Winter seems to be in hasty retreat these days, but the temperatures still dip as the sun goes down. I’ve actually had my windows open during the day, but about 3pm, I hurry around and shut everything before it sets off the heater.
A friend of mine complained the most recent bill for her 1800 sf house was just over $700. She asked me if I thought that was crazy. Yes, I do, but I didn’t have the nerve to ask her what her usage, or even her habits were. I know, if I turn my heater up past 65, even with all the dual pane windows and insulation, it will run almost non-stop. Just those few extra degrees make a huge difference. After 9am our heater is OFF. This and still our bills are almost $200 a month in Winter. I didn’t know what to tell her – get more sweaters?
I know one good way to warm up your house – cook casseroles during the day. Recently my husband and I put together a pan of lasagna, one of the easiest pan meals you can make.
We do things from scratch around here. We started last Summer when we had a big tomato garden and the maters were rolling at me like a little red army. I had to get up early and get them on the stove before it got hot – what a funny thought now! I ran them through my vegetable press and put pint after pint in our little chest freezer. Now I can enjoy the fruits of my labor – I just reach in there and pull out a couple whenever I want to make a pasta dish. But, I tell my son – he can go to the store and buy a can of sauce, don’t be a food snob.
Same with the pasta – before we learned to make our own, the store stuff was fine. But, once you get good at making your own, that becomes almost as easy as getting in the car and going to the store.
Pasta dough is simple, and you can roll it out with a rolling pin if you don’t have the machine. I paid about $50 for this machine, I’ve had it for about 10 years, just seems to work better every time I use it.
We are still working through the meat Grandpa gave us last fall – we got a lot of ground beef. I am shocked how different it is from store bought. For one thing, when I used to form burgers or meat balls with the store bought, it would leave a coating of, well, not sure what, on my hands. It was so thick and slimy, I would scrape it off with a butter knife before I washed my hands – with straight dish soap, probably twice. I thought that was fat – no, that’s that SLURRY! Apparently, when they butcher your cow and grind your meat for you, they don’t re-add the slop that gets into the works of the machine. I will probably never be able to go back to store bought ground beef.
Ground beef makes such a rich tomato sauce, we just brown it and add it to a portion of the sauce. We layer it in with the noodles, cottage cheese, and shredded Parmigiano, Romano, or Asiago cheese. We quit using Mozzarella because it gives us indigestion. We put in a good dollup of plain sauce between each layer, spread it on the noodles.
This takes a lot of sauce, especially if it’s thick. We don’t thicken the sauce at all before we add it, leave it a little watery. This soaks into those noodles.
This we cover with foil and put it into a 350 oven for about half an hour, until the sauce is bubbling away. Then we take the foil off and put more dry cheese on top, set it back in there until it’s all brown and bubbly on top.
Now that the kids are out of the house, this meal will last us four or five days. It gets better in the fridge. But next time I’ll use more sauce!