I recently stumbled upon a nationwide project/movement , Lasagna Love intended to help anyone in need of a meal register on the organization’s website and be matched with someone in their local community who will deliver a homemade lasagna to them.
It seems like such a simple way for any of us to be part of the solution to so many of the problems people are facing in our country right now. And while it may require an effort to gather the ingredients, do the prep and make the delivery, buying one from the frozen foods section was never a consideration for me.
I was a foodie long before it became a hashtag on social media. Cooking was my “sport” as a kid and I was constantly experimenting in my mom’s 1970’s well equipped kitchen. She had every gadget and embraced getting a Cuisinart food processor when they first became available to home cooks if for no reason other than to use it to grate 20 pounds of potatoes every year when making latkes for Hanukkah. But, trust me, that thing was utilized several times a week in our house.
So when I got my first #lasagnalove assignment this past week I put a reminder on my calendar to get the ingredients later that day. But when I discovered 10 minutes into a Zoom meeting that I was less than a mile away from the person on the call, we both decided to get off the internet and meet up in person for a walk and enjoy a seasonably warm morning here in Colorado while also getting some endorphins flowing and, the business at hand accomplished.
The walk ended where it began, in the parking lot of our neighborhood Safeway and I decided there was no time like the present to get the lasagna ingredients.
When I got home, I began to prep everything including making fresh meat and spinach sauce because I really don’t take short cuts even for a volunteer project.
My mother gave me some rather sage advice when I was going through my first divorce over 20 years ago that there aren’t any shortcuts in life…everything is a process. I began to use that advice on my kids and while they often rolled their eyes at me, and still do even as adults, they get the point.
When I use it on one of my home organizing clients?
Yeah, they roll their eyes too, but making the commitment to get organized is a process and and you have to go through it no matter how exhausting and painful it may be…
…pile by pile
…box by box
…drawer by drawer
…cabinet by cabinet
You simply can’t “go around it”.
You can try, but I promise it will never work in the long run. It really is a life maintenance plan.
But I digress…
…as I often do in these blogs…
…hey, I will always maintain, I am who I am.
Anyway, as I stood in my kitchen the other day preparing the lasagna I realized I had committed one of a professional organizer’s biggest sins…
…I went grocery shopping without a list in hand
…or on my phone as is my normal method
…for making sure I don’t forget anything.
What did I forget?
Yeah, that is kind of a key ingredient for classic lasagna.
I decided not to disrupt my schedule for the remainder of the day, but once I signed off from my last virtual consult at 7 pm I went back to the store and got the missing ingredient along with what I also needed to make some macaroni and cheese after having a text exchange that day with a client who reminded me that her husband had surgery earlier in the week. She is an incredibly kind and giving human in her own right so I wanted to give her at least one night off from cooking or thinking about what to have for dinner.
Side note: When you become a client there is a good chance we will become friends. I am not bragging, I am just stating a fact. It has happened a lot. I don’t know if it because of…
a) my bubbly personality (if I do say so myself)
b) the fact that they know that I will bring them free food or
c) the realization that I have seen everything they have in every nook and cranny of their home and want to make sure that some of the stuff I will never reveal to anyone and will take to my grave.
I’m guessing most of the friendships formed would respond with c) but I would prefer to think it is because of a) .
Back to the task at hand, I had actually bought enough ingredients to make 2 lasagnas and offered one to my client, but apparently her family doesn’t like red sauce so the next best comfort food is obviously mac n cheese…although I will argue it is THE #1 COMFORT FOOD and, once again, I will give my mother the credit, this time for teaching me how to make THE BEST.
Was I slightly devastated to learn as an adult that my mother’s recipe was actually from the back of a Mueller’s Elbow Macaroni box?
Apparently Mueller’s updated the recipe at some point, recommending croutons instead of breadcrumbs but the most I am willing to sway from that is substituting Panko breadcrumbs for traditional ones but you be you and do what feels right for your particular culinary taste buds.
For about a minute, and I am embarrassed to say it was because I was, after all, living in NYC at the beginning of a massive food revolution and I had apparently become somewhat pretentious about the origins of culinary creations. Nevermind, my mother also used Nestle’s Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as her go to, tweaking it, though, a bit to accommodate my family’s belief that the only chocolate chip cookies worth eating are thick, dense and crunchy, not flat, soft and buttery.
I let go of my uppity-ish attitude about the Mueller’s recipe and from that moment on it has been the only one I have used over the past 30 years. Sometimes I will switch up the cheese depending on what else is going to be part of the meal, add expensive ingredients like lobster or requested ingredients from clients like candied bacon. And while I learned how to make a classic béchamel sauce before even going to culinary school thanks to my mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook that was like a bible for me growing up, I still make it exactly like my mom did and always think of her when I do. (By the way…it does include some ground mustard for the appropriate amount of “kick” for the taste buds but it can eliminated if you prefer.)
Meanwhile, one lasagna got delivered on Friday to a family of 3 and when I sent a text to the recipient the response back made me literally laugh out loud…
I left the frozen brick o’ pasta on the woman’s front porch with a note that I should have referenced something about Garfield but was in hurry when I was writing it that morning and it slipped my mind. I hope, though, the quote I did write was still appreciated.
The mac n cheese also got delivered but before I handed it over to my client I took this photo because, you know, it’s all about creating Insta-worthy posts these days. The post, though, apparently never uploaded, something I just realized while writing this blog 2 days later. So instead, here you go, complete with a beautiful backdrop of the Front Range Foothills…
Why is it covered?
Because it is possible I may have picked off a little bit of the crumb topping after it came out of the oven the night before. And yes I warned my client…and, yes she laughed, probably because she would have done the same thing.
I love when a client gets me.
I did, though, snap a photo that I sent to her before I picked off even one crumb…
It’s about as Insta-worthy as I am capable of or want to become capable of I might add. I would like to believe that clients hire me for my organizing and (occasionally) culinary skills, not whether I know the latest photo filters and hashtags.
Bottom line? I am just trying to always do my part to help where and how I can. And if I can manage to do any given thing without making two trips to the grocery store then I will always be happy to get “lost in service” for others.
Be kind and be safe,