Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I completely stopped eating dead creatures in 1989. - Bryan Adams

I have blogger's block.

I thnk I expended all my wittiness and humor last weekend for Blackbird's benefit - good heavens, that was TWO weekends ago now - anyway, now I am DRY.

My older brother just left - he came in Sunday evening, wearing a Philadelphia Flyers sweatshirt, which provoked my boys into saying things like, "Yucky Flyers!" and "Punch those Flyers right in the nose!" in affectionate greeting.

Because my brother is a bachelor and subsists on things like Wawa hoagies and supermarket salads, I consider it my right and proper sisterly duty to cook all kinds of delicacies and goodies for him when he comes to visit.

Now, when my little brother comes, I alternate between meals for him - chicken and rice in cream sauce, cornbread, canned cranberry sauce, and this impossibly rich, enormous cheesecake that he and I have been known to devour in a twenty-four hour period, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - and meals for his beautiful, healthy, and very thin wife - broiled fish, rice, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes, salads.

But when C comes to town, I know he will eat anything I put in front of him - as long as there are no nuts in it, he is allergic - so this is sorta fun for me.

Monday I made turkey sloppy joes on potato rolls, corn on the cob, and homemade oven fries. Also an apple cake. Last night I made baked ziti with sausage and mozzarella, a huge tossed salad, and buttery garlic bread. For breakfast this morning I scrambled him several eggs with green pepper, onion, tomato, and provolone, with a side of toast, and fruit salad.
He ate everything heartily, washed down with several cups of coffee or Guinness, depending on the hour. There is but one slice of apple cake left. Ah. I feel as if I have fulfilled my hostessly obligation, to send my houseguests home with distended bellies and no need to eat for a week.

Visits with C in the past have been tense; sometimes having him around can be like having another child around. The only difference being that HE at least is obedient -his favorite saying is, "I'm just a foot soldier," meaning he just does what he's told, ma'am. Which can be ok but can also be extremely frustrating. But he seems to have reached a good and peaceful place in his life and the past few visits have been fun and he's even been helpful. Heck, he even sprung for a case of beer this visit! And played endless games of table football and Battleship with Primo. Not to mention he can and does hold the baby for hours on end. Which is a good thing as my formerly sweet and easy-going baby has turned into a back-arching tyrant. He seems to actually enjoy throwing himself backwards and banging his head on things. Good thing he grows cuter with each passing day. Because otherwise? I'd give him to the gypsies. As long as they promised to return him when the tyrant phase ended, because I can always use another toddler around telling me I'm "pitty."


I serve this dish often at birthday parties and family dinners as it's easy and makes a lot. To complement it, all you need to do is throw together a tossed salad - maybe with some fresh mozzarella in the salad as well - and slice up some Italian bread. And I have yet to meet anyone who does not like it, or at least parts of it.

Baked Ziti

Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 big cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1/4 cup dry red wine (I have even used cooking wine and it's all right, but a drinkable wine is preferred.)
35-oz can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano, or 2 TBSP dried
1 cup ricotta
1 cup grated pecorino or other Italian cheese or blend
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lb ziti
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, cubed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish.

In a large skillet, heat about 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, saute till soft, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and sausage, saute till sausage begins to brown.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drain fat if necessary.
Add wine, let boil till almost gone.
Add tomatoes. Cook uncovered, at lively simmer, for about 10 minutes. Sauce will thicken slightly.
Add oregano.

In large bowl, mix ricotta, half the pecorino, parsley, a pinch of nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook ziti till al dente.
Drain well and toss with ricotta mixture.
Add sausage and sauce and mix again.
Add mozzarella and toss gently.
Pour into baking dish and sprinkle with remaining pecorino.

Bake uncovered till lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes.


Amy said...

my brother came to visit once and I did all the same stuff, stuffed him till he might explode. When he left he said, "oh, and I'll need that recipe!" Wondering if he meant the lasagne, the dessert, the stromboli, what...? He said, "for garlic bread! That was delish!" I about died laughing! The priorities of a bachelor! Thanks for the recipe!

blackbird said...

wait, so, you don't layer the cheese and the sauce and the meat and pasta?

you mix it all up?

I love cooking for my little brother (he's 39 - my mother just stopped referring to him as 'the baby') but his wife is a veg which dampens my enthusiasm.

ssheers said...

Now I'm really hungry.

jess said...

I was going to bake ziti for mother's day but it's been too hot lately to think about anything like that. As soon as we hit our next cool spell, I'm whipping out the cheese.

I love feeding people, especially baking.

andrea said...

don't worry, my mom has started reassuring me that the gypsies just return the crazy kids anyway :)

Joke said...

Good thing you have blogger's block, or we'd all still be scrolling.



Sarah Louise said...

What J said!

(and aren't we glad he's back with the Dapper man?)

Carolyn said...

I love the way sibling relationships evolve as we get older.

At least when they evolve in a good way.

I liked your blogger's block. It was a good story.

I have block too. My stories - not so good!

Badger said...

Aw! I wish my brother would come visit me. Sniff.

Loretta said...

Shit, I've nothing to cook for dinner and now I'm starving....

Paula said...

That's funny, I use to say I was going to sell my kids to the gypsies.

Lazy cow said...

Yum. I'm too lazy to bake any pasta dishes, but that sounds delicious.
I always wished I had a brother.

Surfing Free said...

LC - I always wish for a brother as well. My relationship with my sister is a little tense. Your meals sound wonderful!

Suse said...

God the last thing I want is for my brother to visit. That's all I need.

I know. I am awful.

PS. What is ziti? I am presuming it's a pasta, but what shape?

BabelBabe said...

bb - yes, you just mix it all together.

suse - it's tubular, but without ridges.

and sl - i actually kinda liked joke's fetus, once i got used to it.

Joke said...

Suse, you're not awful. You invented an entirely new way to consume marshmallows, never mind what the slanderous/libelous cynics think.