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A Labor of Love

January 25th, 2014

Yesterday we celebrated a birthday. When I asked Mr Chiots what he’d like for a birthday meal, he said “Lasagne”.
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It was a slow meal, a very slow meal. It all started way back in the fall of 2012 when we first moved to Maine. I planted garlic in the back garden. This garlic was harvested this past summer and it seasoned the sauce and the sweet Italian sausage that used in the lasagne.
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The next step towards reaching this meal was starting onion seeds in January. Then in March seeds were started for tomatoes and herbs used in the sausage and the sauce.
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I canned this sauce last fall, it’s perfect. The tomatoes and herbs are roasted for many hours in a low oven. The result is a deeply flavored sweet sauce, with none of the acidic bite of a sauce made with fresh tomatoes.
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On Thursday evening I made a batch of ricotta cheese with Jersey milk from a local farm and lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard. I procured whole milk mozzarella, parmesan and romano at the local co-op. I also purchased mushrooms to add to the lasagne.
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The hens provided eggs for the pasta, King Arthur Flour provided the flour.
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I wrote a post on Eat Outside the Bag about making your own pasta if you’d like to give it a try.
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Mr Chiots ended up eating three servings, so I guess he thought it was delicious. The good thing is, there are only two of us, so it will take us a few days to eat up the rest of the pan. I always find that lasagne is much better when reheated.
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It’s certainly satisfying to see all the different ingredients that were grow and raised right here coming together to form a delicious meal. For my birthday I always used to request chicken and dumplings, luckily, another meal with ingredients that can be mostly grown or raised right here.

What dish do you request for your birthday meal?

22 Comments to “A Labor of Love”
  1. Lemongrass on January 25, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Happy Birthday, Mr Chiots.

    Reply to Lemongrass's comment

  2. Ilene on January 25, 2014 at 6:07 am

    You know, I have made my own egg noodles for years and I don’t know why I keep buying pre-made lasagne noodles instead of making them. Sheesh! How silly! A box of lasagne noodles is rather expensive when you buy it. I’ve been thinking about trying using noodle dough next time I make eggrolls, too. I don’t know why that wouldn’t work.

    You made a beautiful meal there. Mr. Chiots is a lucky man. One year older, one year wiser, Mr. Chiots!

    Reply to Ilene's comment

  3. kristin @ going country on January 25, 2014 at 6:35 am

    A restaurant meal, because I want pasta, which no one in the house but me and my older son can eat. Also so that I can have one meal without a four-year-old at one elbow and a year-and-a-half old at the other. Since my birthday is two days after Christmas, we’ve spent the last three of my birthdays traveling, which meant my birthday meal was something classy like Waffle House. A restaurant meal, sure, but not exactly what I’m going for.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  4. kathie on January 25, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Happy Birthday Mr Chiots!! Hi Susy, did you boil the noodles before placing them in the pan? I love lasagna!

    Reply to kathie's comment

    • Susy on January 25, 2014 at 8:50 am

      Yes, I boil the noodles for one minute before assembling the lasagne. I have read that it works better with fresh pasta, the texture is supposed to be better. I’ve always cooked them slightly so I can’t say whether or not it makes a difference. It’s not worth the risk of them not being quite right.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • kathie on January 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm

        Great- thanks!

        to kathie's comment

  5. Sara on January 25, 2014 at 8:59 am

    That is a gorgeous lasagna! Last night we made stuffed pizza, and I realized that nothing in the filling (except the cheese) came from a store. All homegrown veggies and farmer’s market sausage. It just feels so good to shop for dinner in your own pantry, even if it’s January.

    We eat pretty good it’s hard to pick a meal for a birthday, ha. Sometimes I like to go out too so there’s no dishes, or for something we don’t make as well like sushi.

    Reply to Sara's comment

  6. Adriana on January 25, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Happy Birthday Mr Chiots! For me it’s chocolate cake. We have been together for 11 years and I’ve gotten a different (almost – I’ve requested repeats) homemade chocolate cake for the past 11 years.

    Reply to Adriana's comment

  7. Susan Tilney on January 25, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Looks positively, perfectly yummy! Slow and fresh is definitely the way to go!! Happy birthday to the mister! And, yes, lasagna (and many good Italian dishes) are just so much more delicious the third (and fourth) time around. :D

    Reply to Susan Tilney's comment

  8. DebbieB on January 25, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Oh my word! Can I request your lasagne for my birthday meal??? That looks and sounds fabulous, Susy – your pictures are so good, my mouth was watering.

    Happy Birthday, Brian!

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

  9. Nebraska Dave on January 25, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Susy, my favorite has always been Apple pie. I’ve had pie that’s bee close to Mom’s apple pie but hers was still the best. I guess it was the love that went in the pie as well as the ingredients. As for a meal, it would have to have a baked potato with butter, sour cream, and chives. Being a thoroughbred Nebraska boy, a corn dish or straight up on the cob would also be in the meal. The meat would be a good flank steak. I’m not into the T-bone or other high fat steaks.

    Most times in this season of life, my birthday dinner is made by me. I was never one to expect birthday celebrations and still don’t. My perfect birthday would be a nice quiet day in the August garden or maybe a little fishing in a farm pond with cattle lowing in the background.

    Have a great birthday Brian.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  10. Tricia on January 25, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Now that’s a meal with a story to tell. Beautiful!

    Reply to Tricia's comment

  11. Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm on January 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Wow! That’s “slow food” at it’s best! I love lasagna – looks delicious! One day I will have to make a real slow food lasagna.

    Reply to Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm's comment

  12. Wendy on January 26, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Chiots!

    I make lasagna once a year–for our oldest son’s birthday :) I think it’s better as leftovers, too, but with 6 people in the family, ours doesn’t stick around very long–this year I made three pans! Loved seeing how your meal came together.

    For my birthday I often request mashed potatoes, salmon, and a huge green salad!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  13. sarah on January 26, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I’d love to see the recipe for that tomato sauce!

    Reply to sarah's comment

    • Kathy on January 27, 2014 at 10:29 am

      Me too!

      I bet that lasagna was amazing! When a dish like that is made with true intention, it’s like nothing else you’ve ever tasted.

      Now I want lasagna. :-)

      Reply to Kathy's comment

    • katy on January 28, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      me too! me too! :)

      Reply to katy's comment

  14. Lauren Varnell on January 27, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Thank you for such a beautiful account of a well designed meal. My favorite birthday meal is a well cooked grass finshed steak, roasted fingerling potatoes, broiled asparagus, salad, and coconut cream pie. My birthday is in April and I am getting excited just thinking about it.

    Reply to Lauren Varnell's comment

  15. Marcia on January 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    My birthday was this week and I requested….steak and potatoes! I try to cook balanced meals, alternating between meat, fish and vegetable protein and lots of green veggies. But I wanted me a big piece of meat and potatoes fro my birthday. Yum!

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  16. Kathi on January 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Hi Susy! Do you have your sauce recipe posted on your blog? I made homemade spaghetti and pizza sauce this summer, but I’m not pleased with it :( Maybe roasting the tomatoes is the trick? It’s disheartening when you put all that work into making something and it doesn’t taste very good. Ahh, well..there’s always this summer to try again. Hope you are staying warmer in Maine than we are here in Ohio.

    Reply to Kathi's comment

    • Susy on January 28, 2014 at 10:22 am

      I haven’t added that recipe yet, I’ll have to add it because people are always asking!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Jennifer on April 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm

        I would love it too! We roast our tomatoes to get the skins off, but don’t slow/low roast them to let the flavors meld, we just simmer for hours on the stovetop. It’s still got a bit of bite to it, but it’s so so so much better than any store bought.

        to Jennifer's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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