Today is your lucky day. You won’t need this manicotti but you’ll probably make it anyway because it tastes so good.
I’m going to share my day with you and you are going to realize that your life is pretty darned good compared to lots of people. I went to visit my mother-in-law who is in an aged care home that I lovingly refer to as the lockup. She’s not capable of looking after herself any more and lives her life in her room or within the confines of the ‘sensitive care’ section of the home.
I arrived around 1pm and found her curled up in the chair in her room. When she saw me, she lit up like a Christmas tree and said, “Oh I knew you’d come today.” I can’t tell you how cool it is to have someone that glad to see you. When I told her that her son had to work and her husband had sore knees and couldn’t come she said that was sad and regrettable and she knew how Rob suffered with his knees.
Then, without taking a breath, she said, “Can we go for coffee?”
The home supplies hot tea but not coffee. Not sure why but that’s how it is. I told her we could do whatever she wanted and off we went. They had a special on in the cafe for a piece of cake and coffee for $5. I’m on a tight budget and that price was right up my alley AND I got cake. The cake slices were huge and the coffee there is always good.
I asked which she wanted and she chose the coffee cheesecake and I got the mudcake. Both were delicious. She ate hers and then took bites of mine. This woman is 4’8″ and weighs about 100 pounds. I have NO idea where she put that much cake but she did. When we were done we decided to go for a walk around the complex. On our second circuit she said, “Could we have another coffee?”
One coffee is enough for me but she had her coffee and then we went back to her room so I could pick up her laundry and (2) broken hearing aids. Yes it was a struggle to be understood but hopefully not much longer.
She walked me to the door of the locked unit and said she wanted to walk me to the front door and I told her she had to stay there. She looked at me and said, “You realize this is prison, don’t you? It’s not fair.”
I kissed her and told her I knew but there was nothing I could do about the living arrangements. Then, without skipping a beat, she got the biggest smile across her face and laughed and said, “I can’t remember your name but I know how much I love you. I don’t know what I’d have done without you through all this.”
And there you have it. We don’t realize how lucky we are that we have all our faculties, our independence, our families and a real life. I came away on top of the world and knew I wanted to go home and make manicotti.
One bit of housekeeping. I’ve been trying to keep to a posting schedule of every other day and that’s going to have to change for a while. I’m going through some personal issues and I need to cut back on the posts. I’ll still be here and I’ll continue to visit your blogs every time you make a new post and I’ll update my blog as often as I’m able.
Now you Italian folks, don’t judge me. This is what my mother made and I loved it but she was French Canadian. I’m sure it’s not proper Italian and I don’t care.
- 3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce with meat (beef or pork)
- 1 package fresh lasagna sheets or 1 package of manicotti shells (I used lasagna sheets - easier to stuff)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1 small package of baby spinach
- 1 medium container ricotta cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- If you are using dried pasta, cook according to package directions and plunge into cold water, drain and toss around on an oiled baking sheet.
- Saute the chopped onion and garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil until translucent. Set aside to cool in a large bowl.
- Preheat oven 180C/350F
- To the bowl of onions, add the spinach, ricotta cheese, 1½ cups mozzarella cheese and ½ cup Parmesan cheese and mix well.
- With remaining oil, brush a baking dish well and then add 1½ cups of the pasta sauce to the bottom of the baking dish.
- Fill the manicotti tubes or place a line of mixture on a piece of lasagna sheet and roll. (this is way easier than stuffing I think) Then place on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
- Pour remaining sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle the top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until the cheese has turned golden and the sauce is bubbling through.
- Let it cool for 5 minutes and the cheese won't be quite so stringy and easier to serve.