Monthly Archives: January 2016

Birthday Lasagna :)

Taylor wanted lasagna for her birthday dinner (21!) – and this one was probably the largest one I’ve ever made. Had to use a large roasting pan. ¬†I looked at a few different recipes, and kind of did a combination of a few of them.

Lasagna ūüôā
Recipe Type: main course
Author: Ray
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 16
Baked this Friday evening, and will reheat on Sunday – Lasagna always seems to taste best reheated, so why not bake it twice to begin with ūüôā
  • 2 pounds ground port
  • 1.5 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 1 large white onion, diced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 diced bell peppers (red, yellow and orange)
  • 2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil
  • 500g lasagna noodles
  1. Brown pork, beef and sausage in a large stockpot, adding minced onion and garlic as meat starts to brown.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, Italian seasoning, basil, salt, pepper, marsala, balsamic vinegar, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Let simmer for an hour, then add chopped peppers, and simmer for another hour.
  4. While sauce is simmering, defrost frozen spinach
  5. In an appropriately sized mixing bowl, mix thawed spinach, ricotta, eggs, and nutmeg.
  6. Spray roasting pan with cooking spray
  7. Spoon a thin layer of sauce into bottom of pan
  8. Place 1 layer of uncooked lasagna noodles over sauce
  9. Spoon another layer of sauce over noodles.
  10. Spread 1/3 of ricotta mixture over sauce
  11. Add another layer of noodles
  12. Add layer of sauce
  13. Add layer of provolone slices
  14. Add layer of sauce
  15. Add 1/3 ricotta mixture
  16. Add layer of noodles
  17. Add more sauce
  18. Add last third of ricotta mixture
  19. Add last layer of noodles
  20. Add last layer of sauce
  21. Evenly spread monterey jack and mozzarella
  22. Sprinkle parmesan over top
  23. Bake covered for 40 minutes at 375
  24. Remove cover, and bake for another 30 minutes.

After initially cooking the lasagna on Friday night (finished at 1:30 AM), I let it cool down, then put it into the fridge Saturday morning at 9:00 AM.  On Sunday, I reheated the lasagna (covered) for 3 hours at 250*F, then added a couple loaves of garlic bread to the oven, removed the lid from the lasagna, and increased the temperature to 375*F for 20 minutes.  Everyone enjoyed it!

Coffee table and side table project

Tracey and I decided that we¬†wanted something a little different for our living room coffee table, and wanted a couple matching side tables as well – something I don’t think we’ve had in the last 25+ years!
So I started looking at various designs, and tried drawing one up myself Рbut ended up finding a design through the magazine Fine Woodworking.  As it turns out, Fine Woodworking also sold plans for the coffee table, that also included a Google Sketchup file.  So, I purchased the plan, and then duplicated and modified it to come up with a design for a matching side table.
coffee table
The coffee table is a Mission-style – I’m simplifying a couple sections, and I’m also going to look at building in USB charging ports into the side tables – probably along with an outlet to plug in a table lamp. ¬†Another change is adjusting the height of the shelf, to provide clearance for Tracey’s Roomba.
The side tables will be the same width as the coffee table, and a couple inches taller.
Went and picked out a bunch of oak to get the project started, a combination of quartersawn white oak, and some red oak.  The white oak is being used to build up the legs. Did some miscalculation in our heads while at the store, meaning we had to make a second trip to get more lumber Рwhich brought the cost up to almost $800 just in oak!

New Pour-over :)

Taylor found this pot at Chapters yesterday РI had to go pick it up!
It reminded me of one of my favourite Bugs Bunny cartoons ūüôā

instant-human instant-martians
Just have to be careful when pouring – the glass is very thin and very hot!

My 10 Step Pour-over Routine

Well, after having made a dozen coffees over the past few days (only 3 using the new Brewista scale), I’m starting to get into a 10 Step¬†routine – which is a good thing for good, consistent coffee.
Thermos Travel MugBefore getting started, I placed my empty thermos mug on my scale, then tare (zero’d) it. ¬†I added water to the fill mark of the mug, and determined that my [amazon text=16oz thermos mug&asin=B002PY7AYS]¬†holds 470 grams of water. ¬†(BTW, this is an awesome thermos – I’ve made coffee and forgotten the thermos at home – and returned home 7-8 hours later to a mug of coffee that is still hot! Additionally, you can fill it up, close the lid, and turn the mug upside down without a single drop leaking out! It also fits perfectly into the cup holders of my Jeep.)
Step 1
Fill up the kettle Рabout 2 inches from the top.  Put on induction stove, Boost mode.
Step 2
Get out scale, place small cup on it, and tare the scale.  Measure out 28 grams of beans.
Step 3
Pour beans into grinder (set to 15), and start grinder. This takes about 10 seconds, and then empty doser back into the cup. Continue reading My 10 Step Pour-over Routine

Pour-over coffee gear

Hario V60 Drip Decanter
Have been buying fresh roasted beans from Rogue Wave Coffee for the past few weeks, and just before Christmas, I tried a cup of coffee prepared using their pour-over technique Рvery tasty!
So, being the both feet kinda guy that I am, a few days later I’m on, ordering some stuff:

  • a Hario V60 Drip decanter,
  • a Hario pour-over kettle and
  • a package of filters

A couple days later I have the goods, and I’m weighing out beans, and adjusting my La Cimbali Jr. grinder that I had set really fine for espresso’s.¬† The one downside with this grinder is that you need to spin the adjustment a lot of times switch between a fine espresso grind and the coarser grind necessary for pour overs.¬† My grinder setting was at 3.5 – I ended up with a setting of 15 that I find pretty good.

When pouring, I was previously using a Starfrit scale my daughter bought. It’s great for measuring the beans, but kept shutting off when I was doing the pour – and there is no way to disable that function. It was a bit annoying, so off to Google land, in search of a more suitable scale.
I ended up ordering a scale from (49th Parallel) Рthe Brewista Smart Scale.  With this scale, you can set the auto shut-off to 60, 120, or 180 seconds, or you can disable it.  It has a built in timer, and has 6 different modes, 4 for espresso, and 2 for manual pour.
The Brewista also has a special coating that makes it water resistant – you can even wash it off under running water without destroying it!

Right now I’m just using the 6th mode, all manual – I need to read up more on the automatic taring and timer modes – I tried the 5th mode, and found that the auto taring seemed out of place with the pour-over technique I’ve been doing. ¬†Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong – but the coffee is good!