Old Standbys

Many many years ago, when I was just an impressionable and idealistic teenager, I became a vegetarian. If memory serves correctly, I'd spent the day volunteering with my mother at an event staffing a table for her nonprofit organization that provided job training and decision making courses to inmates at the county jail (yes I come by my do-gooder tendencies naturally). Why did this make me a vegetarian? The table next to us was staffed by folks from one People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. And while we had a vhs video that we were playing and rewinding that talked about our organization's prison ministry, they had a vhs video that they were playing and rewinding that talked about animal torture and factory farms. I don't remember how many hours I volunteered that day, but I do remember afterwards when my mom and I stopped at McDonald's to get a McChicken sandwich (this being the late 80s they were all the rage), I took one bite and couldn't finish it.

I became a vegetarian on the spot. This transition was somewhat smooth because at various points in their college careers, two of my elder siblings were vegetarian. My mom didn't have any problems with it, but her one requirement was that if I wasn't going to eat what she was cooking for dinner, I had to make something for myself. A few weeks later we were visiting my brother Michael in Baltimore and spent the afternoon browsing in a bookstore. I found the Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, very pricey at $29.99, but mom bought it for me.

I was a vegetarian for about 10 years, up until I became Catholic again and spent 6 hours serving secret recipe spaghetti and meatballs at the parish Spaghetti dinner. But that is another story for another blogpost ... how Catholicism returned me to the fold of meat eating. Ironically, even though I don't consider myself a vegetarian any more, I do live in a house where we eat vegetarian food in an effort to live simply.

So ... this is all a preamble to dinner tonight. Every two weeks we have two lay Associates of our community over for dinner, prayer and conversation. Tonight I decided to make one of my old standby recipes ... Spinach Lasagna. I've pretty much got the recipe in my head at this point, but sometimes I turn to the dog eared and spaghetti sauced page in the Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. This was the main benefit of this purchase, my Spinach Lasagna recipe, the core of which comes from the cookbook with many variations. I've made many a lasagna. At family Christmas and Thanksgiving, I'd have lasagna while everyone else had turkey. In college and working at the City it was one of my main potluck fares. And in the novitiate, I even branched out to the world of meat based lasagnas. But tonight it was close to the original, with a few short cuts here and there. And it was good.

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