I have a question. When did pajamas become acceptable attire in public? I’m just asking. Yesterday I went to the market, which, although early, was well populated with holiday shoppers. During my time in the aisles I passed at least four men and one woman in their pajamas. I’m all for pj’s, love them in fact, but usually when I’m going out to play with others I at least make the effort to put on pants and a shirt. That’s just me. One man, who I particularly liked, had on black pajama bottoms with two large white handprints on the behind, one over each cheek. He wore Ugh’s on his feet, a Hooter’s sweatshirt, had on dark glasses and was purchasing a 24 pack of Corona, a family sized bag of tortilla chips and chili con queso at 7:15 in the morning. Go Niners!
I bring this up because soon afterward I ended up in the emergency room in mine. Even I am sometimes surprised by the strangeness of my own life, and yesterday was one of those days. I headed to town to the beauty salon to get a heavy dose of well needed beauty. My last appointment I forgot, which is rare for me, so this time I made an extra effort to show up on time. At 10:00 my hairdresser, and also one of my dearest friends arrived. After a hug, I announced proudly that not only was I there but I was early. In response, she told me that I truly was early because my appointment wasn’t until next Thursday. Damn.
Being an optimist, I pointed the car towards home and on the way decided how much I could get done with the extra three hours just awarded me for the day. I was running on a “too much time” high. Once in the house I loaded the washing machine, let one cat in and the other out, and began prepping dinner. I do most of my prep work early on so at night when I want to relax, I can do just that.
The menu was to be a rich penne pasta topped with mozzarella, with Italian bread sticks, and a light salad. Deciding to get comfortable, I threw on my old Mickey Mouse sweats. I got the sauce to the point where it was to simmer for an hour and threw four garlic and jalapeno sausages in the pan to saute. Love that smell. My stomach growled. The hands of the clock were approaching one o’clock and I hadn’t fed my body since dinner the previous night. Being busy in the kitchen, I opted for a bunch of Holiday grapes I’d just washed and placed in a large dish. Truly, I buy these at Raley’s. These grapes are positively addictive, only come out this time of year, and are the sweetest, crunchiest grapes you will ever eat.
Getting the sausages going, I popped a huge grape in my mouth and grabbed a set of tongs from the drawer. Within minutes, my face felt peculiar, and when I reached my hand up to the left side of my neck there was a swelling there that was reminiscent of a boa constrictor trying to digest a freshly swallowed mouse. Abandoning my sausages, I ran for my other half, who, in the middle of his roast beef sandwich, totally lost his mind when he looked at me. Okay, so it wasn’t just me? Ach.
Trying to gather our senses, I turned off the sausage and the sauce, left them in their pans, grabbed a jacket and we headed towards the emergency room at the local hospital. There was only one soul in the ER when we arrived. I informed the clerk, who was sharing a holiday story with an associate, that I was having trouble breathing and obviously my neck looked like a well inflated water balloon. I was instructed to fill out a sheet of information and take a seat.
While the fat faced woman (picture left), that being me, and the woman with a mangled leg waited to be seen in the nearly empty ER, a frantic woman rushed through the door announcing her boyfriend was experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. The ER nurse replied in a calm voice, “I’ll get you a wheelchair for you to help him in”. Really? In a few minutes the woman returned saying she needed help he was in serious distress. I watched as the nurse sent out a page for a tech and continued her story. The lady outside with her boyfriend was pacing at this point. My other half was getting up to go help her, when someone in scrubs finally showed up and got the poor man in the wheelchair and took him to be examined. I looked again at the letters on the door and sure enough, they did indeed read “Emergency” room. Maybe that only applies to, say people who’d recently fallen out of a commercial airplane, or been trampled by a herd of rogue elephants. Just not sure how they define emergency exactly. I would have presumed the words “heart attack” might initiate some hustling of feet or peeing of pants, but I don’t have M.D. behind my name, unless it stands for mentally deficient.
I must say it was the fastest in and out experience I personally ever had in an ER. Usually you’re there for hours, and this was less than an hour. It seems that when I ate the grape, the extreme sweetness triggered a normal reaction in my mouth to release saliva to break it down. In my case, I apparently have a small stone in the gland that got caught in the canal thus everything backed up behind it. Somehow it had dislodged so the swelling was now going down. Wow, $500.00 for a free anatomy lesson about the miracles of the salivary gland. I should have waited for the movie to come out. Ah well, at least it was just swelling by grape and not something more serious.
I was given antibiotics to prevent infection, and we were sent on our way. On the way home I remembered that I’d left the sausage unattended in the house with the new cat. If you’ve read about Mouse before you might recall she’s on a diet formula cat food due to digestive issues that she appears to dislike intensely, so having free range sausage hanging around with no supervision was likely not a good thing. Opening the door and walking in the kitchen we found her in the corner hovering over two partially eaten sausages, jalapeno and garlic no less, and shooting us a look that clearly said “step away from the meat”. Afterwards she kept burping and swiping at her mouth. Talk about digestive issues.
Anyhow, that was my day. To quote the Koran: There is a devil in every berry of the grape. Here’s a recipe to make things better. 🙂
Vegetarian Lasagna with Mushroom Sauce
1 lb. leaf spinach, washed and stems trimmed
2 1/2 cups white sauce (recipe below)
Mushroom sauce (recipe below)
1/2 lb. Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 sheets of non-cook lasagna noodles
3 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups hot, not scalded, whole milk
Melt butter in saucepan over med. heat until foamy. Sprinkle the flour on top of the butter whisking constantly to make a roux for 2 mins. Remove from heat.
Gradually add hot milk whisking constantly. Return to med. heat and continue whisking until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Set aside.
Next move on to the mushroom sauce.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3/4 lb. Portobello mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in large non-stick skillet. Add onion and cook over med. heat about 5 mins. or until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking for 5 mins. Add the flour and stir until well mixed.
Add the tomatoes, crushing with a potato masher, sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 15 mins. until sauce has reduced and thickened.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray 8 x 10 baking dish with cooking spray.
Add basil to mushroom sauce. Spread one-third of sauce on bottom of casserole dish. Top with 1/3 of the spinach leaves, pressing into sauce. Spread 1/3 of the white sauce overall. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Top with 3 sheets of noodles (you may have to break to fit pan).
Repeat layers finishing with mushroom sauce, white sauce, and Gruyère. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top.
Bake for 30 mins. until lovely golden brown.