Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! Pastitsio edition
More progress on the renovation this week! Namely two days of concrete pouring. They did the footers yesterday, then came back today to set the forms and pour walls. You guys, it is SO muddy here. I can't even.
Here's our only way in and out of the house, a ramp to the front door we are affectionately calling "The Gangplank". Part of this project is a new front porch/entryway, and you have to dig below the frostline, which in these parts is at least 4' down, hence the huge pit for a modest concrete stoop.
It will take about 10 days for the cement to dry, so nothing new will happen for more than a week. I let the kids gently scratch their initials into the porch wall (it will get covered up when they do the flatwork in a couple weeks. I'm learning all kinds of new terminology here, see?)
But believe it or not, we actually had Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! on Tuesday night this week. Tuesday is (so far) the only day of the week with no after school obligations for any of us, so as long as I plan things far enough ahead of time, we should be back to TNFC on the proper day of the week for a little while until the kitchen gets dismantled. Then we'll be getting really creative...
I decided we would make Pastitsio this week. I hadn't even heard of this dish until last weekend. We spent the holiday weekend in Indianapolis celebrating the 80th birthday of a spry friend of Stuart's family (they were in South Africa together for some of his growing up years). One evening between festivities we found ourselves at a Greek restaurant, where Daniel ordered Pastitsio, described on the menu as "Greek lasagna." He declared it delicious, so I decided we should all try it at TNFC this week.
I'm not sure how I'd never heard of pastitsio, by the way. It seems to be a popular Greek dish, but it was new to me. When I started hunting for recipes online, I wasn't sure what to think. They all call for SO MUCH MEAT (lamb, mostly, and I have trouble eating lamb because baby sheep are cute. There. I just admitted that.) and a mixture of spices I would never think to add to a pasta dish, like cinnamon. In fact, I have a vague memory of my mom once trying out a pasta recipe that called for cinnamon and she didn't like it at all. It must have been pastitsio?
So I debated...try this recipe with the cinnamon? Leave it out? Make something else altogether? Let my mother's prejudice against cinnamon in pasta dishes influence my choice for Tuesday Night Fun Cooking!? (She doesn't like Cincinnati style chili either, and I love it if it's done right.) In the end I decided to go for it and make pastitsio more or less the way the recipe said, cinnamon and all. If we don't like it, we don't have to make it again.
I know you all are mainly here for the pictures of my kids cooking, so let's get to it!
|Anya consults the recipe.|
|Anya measures the cinnamon.|
|Daniel dumps meat into the pan. He can't stand touching raw meat, but he loves squishing it out of the package. My apologies to any vegetarians or vegans reading this.|
|Anya chops the meat with a handy tool.|
|Daniel cuts up some fresh mint.|
|Fancy pants pasta from Italy (via the Willy Street Coop)|
|Daniel makes the béchamel sauce.|
|Crumbling goat cheese.|
|Possibly my least appetizing plated food photo EVER. Really, this picture looks like I dumped it straight off a school lunch tray. But seriously, it tasted pretty good.|