Lasagna Dinner

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so entwined that we cannot think of one without the other. –M. F. K. Fisher

We must eat. We inhabit bodies which require fuel in the form of nutrients to continue functioning.

Can eating be reverent? Can cooking be an expression of our simply authentic selves? I believe so, absolutely. 
I remember my ex-husband once saying, after we had woken up early in the morning as I was preparing for a family gathering and meal that day, “You are so completely in your element here.” He had a huge smile on his face.

My friend Stella, whose mother is Greek, told me the most important ingredient to put into the food is love. Amen! Have you read the book or watched the movie Like Water for Chocolate(Como agua para chocolate, Laura Esquivel)? I cooked once when I was angry. The menu was split pea soup and I nearly chopped off the end of my left little finger along with a carrot. I carry the reminder to this day with a scar and loss of sensation in that finger. When I cook now, although it’s not nearly as often, I prepare food with joy, love and appreciation in my heart.

For a dinner party recently, I made my Great Aunt Martha’s lasagna recipe, which takes about three hours to prepare before baking. This is not for the kitchen-feint-hearted! I typically prepare the lasagna a week ahead of time and put it in the freezer until the day before the dinner party, so I’m not rushing around at the last minute.


Tomato and meat sauce. When cooking for a good friend who is vegetarian, I substituted baked squash and eggplant for ground beef. It was fabulous, if I do say so myself! My friend thought so too.




Cheese mixture. Cottage instead of ricotta, and didn’t grate the mozzarella myself!

We can bring our simply authentic selves to any meal – fast food in the car or on the couch, a take-out pizza, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – as long as we do it with love. But if you do decide to cook, please don’t do it while you’re angry! Trust me, you don’t want a bunch of blood on your cutting board alongside the carrots! That might be a pizza-ordering moment. J

Simple, good salad recipe: Spinach leaves, sliced strawberries, mandarin orange slices from a can, glazed pecans or cashews, raspberry vinaigrette dressing, freshly ground black pepper.


Everything is nearly prepared. The dinner party was meant to be for four, but turned into two due to unforeseen circumstances. I froze individual servings of the left-over lasagna, and it was just as good heated up a couple weeks later.

I inherited Grandma Handke’s china and silverware. The bouquet is from Artistic Flowers & Home Décor. The gold tapers are from Cost Plus/World Market and burned beautifully. I picked autumn leaves at a park, and put them in a large, heavy book to flatten. I will be able to use them again for Thanksgiving dinner.

As the holidays approach, have fun with any simply authentic cooking you may do, and definitely with the eating!

Soul food is just what the name implies. It is soulfully cooked food or richly flavored food, good for your ever-loving soul. –Sheila Ferguson

Authentically Yours, Laura