Thursday, April 19, 2012


Perhaps because I am the daughter of a woman who detests doing it, I have never enjoyed cooking, and if it seemed like I was, I was probably just enjoying imbibing, and then enjoying being drunk. To me, cooking is akin to leg shaving. I will do it when I have to, because I have to, and although I'll enjoy the results, I'll never be sure if they're worth the exertion. This is why when my sister and her partner went used to go away, I would eat mi goreng noodles three times a day (lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner), and when Vincent djs, I go to Food Alley. Cooking for myself just isn't worth it. Cooking for others is only barely worth it. The probability of burning things always seems to increase when the people eating them don't live with me. Furthermore, the only time I have ever had food-poisoning was when my sister was away and I decided I would cook and invite friends over (both of whom also threw up later that night). Avoiding the kitchen is a safety issue.

However, I am now a wife. I have responsibilities. Usually these responsibilities are confined to not being too obnoxious in public, and buying the Christmas presents, but when Vincent has been cooking for weeks while I have sat on the couch watching Gilmore Girls and surreptitiously picking my nose, making dinner becomes one of these. And sometimes it's not so bad. It takes me all afternoon (possibly because I ferry everything to the couch and chop it while watching Gilmore Girls), and I always make a bigger mess in the kitchen than he does, but it feels good when the person you love best walks in the door and feels happy because something smells nice.

Tonight I made one of our favourite dinners (and day-after lunches), Vegetarian Lasagne, and I'm going to share the recipe with you. It came from my dearest Mother-in-law, who makes lots of yum and nutritious food (one of my cooking weaknesses is having no idea about protein or anything like that), and has given me, on request, lots of recipes (which I fully intend to use one day). I have tweaked this one to my taste but I can't remember where; maybe the chilli or the number of aubergines? Anyway, it can be expensive to make, and is time-consuming, but it's pretty easy, and no animals have to die for it.

Vegetarian Lasagne

Music match: Billy Bragg - Worker's Playtime

1 or 2 aubergines, cubed
2 courgettes, cubed
2 capsicums, cubed
2 bay leaves
1 can kidney beans, drained and washed
2 cans (or 600g) tomato puree
1/2 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
400g can diced tomatoes
2 tsp each dried basil and oregano
chilli powder
1 tsp brown sugar

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pan and cook onion and garlic until the onion is transparent. Add the vegetables and bay leaf, and saute for five minutes. Add everything else, plus salt and pepper, stir to combine, then cover, reduce to low simmer, and cook for fifteen minutes.

1/2 cup grated cheese
250g sour cream
500g ricotta
2 tsp flour

While the other stuff is cooking, combine these things in a bowl, plus a bit of salt.

Spread half of the tomato sauce over the bottom of an lasagne dish, cover with pasta, pour over half of the cheese sauce, and repeat, ending with cheese sauce. Cover the sauce with grated cheese, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 for thirty to forty minutes. We have it with green leaves and occasionally those little dinner rolls that you heat up, but you probably know how to make better accompaniments than those.

But I defy you to find a better accompaniment to stirring the vegetables than Billy Bragg, or more involving thoughts than when is the next (and actual) Great Leap Forward. Over to you, Comrade.

PS Cooking isn't strictly wifing; at least not the way we do it. That usually involves some kind of sixties manipulation - I'll tell you another time.

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