Wine and Dining 

Vince shocked me a few months ago when the announced as we drove to lunch in Visalia one beautiful October day that I didn’t like to cook. I had my defense ready.

“I don’t mind cooking.”

Needless to say I lost that argument before it even got warmed up.

Actually I’m a good cook, but Vince is right, if I have a choice of filing, making the bed or writing, I’m not at the stove.

So tonight, inspired by my friend and esthetician Carrie at Creekside Day Spa in Visalia, CA, I decided to wine and dine my husband. Here’s how she explained it to me. First you relax, and don’t expect to have everything done at the same time, and drink wine with every course.  All my life I have not been a wine drinker, so my sophistication level 0. The upside to that is that I have a strong liver and not as many dead brain cells as I might have had otherwise.  But for this evening we started with a glass of wine while I serve a delicious appetizer.

There is no recipe for this, and I don’t know what you call it, but the ingredients are chopped vegetables fried in olive oil until some of them are crispy. I used brussel sprouts – usually not anyone’s favorite, but trust me on this  – you will eat more than you should. Along with that I added in onions, red cabbage, canned corn, broccoli,celery, topped with kale. I sprinkled the mixture with chili powder, salt and pepper and served it topped with romano cheese. I toasted an English muffin topped with the same cheese, and we spooned the vegetables onto the bread, and downed it with a pink moscato.
  This process was somewhat messy and took about 20 minutes, so I had everything started before he came home. I think Carrie’s idea was to have both partners working together in the kitchen. It’s taken us twenty years to work politely together in the kitchen. (He’s bossy, and I leave if he irritates me too much. Then he leaves, and I come back and do it my way. We are working on our social skills, but today I did it my way.)

We ate course #1 then went out into the yard and did a few chores while the soup heated in the crock pot. I used most of the same vegetables in the minestrone soup, so that meant that I didn’t have to chop twice. I added canned tomatoes, black beans and carrots to the soup, which I didn’t use in the appetizer. I have never made minestrone soup because I don’t usually like it, so I looked online, and discovered a recipe, and altered it to match my groceries. It called for white beans, but I didn’t have them. In my older age, I have no compunction about substituting. I can remember being tied to recipes thinking that if I didn’t follow them to the tee, the kitchen god would kick me out of the kitchen, and I’d never have to cook again.  The soup cooked during the entire appetizer process, then I  tossed in the penne pasta for about 10 minutes.
  We topped the soup with Romano cheese too, and let it drip down our chins. A little wine, and who cares?  We chose a red moscato to go with this course. While Vince worked in the yard a bit, I finished cooking the meat sauce for the lasagna.  That was the joy to this process. We didn’t rush through dinner. In fact it wasn’t even dinner time when we started.

Not very fancy, but easy to clean up. The plates came from Target, and my car-guy hubby like them better than our fancy Christmas plates.

I make lasagna at Christmas and Thanksgiving because my Italian husband prefers it to turkey. Can you imagine anyone preferring anything to turkey at Christmas?


When we shopped this week, he snuck some hot sausage into the cart. He wanted it chopped up and mixed into the hamburger. (blick, blah) I can see it here because it’s a little more orange, but I hope I can’t taste it.

recipe book copyI love this little recipe book. The women at our Nazarene Church in Cottage Grove had a going away party for my first husband and me when we went to Bible College in Colorado Springs, and this was their gift to me.  (Even though they knew I didn’t like to cook – pastor’s wives HAVE to cook, don’t they?) This recipe came from one of my best friends, Jan Norris.
Italian Delight copySee it looks pretty good. I didn’t follow the recipe perfectly, though. It has sausage and onion in it, but no garlic, and I don’t measure. The cheesy stuff consists of sour cream, cream cheese, and I used cottage cheese, too, but the recipe doesn’t call for that either, and it does call for green onions, which I never use. I sometimes use ricotta cheese because it’s more Italian, according to Vince.
  Once you get the cheese mixture combined you just have to layer it with the noodles. There are two layers of each.

Finally you add the cheddar cheese. This is the most time-consuming of the process. I don’t like to use a food processor, but I don’t have a good reason for that.

The only problem with Carrie’s great idea is that now Vince and I are way too full, to eat the main course tonight. But it’s done now, 4 hours after I started cooking.

So, you want to come to dinner?  I have plenty.  🙂 I also have a mess to clean up. Hmmm maybe that’s why I don’t “like” to cook. 🙂

Wishing you and yours the merriest Christmas. Love you all, and wish you were here to taste my dinner. 🙂

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant. Read more about me here. http://wp.me/P7tP3I-2

32 thoughts on “Wine and Dining ”

    1. We like those dishes as well. I lkie turkey mostly because of the gravy. I eat turkey quite a bit, but I loved Mom’s gravy, and most people don’t make it quite the same. 🙂 She wasn’t a great cook either, but she made great gravy! 🙂

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  1. Very successful dinner date night. I like to cook, for other people… your leisurely approach makes for a more relaxed experience. I usually wipe things down as I go and rinse things out so cleanup is less hectic also. Got to see Bill and Jan on our travels (adorable as ever). Hope to see you soon. Keep on cookin’…. off to sip some vine juice. Heehee.

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    1. I’m jealous! I do like to cook when I have company. That’s usually when I cooked with Mark, since he wasn’t much of an eater, but we had tons of company then. Now, not so much. Vince isn’t a big eater, but he’s still talking about dinner this morning, so I think I hit the ball out of the park. 🙂 And, BTW, I did clean up as I went, but you know me – the more complaining I can eek out of a story, the more I like it! I embellish a lot. It didn’t take long to clean up. Love you guys! Don’t forget where we live. 🙂

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  2. I wish we were there to taste your dinner as well! looks delicious, I love this line ‘if I have a choice of filing, making the bed or writing, I’m not at the stove.’ Yes that describes me quite nicely too.

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  3. I would love to have been there for your beautiful meal, Marsha! I’m not keen on cooking, but two of my children are chefs (I don’t know why – maybe they got sick of eating my boring meals!) 😉

    I hope you and Vince have a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas xxxx

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  4. You really excelled yourself Marsha, and it all looks and sounds absolutely delicious. I laughed that the first two courses filled you to full for the main course, but Lasagne keeps well and I think tastes better the following day. I hope Vince was impressed. 🙂 Have a wonderful Christmas. Are you cooking for that?

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    1. Thanks, Sylvia. Vince is still talking about it, which is a testimony of how often I cook especially to impress him. We had a bite of lasagna that night. He wasn’t hungry enough to eat it for lunch the next day, but it is frozen for a later date because it does freeze extremely well. I had a tiny piece for lunch and got too many accidental bites of sausage for my taste, so I know he will love it. I doubt that I will cook for Christmas. His sister is working, and his son is not coming either, so we will go to friends go out, or have a quiet Christmas of leftover lasagna, and Vince will be thrilled whichever way it goes. Do you have big plans? What is your favorite food to cook?

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        1. I’m leaving today to got to LA for a friend’s 40th BD – the return of the 4 History Gals. We haven’t been together for years. I’m excited, but still not packed. Bye, bye, Sylvia. Go pack, and have a wonderful trip. 🙂

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  5. Everything looks absolutely smashing!!! I agree with Vince- lasagna is far more special than turkey 😉

    Your delightful post reminded me of cooking with me mum. Beautiful photos, all looks excellent. HAHAHA the cleanup is my favourite part. Too bad I wasn’t there to do it for you 😉 I find it very meditative!

    P.S. I only recently discovered that my specialty is called “Bubble and Squeak” in some parts of the world- er England (I saw the dish featured in an acerbic episode of “One Foot in the Grave”. I’ve been proudly making it for years. I’ve been asked if I would just prefer nursing-home food or baby food but now I can smile on knowing that my premier dish of gurgling slop that resembles a swamp, I mean, “Bubble and Squeak”, is quite a staple in some places!!! One learns new and wonderful things every day!

    Wishing you a cheerful, chortling Christmas, with some fine wine and edible viands that are perhaps a bit more sophisticated than the ol’ B&S!

    Autumn Jade

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    1. Autty, bad news. My mother was an expert at bubble and squeak. She made it often, and I hope yours is better than hers. I did love the cabbage. It’s so sweet when cooked, but the bubble part… I can’t remember, but isn’t it sausage? I’m not sure why someone invented making sausage out of perfectly flavorful meat.. Maybe it’s corned beef. I can’t remember now. Another great favorite of my mother was creamed corned beef on toast (preferably Wonder white bread, building strong bodies 12 ways.) Talk about bland!!! My favorite meal of moms was Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled Velveeta cheese sandwiches – again with the Wonder bread. Hers, and consequently my, favorite seasonings – sugar and salt. Yikes. I guess we are what we eat (or ate). 🙂 Merry Christmas, Autty J.

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      1. HAHA In England, as far as I know, Bubble and Squeak is just a hodgepodge of left-overs tossed into a pan and heated as a giant mixture (potatoes are almost always involved). Mine never has sausage! That would be a bit intense for me!

        P.S. I met two very cute pigs today. One was named Hamlet and came trundling up and oinked loudly when I called. Then we encountered a duck. Some children were shooed away from concerned mothers, convinced their offspring would be mauled by the vicious beaked creature (the duck was placid as can be!). Sir swaggered up and began to pat the duck contentedly on the head like Linus from Peanuts. A clan of teenagers melted and snapped photos of Sir patting the the fine fowl on the head. It was a precious moment. Then we dashed off to hug a quarter horse.

        Your mum’s menu sounds interesting- very Midwestern 😉 I was being rather flippant about the squeak thing. I mostly make Asian/Indian/Latin food and tend not to go near sausage! The tomato soup sounds LOVELY especially in winter!

        Anyway MERRY CHRISTMAS (for the 19th time). CHEERS-

        toad

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  6. From concerned mothers??? HAHA that was a Freudian slip there (they SHOULD have run from those mothers!)- correction BY “concerned” mothers.

    Another P.S.

    Have you seen “A Foot in the Grave”?? If so, what did you think? If not, you might enjoy it. It’s a Brit-Com.

    I guess I’ll just call my B&S mixture Nursing Home Slop instead, as that seems to be a more accurate title.

    Another P.S. Thanks for reading through these if you’ve gotten this far. I commend you. I’m still VERY hyped up from all the farm animals!!!!

    Here you are: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/11/bd/4e/11bd4e456f1b084a550494ae41c62ac9.jpg

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  7. Main course? I’m stuffed just reading this 🙂 Or is that the Thornton’s chocolates I’m currently gorging on because it’s wet and miserable outside? I’m not a very enthusiastic cook either so I do sympathise. I hate that I no sooner get it on the plate than it’s gone… and on to the next meal… Best wishes to you for 2016 🙂

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