Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guest Author R.W. Bennett: How I Learned to Cook

I met R.W. Bennett online as we are both published for Kindle, although his book is available in print, too. I bought his wonderful "" and was delighted with the funny romantic suspense title. I look forward to his next one. I know he is a great cook, too, so I invited him to guest blog here while I head out to the Crest Hill Branch of the Des Plaines Valley Lib. Dist. this morning to talk about Cakes. Enjoy!-AA

I grew up in a small farming community in NE Iowa named Manchester. Gender roles were very traditional in that part of the world, especially forty years ago, and cooking was a skill not very many boys ever developed. Now, many people consider me the best cook they know.

When I was a sophomore in high school, the school had an event where, in lieu of regular classes, the teachers or guest instructors conducted one-day classes, totally unrelated to regular curriculum. I don’t remember what any of the other classes were, but I signed up for a class called, “Cooking for Men,” and the instructor was the football coach.

Now, the football coach is the Alpha male of Alpha males and if he is conducting a class in the Home-Ec room, it’s OK - a total absolution from any form of teasing. My dad was a real man’s man too, and he always made a few special dishes like his famous ‘corn sticks’ we enjoyed at our traditional Sunday meal. He knew his way around the grill before it was fashionable. So, I had excellent male role models.

I know we learned to bake chocolate chip cookies in class that day back in 1971. But what I remember most is Coach Stead taught us his lasagna recipe. I still use a variation of it to this day. The key ingredient is pepperoni. As close as I recall this is the recipe:

1 lb ground beef
1 small stick pepperoni, about 4 oz, finely chopped
1 med onion, chopped
2 sm cans tomato paste
2 sm cans tomato sauce
1 C tomato juice
2 T dried parsley flakes
1 T dried basil
1 lb sliced provolone
Parmesan cheese
Enough lasagna noodles for two layers in a 9 x 13 pan

For sauce:
Brown ground beef, pepperoni and onion. Spoon off excess fat. Add the tomato products, salt and pepper to taste and herbs. Simmer.

Prepare lasagna noodles in normal way, al dente. In greased 9x13 pan layer noodles, 1/2 sauce, parmesan, and provolone. Repeat. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Variations. I usually add some Italian sausage, sometimes reducing some of the ground beef. I often add minced garlic towards the end of the browning step. Of course, if you like a ricotta or ricotta/spinach layer, add it!

RW Bennett has transitioned from a long business career to writing. Bennett has been a Sales and Marketing VP, a financial systems consultant, a restaurateur, a day trader and a CPA but has always loved the written, spoken and sung word. Bennett began writing seriously in 2007. represents his debut work. He is now writing his next novel, THE FOURTH OUTFIELDER – PATRIOT’S DAY. Bennett majored in chemistry and business administration at Wartburg College in Iowa where he was a varsity wrestler and rugby player. He earned an MBA from University of Denver.

1 comment:

RW Bennett said...

I forgot something in the recipe. I think any tomato sauce is improved by a half-teaspoon to a teaspoon of sugar.