Cooking, Lasagna, Nostalgia, Nursing Stories, Thanksgiving

Happy Lasagna Day

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My husband and I are spending Thanksgiving alone—by choice. We had been invited out but graciously declined.

After having three sets of houseguests in six weeks, we are happy to be alone. By the way, the house has never been cleaner.

And we broke from the traditional Thanksgiving dinner—we are having lasagna.

lasagna

I love leftover lasagna as much or more than leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy.

 

Over the years lasagna has become the ubiquitous casserole. You can find it premade in deli departments and frozen food cases in grocery stores. It’s the go-to meal neighbors bring over to neighbors on happy occasions (childbirth) and solemn occasions (sickness or death in the family).

My love of lasagna goes back to my childhood when we visited Grandma in Jersey City. She lived in a second floor walk-up two blocks from my house. Who remembers what time she got up in the morning to begin cooking the lasagna and the rest of the meal, including homemade bread and a roasted chicken? As for the lasagna, she made the pasta from scratch. The tomato sauce (we called this gravy) simmered for hours on the stove. She used whole-milk ricotta and mozzarella cheeses that were made fresh at the Italian store down the block.

Being the oldest granddaughter, I sometimes helped by assembling the multiple layers of the dish. First the sauce, the pasta in one layer, a few spoonfuls of cheese mixture (ricotta, parmesan, eggs, oregano and parsley), sliced mozzarella, more sauce/gravy and then I started over again finishing with the mozzarella on top.

If the family ever had turkey for Thanksgiving, I don’t remember.

In Grandma’ s cramped kitchen the men ate first—Grandma’s three sons, her five sons-in law and Grandpa. My cousins and I sat at the “children’s table” that was cobbled together with end tables and folding chairs. The women served and cleared and eventually sat down to dinner with the windows open to let out the steam from the kitchen along with the delicious aromas of the Italian Thanksgiving feast.

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So this Thanksgiving I am thankful for the usual, although not insignificant blessings, such as health, family, friends, but also for the memories that warm me and bring me back to Grandma’s table laden with her gifts and in the company of my extended family—some long gone but not forgotten.

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving and joyful memories.

7 thoughts on “Happy Lasagna Day”

    1. No, it think I was in nursing school at the time. The picture was taken by my uncle who worked for the newspaper. The occasion was my grandmother 82nd birthday. She lived to be 104–good genes and good food.

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  1. What lovely memories, Marianna. Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving family story with us. Wishing you & Ernie a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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  2. Mrs. Crane, one of my favorite home health pt’s these past few years was a dear elderly Italian woman. She would beg me to drink wine with her! Of course I could not do that but she still left me a legacy of lasagna! Since she didn’t have a huge family to cook for anymore, and she could not bring her self to make her gigantic recipe for one she devised a way to make it whole, then cut single servings that froze perfectly. Her secret was to freeze the sauce separately and add after warming the lasagna so it all stayed together and was just perfect. Take that Stouffer’s! I miss her dearly but I have lasagna! What a blessing!

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