Last week I had dinner out with two good friends. We met when we worked together almost 25 years ago and have stayed in touch ever since. We make it a point to get together at least once a year.
When we manage to find a date that all three of us can get together, it’s as if we saw each other last week. We just pick right up where we left off.
Over a quarter century’s time, we’ve finished raising families. All three of us are grandmas, with one actually looking forward to being a great-grandma this summer. We’ve all learned that time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.
I remember as a child looking at my grandmother and trying to imagine a world without her. I simply couldn’t. Leaving her never got any easier, even when I was an adult. As my mother grew older, I felt the same way, although by then I knew that if things worked out the way they usually do in life, I’d have to let her go, too.
I’ve learned over the years not to take friends or family for granted. If you do, they have a way of slipping away when you’re not looking. Friends move away; children and grandchildren get married and have lives of their own; parents, aunts and uncles complete the circle of their lives.
Don’t put off spending time with those who mean a lot to you. A shared dinner every few months makes a difference. It doesn’t take long to write a note, send an e-mail, or call someone. When we’re young, more time to be in touch is assumed. At some point, we find out we’d better reach out, make the effort, say the words while we can.
Family favorite foods fall right in the middle of all those memories. I remember my grandmother’s berry pies, mother’s meatloaf, my mother-in-law’s rolls, Aunt Mary’s brownies, Aunt Ruth’s fried chicken.
Sometimes the most ordinary, every day, silly little things bring laughter and good times and that’s what happy memories are all about. Memories are even better over a good dinner.
2 1/2 cans Italian-style peeled tomatoes
4 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons onion salt
2 cups minced onion
4 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds lean ground chuck or round
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pound lasagne noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound Ricotta cheese
1/3 pound thinly sliced Mozzarella cheese
1/2 pound grated Parmesan cheese
Combine in a large saucepan tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, oregano and onion salt. Simmer uncovered.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onions and garlic in until golden. Add meat and salt and cook until meat loses its red color. Add to the sauce. Simmer for about 2 1/2 hours more.
Prepare lasagne noodles in water, according to package directions. Add to the water 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir occasionally. Drain and separate noodles.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In two 12 by 8 by 2 1/2 inch baking dishes put a thin layer of sauce, then a crisscross layer of noodles and a layer of cheese.
Repeat twice with sauce, noodles and cheese. The final cheese layer is covered once more with sauce and a dusting of Parmesan cheese.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes, then cut for serving.
Each pan makes eight servings.
If you don’t have a big crowd to feed, freeze the second pan to warm up for another dinner in two or three weeks.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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