Recipe Column: Sibling knowledge
I’m a firm believer in the logic that cooks are taught, not born, and I’m a good example of this. While the grown-ups in my life, particularly my parents, tried as best they could to teach me this skill, it was my sister Teresa that really took the time to show me how cooking could be a lot of fun, not to mention pretty tasty too.
This started at an early age. In fact I can recall the very beginning lesson she ever taught me about this fine art, and her first teaching tool was an E-Z Bake Oven, a present she received one Christmas when we were just kids. From the moment she plugged it in, she was mixing up and baking something in it. This gift turned out to be a boon not only for her, but for me and my other three siblings as well. We were avid consumers of her E-Z Bake products, everything from tiny cornbread muffins to nickel size sugar cookies.
Teresa has always been about the domestic scene. She was not only a good cook early on, but she learned how to sew; how to keep house; and how to help my mom with the rest of us. She had her hands full there, because I was not at all the Becky-HomeEcky type. In fact, it is safe to say that there was very little in that regard that we had in common. We shared a bedroom growing up, and there was a distinguishable difference between her side and mine. One end was neat and orderly, while my domain looked as if a tornado had ripped through.
It’s funny how kids from the same parents turn out; sometimes, almost as if they had nothing in common. Picture a ragtag tomboy and then the exact opposite..that was us. Many times as kids we fought like cats and dogs. She called me bossy, and I called her a sissy and a priss. But when we became adults, I came to really admire her talents, how she could take a house and make a home from it; the way she could mix minimal ingredients together and come up with a gourmet dish; how she could sew a few scraps of fabric together into a useful piece of clothing. And always her love of teaching amazed me.
As a young adult she took all this self taught knowledge, and added a college degree to it. In a spin off move from her E-Z Bake Oven, Teresa graduated from UW-Stout with a degree in Family and Consumer Education, and then for seven years taught sixth, seventh and eighth graders consumer education, which used to be called Home Economics. Then she got her Master’s degree, and now is a reading specialist teaching third, fourth and fifth graders in remedial classes, as well as gifted and talented kids. One time not so long ago I asked her what her dream job would be if she had the opportunity to do it. She didn’t hesitate one second and said, “I’m doing it. Teaching is my calling.”
Teresa lives in a town south of Madison, but she frequently comes to the Northwoods to visit. In fact, last weekend she brought me two of my favorite dishes-a lasagna and her signature salad that I have considered a favorite for many years. They make the perfect meal together, and I’ve included those recipes in this week’s column.
I really admire my sis though, and all her accomplishments. It’s a rare thing in this world that a kid with a passion grows into an adult, hones that passion even more, and then has the drive to teach it to others. She took her love of teaching and her magic way of making everything just right and made a career out of it.
Looking back I guess a lot more came from that E-Z Bake Oven than either one of us could have ever imagined. And how lucky for all her students…and that definitely includes me.
Teresa’s Famous Lagasna
11/2 lbs. hamburger
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbs. butter
1 small can tomato paste
1 small can tomato sauce
1 small can sliced mushrooms
1 cup catsup
1/2 package Lawry’s spaghetti sauce mix
8 lasagna noodles, cooked
3 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. parsley flakes
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 lb. mozzarella cheese slices
Brown meat, onion and butter together. Drain fat. Add tomato paste and tomato sauce. Add one can each of water as well. Add mushrooms with liquid and catsup. Add 1/2 package Lawry’s spaghetti sauce and mix. Stir all ingredients and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. The longer you simmer, the better the flavor. Cook noodles in salted water according to package directions; drain well. Combine remaining ingredients, except for the mozzarella slices. Stir well. To “build” the lasagna, place 1/2 the noodles in a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread with 1/2 the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 the mozzarella cheese slices and 1/2 the meat sauce. Repeat the layers. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6
Aunt Jo’s Salad
2 Tbs. butter
1 package chicken flavored Ramen style noodles
1/2 of the ramen noodles seasoning packet
1/2 cup chopped almonds
6 green onions, sliced
1 head lettuce
1 cup small shrimp or chicken or crab
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Melt butter in a skillet. Add ramen noodles, almonds and 1/2 of the seasoning packet. Stir until all noodles and almonds are coated with seasoning and slightly browned. Remove from heat and cool. Clean lettuce and tear or chop into bite-sized pieces. Add sliced onions and shrimp, or chicken or crab. Toss. Add cooled ramen noodle mixture and toss. Combine sugar, red wine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Shake or stir well. Just before serving, add to the lettuce and ramen noodle mixture.