Old Friends and Home Cooking

Home Again

When we got home Judge and Annie were waiting in the driveway and we got celebrity treatment, Judge racing around both of us and Annie closely observing the proper direction of suitcases — out of the car and into the house. I feel that way too each Tuesday when my girlfriend comes to dinner. We discovered each other first in seventh grade, confronted by the fact that we were sharing a boyfriend. We both dropped him and have been best friends ever since, through thick and thin. I am going to call her True here, short for True Grit.

True’s husband had a bad stroke a few years ago, and her response was to fight the winter blizzards to drive the hour into the hospital, Never missing a day. And when he moved into rehab she went in on her way to work early each day getting him all spiffed up for the hard work he faced to regain some mobility and control.

True digs up her vegetable beds and puts up a lot of produce. She shares some too, like the rhubarb I have in the freezer and tomatoes that I put up. She doesn’t get to be fussed over much herself so that is what I try to do.

Yesterday I pulled out my “Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking” and adapted their moussaka recipe for supper. I defrosted a pound of lamb from the farm up the hill by running cold water over it. I pulled down a jar of canned tomatoes from the pantry. I used the whole milk yogurt I make by the gallon and separated 4 eggs. One of Mom’s caregivers brings us the eggs. I made meringues with the whites and some chopped roasted walnuts. They got filled with a rhubarb blueberry sauce. The blueberries are from the patch our neighbor has across from the cabin. i buy pounds each summer and freeze them on trays. It was True’s rhubarb. Topped with whipped cream. Came out good!

Moussaka Adapted from “Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking”

2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced, salted and drained

1 onion chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil, more to roast the eggplant

1 pound ground lamb

1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Tomatoes squeezed of their liquid from a quart of canned tomatoes

1 cup yogurt

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup flour

Drizzle roasting pans with olive oil and roast the eggplant at 450 degrees, turning once to brown on both sides. Sauté the onions till slightly browned and soft in olive oil and then add the lamb and brown. Add the seasonings.Mix a custard of the yogurt, egg yolks and flour.

Layer the lamb, eggplant and tomatoes in a wide casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Pour the custard on top and bake till golden, about 15 minutes more.

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