Lasagna and Cake: Or, the joy in doing needlessly complicated things

It’s summer vacation, and while I’ve just started one internship and am about to start another, I don’t have too much to do all day. Besides reading, catching up on The (newest) Conversation about sexism in the atheist movement, and going swimming in Lake Michigan, one of the most fun things to do with a lot of time is take on ridiculous projects. It lets us try new things, challenge ourselves, have fun and hopefully come out the other side having learned something, or being a person who does slightly cooler things than they did yesterday. Hence, Blogathon. And it was wonderful. We’ve raised $82,304.00 so far, and I think I met a lot of my other goals as well, like having fun and writing short posts (that I hope were fun to read), although I really didn’t drink enough coffee.

But when that ended, I needed something else to do. There was only one choice: mushroom lasagna.

Which I’ve been wanting to make for forever. It’s somewhat more complicated than pizza: you have to cook the noodles, make a béchamel, sautée mushrooms, grate cheese, and then layer it all and cook it for 45 minutes. It took me about three and a half hours total, but was totally and absolutely worth it.

Step 1: Go shopping.

Step 2: Get home. Open package of lasagna noodles.

Ha! Nope! I didn’t buy any stinkin’ lasagna noodles. I made them.

Real Step 2: Start making pasta dough according to this recipe. Realize it calls for a food processor, which you don’t have. Frantically google. Find out there are a million different recipes for pasta dough, some of which have oil, some have more flour, some fewer eggs, etc. Freak out a little bit. Get yourself together and just use your stand mixer.

Combine ingredients with paddle attachment, knead with dough hook. Have everything work out. Calm down. Let the dough sit for an hour to allow ‘gluten formation’ which is probably some food science hoax buzzword designed to make the whole process take longer. Take a nap in the meantime.

Step 3a: Take out and assemble your mother’s absurdly old fashioned pasta roller. Isn’t it awesome? It has a hand crank!

Step 3b: Insert dough.

Step 3c: Roll by hand. Feel like a superstar.

Step 3d: Repeat.

Step 3e: Lay out on all available clean flat surfaces. Proceed to run out of clean flat surfaces.

Step 4: Cook them in boiling water with salt. Be astonished at how fast fresh pasta cooks (like 45 seconds, it’s crazy). Protip: Add oil to the water. It stops the pasta from sticking together.

Step 5: Make béchamel by adding flour to butter to make a roux. Then add milk simmered with garlic (not shown). Hope that the recipe accounted for a sixth of the milk spilling on the oven top before making it to the saucepan.

Step 6: Cut and sautée a ridiculous amount of mushrooms (a full pound and a half).

Step 7: Assemble ALL the ingredients!

Step 8: Layer in a pan. Realize you didn’t buy Parmesan cheese. Decide all cheese is delicious so it doesn’t matter. Use the motley mix of colby, muenster and cheddar you have in the fridge.

(No picture, I know you’re all very disappointed).

Step 9: Place in oven.

Step 10: Take out.

Step 11: Ignore instructions to let cool and try to eat immediately.

Step 12: Realize that maybe the instruction has a point. Let cool.

Step 13: Serve to friends. Eat. Have fun. Unfortunately, no pictures of the food.

This is my friend. Don’t worry, I won at Bananagrams :)

Also at some point in the evening I made a cake. It was delicious.

Friends, games and absurd cooking projects. What else do you need on a lovely summer day?

P.S. The lasagna freezes and reheats very well.

2 thoughts on “Lasagna and Cake: Or, the joy in doing needlessly complicated things

  1. Chatulim says:

    Yes you will join me in relentlessly blogging your culinary exploits?

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