A blast of heat hit me as I opened the oven and looked in at the square Pyrex dish filled with marinara sauce, cheese and noodles, otherwise known as lasagna. Standing in the flow of heat from a 350 degree oven during a 100+ degree heatwave didn’t really strike me as something to be concerned about. But looking at the lasagna, I knew there was something wrong.
As far as I know, everybody loves lasagna. I have never met anyone who didn’t love some variation of this delicious dish. From vegetarians to carnivores, there’s a little something for everyone – except maybe vegans. Vegans may not like it. But who knows? There maybe a little lasagna recipe for them out there somewhere too.
Cheese lasagna is my specialty, and through the years I have mastered the art of layering a variety of white cheeses – which ones I use depends on my mood -, marinara and Alfredo sauces with lasagna noodles – thank the Lord for Barilla’s oven baked noodles that were released a few years ago. I think I heard angels singing when I first saw them in the store -. But, unlike my grilled cheese sandwiches, my lasagna’s do not turn out the same everytime even though I feel l like I follow the same steps to make them, yes, everytime. In fact, although they are always delicious, their state of being varies, from way too gooey to just right.
Case in point the other night. As I stood watching the lasagna to see if it was ready to come out of the oven, I realized it was a little too watery looking, which seemed a little odd to me. So, I closed the oven and turned the timer on for another 5 minutes. This happened a few times until I realized that the extra moisture wasn’t going to bake off, in fact I realized that this may well be the most liquidy looking lasagna I had ever made.
Finally, I pulled it out of the oven, hoping that somehow it had solidified more inside than it looked like it had from the outside. I let it sit for a while before I cut into it, which could only be described as avoiding the obvious. Sliding the knife into the center of the molten dish, I knew what I had done, I had inadvertently made a lasagna casserole.
As I lifted what could loosely be called a piece out of the dish with a spatula, I immediately realized that I should have used a spoon. The noodles slid one way while the cheese slid another and amazingly the sauces were sliding every which way. The cheesy strings from the mozzarella didn’t break at all. In fact, I was amazed at how solid, stringy and downright tenacious they were. I actually ended up having to cut them, yes cut them, with my kitchen scissors just to be able to plate the pieces of lasagna. This is a term I use loosely because quite frankly, I have not idea how to refer to them, lumps maybe? Mounds? Who knows?
Whenever I plated a piece, the rest of the lasgana in the baking dish would just ooze into that spot making it look like nothing had been taken out at all, until somehow it just resembled a oozing, cheesy mess. The more I looked at it, the more it reminded me of something I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then I realized what it was – you probably already guessed what it was – Zombie brains! On telling this to the long and the short of it – otherwise known as my son and mom – I was met with stares of , ‘She’s finally gone round the bend.’ A thought that I wholeheartedly agreed with, because the bend is so far in my rear-view mirror that I barely even see it anymore. – I mean really, who writes Apocalyptic and Zombie YA anyway? I’ll tell you, people to whom the ‘bend’ is way, way, way, way behind them. That’s who.
Even though my mom’s disappointed exclamation of “What did you do to the lasagna?” could have put a damper on things – she loves my lasagna, and I don’t make it very often so she was looking forward to it – it didn’t. Especially since it still tasted good. And as we chased it around our plates the whole experience gave me food for thought. I mean really, how many times do things that look disgustingly messy turn out to be really good after all?