Saturday, February 27, 2010

Old Fashioned Candied Orange Peels

Candied Orange Peels

This post is photo heavy.

There was a time ( and it's true some times even now sadly) when IF you were lucky enough to be able to afford Fresh fruit , you could only get them when they were in season. Fall apples from the north , winter citrus from the south , and so on. These were treasured and every bit and bi- product you could use was made and used. There are 3 bi-products that are created from the process of making candied orange peels. 1st is a orange water, 2nd is a flavored sugar and the third is a soft ball stage grainy mixture. I plan to post about thier uses in up coming posts -- aka: as I work with them over the next few s days.

Candied Orange Peel can be used is oh so many ways. You can snack on them as is, dip them in chocolate or a fudge mixture that complements the power punch of bitter/sweet orange flavor. They are beautiful to decorate spring cakes or cup cakes with or chop them and add to herbal teas , coffees, or use them to stir a warmed cup of coke-a-cola. They preform well baked in breads, cakes , muffins, cookies, oatmeal ..... yea the possibilities or so endless. They make interesting tasties to include in goody bags too.

When I want to make a new batch of Candied Orange Peels any one and every one who walks into the house is "offered" and orange , but I get to peel it...I can't eat more than 1/2 one now and then, so either I freeze the juice in cubes or I pawn the fruit - minus the flesh - off on all who come to visit. I immediately prep the peel and slice, then toss them into a self sealing freezer bag. till the bag is full. ( They stay frozen only about 5 days ,maybe 7, but I have never pushed them further than that, and I always taste a couple small once randomly to be sure that they haven't soured or suffered frost bite. )

Preparation isn't that hard. Basically you wash the orange under cold water with a clean terry cloth to be sure you get into the oranges skin grooves. Then you remove the fruit from the peel in nice slices.
Remove the pith( that white layer between the fruit and the orange skin) ... kids can achieve this with a heavy handled table spoon. Then slice them into strips approximately 1/4 inch or less in width.

See those little bubbles that's where all the flavor is ( the a lot of the oils) . Try not to pop them if you can.

This slice could still use a little more pith removed but it was a good shot of the "flavor bubbles" .

The recipe below is for 4 large unblemished Oranges . I tend to make about 3 to 4 time that amount , but I only double it and usually have enough liquid and sugar .

4 skin/peel of large unblemished Oranges pith removed and sliced 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick
4 cups of cold water ( more or less)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup (fine) granulated sugar

Add your peels to a heavy 4 t0 6 quart sauce pan .
and cover them with 4 cups of cold water , or just enough allow them to "float" a bit. ( If using them from the freezer, don't defrost them.)

Bring them just to a boil then reduce heat to med-low and simmer them till they are tender
(15 to 35 min , keep an eye on them !!)

while the peels are cooking
sift together into a large container the 1 cup powdered sugar and the 1 cup (fine) granulated sugar and line your counter with waxed paper .

When the peels are tender, strain them reserving 1 cup of the liquid.

now there are recipes out there that tell you to strain- rinse- cook -repeat up to several times supposedly in an attempt to take out the bitterness....... Why would I want to wash all the nutrients and flavor away like that????

any way

In the sauce pot over medium heat add 2 cups of sugar and let it warm for 2 minutes then stir in the 1 cup of reserved orange liquid give this a good stir .. then add in the orange peels .

Give them a good tossing about in the syrup and keep them moving about till the sugar is dissolved.

simmer this stirring only 1 time at 225 degreas F.

keep simmering till it reaches 238 degrease F ( soft ball stage. ( keep an eye on it, but this can take a while to reach the temp needed)

turn off the heat but leave the pot on the hot burner to buy you some time.

remove the orange peels from the syrup one or 2 at a time and lay them in the powdered sugar-sugar mixture and toss to coat well .

then lay them out on waxed paper in a single layer to dry

cover them with a clean white, light weight towel an let them dry for 24 hours .

The sugar you tossed them in is awesome in a cup of Earl Gray tea... but more about that later

when the orange peels have dried for at least 24 hours place them in a container that can be sealed air tight.

OR .... Dip them in chocolate ( oh and roll them in finely chopped hazel or walnuts...mmmm-yummm!) .
Lay them on waxed paper to harden and enjoy... save some to share!

Store dipped peels in single layer between pieces of waxed or parchment paper in a container that seals air tight

Tasty Blessings !
Ma Fey

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hello , Thank you and I'm still here.

Hello Every one !
That's our littlest critter Mia.
She and our others have been very diligent at cuddling up with Mama and trying to make her feel better.
It's working.
I'm still not up to snuff yet. But am coming around ... Just wanted to thank every one for thier kind thoughts and prayers. We get the test results next week.. sometimes I think waiting to hear is the findings is more annoying than the test they put you through.

I have been able to do some cooking over the last couple days.. though not being able to eat much has kinda put a kink in things.. not being able to taste things as I go means that I am not 100% sure what I am feeding my poor hubby is OK or not. He is surviving it though. I think. I mean I haven't found any unexplained mustard stains on his shirt or any thing...

I did use the tureens and casseroles.. that was fun! I will post about what I made and such through out the week as I go as well as other things i have plans to post.

well till tomorrow then
Bright blessings
Ma fey

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A wonderful sweet smile amoung the medical madness

I haven't been around much. I started haveing some bad stomic trouble about 8 weeks ago. which i have been back and forth to the Dr over ( even lost aprox 18 pound.. not a good way to do it , but i needed to drop a few) . Then, on Valentines day i began to develop a sever pain in the right side. I have no appendix or gallbladder those have been gone for years so i thought maybe it was just a kidney stone but after 4.5 hours at the emergency room , 2 shots of morphine, blood work, and iv, a CT scan and a sonogram.... it's not a stone but a cyst in/on my kidney ..
let me state clearly now, I will NEVER let them EVER give me morphine again , because on top of the excruciating pain I was already in , I spent the rest of yesterday and into the wee hours of the morning this morning "worshiping the porcelain goddess" as it were. This resulted in sending my blood sugar to extremely low numbers and not being able to hold any thing down also meant a hole day with out any of my other meds.. this has just exacerbated all the other problems... I am a mess to say the least.

Yesterday was not all grim though ..

Look what I got yesterday!!!!!

Sugar Babies
Dark Chocolate Raisinets

YUMMMY!! (I can't wait till I feel good enough to open them up and munch them down... i hope it's soon)

Guess what else was in the box .........

THE TUREENS and CASSEROLES!!! I won these in one of Jaz's giveaways over at October Farm

( she's having another giveaway too for a beautiful set of goodies .. so pop on over and check it out )

Any way , these are so much prettier in person even and I adore thier wicker holders too. They are a perfect set for a lovely dinner for 2 ! or soup for 4 with yummy sides!!!! I cant wait till I get better and can use them ! Then I can make up for not being able to make my Hubby his traditional Valentines dinner and serve it in style but first I will make what I promised, just to break them in.

And isn't that note card just the cutest .. I love it

Thank you so much Jaz for such a wonderful give and the perfect bright spot on a dismal day .. i think there was a reason that the snow fell and delayed them a bit.. i sure needed the cheer they brought to me yesterday!

Well , after seeing the surgeon this morning and preregistering at the hospital for a but load of test for tomorrow and Monday, I am pretty wiped and still not feeling any better than before i went to the ER yesterday, ( but most definitely better this evening than i was yesterday evening) so i am gonna cut this post short..
If i am not around for a few days it's because I am still pretty sick and in a LOT of pain.
I will be on when I can..

Blessings one and all
Ma Fey

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Learning something new and My New Blog Button

I love the challenge of learning something new don't you? I don't think the complications or the simplicities of the task matter to me as much as being able to achieve the intended out come. Some times I am a little slow on the info uptake as I have said before, but once I have hit my head against the proverbial brick wall enough that those lost tidbits get shook back in place and I begin to "get it" I either feel really proud of my self or really stupid I didn't get it before that. Either way doesn't affect my need for self challenge. Keeps my mind, sprit and sole young and bright and alert:P

so for the last 2 days I have been readying an researching how to make a blog button ..hopefully with code for others to grab.. well see what we get...

First I used my favorite photo editing program to edit and add elements to a photo of one of my recent apron creations and saved it on my hard drive.

Next I am posting about it here so that I can obtain a URL for the photo . .. (looking at the photo now I wonder if I shouldn't go back and play with the fonts on the photo to make them a bit larger ...hmm.. well this is the learning phase I can go back and correct my photo when I see what I have before I tell any one to grab it and if this is going to work.

ok so I need two urls the one I want this photo to link to and the one where this photo is located.... guess I can't get one of them till I publish this photo

so bare with me I will up date this if it works or at least with my efforts

Fingers crossed ........
1st try
OK so that is REALLY big.. i need to re size that photo ... brb

second try
Ok that's a little smaller but no html code for others to greab.. hummm
ok off to do more research ..

third try
OK i think the size might be ok.. now where is the code.. geeerrrrrr.
Be back in a bit to fix this
i hope

YESSS!!! YESS!!! YESSSSS!!! HAppy Dance! Happy Dance ! Happy Dance!
( singing to the tune of na-na-na-na-na)
I have a blog Button
with HTML code
you can grab now
if you want it.
I can Share Blog buttons..

For those who figured this out before me this may not seam like such a big deal..
But to me it is because while my hubby is a computer tech ( makes his living at it) I am computer stupid .. so this is a really big deal for me .. I am OH SO HAPPY.. I can't wait to show him what I just did..

( Ok guess I need to cut the pain meds back Just a bit..LOL )

Now i just have to figure out exactly how i did it so i can do it again..:P

Happy Happy Blessings every one!
Ma Fey

Monday, February 15, 2010

this weeks featured Giveaways , Blog Parties and Events

Some awesome giveaways for the beginning of this week .

Oh Jaz and Teddy you have done it again! look at those lovely mugs and napkins..
October Farm
Teddy's Treats Give away

Keep an eye out for Farm Girl Cat's next Giveaway this week

I pray for the healing and anticipate return of Mrs. B. and the continuation of her February blog party.

Upcoming events:
Now this promises to be both challenging and a Blast too!
Domestic Witch"s
Random Acts of Kindness March 2010
A new sort of giveaway .

Good luck and have fun!

( Can I just say kidney stones are a killer)
be back on as soon as I can ..

Blessings all
Ma Fey

Saturday, February 13, 2010

For the Love of Lasagna Part 2 of 2- The Lasagna

For the Love of Lasagna Part 2 of 2 the Lasagna

Here is a link for where I buy my long black pepper ( as well as many other spices, extracts and such). The prices aren't bad and the quality is superb . Frontier Natural Product Co-Op the link should take you right to the long black pepper ( aka long peppercorns page).

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrease F.

Bring a very large pot of water to boil ( I used a 20 quart pot filled 1/2 full of water) with about 3 tablespoons olive oil in the water.
Count out 26 noodles ( remember this is for 2 casserole dishes) I make 2 or 3 extra just in case. ( life happens right)
On the closest counter to your stove, lay a piece of waxed paper at least 2 feet long ( I wouldn't go much over this though )
Lay 1/2 of the towel over the waxed paper . I use 2 flour sack
towels that are 28 inches x 29 inches there-abouts.
Get out your longest handled tongs .

Only place about 4 to 5 noodles at a time into the pot and you will want to tend them .
Cooking the lasagna noodle is like watchen' after after kids, you gotta keep an eye on them. I have permanent metaphysical bald spots cause by lasagna noodles ... and kids.... (giggle)
Seriously though, to many noodles in the amount of water you have to work with 99.999% of the time is a disaster waiting to happen. There are those rare people that can make it work, but I am not one of them.

Using your tongs, move the noodles about in the water to keep them from sticking and to get them out at the perfect doneness for this dish. You want you noodles flexible but not cooked. The noodles will continue to cook when in the oven and will help absorb any excess moisture from the sauce or fresh veggies you will add.

These are perfect, Just starting to turn lighter on the edges, but the "meat" of the noodle is firm and flexible.

Lay the noodles in a single layer on the side of the towel with the wax paper under it . Fold the other half towel over them to keep them from drying out . Some folks mist the towels with warm water.. it' depends on how wet my noodles are coming out , I don't want to have to clean up a big puddle or any thing .

Continue doing this till all the noodles are worked with.

Roll the toweled noodles up and tuck the ends if you can. Let them rest a minute while you prep the sauce .

Taste your sauce at this point and adjust any flavors you want to bring up more.

You can work with your sauce cold or warmed. I work with it right out of the icebox.

Crack an egg into a small mixing bowel and check it over for imperfections and shell bits.

with a fork beat it well , very well.

Add the container of ricotta cheese. and blend it very well .

When I have them I like to add fresh Sweet Basil or fresh Dani Basil- torn to bits, lemon thyme - give them a good chop or two if you want, and garlic chive-cut to tiny bits, to this mixture.
Note: Frozen fresh herbs work fine in many dishes , but I cant say I liked the bits of slime produced when used in this mixture.. that was just ... nasty. Dry herbs made the cheese-egg mixture a bit .um..gritty. That wasn't pleasant either. Use only fresh herbs to spice this part up if you choose to do so .
Since I didn't have any of those fresh, we just went with the
ricotta and egg mix this time.

Chop the zucchini , egg plant, yellow squash into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.. You can slice them into 1/8 to 1/4 inch rounds if you like and serve them that way. I chop them because I use more of the vegetable that way .. no wondering what to do with what's left.
(eggplant doesn't freeze all that well, unless maybe breaded and only up to 24 hours before going right into the deep fryer oil.)
You can use your sliced mushrooms as they are or break them up. that's your choice. I break them up.

Rub a bit of olive oil all over the bottom and side of your casserole dish and the handle tops and top rim.. helps on the clean up . This is usually when you will find me asking the kitchen Gods to please make this dish as wonderful and pleasing and I intend it to be and maybe I am thinking of some one special and what they need in thier life. It's like the time I spend stirring the sauce. I am thinking of goals and dreams and life paths and the blessings of the positive, plentiful outcomes. I try not to bring anger to the pot or frustration to the pot if I can help it .
"Sourpusses at the pot
sours the out come of the whole lot. "
That's what I have taken to tellen' people who want to bring "sour-tudes" into my kitchen!
Then I promptly chase them away with the kitchen broom if they need further... um..
encouragement !

Back to the Lasagna...
As in the photo above lay down a bit of the sauce, you don't want it thick , just a ladle or 2 to thinly cover the bottom. then lay down your first layer of noodles .

Then add 3 to 4 ladles of sauce and add your fresh veggies. for me the goal of spreading them is to get a bit of each flavor in every bite. ( The mushrooms are in the second pan. We had company coming to diner that doesn't like mushrooms So I was accommodating thier taste.)
So first the egg plant, then the yellow squash and the zucchini, then the mushrooms ( have I mentioned that baby portabellas are awesome as are the spring morels?? Oh baby you can't beat the fresh harvested mushrooms of spring in this dish! wrap them in
peaces of prosciutto before slicing and adding yyuumm!
oh man I wish spring was here!!)

add small "plops"( about the size of the chopped veggie pieces)
of the ricotta-egg mixture all over the top of the veggies 9 about 1/4 of the ricotta-egg mixture should be used per layer ( remember this makes 2 pans) .. I personally don't like taking a bite of lasagna and tasting nothing but ricotta... it's meant to enhance the dish, Not over power it. Just remember the goal of being able to taste a bit of every thing in every bite.

next Use a fork to "sprinkle" very small bits of the cottage cheese about.
then add about 1 cup to 1-1/4 cup of the mozzarella
and good sprinkling of the grated Parmesan

Lay the next layer of noodles splitting one noodle down the center
and laying half along one side and the other half along the top trimming it to lay flat. ( when you add your 3rd and final layer of noodles repeat this but lay the cut noodles at the opposite end and side from this first placement.

Top this layer with sauce and veggies and cheese just as you did the first layer .

Guess whats wrong with this photo......
your third layer should consist of noodles and sauce
no veggies and ( clue) no cheese on top yet!

I generally don't put the cheese on the top till it has been in the oven for at least 15 to 20 min. this will prevent your cheese from burning before your dish is done . oops Don't scrap it if you make
this mistake, just wrap the edges in foil like you would to protect
a pie crust being careful not to let it touch the cheese.

Place each pan on a baking sheet to catch any spill over that may occur (I keep two old fuggly cookie sheets around just for this).
Place in a 375 degrease F. oven for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrease F. and top the lasagna with your final layers of cheeses in this order,
1 cup to 1-1/4 cup of the mozzarella
good sprinkling of the grated Parmesan
and about 1/8th to 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese
continue to bake for 45 to 50 minutes more

Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving so that it all settles in and "firms up".

if it is cut to soon you will end up with "watery" lasagna.

now that was worth the 2 days of cooking ( or more in my case)

serve with your best home made Italian or French bread . or your favorite garlic bread and a salad and enjoy the family and friends you are sharing with..

Now, I am off to make a Red Velvet cake for Valentines day

Warm fulfilled Blessings upon your rumbling bellies
( be glad this isn't smell-a-blog... it smells heavenly)

Ma Fey

Thursday, February 11, 2010

For the Love of Lasagna- part 1 of 2- the all day sauce

Sorry this has taken so long to post, I guess I just ain't as young as I used to be... this should take you 2 days to complete ( not including grocery store day) , it took me 3 days not including the store or the fully day I spent in bed from over doing it or the 2 days of recovery after I needed. (I need to stop being so stubborn and learn to ask for help.. still working on that one..LOL)

I don't claim in any way that this recipe is original as I am sure it isn't in many ways .
It was given to me by my Grama Grace and Aunt Margie ( two of the best cooks I have ever known) and I have added my own touches as I am sure my daughter will through out time.

Lasagna is a dish that is as diverse as the personalities and taste of those even in our own families, let alone our communities and the world beyond. In other words every cook has thier own way to make lasagna. We all learn things from those who have made it before us and add or subtract as our tastes and the tastes of those we are making it for change.

Many have a lasagna recipe rooted deep in the family cooking history while others have only recently discovered it. You may have a heart worming or funny family history story of how lasagna came to be part of your families menu , or how you your self fared on that 1st attempt and all that went wrong and just right.

Lasagna for love? Maybe, as in my case, it was got you noticed by your sole-mate. The fact that I could make lasagna over an open camp fire and it taste like oven-baked -- well lets just say he looked my way and we never looked back ;) .

My Grama use to say that lasagna was one of those dishes that are a gift of both self and love.
... it wasn't till years later that I would realize the truths of such a statement. I think one of the truths of that statement is that it's not important how much time you take out of your day to make or do something special , but rather how much laughter, joy, love - aka intention- and attention you put into doing that task.

the ingredients: I normally make my sauces in the summer months when ingredients are fresh from the, garden , farmers markets, and/or road side stands. But this is February, and we live in a rule area which means you take what you can get at the winter market. I will put in parenthesis what I prefer to use when it differs from what I actually used here.

This makes enough sauce for 2- 9"x13"x3" glass casserole dishes of lasagna , you can use enough to make one pan of the lasagna and freeze the rest for a later pasta dish, or do as we do and make both pans, letting all unused portions sit in the refrigerator covered until the next day ( or they are well set) and wrap them in individual serving sizes in parchment/freezer paper and plastic cling wrap then place in large freezer bag to store them ( or send it over to friends or family). These can be reheated either in the microwave or place a few pieces in a casserole and re heat in the oven till warmed through.

Ingredients: ( not in order by usage)

Olive oil
9 pound tomatoes ( I prefer a Roma-Brandywine-Rutger's mix)
you can also use 3 pounds fresh 4- 14/15oz. cans diced
tomatoes -and 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce)
1 small can tomato past ( or 3/4 cup home canned past)
3 small to medium yellow squash
3 small to medium zucchini ( or 1 old fashioned large, pealed and chopped to 1/2 inch square use 3 cups)
2 whole bulbs garlic
1 medium sweet onion of choice ( I like wala-wala washinton
onions here)
2 medium green bell peppers
1 large red bell pepper
1 pound slices button mushrooms
2 pounds ground Italian spiced meat( I prefer Italian style pork
sausage hot or mild)
3 Long Black Pepper corns ( you can skip this if you cant find them)
Gray Sea Salt ( or kosher salt)
Fresh basil, oregano, thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, savory,
(I will address the amounts below Fresh versus Dry)
1/2 cup Good red wine ( I prefer a cherry or Lambrusco wine)
32 ounces Beef Broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 medium-small egg plant
15 ounce container of whole milk Ricotta Cheese
2 to 4 cups Parmesan cheese ( fresh grated)
12 cups Mozzarella cheese ( 3 4-cup bags but I prefer Fresh
about 1 cup Chedder cheese ( I prefer sharp, but mild is fine too)
cottage cheese ( small curd)
1 egg
2 boxes lasagna noodles
The Sauce
First roast the Garlic bulbs

preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
remove the outer "paper-y" skins and
cut just the tips of each clove off but leave the bulb whole. (use both bulbs - if a clove falls off, just tuck it back into it's spot in the bulb)

Place each of the 2 bulbs in to a separate piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil ( about a teaspoon) over the whole bulb. Pull the foil up over the the bulbs tightly and twist the top closed.

Place then in the oven for between 10 and 20 minutes ( til they are soft when pressed lightly.
when they are done, leave them wrapped in the foil but let them cool completely.

Tomatoes, some people choose to peal them and some don't. I so prefer them pealed for this dish.

Plunge them into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds ( some times it takes a bit longer)

roll them around in the water a bit so the skin gets loose on all sides

( I use a wooden spoon)

Remember you don't want to cook them , just loosen thier skins

remove them from the boiling water and plunge them immediately into cold water so they stop cooking and they are easier to peal

Let them rest a min or so to bring down the temp then drain them

From this point, you will want to be absolutely sure your hands are clean -even under your nails! (cause your gunna use them a lot if you chose my method. )

The skins should slip away easily , but if they don't you can use a knife to help peal them . The tomato peel in this photo is a pretty good peal, but the less of the red flesh that sticks to the skin the better .

Over a medium to large bowl, to collect all the juice, and with both hands, hold the tomato with the bottom up and press your thumbs down through it to open it up like a flower. ( Careful! don't squirt your self in the face.)

This will also help you to remove the seed pockets more easily if you so choose ( I don't bother with it.)

Tear the flesh way from the stem end placing the flesh of the tomato in the bowel and discarding the stem end(core)

Next chop the onions
Slice 2 zucchini ( or 2/3rds), and 1 yellow summer squash in to 1/4 rounds and break each round into 4 parts with your hands .
Break the bell peppers ( both the greens and the red) open, remove the seeds and tear them into about 1/2 to 1/4 inch sized pieces.
(Note: I was taught to use my hands for these tasks as a safe way to let a child(me) help in the kitchen, but with my disability now,I
find this "old way" serves me well. )

In the bottom of your favorite roaster over medium low heat , add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let it Just reach the smoking point. Add the onions and let them cook just till they are translucent. Next add all the other veggies ( tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and bell peppers) give them a toss to mix well and to coat them with the oil. Remove them from the heat. Cover with Aluminum foil and place in a 350 degree F. oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
Then remove them from the oven and leave them covered until
they are needed.

Lets talk a little about Long Black Pepper which comes from south - south east Asia and was the first to reach Europe. Long Black pepper has a bit higher heat than black pepper and adds undertones of sweetness that ring a bit of cardamom--like in flavor.
To use long black pepper , break or crack it in half and "float" it like a bay leaf to be removed later .
Here is a link to a really good article if you are interested in further reading about long pepper : Aidan Brooks :Trainee Chef (his blog is awesome by the way!)

Lets talk about the other spices.
I make my own "Italian Seasoning" from herbs in my garden that contains all the herbs listed below.. BUT when I can get them fresh, organically grown I prefer them to dry even in the winter month.
If your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh and you must use dry, then reduce the amount to 1 teaspoon . and it works in reverse if converting from dry to fresh.
so here is the herb mix amounts in Dry (=fresh)
Marjoram 2 teaspoon (2 tablespoon)
Thyme 2 teaspoon (2 tablespoon)
Rosemary 1 teaspoon (1 tablespoon)
Savory (summer) 1 teaspoon ( 1 tablespoon)
Sage 1/4 scant teaspoon ( 1/4 scant tablespoon)
Oregano 3 to 5 teaspoons (3 to 5tablespoons oregano)
Basil, sweet 3 to 4 teaspoons (3 to 4 tablespoons)
mix all the dry herbs together and set aside, and leave any fresh
separated and set them aside for.

Next is the meat. ( if you choose to use meat)
The sausage I choose is either the locally made(photo) or I use a brand called Poor Folk, but just use your favorite brand. Remove the sausage from the casing if there is one, so that is it loose meat ( like ground hamburger before it's pattied up)

I use a dutch oven for this next step so that the pan is big enough to hold all the meat .

heat the pan over Low heat till just warmed then add the the Long black pepper and 3 tablespoons Olive oil . You may have to tip the pan to one side to keep the long black pepper submerged in the oil .. it will take about 5 minutes or more to impart the flavor of the long black pepper to the oil. ( but that's ok because the smell is Heavenly) .

Remove the long black pepper and bring the oil up just to the smoking point and add the meat.

cook the meat thoroughly!

For this next step you can remove the meat from the pot, but I just push it off to one side, ( don't drain it .. this is where a lot of your flavor it and it will be cooked into the sauce over time)

to the oil in the pan add 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour . and whisk till well blended .

Next mix the meat into the rue and let it cook "dry" then deglaze with by adding 1/2 cup wine mixed with 1/2 cup beef broth and stir well.
mix in 1/2 the herbs and remove from the heat letting the heat of the meat some what wilt the fresh herbs and pull some of the flavors out of the dry ones.

Remove the foil ( careful of the steam in side so you don't get burned)

this is a 20 quart pot
Place in the roasted vegetables, sausage mixture, squeeze in the roasted garlic gloves, tomato paste, salt, the rest of the beef broth and 6 cups water. Bring this Just to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.

simmer this on a low simmer stirring very frequently so it doesn't scorch or burn for 6 to 8 hours. ( must reduce to half or just over half so your lasagna isn't watery)
Remove from heat and cover to cool till temperature.
About 2 or 3 times after the sauce has simmered at least 2 hours, take a potato masher to it. Yes, a potato masher this is how we did it before the days of the food processor. I admit I do prefer the texture I achieve with the potato masher when I want a hearty, chunky sauce. But for a smoother sauce you can wizz this in the food processor or blender in batches. (this is also a good method to hid the veggies that get pushed aside;)

When the sauce is cooled mix in the other half of the spices . Seal in air tight containers and refrigerate or go on to making you lasagna. You can also freeze this in 2 equal batches for later use.

The sauce does need to rest before you make the lasagna to give the herbs and all the flavors a chance to blend .

Part 2 of this recipe will use the whole milk Ricotta Cheese, Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella cheese,
Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese , egg, mushrooms, 2 yellow zucchini, 1 ( or 1/3) green zucchini, and lasagna noodles ( and what ever else I forgot to list here).