By MATT CRANE
You are in for a treat today, dear readers.
I was skeptical about running one of my favorite recipes in the Taste section because I wanted to keep this one to myself, but on such a special occasion, I must acknowledge this delicious dish passed on to me by my mother who celebrates a birthday today, Feb. 6.
In honor of my mom turning 72 today, I present to you one of my favorite recipes of all time, her classic homemade lasagna. (Okay, my mom is not really turning 72, but she and I made pact years ago that we would always say she is much older than she really is so she could respond with,"I know, I look good for my age." She really is not that vain, by the way).
My mom used to work really long hours as a nurse when my brother and I were growing up, but she always managed to have food prepared for us almost every night. (This is no slight to my father, by the way, who is a virtuoso in the kitchen himself. If I am feeling up to it, I might just feature his banana pudding recipe in a future article).
When it comes time for any family gathering, I am usually right by mom's side in the kitchen trying to help in whatever way that I can, and learning by watching her work her way through the meals she has planned. I am thankful she allowed me to stand by and do what I could while she cooked throughout the years, because this allowed us a lot of bonding time as we juggled busy schedules with work and school. My mom is much more patient than I am in the kitchen and does not freak out if something goes wrong in a step or two during the cooking process. Me on the other hand? I am searching for the nearest Xanax prescription if the crescent rolls are not baked to perfection. And if you happen to be invited over for dinner at my house, stand clear if I — God forbid — over-cook a spaghetti noodle.
LIke any child-parent relationship, mom and I have been through our ups and downs, but I am still, to this day, pretty obsessed with that lady. She is warm and kind and has a pretty wicked sense of humor once you get to know her. I can pinpoint her exact location from backstage at Starkville Community Theatre just by the sound of her laugh, which is one of my favorite things in the entire world. If I were Oprah, I would give the entire studio audience a personal recording of Holly's greatest laugh-hits in my favorite things episode, because it is that awesome and infectious.
But most of all, through thick and thin, I have always known that my mom loves me, and the feeling is extremely mutual. So here's to you, Holly Hodges Crane. Happy birthday, mom.
Holly’s Homemade Lasagna
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. sausage
2 can petite diced tomatoes with basil and garlic seasoning
2 cans tomato paste with garlic and basil
1 box Lasagna noodles
1 - 24 oz. container small curd cottage cheese
2 Tbsp. Parsley
Brown ground beef and sausage and drain. Return meat to large skillet and add tomatoes and tomato paste. Add oregano, basil and chopped garlic (this can be fresh or dried) to lightly cover the entire top of the skillet (sorry, I don’t measure this; add however much you feel like). Mix well and simmer for about 25 minutes. In large bowl, mix 1 egg, cottage cheese and 2 Tbsp. Parsley, and salt and pepper (set aside). Cook noodles about 8 minutes (don’t over cook because they will cook more when you bake). Drain noodle and lay them out in layers with wax paper in between layers (I always put mine on a cookie sheet; this helps dry them a little so the lasagna won’t be runny). Once meat has simmered, start layering (I do two layers, so the last one can be thick with sauce). Layers: Half the noodles; half the cottage cheese mix(on the thinner side so last layer is thick); half the cheese; half the sauce (on the thinner side so last layer is thick); repeat. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. You can sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top after baking if you like.