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Life’s lesson N°3: Lasagna and the Loud Family

Okay, a day has passed and I’ve calm down a little bit. I had to watch 14 episodes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta to do it but it worked. I have now forgotten all about fat fuck. Thank you to everyone for all of your comments and support. You guys are awesome. I feel like we defeated the high school bully picking on the autistic kid. Thanks guys.

Let’s get back to the top 15 dishes you need to master before the age of 30… Oh, by the way, the website that originated this idea about the dishes to master was Domaine Home.

Today, we need to talk about lasagna…

Everyone has an opinion about lasagna. They always think their lasagna is best. I like all types of lasagna… Mostly mine. Just kidding. I like vegetarian lasagna, extra cheesy lasagna, lasagna with a Bolognese sauce, lasagna with a Béchamel sauce…. Hell, I even like a Mexican lasagna.

Let’s start with some secrets from the experts:

It turns out that no bake lasagna noodles are not bad at all! Who knew?
Use a pork sausage (a mixture of sweet and spicy) instead of ground beef.
Use fresh grated buffalo mozzarella. Mix in Comté cheese as well.
Use mushroom powder.
Add a carrot for sweetness.
Salt each layer.
Make sure your ricotta is dry… Use cheesecloth.
Speaking of ricotta… Add Parmesan, egg and basil to your ricotta in a food processor for extra flavor.

After you master the basics, you can get creative and add your own touch to your lasagna. Here are a few recipes to get you started…

 Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's Italian-American Lasagna. Recipe HERE.
Mario Batali's 100-layer Lasagna. Recipe HERE
Vikalinka Rustic Three Cheese Lasagna. Recipe HERE.

Voilà. Lasagna mastered.

*Something you don’t know about me? Yep, still hiding out at my husband’s family’s house. I have left my room exactly once. But, for some reason my room is where all the people are.… Gracie, David, David’s brother, David’s mother, my caregiver, my niece Thea and my nephew Sam. I just thought I would also point out that 4 of the 9 people staying at this house over the holidays are on antibiotics. Just what I need with my weakened immune system. So, here I am in the guest room, and all I can think of is, “How can I redecorate this room?” This room looks exactly the way it did 47 years ago when David’s family moved in. There are two types of families. Families who decorate and families who don’t. David’s family belongs to the latter. My grievances with this house are well documented… Just ask Yolanda and Diandra. The first time I came to this house I called them crying and they nearly sent out a search and rescue team to get me. It’s not that David’s parent’s house isn’t nice… Because it is. It’s just that in 45 years no one saw the importance of a little decorating. Unlike my family, I guess David’s family saw more importance in raising well-balanced children in a non-dysfunctional family than decorating the entire house every other week. Unlike David’s family, my family saw more importance in monogramming bedding than keeping a family intact. My goal is to do both… Decorate and have a family with David and Gracie without divorce, suicide, infidelity, moral issues and a web of lies. So far so good. By the way, these are not issues that David’s family has ever had to worry about. David’s family is solid. My family is not. However, David’s family cannot decorate worth shit. My family can decorate worth shit. It never occurred to David’s family to decorate. Polar opposite families.
Do you remember when I told you that David is super loud? I used to think it was because he had a hearing problem but now I have discovered that it is a “charming” family trait. David’s family does not “speak” to one another. They “yell” at each other. Even when they’re saying something nice, it’s a “yell.” It is enough to drive someone mad. I keep thinking something catastrophic is happening in the other room but, nope, they are just “yell talking.” David popped his head in our guest room at his parent's house yesterday and asked if he could do anything for me. My answer was, “Yes, you can stop yelling, re-wallpaper the bedroom, re-tile the bathroom, install a copper bathtub from Waterworks and bring me a Darjeeling tea.” He didn’t think that was so funny. He knew what he was getting into when he married me so I don’t have much sympathy. Stay tuned…


  1. Not many houses are decorated the way we would think...........I too moved to Italy and was so disappointed with the house!GOD AWFUL..............BUT they do LOVE TO CLEAN!Cannot say thats at the TOP of my list!I clean when I bring something NEW HOME!The area is what I am talking about NOT the perfectly tarnished candelabra that I would NEVER consider polishing, because then it would look fake too NEW!
    LASAGNA, I did learn from an ITALIAN GAL named GILDA.Very simple and very good........but the easy recipe is a SALMON lasagna.Delicious and OH SO ELEGANT JUST LIKE YOU!
    I have made a DONATION in the DONATION BOX................THANKS TO FAT FUCK!!!THANK YOU for making me AWARE..............the JOY I receive from READING this BLOG is worth 10 times more then I gave.KEEP GOING and FINISH THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!XOXOXO

  2. So funny, and perfect, that the demand for a cup of Darjeeling was right in there along with specific instructions on how to redecorate the room -- I wish I could send you pictures of each room in my house and you could tell me how to decorate, just like that: Very succinct instructions, no punches pulled. Love it.

  3. I don't know why - but my youngest son, my brother and I all have the same problem as David's family; we all yell when we think we're just chatting! I say it's a "modulation" issue! Not a "yelling" problem. Sounds better. But people have a real problem with us, as in "stop yelling" or "why are you yelling at me?, and amazingly, I really notice it in my son and brother and am constantly telling them to pipe down, yet I do the same thing! Like I said; it's a modulation thing, . . .or a wish to be "heard"! Pics of the lasagna are wonderful. Make me hungry for lasagna and it's only around 10 a.m. here. And the rest of your post of course is so so funny! I think I would rather have decorated over dysfunctional. I've lived with dysfunctional for so long I can deal!

  4. Dear Ellie, nice post as always. Lots of Laughs here. I know exactly what you are talking about " I keep thinking something catastrophic is happening in the other room but, nope, they are just “yell talking.”


  5. I love your recipe choices here! I used to cook alot, my years working for Wolfgang fed that passion ... But my husband does much of it now as my time and passions are busy elsewhere. He prides himself on his lasagna but I know will be very intrigued with some of your tips, like using a dry just makes perfect sense!
    So happy you were able to shake off the terrible anonymous toxicity. She has to live with it and you have the choice to let it go ... Black pepper oil is good for getting negativity out of your body and spirit . May your day be full of love with those that love you ❤️

  6. I'm laugh-crying as usual after reading your blogpost, although at certain points in my life I have been known as "The Loud Girl" myself. I'm glad David's family is in your room, because I want you to feel the love and warmth of in-laws, something I've never experienced and don't ever expect in this lifetime. Even in the dreaded room, may you feel the love.
    I wouldn't mind some monograms at this point in my life,but keeping the family well and close remains priority through everyone's career goals, schedules,etc. Your husband David- J'adore. Wonderful,wonderful, wonderful man. I would have made a turkey, stuffing, mashies,etc. for Gracie if I had been close by. Raw baby lamb on turkey is wrong.

    I stayed up the other night to watch "Running From Crazy," Mariel Hemingway's documentary about the mental illness and suicide in her family. It is very sad to see the footage of beautiful Margot/Margaux, to have a sense of her struggle. It's amazing that Mariel, the youngest sister, has become an advocate for family mental health.
    Ellie, I am so,so sorry to have read about your brother. May his spirit rest in peace.

    One more thought--the pediatrician Leila Masson specializes in treating autism spectrum disorders and she is also your doppelganger: Perhaps she has some insights regarding treatment for David's son, your stepson.

    Thanks again for your wonderful writings. Warmest wishes to you and your family.

  7. This may be a duplicate comment-not sure if my first one disappeared or will be posted. I am with you on changing spaces. I grew up in a house where you'd better not sit still for too long because you would be painted or upholstered over. I'm like that now too. I think it helps to keep you in love with your house or office.
    My lasagna actually is the best of the best. It takes all day and has enough cheese to make us all fat fucks, but it's amazing. My secret is to top each layer of bechamel and/or ricotta with a tart paste of parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. It adds a freshness lasagna is often missing.
    I can't hang with RHOA anymore. I miss my girl Kim Zolciak too much. She and I have the same birthday and are forever connected by many tweets. Haha

    1. If you would like to move into my apartment with David and I please feel free. We could watch Kim Zolciak, Don't Be Tardy, all day long. I need new episodes because I have already watched every single one of hers. After that we could make your lasagna. And after that, we could decorate and upholster and paint. What do you think? :-) I think you should post your lasagna recipe here because I think everyone would love it. The lemon is genius. XOXO

    2. Well I'm more in my element in the countryside, but I think I could make an exception for Paris. Haha! And actually we could just do a lot of field trips. I learned how to drive a bus when I took my sales territory salon managers to a tanning lotion convention (yes-in the glory days of the 2007 economy, such conventions existed. believe it or not, the keynote speaker was Maya Angelou. just kidding it was a really tan guy who sold tanline tattoo stickers). So I can load up you and the caretakers in a bus and we can explore the narrow and dangerous roads of the French countryside for excursions to flea markets and vineyards and vineyards.
      I don't really have a recipe for my lasagna but I suppose I have a few tips:
      1. It's worth a trip to an Italian market or a hipster's garage to find the best sausage, made in house. I always up the fennel seed. And once it's cooked, I reduce the pan with a young Sicilian merlot (or a PYT as they are called in my kitchen) this really brings a depth and acidity to the sausage and therefore the whole dish
      2. My lasagna sauce is not my traditional marinara to have with meatballs. I do a quicker sauce that is lighter and more tannic. Fresh tomatoes--skin left ON--tons of garlic, tons of basil and parsley, some sage and oregano, olive oil, more PYT, and the zest of one grapefruit. No onion. The wine and the grapefruit and all the herbs make it a very exuberant sauce. I cook the garlic and 3/4 herbs in the oil until the garlic is aromatic and light gold and the herbs have become darker green. Then add the diced fresh tomatoes and stew for ten minutes or so. Aggressively scraping burned bits of garlic and herb off the bottom of the pan. Reduce with a hearty splash of wine, then off flame add the grapefruit zest. Sounds weird but its so good. Oh and salt obviously and I also add a bit of cayenne. then add the remaining 1/4 chopped herbs. They'll steep more like tea than they will cook, leaving a fresh herbal taste.
      3. The parsley paste is just a few garlic cloves, a heap of parsley, some salt, and the juice of two-three lemons. throw it all in the food processor.
      4. I also always top my lasagna with a mosaic of sliced tomatoes. This is 1) pretty and 2) adds a fresher tomato flavor
      5. Enough cheese to embarrass Paula Deen
      6. If you want beautifully defined layering when you slice, if you're having a party or serving on a patterned plate and don't want chaos, brush each layer of pasta with olive oil very thinly. This will help keep the lines crisp.

    3. After reveling in Ellie's post throughout the day, the next thought that will keep me going is the tanning lotion convention. I hate to think I missed that.

    4. Stephen, if you move into Ellie's apartment do you think you would be willing to bus everyone on down to my house in Provence and make what sounds like the world's Best lasagna for me? True, it is an eight hour drive and all of the work would be on you but I would provide plenty of PYTs to make it worth while to all involved...? ;)

    5. I so want to be Stephen's real life friend. I'm at a resort having a break from the pool watching Arthur with Mr FF drinking wine and admiring my real tan. Best to you Ellie and you too S. x

  8. I am late to this party, and am just catching up after hearing about you from Janet at The Gardeners Cottage (whom I adore). You are an amazing woman. I am sending all my love to you in the guest bedroom in the French Alps!!

    I am so sorry that you do not have the love and support of your biological family at this time--this must hurt you greatly at some level. I hope that they will come around soon. If that is not possible, know that you have built your own wonderful family in the flesh and online that loves you and is rooting for you!!!

    I have a son with muscular dystrophy and another son with a debilitating auto immune disorder, and you have made me smile today. Thank you! I hope that you can feel my hugs and best wishes and smile today, too!!

    All my love,

  9. Ellie...I understand "yell talking" well. We rented a yacht in Greece one day and the seas were really rough. The crew kept screaming at each other. I finally couldn't take it and asked the captain what was going on. He told me they were trying to decide where they were going to dinner that night. There is nothing like a marathon of Real Housewives to get you through a hiccup in your day! You are so funny about the decorators and non-decorating families. Thinking of you and hope you have a safe trip home. I'm sure it can't come soon enough!!

  10. Lately I've been loving my Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls...a compilation of a few of my favorite chef's recipes. The components are Ina Garten's homemade Ricotta, Mario Batali's Besciamella (bechamel) Sauce, as well as his Basic Tomato Sauce (shredded carrot is key) and Giada De Laurentiis's Lasagna Rolls recipe, the inspiration. In addition, I do a quick fry of diced onion, fresh spinach and mushroom (excess moisture pressed out w/cheesecloth) and add that to the Ricotta. Best compliment I received, "Are you sure you weren't Italian in your last life" :)

    Lastly, it was so great seeing Yolanda give a shout-out to YOU tonight on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Before taking her Ice Bucket Challenge she said, "My best friend has ALS." A truly sincere heartfelt moment.

  11. Was watching RHWBH tonight and Yolanda mentioned you! They were talking about that ALS ice water challenge and she immediately said her best friend had ALS, so I assumed she was talking about you and then she insisted that Lisa pour a bucket of ice over her! You would have to see - I'm not explaining properly! I just thought it was interesting since I just recently started reading your blog; you've mentioned Yolanda in some of your posts, and then she mentions her "best friend" who has ALS tonight!

  12. Just came across your blog. I follow your yogi bear (yolanda) which is a breath of fresh air. We are all here for a purpose. We are all here to serve. Thank you are sharing your experiences in life (happy and sad). You will encourage and enlighten people who are interested in you. I am a nursing assistant. I feel blessed to be able to help people with many different illnesses, young; middle aged and elderly keep their dignity and grace. I look forward to learning more about you and your interests. Thank you for being open, honest and authentic. God Bless


  13. I came to your site through the Gardener's Cottage. I thought - did she REALLY spend 4 hours going through your entire blog...well, jokes on me. It's now 4:00 A.M. on New Year's Eve, I'm sitting here with a bladder about to burst because I could NOT stop reading your blog for the past 6 hours!

    You.are.amazing. So much style, grace and what a hoot. I've never laughed out loud with any blogs I read before - they're now so dull by comparison. I just love how you tell it like it is...

    No exaggeration but I leave here now truly changed (and to get some sleep!) . You've converted me; I will now say good bye to the smarmy people and things in my life and seek out the true friends and my OWN style. And while I do hug my boys a lot, I'm going to double the amount of hugs and kisses they get (sorry guys, it's all Ellie's fault).

    P.S., I do plan on making Beef Bourguignon - with ingredients from the green grocer and butcher, not the aisles at Walmart (I hate that store...ugh). Mills in PA(USA)

  14. How dearly do I love that everyone is with you in the hide-out room? Dearly. How greatly do I wish that I could magically have all of the lasagna that you showed appear on my desk piping hot and ready for me to eat? Greatly. Because I am feeling mighty shame-faced about these dishes. So far I have made zero out of thirty! But now I will know how...hooray!

    I would LOVE to see David's family time-capsule house...

    Ellie, I don't know if you are going to post again today but just in case you don't, I want to send you so much Love and Happiness and Strength as this year comes to a close and the New Year opens before you. Thank you with all of my heart for the inspiration, perspective and laughter that you have given me in these past few months.

    I am very, very grateful for you.
    Gros Bisous,

  15. Thanx Ellie. Another jumpstart to my day. Many years ago I'd watch Lucy and Ethel reruns in the early morning to get in the right mood for the day, now it's reading you!
    My mother cared more about the house than her family. Sounds more caustic than it was, but HER INTEREST was the house - definitely not her hubby, and mostly not her kiddos. So the three of us were, "Really?", while my father just kept going to work. I finally had a brilliant therapist who gave me the right pigeon hole to put that particular dysfunction in. She said, "You know when you enter a house and it is so beautifully decorated that you spend all your time looking around you? Often it's not just great taste, it's to keep you from either noticing or asking anything about the family's personal life." Revelations: Part 1...

    I'm not a lasagna person, but all the hints are great. I am tempted to look at the ten recipes, but this is like another advent calendar, "what's tomorrow?" Hope there is something Asian. I think you need to add another 10 of your own. oxo

  16. I hate ricotta so I have never had lasagna, ugh. My husband is a family of yellers to the point it startles me and then gives me a headache. I do have a waterworks tub in my bathroom, (we have separate masterbaths, I think it keeps a marriage happy) but not the copper one.

  17. Happy New Year to us out here…I sure could use some lasagna now, comfort food with 200 boxes staring me in the face…so hilarious to read today Ellie!

  18. I too, married into a family of screamers. In fact, the first time I visited my husband's family home for a get together I asked him why everyone was so angry with one another. He assured me they weren't angry- they just shout over one another to be heard. Coming from a very WASPY background, it has taken me years to adjust- in truth, I mostly just avoid!

  19. Laughing out loud at merlot being called PYT!! what a hoot your friend is. I have been reading your blog, no, absorbing it, for only three or four weeks. I have the same feeling toward you that all your loyal followers feel; awe, respect, sadness, and connection. it's funny isn't it, unseen and no connection other than your words. Powerful. so many hearts full of love and connected by you. cheryl

  20. Being greek I'm a foodie & lasagna sounds pretty good right now..oh yeah and we yell alot too, except my mother, quietest greek I've ever known :) xo

  21. I cannot keep up with your blog! You are posting at gunfire rapid speed--is the decor boosting your creativity? Here is what I've learned in the last year and confirmed this last week: why is David's fam like so many other French fams that decorate ONCE? We are on a Tour de France house hunt (just looking) and the decor in nearly every house is 45 yrs outdated. Yuck. So is the electricity, and the roofs are 3 times as old.

    Ellie, my husband and I read your Fat fuck post last night from our hotel bed (yes we should have been busy doing something else in a southern France hotel bed) and found your linguistic choices a hoot, we laughed and laughed. But we also realized that that chic's comments were hurtful it seems. She (or he) is a fucking idiot. I'm so glad you wrote what you wrote in response because you communicate with such clarity.

  22. I am so happy I found your blog and even happier that I told my super cool & talented friend Sue/Sharon Osborn about it - not only does she love it too, y'all are now new besties. If I were Queen of the world both of you would have the best of everything. I love your truth, humor, tone and delivery. Keep it all coming....looking forward to your book.

  23. Not that you probably care (about my age, I mean) I'm 75 years old. old, I know, AND just telling you that because..I have never heard of mushroom powder. Is it something really important that I have been missing out on? I mean .... should it be on my spice rack?? Does it really give a taste of a true mushroom? I wouldn't even know,how and when to use it (I love mushrooms) and have searched and picked them, in a farmer's meadow, with cows watching, some with an evil eye, or I thought evil. anyway.... many times, when I was a girl with my Mother, and then again in my own front lawn ,when DH, me, I and our 3 sons, lived near the woods, and flowage. The lawn must have been the perfect growing place for them, before
    DH started to mow everything green, mossy, whatever, in sight... I know it may be hard to answer questions from anybody, but if you have a chance,I'll look out for it, if not, Happy New Year...don't know you in person, but I think if I had a daughter, I would have loved you to be that young lady!!!!!

    1. I never heard of mushroom powder either. And I'm almost 66; I guess I've missed the boat on some of these "master by 30" recipes, but am enjoying them anyway!

  24. Like Heather, I can't wait to try the Lasagna but what is mushroom powder. Can I grind up some mushrooms instead? As I read the recipes that fit into the learn how to do these before 30, I am eagerly anticipating finding out if i made the cut.
    Happy New Year and lets hope all those people keep their own bugs to themselves.