Waste not, want not - turkey lasagna and September's woes
And all of a sudden, September reaches the end, unnoticed by me, unwittingly. All of a sudden, and when I thought I still had weeks ahead inside this month, it's come to a close, silently, awkwardly, almost as if it is not September at all. These last few days have felt more like August than anything else, truth be told, what with temps going way up and seeing me back into sleeveless tops and sandaled feet. October will be here tomorrow and I want boots and tights and long sleeved blouses. Summer's had its time, now let Autumn be. September always plays this kind of prank on me, when I'm thinking Autumn is here and I will get to wear certain much beloved items, it throws a heatwave my way that leaves me considering going back to the beach and diving into the waters only to keep myself cool.
And as it seems to be the norm, September was one heck of a hard month. I always seem to reach the end of September either venting about Summer that just won't quit, dreaming away of those crisp days where early mornings have a special kind of light, and a coat is your best friend matching the heavier shoes, where skies are turning grey and clouded and wind picks at your hair to make it dance across your face and over your eyes; always going on about the want for heartier dishes and slow cooked casseroles, a longing for a cosier Hygge that makes your heart go boom inside your chest with love and apreciation and gratitude; either I'm venting out about that in soft tones and hushed words as if ashamed of entertaining within me feelings that are less than charitable and not bubbly at all; or I'm downright pouring out my frustration. Because, let's face it, as romantic as the idea of the wind dancing with your hair may be, it's a downright hassle in the end when it gets into your eyes and you just can't see!
But yeah, you know, I do believe that putting out thoughts and feelings that are festering inside you can only do you good. Let the frustration out, voice your problems, look them in the eye, scream and holler and let it all go. It won't be turning and churning inside any longer, if you put it out, either by talking about it or writing it down, it can only do you good to get those feelings out of you. I have been doing it for ages and it's what's saved me from going completely bonkers, trust me. Not everyday is "I'm so grateful day", there are days when it's simply "Will this never end?" day, or "This shit is just not fair!" day. There will be days when it's the "I'm so tired..." day, the "I'm gonna give up." day, the "I feel so sad." day, the "I have no hope left." day. And those need to be voiced, and gotten over with, so you can go back to the "I'm so glad I'm me, living this life I adore, grateful for all that I have." days.
Those are the ones you want to keep inside and replicate, and take seed in your heart, in your chest, so they can grow inside you and fill you up with all the good vibes and the good thoughts and the good deeds. Keep those to yourself, carefully cradled in you. I know I do. So, yes, September is always a hard month, a difficult one, when we seem to be hit by troubles we did not foresee, when things seem to always go off their tracks and tales of the unexpected seem to ensue. At first these things got me so frustrated, so worried, so anxious. I wasn't able to function, nor think, let alone face problems with a clear head. I kept it all inside me and revisited everything many times a day, making it look worse than it was. I've learned my lesson now, I couldn't care less if society and the norm rules that one must always look and sound chirpy and cheerful, as if one has nothing in life that is hard to deal with. I'm not that person and never will be. Yeah, we've had hard fucking times, but mostly we are happy and well. If I speak of my joys so freely, why can I not voice my fears and worries and frustrations as freely, too? A normal life is composed of both.
So while September always seems to hit me in the face with a left handed punch I never see coming, while September always seems to linger on with Summer, refusing to let Autumn enter the stage, it remains one of my favourite months. It is a month for planning, a month for sowing, for dreaming and layering the foundations of what I wish for the colder months to be like. It is a month where I get myself organized once again, after the craze that hits me during the Summer months, it is a month where I go off into the world at large searching for inspiration, whether it is on what to wear come Fall, or how to seasonally decorate my home so it looks and feels cosier, or what I want to cook and how I want to present said cookings. I plan recipes for the blog, and dream up stylings I'd like to try and photoshoots I'd like to make, and I note it all down. I scribble chapters for my novels so I can later on expand them, I muse and I dream and I think, and that's why September is always a month I adore. Even if I am longing for oven food and it's still too hot for that!
But even if it feels like Summer, temps are meant to come down slightly this weekend, so why not indulge? Oven food, yes, comfort food, yes, Italian inspired, as my Septembers always seem to hold in store for me! And with the use of the oven as well! If last year, at this time I was indulging in one of my favourite risottos - which is on my to do list for next month, probably on my birthday dinner, we'll see how that one goes! - this year I am all for lasagna. We love lasagnas here at home, all made from scratch, the pasta, the ragú, the béchamel, we want it all from scratch, and in huge batches so we can freeze some! It's usually a bolognaise lasagna that we cook, with ripe tomatoes for the ragú, so much better than the canned variety, because we allow them to simmer away on a very low heat for hours on end, bringing out their sweetness and their flavours onto the sauce and the meat. But this time, I have a turkey and spinach lasagna that was really great. Slow cooked turkey wings, tenderized until they fell off the bone, leeks and garlic that are fragrant from the soffrito, spinach that still holds a bite to it, and mushrooms redolent with thyme... are you drooling, yet? It was the best way we envisioned to utilize turkey wings we had in the freezer, because we always buy the whole bird, but you can use any other part of the turkey you like.
To make this lasagna you'll need to start with the pasta:
- 300 gr flour
- 3 eggs
As for the filling:
- 2 turkey wings
- 1 pack spinach leaves
- 1 leek
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 plain yogurt
- 1 pack mushrooms - canned, dried, fresh, you chose
- salt, pepper, olive oil, thyme
For the béchamel sauce:
- 50 gr flour
- 2 cups milk
- pinch of salt, pepper and ground nutmegg
- 50 gr unsalted butter
Start by making a roux with the flour and butter, by melting the later in a pan over a low heat. Add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, and let it cook, being careful as to not allow it to brown, for about five minutes. Warm up the milk slightly in the microwave or over the stove on another pan in low heat, spoon a couple of spoonfulls into to the flour and butter mix, and whisk so it starts to break up and cream the mixture. Gradually add the rest of the milk, whisking quite vigourously and constantly. As soon as you have a creamy sauce and you can season it with salt, pepper and nutmegg to taste. All that's left now is for you to assemble the lasagna, by laying a spoonful of the béchamel onto a square or rectangled baking tray. On top of this, scatter a dusting of flour and add a layer of pasta sheets. On top of the pasta, spoon a layer of turkey and vegetable mix, and over it, another layer of pasta sheet. On top of this, add the béchamel, and more meat and veg mix. Go on with this layering until you're left with no filling and no sauce. The last layer should end with the pasta sheets covered in béchamel and with a generous scatter of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven at 200º until bubbling and golden, and serve warm with a generous Chianti. It will make you ready for Autumn, and even crave it, so you can eat this kind of food!