Monday, January 4, 2010

Food, Friends and Reuniting

After posting my last blog regarding my New Year's resolutions, I was reflecting on how food brought good friends back together and how it renewed our commitment to keep getting together on a monthly basis. Let me back up and explain, about 15 years ago 3 other farm wives besides myself (who all married local farmers) gathered to form the Genesee-Uniontown Co-op Queens. We extended this invite to another female friend who wasn't a farm wife, but a welcome addition to our warped group of friends. We called ourselves the "Co-op Queens" as some of us were from Genesee, ID and Uniontown, WA and we all belonged to the local farmer Co-ops through our farming operations. We banded to form an off-the-wall group of wacky women who would show up, usually dressed in one form or another as flamingos, in the annual Johnson, Washington 4th of July parade. This parade draws around 3,000 people for an impromptu parade in a town that only has 6 houses and a grain elevator. It's fun, crazy and you never know what or who will show up at this parade, but that is a blog for another time. Anyway through kids, off the farm work and in one case, divorce some of us had lost the closeness that we had once shared. It was through a wedding last summer ( for a daughter from our group) that re-united all of the Co-op Queens again. We had gathered at Lezah's house to prepare massive quantities of food for the wedding reception, wherein while working really hard, but laughing like crazy and drinking wine, that we had realized just how far apart we had grown and how much we missed seeing each other on a regular basis. So we pledged to continue to get together, drink wine and have dinner, rotating at one of our homes each month. Sometimes not all of us are able to make it, but it is one event each month that we all try to attend. I feel fortunate to be a part of this fun group of amazing women.

Anyway, back to food - we had some other really good friends over to dinner last night and I used them as guinea pigs on some new recipes. These dear friends don't mind getting experimented on (bless their hearts) with new recipes, so 2 of the 3 recipes were worthy to post and share.

Artichoke Spinach Lasagna

1/2 cup minced oniopn

4 garlic cloves minced
1-3 Tbl olive oil
1 can 14.5 oz vegetable or chicken broth
1 jar (14.5 oz) artichoke hearts in oil, quartered *
1 teas crushed dried rosemary
¼ teas each, ground nutmeg & pepper
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
½ cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 jar (16 oz) garlic Alfredo Parmesan sauce
12 lasagna noodles, cooked per pkg directions
3 cups (12-16 oz) mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup feta cheese
1/8 tsp of each, garlic powder, oregano, parsley flakes and basil

In large sauce pan, sauté onion and garlic in oil for 2-3 min. Stir in broth, rosemary, nutmeg & pepper, bring to a boil. Add artichokes, spinach and mushrooms. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 min. Stir in Alfredo sauce.

Spread 1 cup sauce mixture into greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with 4 noodles and ¾ cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers three times. Top with remaining sauce mixture and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with feta cheese, garlic pwdr, parsley and basil.
Cover and bake @350 for 40 min, bake 15 min longer uncovered, let stand about 5 min before cutting.
*Gayle uses the big 65oz marinated artichoke hearts jar found at Costco and measures out 14 oz or about 2cups-

Herb Crusted Pork Roast

1 tsp dijon mustard,1 tsp lemon pepper & 1 tsp salt - mixed together and rubbed on roast.

Combine 1 1/2cups bread crumbs with 1/2 cup parmeasn cheese, 4 tsp dried basil 1 tsp dried thyme and rosemary, 2 tsp minced garlic and press on top of roast. Bake uncovered @ 350 2 to 2 1/4 hr or untiil meat thermometer reads 160. Let stand 10 min, then slice.