I found this beautiful recipe a couple of weeks ago on the Simply Recipes blog.She in turn had gotten it from her father who adapted it from a Sunset Magazine recipe.Now I’ve added my own changes to make it delightfully vegetarian.Isn’t it funny the way these things work?

Now, she recommended using zucchini to make it vegetarian, but I think I’ll wait until July when zucchini are coming out of my ears before trying that.I also considered eggplant as it would undoubtedly lend a hearty smokiness to the dish.But I already have a fantastic eggplant parmesan recipe, so I resisted.

What I did instead was use some Gimme Lean Vegetarian Sausage.You are probably wondering what I was thinking.Haven’t I always told you to stay away from fake meat?Well, yes and no.If you go back and read those posts, you’ll see that I warn you against making them a means unto themselves.As an ingredient, they can be quite lovely.And this particular product, with its hints of fennel and sweet spiciness, imparts a subtle complexity to any dish.

So I present to you the Simply Recipes dish with my minor adaptations.I hope you enjoy it thoroughly.And after dinner when you find yourself happily digesting, perhaps you will peruse her charming blog.You might just find an inspiration for tomorrow’s feast.

Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole

  • 5 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 med yellow onion, halved lengthwise then cut into wedges
  • 1 medium bell pepper (red, green, orange or yellow), cut lengthwise into thin slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 package Gimme Lean Italian sausage
  • 2 pounds of prepared polenta, 1/2-inch slices if using prepared polenta in a tube or you can use one recipe of creamy polenta, leave out the cream cheese. (Rowan’s Note: It is worth seeking out a tube of polenta.I made my own.It tasted fine, but was a big messy hassle.)
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch slices
  1. Preheat oven broiler on high. Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a 2-3 qt saucepan on medium heat. Add tomatoes and oregano, simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes.
  2. While the tomatoes are cooking, in a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, stirring and breaking it into small pieces as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Cover the pan and cook until vegetables are tender and the sausage is cooked through, about 5-8 more minutes. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While the sauce is cooking, coat the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan with a 1 Tbsp oil. Add the cooked polenta (or slices) to the pan. Coat the top of the polenta with the remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil. Broil the polenta about 4 inches from the heating element until golden brown and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Pour sauce over broiled polenta, then arrange Mozzarella slices over the top and return the casserole to the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Remember when sushi was weird?

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John Bender: What is that?

Clair: Sushi.*

John Bender: Sushi?

Clair: Yeah rice, raw fish and seaweed.

John Bender: You won’t accept a guy’s kiss on
your mouth, but your gonna eat that?

Clair: Can I eat?

John Bender: I don’t know but give it a try.

Molly Ringwald & Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club

Last night Kajsa and Chris were having an in depth discussion about the dining habits of our various family members. You see, we are what you might call a mixed marriage. I am an Ovo-Lacto vegetarian while Chris will quite literally consume anything that doesn’t get away fast enough.

Maya has been raised vegetarian. And, despite a few taste test experiments, appears to be staying that way.

Kajsa on the other hand, is very curious about meat. What is it? Of which animal is each type composed? And why do some people eat it while others do not?

For the longest time she thought only men ate meat. (Then again, she used to think that everyone had tubes in their belly until they reached a certain age. But that’s a whole different post.)

So they talked about why some meat is taboo in our country, while other varieties are considered culturally acceptable. As it turns out, Chris has eaten dog & cat, but not horse. Strangely, this doesn’t really affect me, as I view “farm” animals as equally deserving of the honor and dignity we give our pets.

Coincidentally, today I found this blog discussing the weirdest food that people have actually ever eaten. And you know what; this could very well be the cure for obesity. Every time you get the munchies you could simply prop your eyelids open ala A Clockwork Orange, and stare at this post’s comments. Seriously, after reading it a glass of water sounds mighty dandy.


… … … … … … … …

*Speaking of sushi: this simply makes me drool with desire.

borg blog

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I found this today on Will Wheaton’s Flickr stream. I just love it. (Oh yes, I am even more of a Dorkass McGorcas than you had ever imagined, aren’t I?)

The best part, of course is that they showed up in San Francisco. You know, Starfleet headquarters, of course.

Now we know the true origin of the Borg: Hostile takeovers on Earth during the 21st century. And as we all know this ultimately leads to assimilation…

Resistance truly is futile.

God Bless you, Mr. Vonnegut.

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Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “Player Piano” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died last night when in Manhattan. He was 84.

Not bad longevity considering that he claimed to have smoked Pall Malls since age 14.

I remember my discovery of Vonnegut. It was the summer of my 13th year. I was going into eighth grade that year, and had found Cat’s Cradle on my parent’s bookshelf. I think it took me all of a day to read the book. And after that I was completely hooked. I read everything I could find by him before school started.

Fortunately, my parents encouraged a variety of viewpoints, loving debate and discussion more than absolutes. They thoroughly encouraged my evolving literary tastes. No so, for everyone. In Palm Sunday, he wrote about his view of censorship.

“There is never any shortage anywhere of
lawyers eager to attack the First Amendment, as though it were nothing more
than a clause in a lease from a crooked slumlord.”

No wonder, as he wrote his share of banned books.


Additionally, Kurt Vonnegut was a Humanist, which unquestionably entitles him to a special place in my heart. (For info on Humanism, you can check out this page. If you have continuing questions, feel free to ask me in comments, or simply Google Humanism for yourself.) So who knows where Mr. Vonnegut might find himself today. Wherever it may be, I hope that it is as unique and thought provoking as the man himself. It saddens me that I will never again be able to discover a new Vonnegut book. Thankfully, they were inspiring enough to warrant many a re-visit. Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut.

“Reverend, we have a little problem.
I heard the English teacher is planning to teach that book.
Slaughterhouse Five. Isn't that an awful name?
That's a great book…Slaughterhouse Five. It's, it's a classic.
Do you read much? 
- In another town it's a classic.
- In any town.”
Kevin Bacon & John Lithgow in FootLoose

never a dull moment

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As you know, today was our trip down to Phoenix
for a delightful infusion of IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin). And all went fairly well. I mean as well as
sitting with your three year old as she receives distilled plasma to mask the
fact that she has no T cells for the foreseeable future can go. Oh I’m assured that they’ll eventually begin
popping back up. But for now, the term
is “open ended therapy plan”. Doesn’t
that sound ever so much nicer than we all know it really is?

But the good news is that she had no adverse reactions.

She could have. They were going to pre-treat her with
Benadryl to have her take a nice long nap. But do you think this could possibly work for my odd little duck? Well of course not. Kajsa has a paradoxical response to
Benadryl. In other words it makes her
bounce around the room like a sugar
on crack. We found this out
after her first pediatrician recommended giving it to her during a two hour
flight from Seattle to Phoenix . If the flight attendants could have gotten
away with throwing us from the plane, I think they seriously would have. Yep, we were those people.

Fortunately, I had the forethought to call Mary up last week
and remind her, so that they could order the Atarax
for Kajsa. Pretty strong stuff, if you
ask me. But did it touch Kajsa?. Hmmm… If you count eyes at half mast for a couple of hours – sure. But this drug is supposed to knock her flat
on her tiny tush. I have mentioned that
Kajsa has never napped unless she’s sitting at her grave with her feet dangling
over the edge, right?

So there we are,
Kajsa and I, for about four hours of pure unadulterated boredom. I’ve read three books, five times each. Kajsa’s
been distracted with pizza and chocolate milk. We’ve even requisitioned a TV with video and DVD from some poor gal
who’s feeling too pukey to care. And
what should happen? The fire alarm goes

So I grab my daughter my purse and my knitting. Uhuh, you read that right.   I’ve invested waaay too much time learning to knit this pair of
socks. I’ll be damned if I’m going to
let them burn up. But enough about my
recent fiber obsession.  Back to the clinic. There we were with the most ear piercing of
sounds filling the air as Mary and I walked out with Kajsa and, of course,
Kajsa’s IV pole. We wver so slowly filed out with the rest
of the folks currently inhabiting building B.

Now, Nephrology (kidneys) shares a clinic space with
Hematology (blood) and Oncology (cancer). And since clinic was over for the day, the only kids hangin’ out were
those who, like Kajsa, needed a transfusion, infusion or chemotherapy. No one was feeling up to par.

If you think back to your days at school I’m sure you can
remember fire drills. We all walked out
to the street where we were instructed to stand in single file and for Pete’s
sake, SHUT UP. Looking back on it now,
that was a beautiful thing. For today,
the area was eerily quite. No one was
shrieking or running around where they shouldn’t.

It only took a few minutes for the fire trucks to show up
and make sure that everything was copasetic. And strangely, Kajsa’s therapy ended while we were outside. So when we went back indoors, we were able to
de-access her port and head home.

It was on the drive home that I stopped by a fellow FreeCycler’s house to pick up some plants
that she had to spare. I now have a bevy
of new flowers including Hollyhocks, Tiger Lilies, Mint, Verbena and
Columbine. The last half hour of our
dive home was so deliciously fragrant. And with that sweet smell in the air, I finally allowed myself a deep
breath to release the day and permit that pure sense of relief that comes with
escaping the hospital on the same day as our arrival.

here’s hopin’

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We leave tomorrow morning for Phoenix. There, Kajsa will receive her latest IVIG
infusion. Here’s hoping it works and
that we’re back tomorrow evening by this time.   

If all goes well, I’ll be able to give a full report on my
latest knitting project, the books I’ve been reading, and all the latest gossip
from the hospital.

new job blues

Well today was my first day at the salon. And I had a truly delightful client. She’d only had two massages before today, and
both of them had been from one of my coworkers. So she was a bit hesitant to receive one from me.

But the massage went really well. In fact, upon leaving, she said that she
wanted to come back to see me. That felt
really good. And right about then, I
really needed to feel better.

You see, I am working with a bunch of really unfriendly
women. I smile at them and say,
“hi.” But each time I do so it’s met
with such a look of disgust you’d think I’d slapped their mothers and slept
with their boyfriends. I just don’t know
what to make of it.

I’m so used to working around massage therapists – who truly
are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. So to be surrounded by these distant women
simply confuses the heck out of me.

My only consolation today was to be found in the fact that I
am very good at my job – and that I am here for the benefit of my clients and
myself, not my coworkers.

But you know what?

sure wouldn’t hurt to be liked, too.