Sleepy Weekend

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Does this photo look as peaceful to you as it does to me? Whenever I set foot on our property in the country, I instantly feel happy, calm and serene. Whether it’s the fresh air, all that green or the knowledge that I just need to dump my bag, put on my running shoes and cross the street to go here

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I’m not sure. But even if I only make a cup of coffee and choose to sit here instead and be lazy,

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I feel Zen :-).

I took my friend B and her kids (a teenage girl and über-cute baby boy) with me for the weekend. We spent a lot of time outdoors, despite the chill. But you can feel how Nature’s raring to go… just a few more drops of rain and rays of sunshine, and we’ll be there.

After a long walk, we lit the wood-burner, made lasagna and drank lots of ginger and elder flower tea. And since I’ve been asked about my lasagna, here’s how I make this iconic Italian dish – certainly not rocket science, but 30 years of practice that have taught me stuff.

Lasagna My Way

For 4 helpings, you will need

300-400 g ground beef

3 shallots, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely diced

1 celery stick, finely diced

Handful of parsley, chopped

Oregano, 1 TSP

1 bay leaf

Glass of red wine

1/2 TSP cinnamon

1 TBSP sugar

2 cans of tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, chili flakes to taste

The above is your Bolognese sauce. (Chop veg, fry meat with onions & garlic, deglaze with wine, add other veg and herbs, tomatoes, bit of water and spices and bring to a soft boil. Stew for 1 hour min. Check the seasoning and liquid. It may need more salt, sugar or cinnamon, you know the drill. It shouldn’t be too thick, as the lasagna sheets need some liquid to soak up.)

For the béchamel, you will need

Approx. 50 g butter

3-4 TBSP flour

500 ml milk

Freshly ground nutmeg

Salt & pepper to taste

It’s a very simple thing to make béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan. Add flour and gently let it froth up a bit, then pour on milk and add spices. Stir with a flat wire whisk. Don’t oversalt, and use pepper sparingly. You want a thick, silky texture, and a soft, buttery, rich and creamy nutmeg-y taste that adds its subtle but distinct flavor to the very dominant Bolo. You can add cream if you feel naughty, it’s certainly not going to hurt the flavor if you do, but since I’m trying to watch those calories, I try to go easy on the cream where it’s not an absolute necessity.

1 pack of lasagna sheets

3 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Maybe a dash of milk

A deep square-shaped ovenproof dish

For assembling the lasagna, line up your ingredients: Bolo sauce, Béchamel sauce, lasagna sheets, cheese, olive oil. Start with a few splashes of oil to the bottom of your dish. Place a layer of lasagna sheets on top, trying to cover the bottom as best you can. Break the sheets up and create a noddle-based jigsaw puzzle if you have to. Ladle some Bolo on top, then some Béchamel, then sprinkle with cheese. Repeat the process until you’ve used up your Bolo sauce. Finish with a layer of lasagna sheets and top it off with your last Béchamel and the rest of your grated cheese. Put in the oven at medium heat for 40 minutes. Check the consistency, and pour a dash of milk on top if it seems too dry. You want a juicy lasagna, right? Enjoy :-).

While we were cooking, the children were working on this:

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They’re a bunch of 5 girls, and as you can see they did a fine job of building a little hut of their own in the woods! They even thought of using string rather than nails to fix everything, so no wild animals would hurt themselves on rusty iron. We were really proud of them! They came back happy, tired and with a sense of accomplishment :-). My daughter had 2 helpings of lasagna that night!

Have a good week, everyone, and let me know if the lasagna recipe worked for you guys.

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