the best. I found it tangled amongst the gibbering, pedantic froth of a food article's comments section. Amidst internet flame wars and inexplicable pizza commenter rage, I found this recipe. It comes from an anonymous insider at a Chicagoland pizzeria, which is why I'm not citing him. This very reasonable gentleman was adamant that there is no cornmeal in these crusts, which is sacrilege in the fora of the internet's deep dish pizza underworld. And I must report that the extraordinary quality of his dough convinces me that he is right: the cornmeal is a red herring. There is no spoon
, there is no cornmeal.
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
This is a base recipe. You'll need to probably make 1.5 to 2 times this amount to fit a 14" iron skillet, which is what I use. The dough depends on two things: a good amount of oil and very limited kneading. If you're a baker, it is going to feel pretty wet. That's ok.
1 cup all-purpose flour (I don't have a weight measurement, so you'll just have to wing it.)
6-7 Tablespoons water; add more flour or water as needed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon yeast (I proofed the yeast, but that's apparently not necessary)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix for one minute, then knead for no more than two. Let rise for about 6 hours or so. Punch down, then cover and let the gluten relax for 10-15 minutes or so. Then either roll it out or press into a pan. Add cheese, toppings, sauce. bake at 450 for around 30 minutes depending on the oven.
Pizza sauce is pretty simple stuff to make. I'd give a recipe, but frankly, I don't bother with measurements since it is all to taste. I like Pomi chopped tomatoes as a general rule, and they work well here. Add some basil, oregano, black pepper, salt. If you desire an abomination, add sugar too. And consider toasting the black peppercorns in a dry pan until they start to pop -- it doesn't take long -- or microwaving them for about 20 seconds. It makes a big difference.
From what I can tell, not all pizza places cook their sauces before they put it on the pizza. I thought this strange, but I tried it with this dough recipe and the results were very good. So no need to simmer anything beforehand. But if you do, I'd also add some bay leaves to the sauce.
This is where it gets weird. If you're doing it right, the sauce goes on top of the cheese and whatever toppings you've added. Consider your mind blown.
* Note to the Scribe: Yes, my friends destroyed your G.I. Joe aircraft carrier in the attic when I was little. But you also know they were quite likely and without exaggeration mentally handicapped. Or at least one of them was. Besides, Dad sold my Transformers at the same yard sale he sold your G.I. Joes, so it isn't like it mattered anyway.
** This is a reference to Dante's Inferno
(the masterpiece of world literature, not the lame video game), which describes the third circle as the place where gluttons go. They sit naked in the mud and snow for eternity while Cerberus, the mythological three-headed dog, runs across the wastes and rips them apart one by one. I know this because my high school art teacher made us all read Dante's Inferno and then paint something from it. I might have been the only one who did the reading. The product was heavily inspired by Hieronymus Bosch
My father used to ask chefs for their recipes on a pretty regular basis. Or at least that's how it seemed to me when I was little. And convinced of his own prowess in the kitchen, he'd take these perfectly enjoyable meals and add broccoli while eliminating everything else. Pasta Salad and Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad suffered this fate and became abominations. But for some reason I don't remember this happening to Spaghetti with Clam Sauce.
So it was something of a thrill when, in the early 90s or late 80s, Dad started to make it. Now that I've recreated it, I can see why. The recipe is simple and flavorful enough to please adults without becoming so fancy that a picky little kid would haughtily reject it. Or, if we're talking about my preferences as a child, declare his preference for peanut butter and croutons. Because I was weird.
Anyway, here's the recipe.
Herbs and spices: pre-stirring. Stirring is essential to a satisfactory outcome when making this dish.
Post-stir, and with various fluids added.
Pictured: alcohol not actually leaving the pan.
Linguini and Clam Sauce, with thanks to A. Campana
3/4 Cup olive oil
clam juice (from cans of clams)
1/2 cup of sauterne wine or 1/4 cup of sauterne and 1/4 cup of dry vermouth*
3-5 medium sized cloves of garlic (minced)**
1/2 to 1 and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 tablespoon dry basil
1/2 to 1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 tablespoon or so pesto sauce if available***
8-10 drops of Tabasco sauce or more to taste. This does seem to make a difference.
6-8 tablespoons of dry parsley. Cilantro might be good too.
2-3 6 or 10 oz. cans of minced or chopped clams. Generally the more the better within reason.****
Place oil in sauce pan and heat until hot. Lightly saute minced garlic therein. Cool down for approximately 5 min. Add all herbs and spices and stir. Add wine and clam juice and bring to boil for 3-5 min***** (Wine alcohol will froth as boiling continues and alcohol distills off -- froth will diminish substan[tially] but not entirely.******). Add drained clams and bring to slow boil fo min. [sic] or until liquid is reduced to a suitable volume.******* Pour linguine which has been cooked al dente (1 lb.). Serve with bo [sic] grated romano cheese and crushed red pepper.
You can also add shrimp and to this [sic]. If you w[illegible] sauce add a can of tomato[illegible].
The final product! It isn't as gross as it looks.
* I used only vermouth because sauterne wine wasn't at the two liquor stores I checked. It probably would be better if you could find some, since it is a type of wine made from grapes that have noble rot on them. Apparently it is quite a distinctive flavor.
** I got lazy and used pre-minced garlic. Normally this would embarrass me, but I was at peace with this decision because the recipe makes exclusive use of dried herbs anyway, so it isn't like I was starting with the best of ingredients.
*** I had some pine nuts kicking around in my freezer, so I used those and added a bit more basil. This is a shoddy replacement for actual pesto, but after the failure to find sauterne wine I figured I was allowed some liberty with the other ingredients.
**** This is the most hilarious part of this recipe. That my Dad would actually write "the more the better within reason" is like reading "meth is good in moderation." When my Dad decides he enjoys a food, like clams, it goes into everything and in huge amounts. That's why all his food becomes broccoli or tuna fish. I'm sure his view is that the most exciting aspect of genetic research is the potential to make the broccoli fish, so that he wouldn't need to waste time enjoying them separately.
***** This is the first and only footnote in the original recipe. I'm really using a lot of them at this point, and sometimes you just gotta go where your heart tells you, so I've included it in the body text above as a parenthetical instead of here. Now you've read this comment and you've gained nothing but a mild sense of frustration because I wasted your time. But I'm glad we could share this moment together. We've grown closer.
****** Ok, so that last footnote was going to be my last, but I have to add one more to point out that alcohol does not, in fact, burn off that quickly when used in food. It actually can take a couple of hours. Here's a famous hippie doctor explaining in more detail
******* Man, another footnote? What am I, some sort of an archivis. . . oh, right. Anyway, this shouldn't take too long to get to a boil, but you'll probably want it to simmer for a little bit at low heat after raising it a boil to allow all the flavors to mingle at the saucepan soiree. Don't do it so long that the clams start to get gross and rubbery though.
Archivist's Entry: Here's a lesson in brevity from the Book.
Make dessert topping with eggnog.
Top with nutmeg.
Scribal Entry: We must create a slight breach of etiquette in sharing this recipe as it does not technically come from the Wooden Box. Like a Necronomical rite, it is not to be shared in the vulgate of the masses. But like those same rites, which nevertheless were available 10% off at Supercrown, we unleash “Bran Muffins” upon the public leaving each individual soul to accept the burden of risk.
There are recipes in the Book of Lambert that predate Bran Muffins, but in order to reach that far back, one must conjure a time when Evil Kineval was a celebrity and talking like a trucker on a CB was the equivalent of “gangsta.” The Archivist does not remember such times and so does not remember a time during his childhood free of Bran Muffins. In the late seventies, a work acquaintance of the Scribe’s father made the risible observation that he was putting on a little weight. This casual aside, forgotten as soon as it was uttered, was to have a terrible impact on our lives.*
The Lambert Free Flow Diet
By applying the Law of Thermodynamics to all food everywhere, the Scribe’s father was able to develop a simple physics based weight loss program that, one freely admits, worked. The diet consisted entirely of the following recipe:
1c oat bran
1c wheat bran
Can add more of either to get right consistency [double it – the Scribe]
1can blueberries or blackberries
Honey to taste [hardly any due to calories – the Scribe]
Bake in muffin pan at 350f until done..abt 45 min
Eat with milk
No instruction is necessary for weight loss to occur. Simply consume the bran muffins.
Notice the lack of digestible ingredients. When mixing the “batter,” the egg whites and bran produce a sticky, wet crinkly noise that has been observed independently as sounding like squishing a big, moist pile of dog poop. The sound is reminiscent of the mucusy noise recorded on nature shows when a reptile or insect larva is shown emerging from its egg. Indeed, one may expect to faithfully reproduce this recipe simply by tossing the featured animal aside and scooping up the birth detritus along with whatever wood chips and dirt happens to be retrieved along side.
Mucus, wood, and dirt combine to form an all natural and healthy food.
The philosophy behind the muffins was recently expressed by the Scribe’s father during a phone call (Be so kind as to imagine the following monologue in the tone of an enthusiastic inventor of obscure devices who has, at last, found someone to take an interest in his creations) :
The idea was that you ate all this bran and filled up on fibre and it all just went right out! You could eat as much as you wanted, and it didn’t matter! You just ate and you sat there full and then it just goes right down and out of you and you didn’t gain anything! And the thing is, when you mixed it all up, it looked exactly like what came out! I mean, there was no difference at all! Exactly the same!
The Scribe has eaten more than one of these Bran Muffins in desperation since, as has been noted by many others, the Scribe’s family’s refrigerator was often filled with nothing but various spicy condiments and salad dressings of the heart-healthy variety. Yet, there were also Bran Muffins. Usually ignored to the point of visual suppression, one did get hungry from time to time and reach for one with resigned disappointment
An interesting aside about the muffins is that they don’t actually cook. They just get warm and hard. When cooling, they become harder – even dangerous. The Scribe reproduced a batch for the purpose of this entry and created a “bran muffin shit man” as his wife dubbed it. The Scribe was curious as to how it would hold its shape. As one can see, the shit man did not alter in mass at all. This is no way surprising as there is absolutely nothing in the ingredients that undergoes a chemical change in the oven other than the egg whites, which are strictly a binding agent.
* Scribal Marginalia: The providentiality of these creations was demonstrated early in 2012 when, after several decades, the Scribe's father was randomly roomed after a hip replacement with the same work acquaintance whose offhand remark was the catalyst for this nutritional revelation. Bran Muffins were discussed.
Aunt Ann is a hippie and has known me for as long as I have been alive. That said, she’s neither my aunt nor a hippie. The aunt part is rational enough: that’s what everyone told me to call her. But presumably my spongy toddler brain meats decided she was a carefree liberal because of all the paper mache, tie dye shirts, and plaster casts we made at the beach on vacation. You can imagine my surprise when I found out several years ago that she is actually pretty conservative. That's obviously just fine, but my mind was blown. It was like finding out one day she had been replaced by a doppleganger from another dimension.
She and my mother gave me barbecued chicken from a roadside stand as my first solid food. She was my preschool teacher and I’m reasonably certain is the Scribe’s godmother [She is your godmother - the Scribe]. Every year we’d go camping on Assateague Island, where she and my mother would stay up drinking wine in their tent and engage in some stereotypical female bonding. I'm sure it was on Assateague where she told me that if I stuck my finger too far up my nose, a sabre-toothed snail would bite it off.*
And most importantly, she contributed to the Book of Lambert. I give you Aunt Ann’s Potato Loaf recipe!
Aunt Ann’s Potato Loaf
1/2 can mushroom soup
1 lb ground beef
1/4 C chopped onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 C bread crumbs
2 Tbsp parsley
Salt + peper
Mix. Put in baking dish. Bake @ 350 degrees ~ 35-30 min. Drain fat[,] make mashed potatoes. Put potatoes on top. Cover with other 1/2 can soup and grated cheese. Put in over another 10 min.
Archivist’s Note: Many of the recipes in the Book of Lambert call for mashed potatoes as if everyone knows how to make them. Decades ago that might have been true, but in this day and age that’s not an assumption we here at the Book of Lambert can make. We, your humble researchers, will post a family recipe for them at some point in the future. Hold on to your britches, people -- them taters are going to be tasty! (Actually, I'm just assuming there's a family recipe. There might not be, in which case you should probably google around for one.)
* Scribal Marginalia: Because you're all thinking it:
A Warning by Shel Silverstein
Inside everybody's nose
There lives a sharp-toothed snail.
So if you stick your finger in,
He may bite off your nail.
Stick it farther up inside,
And he may bite your ring off.
Stick it all the way, and he
May bite the whole darn thing off.
However, Aunt Ann is responsible for creating the myth of the Choptank River monster.
Even if Aunt Ann actually were the source of the snail story, it is hardly the most noteworthy thing she did. Every Halloween she dressed as a witch - a really scary nightmarish one - and set up shop at night in the middle of the long walkway that led to her door. Little girls dressed as fairies would stand crying at the head of walk. Children who ventured down the path had to watch her slowly beckoning them onward with a ghastly grin and threats to throw them in her cauldron. One time the Archivist had a Halloween party and Aunt Ann never broke character even when the kids started all crying. One time some guy got mad at her and said he was in WWII and knew what it was like to be scared. Her husband, Bud, replied, "Well, I was in Korea and I have to live with her!" Probably had to be there. Which I wasn't, come to think of it.
In preschool, she also took the class on this round about trail through the woods and over fallen trees to this patch of open grass behind some tennis courts that she called The Meadow. That's where the Easter Bunny was always waiting.
Archivist's Note: The Scribe was at the Halloween party where Aunt Ann made all my friends cry. He was dressed as a kung fu fighter and was wearing a semi-opaque, skin-colored plastic mask that had a mustache. It made him look like he had decided to wear someone else's face after he had peeled it off. Aunt Ann had corralled a bunch of terrified, screaming little kids into a room and the Scribe acted as her enforcer by blocking the way out, laughing, and taunting us. This is just another example of the delight the Scribe takes in the sorrow of others. He probably drank tears instead of coffee that morning.
The Book of Lambert grows more powerful with every generation. Every accreted recipe makes it grow stronger. Sixty years ago it wallowed in the mire of nuclear family gastronomy. In the 80s and 90s, it learned the mysteries of extremely high fiber diets. But now we will drag it back into the light of modern culinary arts.
And that's why we're going to talk about homebrew. Ever since the first human crawled fully-formed out of the primordial ooze, there has been beer. Here's your chance to be a part of the grand history of human civilization.
Beer can be a real bastard when you're homebrewing, but don't be afraid. Take my hand, let me show you the world of amateur homebrewing. This'll be just like that scene in Aladdin
where they ride on the carpet and she is successfully wooed even though he is a rapscallion. Except here we'll be talking about sanitation, being careful, and nothing sexy whatsoever.
So first you're going to need to buy some basic equipment. Here's a good place
. Buy their basic beginner's kit and a grain bag. It'll cost about $100. I know, that's a big investment. But I'm trying to tell you how to get the cheapest beer you've ever had, so go buy it. Got all that stuff? Good. Now go clean it with whatever acid-based cleanser they gave you with your kit.
Since it is about the right time to start thinking about brewing Pumpkin Ales for Halloween, that's the recipe we'll use. Go buy the things below, perhaps from the same place linked above. Note also the numbers in parentheses below: they indicate when in the boil you should add those ingredients. Pumpkin Ale Malt Extracts:
3.3 lbs amber extract
3.3 lbs light extract Grains:
1 lb American crystal malt
0.5 lb Cara-Pils Hops:
1.0 oz Fuggles (60)
0.5 oz East Kent Goldings (15)
0.5 oz East Kent Goldings (5) Yeast:
Perhaps an English Ale yeast. Whatever gets you excited. Misc:
A bag or two of store-bought ice
1.0 lb corn sugar
0.62 lb or 2/3 C lightly packed brown sugar
0.5 lb molasses
1 tsp Irish Moss (15)
2 tsp bentonite (15)
1 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp powdered ginger
0.25 tsp cloves
0.5 tsp nutmeg
2 lb canned pumpkin
Clean everything. I know I told you to do this already, but you probably didn't so I'm telling you again. Your stirring spoon? Clean it. Your fermenter? Yes. Everything else? Yes, dammit!
So here's the basic idea. Get yourself an enormous pot. No, not that one. Bigger. No, seriously, get that stock pot you never use. It should hold several gallons.
Put the pumpkin into a cheesecloth or muslin bag. If you did what I told you, you've got a grain bag. Use that. Boil a gallon or two of water then turn off the heat. Put the pumpkin in that water and let it steep for a while. Why not try ten minutes?
I bet no one gets this joke. Not that it is funny anyway.
Take out the pumpkin bag and squeeze as much of the juice into the pot as you can. Raise to a boil and clean the bag, then put the grains into the bag. Turn off the heat and steep the grains for 25 minutes. You could probably do the pumpkin and the grains in one step if you've got a big enough pot. Discard the grains but keep the bag for reuse.
Fill the pot about 2/3 of the way up, turn on the heat, and start mixing in all the malt and the corn sugar. The malts will give it a flavor profile and the corn sugar will provide food for the yeasts (and therefore more alcohol) without adding flavor. Mix constantly, so that the sugars don't burn. Don't burn yourself with the syrup. That hurts.
Be careful: what you've got now is called "wort" (pronounced "wert"). Wort loves to boil over and make you clean your entire kitchen. Expect this and don't leave the pot alone until it has tried to boil over once or twice. When it starts, turn down the heat and stir vigorously. You'll probably see it happen when you try to add hops in the next step, so a good trick is to take a very small amount of hops,crush them in your hand, and then sprinkle them into the wort. The hop particles will trigger a small boil over, which is a lot easier to manage than the alternative.
Once you've got a good boil going, start your timer for 45 minutes and then drop in the Fuggles hops. Wander around until the timer goes off. Maybe watch some TV, have a beer. Then drop in all the ingredients that have a (15) note next to it. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Maybe now would be a good time to put that ice in your fermenter. During the last minute or so, drop in the various herbs.
After your timer goes off for a second time, pour the whole pot into your fermenter and over the ice. The point of the ice is to cause a cold break, which basically means the quick change in temperature makes unwanted proteins float to the bottom of the fermenter. That's important because those proteins taste gross. Top off the fermenter with water until you have 5 gallons.
Take a specific gravity measurement and note the result.
Drop in the yeast, close the fermenter, add an airlock, and let it sit for about two weeks in a cool basement or closet.
When you're ready to bottle, take another specific gravity measurement and use that to determine the alcohol content. There are plenty of calculators online to help you, so just google around.
Bottle with the brown sugar by dissolving the sugar in a saucepan with a little water and then pouring it into the bottling bucket (you got one of those, right?) before racking the beer (aka siphoning the beer into the bucket). Don't put the sugar in each individual bottle. You'll make them explodey if you do that. Remember to sanitize everything. Wait at least two weeks for the residual yeasts to eat the brown sugar and thereby carbonate the beer. If you wait longer, the beer will taste better.
These beers are best enjoyed while wearing a vampire mask and surprising trick or treaters with a garden hose.
A final note: This is a basic recipe using malt extract instead of grains. Brewing is like baking: the more you devote to it, the better you'll get. The most important thing to know? Clean absolutely everything so that bacteria can't grow. That's the big secret. Ta-daaa!
More than a few recipes in the Book of Lambert come to us in a state of disrepair. Sometimes their age makes them literally crumble away at the corners. Other times, the paper hasn't been unfolded in so long that it breaks along the seams. Today's recipe is covered in brown stains, written in faded pencil on a yellow legal pad, and covered in a giant scribble.
The handwriting appears to be my mother's, but the ballpoint pen scribbling is from me. I don't remember doing it, but the vague sense of discomfort I feel when I look at the page convinces me that a five year old version of myself used that pen to seek revenge for some slight. Of course, that might just be my imagination. Maybe I was happily doodling and then got yelled at. The point is that this recipe emanates unease, like that scene in every horror movie ever where someone is about to get killed but doesn't know it yet even though the audience does.
Anyway, here's a recipe for -- I don't know, some sort of pastry? -- and childhood angst.
1 medium onion [illegible] finely chopped
1/4 C olive oil
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 lb feta cheese
6 oz pot [sic] or farmer's cheese
3 eggs beaten
1/4 C bread crumbs
1/2 lb phyllo sheets
1/2 C melted butter
Saute onion in olive oil 5 mins. Add spinach drained as much possible Simmer w/onion over low flame [un?]till as much [illegible] possible evap.
[Marginalia here: "5/5 max" and "Separat"]
Crumble feta [in?] small pieces
Add pot cheese and blend well
Add beaten eggs and mix well
Toss bread crumbs to onion / spin
Add to cheese
Stir till well blended
2 sheets phyllo -- fold into bottom and butter
Do by 2's till 10 sheets
Then spin layer
Another 10 sheets
Bake 425 degrees 20 min or till brown
Cool 5 mins
[Marginalia here: "300 degrees 1 hr"]
Scribal Marginalia: I have no particular point to make here, but after reading The Archivist's post and viewing the photo, I can recommend Charlotte Perkins Gilman's classic short story: "The Yellow Wallpaper."
I'm told that punch bowl drinks are popular again, probably because they're generally filled with a ton of booze. In celebration of those alcoholic beverages, here is the recipe that apparently got the party hopping at McCael's [McCall's?] Christmas party in 1969.
Rum Wassail Bowl
4 small oranges
3 12 oz. bottles of ale
3 C dark rum
2/3 C sugar
1/8 tsp ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stud unpeeled oranges with cloves 1/2" apart. Place in shallow pan; bake, uncovered, 30 minutes. In large saucepan combine ale, rum, sugar, + ginger; bring just to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolved. Place hot oranges in punch bowl; pour hot ale mixture over them. Serve hot. Makes 15 punch-cup servings.
Archivist's Note: This recipe calls for "ale." Does this mean ginger ale, or actual beer? Based on the presence of sugar and ginger in the recipe already, it could very well mean to call for beer. In that case, I suspect that something lightly hopped, in the line of English milds, would do well.
Scribal Marginalia: I endeavored this brew shortly after my initial sally into the wooden box. I do not remember it. It probably tasted fine and probably no one but me had any. I seem to remember a pleasant aroma emanating from the baking oranges and cloves. I also remember what the oranges looked like studded with cloves. I could also just be imagining what they looked like since it's not all that difficult.
This is an old recipe, even for the Book of Lambert. I remember having it on a fairly regular basis when I was younger, and those memories aren't coupled with any emotional scarring. I guess that means I used to enjoy having this for dinner.
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 med. onion, chopped
1/2 C olive oil
1 (35 oz) can tomatoes
salt + pepper
1 heaping Tbsp oregano
2 tbsp basil
1 tsp fennel seed
1 heaping tbsp crushed hot red pepper
2 (15 oz) can tomato paste
2 lbs hot Italian sausage
2 lbs meat balls
2 lbs ground round
salt + pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 C romano cheese
Assembling the Pasta
1 1/2 lbs pasta
1 pint ricotta cheese
1 lb mozzarella cut into thin strips
Brown the garlic and onion in the oil. [Smash? Squash?] the tomato with a fork and add to oil mixture with 1/2 C water and spices. Simmer 35 min.
Meanwhile make meatballs and fry with sausage. After browning, drain well and add to sauce. Add tomato paste and 4-5 C water. Simmer 2 hours.
Cook pasta until slightly hard. When sauce is ready, combine ricotta with 2 or 3 ladles of sauce; mix well then stir in pasta and mix well.
Spoon enough sauce onto bottom of large, shallow casserole to cover. Then lay 1/2 pasta sauce mixture in the pan, top with some meatballs and sausage taken from sauce; season with salt and pepper. Lay thin strips of mozzarella cheese on top. repeat layering.
At this point lasagna can be frozen or refrigerated. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature and bake at 350 degrees about 35 minutes, or until heated through.
In the past year or so I learned that "Pigs in the Blanket" means something completely different to those who don't come from places that weren't heavily influenced by Eastern European immigrants.* Apparently there are philistines who think a Pig in a Blanket is a vienna sausage wrapped in pastry dough. And in the UK, it refers to sausages wrapped in bacon.
Now, do those sound tasty? Sure, in the same one dimensional way that McDonald's tasted good when you were a kid. But you know what else tasted good back then? Paste.
So what are real Pigs in the Blanket? They're cabbage rolls stuffed with a seasoned meat mixture and braised for an hour or two, that's what. And they blow the other recipes for Pigs in the Blanket out of the water, with their one-toned approach of adding bacon and dough. Those imposters!
Now, the thing about Pigs in the Blanket is that there are countless iterations of the basic recipe. Some might add juniper berries, for instance. Others might add different types of cabbage. The one included here is from my grandmother. Is it the best? Honestly, no. She jotted this down on a note card for her own reference, and it reads that way. The measurements are imprecise, for instance. And there's not even a direction for how to actually cook the dish.
But considering its simplicity, anyone should be able to make this dish or something like it -- and should. Consider adding a couple of tablespoons of good, flavorful paprika into the mixture, or serving the dish with a dollop of sour cream. That'll put hair on your chest and gas in your belly. *Scribal Marginalia: Our Mother's side is from Johnstown, PA which the Archivist would be pleased to imagine as being liberally doused with Eastern Europeans were he not getting the sides of his family confused. His conception is likely due to the significant German influence that I heard was in that area, and which, to a Lambert, is proof enough - Germany being somewhere past France and all. Our Grandmother Myra's family is from Talbot County on MD's Eastern Shore. There are no Eastern Europeans there. It's where Frederick Douglass was a slave. I believe that side enjoyed calling themselves Irish. This is all to point out that the Lamberts have absolutely no idea where they're from other than some vague sense of having been in S.E. Washington DC for a generation or so. Who exactly was our Grandfather? He seems to have just descended in some kind of pod. Both of them, actually.
The point is, having no clue or particular concern about who we are, or the nature of where we're from, we are free to feel pride in any claim we care to make for as long as convenient and then to discard said claim when our whim calls for something other. It is therefore not all that remarkable that the Archivist attributes this recipe to our ostensibly Irish grandmother, Myra, who never even heard of Pigs in the Blanket, after pridefully asserting his familial connection with Eastern Europe. Archivist's Note:
I like cabbage rolls, which obviously means we've got Eastern European heritage. But this is the first I've heard of Myra being Irish. I'll file that away with our alleged blood ties to a nonspecific American Indian tribe.Scribal Marginalia: I base the Irish claim on some vague things Aunt Mabel once said that I can't remember. Riley was the maiden name of our great grandmother who thought Richard was Midget the Chihuahua. For all I know, they were from Estonia. But conversations like these are best left to the comments field. Scholarship reigns here.Myra's Pigs in the Blanket
2 and 1/4 to 2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped and sauteed
1 large handful rice
dash garlic powder
1 large head cabbage, boiled
2 cans tomato soup
1 8oz can tomato sauce
Mix first 8 ingredients (up to but not counting cabbage). Roll mixture in cabbage leaves. (Slice stem of cabbage leaf first
.). Mix Soup + sauce + sugar -- add a little water. Pour some over rolls. Add sauerkraut. Top with remaining sauce. Archivist's Note #1:
Although the original recipe ended here, a prudent cook would also heat this preparation to kill germs. We suggest an hour and a half or so in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.
Additionally, the "tomato sauce" might not be a reference to pasta sauce, at least as we think of it. We suggest either using a small can of tomato paste with a package of chopped tomatoes or simply preparing your own sauce in a pan (a shockingly simple task).
Why not just use pasta sauce? Because modern tomato sauce is significantly different than any product available when this recipe was written down. That's because for a long time Prego and Ragu were the major players in the business, and neither of them were making much other than one or two types of sauce. And it wasn't until the 1980s that they started to make chunky sauce. Here's someone who explains this in more detail than you probably need.
Perhaps even more relevant is that high fructose corn syrup is in modern pasta sauces, which means everything tastes like sugar anyway. So just go make your own. Scribal Marginalia: One needs to point out the difference between tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce. Prego and Ragu are spaghetti sauces, not tomato sauces. Tomato sauces are found in the canned tomato section, not in the "Italian" section with all the pasta. Additionally, I differ with certain other authorities on the subject of tomato paste. If you thicken with paste, you will end with something more like a pizza sauce. Simply use a respectable brand of tomato sauce being careful to actually pay attention to what the hell you're doing and you will be fine. The can actually says Tomato Sauce. Not pureed tomatoes. Not chopped. Whole is out of the question. I do prefer this as a base for pasta sauce, but if you thought Prego and Ragu were ever tomato sauces, they're not. Did Pigs in the Blanket ever taste Italian you? Would adding sauerkraut to Ragu be the action of anyone sane? And I didn't read the link because I already know that no one is a smart as I am. Archivist's Note #2:
Although it reads as if I intended that someone use the entire can, I just meant to use a little dab of tomato paste. Also, I think I picked up calling it "tomato sauce" when I was in Ohio. It sounds like something someone from Ohio might say. Besides, you know what they call pasta sauce in Chicago? Gravy.* And that's just madness. In Australia, "tomato sauce" means "ketchup." They call it that because Australians don't know how to name anything.**
* I learned this after watching several episodes of The Sopranos. Apparently it is an Italian-American thing, which is why it is prevalent in Chicago. Or at least that's what the internet tells me.
** See, e.g.: chazwozza
, and wallaroo