In the after-math of a year that included organizing a culinary competition and that con thing, I didn’t even let myself contemplate my 29th birthday’s existence until mere days before. I kept things calm with a tiny handful of friends, cocktails, cupcakes, and lasagna (since my inner hermit is also Italian).
A Story about Rice Noodles
This wasn’t my first attempt at a gluten-free lasagna, but is my last using rice noodles. Now, I’ve always been avoidant of no boil noodles, but there was no choice here. I didn’t notice it printed on the box until I was home from the store. I had a gluten-free pal visiting and of course I’m going to accommodate. Normally, I have no issues with gluten free rice spirals in my mac & cheese, so I was feeling optimistic. I used plenty of roasted red pepper marinara and a triple batch of Lagusta’s deliciously tangy, cashew based bechamel to, for lack of a more amusing word, flood the noodles, and even covered the entire lasagna with foil throughout its time in the oven. 24 hours later, my point is this: if I’m going gluten-free on another baked pasta dish, I’m using eggplant and zucchini noodles, because the real horror was to come.
Here I was, sending my friends home with lunch leftovers and looking forward to my lasagna at work, and it lost any sense of purpose. It lost any hint of the delicately layered construction I had worked so hard on. The rice pasta congealed with the balsamic roasted eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers into one large, semi-mushy block. There were no glorious lasagna leftovers to await. I forgot them at home as it was, reheated them for dinner, and was faced with mutant activity. I suppose if I wanted to, I could have used a knife to spread this new concoction onto a slice of bread, but that’s not my style.
Coincidentally, now that I think about it, I actually did have a great aunt who was both Italian, and a hermit, in her later decades, and she would have been just as dramatically appalled as I was. Call me sensitive and into textures, but it was birthday week. Long story short: Skip the DeBoles rice noodz and make that damn bechamel.
The creamy ranch recipe (which was a dressing thickened with soaked cashews and served as a dip), from the Spiral Diner, is available in the Sunny Days in Texas zine. All proceeds of this vegan cookzine are being donated to the Sunny Days animal sanctuary in La Coste, TX, who recently experienced a traumatic drought and always appreciate help! It’s heartfelt and contains recipes from folks that I like SO MUCH from the internets, many of whom I saw at the con, had met in the past, or will one day reach across The PPK and high five. I’ve made two other dishes so far: the popcorn tofu (had to cut back the recipe for FORTY just a tad) and roasted red pepper aioli.
Smurfy has more on the zine here.
Bar-wise, birthday-wise, I do have myself a nice little liquor collection, and it was ready to go for White Russians, Watermelon Margaritas, and whatever else was fancied.
Can you think of a more indulgently appropriate birthday cocktail than a coconut creamer White Russian? Nada.