I invited two families for Family Home Evening on Monday. I told them we would fix lasagna. They want to learn how to make it.
I was a bit surprised at Elder Hall’s announcement. I don’t even make home-made lasagna at home. And finding the necessary ingredients in the Philippines is a bit problematic.
We had some ground beef, canned diced tomatoes, and some cream cheese from the Costco knock-off in Cebu. It was a start. I e mailed my talented daughter-in-law for suggestions for cheese substitutions and recipes. Then we went to the store. No lasagna noodles. We bought fettuccine noodles instead. There were no fresh herbs, so we bought a dried pizza herb mix. No cottage cheese. We bought shelf-stable milk and Eden cheese in a box on the shelf, pork sausage to stretch out the ground beef, and tomato paste in a plastic bag. We didn’t bother to read the ingredients in the cheese. The second store had lasagna noodles.
After the Monday morning meetings, Elder Hall left to help with a Community Service Project, and I started wiping my dripping face with a towel and experimenting with the lasagna. It was a long, hot, exhausting afternoon. By six o’clock, I had two pans of lasagna ready to be cooked separately in our small oven, plates, cups, eating utensils, store bought bread, and bananas on the table, and cold water in the refrigerator.
The guests loved Elder Hall’s lesson and they loved the lasagna. I loved the chance to sit down.
The next day as we were eating, Elder Hall passed a dish to me
Would you like some lasagna?
No, thanks. I’ll try some later.
It reminded me too much of cherries.
It was a warm July day in 1971 in Mackay, Idaho. The climate in Mackay is too cold for most fruit trees, but someone had brought in a truckload of fruit, and we bought several bushels.
Today I was canning sweet cherries.
I washed the fruit, put it in clean bottles, added a light syrup, put on the sterilized lids, screwed on the lids, and put the jars in the big kettle of water. I brought the water to a boil, then carefully watched the time. When the fruit was done, I lifted the jars out of the water bath, and set them on a towel on the kitchen cupboard.
I enjoyed looking at the jars a moment longer and savoring the feeling of success. Then I looked at the jars more closely. There were small white spots floating on the top of the juice in the jars. Then I knew. The cherries had worms in them.
Money was scarce, and not only had we spent money on the fruit, but on the sugar, lids, and jars. What a disappointing waste!
I stopped to fix an early lunch for our two small boys. After they were down for a nap, I looked again at the jars. I vowed that I was not going to waste that fruit.
I washed more jars and put them into a warm oven. I put more lids into a pan with water and brought them to a boil. Then I scrubbed out the big kettle, opened the jars, poured the contents into the kettle, and brought the contents to a boil. As the fruit came to a boil, the small white spots floated to the top. I carefully dipped every white spot out of the kettle.
Then I ladeled the hot fruit and juice into the hot jars, wiped the lip of the jar clean, put on a lid, and screwed the ring on tightly. I washed more fruit and repeated the open-kettle “spot”-dipping canning process throughout the long afternoon, stopping frequently to care for my small boys, until all the fruit was processed, and rows of beautiful purple jars on the counter sparkled as they caught the light.
After my husband came home for dinner, and the boys were in bed, my husband went to do the outside chores while I washed all the utensils and the kettle, wiped the counter and stove clean, and moped up all the sticky spills on the floor.
I crawled into bed exhausted—only to wake up two hours later in labor. I waited a while. Maybe it was a false alarm and I could go back to sleep. But the contractions became harder and more regular. After an hour, I woke up my husband. We needed to take the boys to Aunt Velma’s house before we drove the ninety miles to the hospital in Blackfoot. Our delightful third son was born about eight o’clock in the morning.
It was a long time before I could force myself to serve the canned cherries. I remembered too well how hot and exhausted I has been after canning them. But when I did, they were delicious.