Back In The Kitchen With Kayla

But before that I spent all day Friday doing a photo shoot. Sounds glam, right?
It so isn’t.
Now it’s certainly cool to get your hair and makeup done by professionals, especially pros you know and trust. You provide naked face and undone hair, and they transform you so you look glam. And they have such nifty toys.
It’s really nice to have a photographer you know and trust–in this case my husband. And it’s comfortable to do the shoot in his studio, so there’s all that.
And Laura’s there to help, and to weigh in on the couple of choices I brought for accessories. Three different set ups, three different outfits, three different hairstyles and three different makeup looks.
And you spend your day smiling/not smiling/smiling less or more. Turning this way or that way, hands/arms here or there. The first time I did a shoot I gained considerable respect for those who do so for a living. Having all these pros I know and trust–and really like on a personal level–makes a big difference for a woman who makes her living at the keyboard, mostly in pjs, with no makeup and bed hair.

The team: BW, Tereza, Laura and Harold
Plus, it was a gorgeous day. Sunny, warm, wonderful.
Saturday, not so much.
But I’d already planned to spend much of it in the kitchen, especially after I got my 18 10 stainless steel flatware. Kayla’s schedule and mine haven’t meshed in the last few weeks, but we earmarked Saturday for cooking together. When I asked her about menu choices earlier in the week, Logan vigorously suggested deviled eggs. She wanted to do my mother’s pound cake again–and since nobody had an idea for a main, I suggested lasagna. Menu set.
She arrives early afternoon on raw, rainy Saturday, and we get down to it. Red sauce first–and she’s done this once, so only needs a little prompting. And only a bit on the cake batter. It’s fun to get back to this weekend duet with her, to watch her handle the measuring and stirring. I’d say she learned a lot of the basics over the winter.
Cake’s in the oven, red sauce is simmering. A little break, then it’s time to boil a dozen eggs. Tip found by BW for easy peeling:
For eight eggs (so math is involved for more) six cups of water, one tablespoon salt, a quarter cup of white vinegar. Bring to a boil, then carefully add eggs one at a time. Lower the heat a bit so it doesn’t boil too fast, boil for fourteen minutes. Immediately put eggs in an ice bath until cool. It really works.
Kayla comments, as she and her Grandda get to peeling, that it’s not so bad–as she’s used to the three or four dozen required to peel for our parties. I show her how you slice them lengthwise, take out the yolk. She puts the yolks through the mill, adds the mayo, the mustard, the herbs–she has a good hand with this.
Taste test. A little more mustard, a little more oregano–I trust her and BW on this as I don’t like deviled eggs. Fill the whites, sprinkle with paprika. She and BW test one each, and thumbs up.
Now we need to make the cheese mixtures for the lasagna. I use cottage cheese rather than ricotta. I prefer its texture. And I add a lot of shredded mozzarella, some basil, some pepper.
Kayla adamantly dislikes the look and smell of cottage cheese. While I remind her I make a lot of things I don’t even eat, she backs away from mixing the cheeses. You do it, Nana. So Nana does. Into the fridge with it until we’re ready to put the lasagna together.
Cake comes out, and oh boy, it looks and smells terrific.
About that time Logan arrives with two friends, his little brother and his mom. They’re spending this rainy evening in the pool. Kayla’s earned a swim herself, and I believe I’ve earned a little sit down. I tell her 45 minutes, then we need to finish up.
I’m impressed she’s back in 40.
Noodles go on the boil. Cake comes out of the pan and onto the pretty cake plate a pal gave me recently. And she has the first slice. It’s deemed delish.
Preakness pre-race coverage is on the kitchen TV. I’ve stuck with my Derby pick here, and had a friend who’s going to the track place an across the board bet for me. My girl’s now invested in the race, so we talk horses and racing while I show her how to drain and cool the noodles. Have her put a little scoop of sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish so they won’t stick. And she layers the noodles, layers on sauce. I layer the cheese due to teenage ick. She layers, layers, I layer.
The horses are in the gate. We stop everything to watch. Nyquist has the early lead, and as in the Derby, Exaggerator is back in the field. Then I watch his rider weave him through, cut him to the rail. He’s moving up, moving up. And oh boy, when they hit the stretch, he’s gone. Just flying over that wet, muddy track. He takes it running away.
Happy dance, hoots. And back to layering. Kayla tops the casserole with slices of mozzarella, and we pop it in the oven.
Damp boys come up for drops in their water-clogged ears–and are reminded to hang up their wet towels. We have experience here.
Young Colt–whose picture I took on the pretty Friday evening with a promise I’d post it here–commandeers my iPad for games, and asks if he can have a piece of chocolate for later. His mom and I share a laugh when later turns out to be ten seconds.
Lasagna comes out to rest. Divvy up deviled eggs and cake to go home with the cook and the boys–they’re getting pizza delivered.
Hug my kitchen pal–who is now a solid smidge taller than I am.
If the sun comes out at all today, she’ll come be my gardening pal–and have some of her own lasagna. Her grandda and I sampled it last night. Yum!
I hope our schedules mesh again soon. I like to cook–especially on the weekends. But cooking with Kayla is pure pleasure. 

27 thoughts on “Back In The Kitchen With Kayla”

  1. Sounds like such a wonderful afternoon. Fun, food & grandkids…what could be better than that! Lasagna is one of my go-to comfort meals. Have you ever used the Catelli Express oven ready lasagna noodles that you can layer on the lasagna without pre-boiling. For me, they work great and I never worry about cooking too many or too little. I also use ricotta cheese instead of cottage, and agree with Kayla, not a fan of cottage. Kayla looks like she’s enjoying her kitchen time with you as much as you do with her!! Colt looks like he’s got a mischievous gleam in his eye!
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’ve only used ricotta once, and my family immediately asked what I had done differently to their favorite lasagna! And they told me they liked the cottage cheese version better. I use the fat free version since you won’t miss the calories or fat grams with no difference in taste. I blend it with grated Parmesan, parsley, and pepper. And my favorite time saver and short cut is the no-boil lasagna noodles which cut prep time and dirty dishes in half. This is easily one of our favorite recipes. And I use ground turkey as a substitute for ground beef or sausage and a prepared garlic and herb spaghetti sauce which gives it great flavor and saves yet another step and time. We call it “Death by Lasagna” since we frequently take that to any who has a death in the family. Easy to reheat and feeds a crowd. Always gets rave reviews.

    I envy you living close enough to your grand children to see them regularly. Other than Skype, I only see mine a couple of times a year because of distance.

  3. Oldest grandgirls hold a special place in a grandma’s heart, even though she loves all the grands to infinity and beyond. I use ricotta and make lemon and chocolate ricotta cookies for dessert. Yum!

  4. Cottage Cheese? No wonder it’s been raining incessantly! The Italian Nonna Angels are weeping! ? Sounds like a great time was had by all.

  5. Nice reward for going through the photoshoot!! And what fabulous memories you are creating for your grandchildren !

    We had cloudy, gray Saturday, and my luck help…no sooner were the dog and I half way into our walk…the heavens opened and we looked like sewer rats upon returning home…after drying out respective selves off…the sun came out! Muttering here!

  6. Can’t wait to see the pics of the photo shoot ( if you post any ) Looks like you guys had a great time together cooking. I had my grands yesterday for four hours and I was in Grammy heaven. At one point I had both of them in my lap in the recliner. Eight month old Zoey was asleep, and three and a half year old Jasper was watching his “Toons”. My Mother walked by and looked at us and said “I know you’re happy ” My response was ” I’m happier than a pig eatin slop! ” lol There’s nothing like having the G babies and them loving on you.

  7. My granddaughter moved to a different state just as she was turning into a young adult that I enjoyed spending time with. I got the growing up time but really miss the adult time with her. Thank god she calls me and we talk on facebook. I am very luck to have keep a good relationship with her.

  8. Sounds like a prefect weekend. ? I also use cottage cheese in my lasagna. Can’t go wrong with lots of mozzarella !

  9. I’ve copied down your peeling tip! Somehow I’ve become the deviled egg maker for the family and this will come in handy. I’ve also found shaking the boiled egg in a jar with water works well, too. Thank you so much for sharing your fun weekend.

  10. I’m with Kayla on the cottage cheese. One of the few foods that actually make me gag, although my mother loved it.

    I always enjoy reading about your kitchen adventures with Kayla.

  11. what fun to cook with grandkids- mine love my zucchini muffins, but never have the time to actually come & learn how to make them. Re: the lasagna- i cut corners- use no boil noodles, & store bought marinara sauce. I do add drained frozen spinach-in with the l/f cottage cheese- besides the green color, it helps me to delude myself that I’m eating something slightly healthy.
    I too hate hard-boiled eggs, but I make them weekly for my hubby. I have a tool they sell, which pricks a tiny hole in the raw egg b4 it goes into the water. It keeps eggs from cracking. I start with eggs in cold water, salt, then set the timer for 10 minutes once it starts to boil. Then it’s straight into ice cold water. But a question, please- why the vinegar?

  12. Tell us about the fun calendar hanging near Kayla’s head in the picture!? 🙂

    1. BW does art photography. We have a half-naked girl calendar in the kitchen every year from his shoots.

  13. Nora, isn’t it great to cook with your granddaughter? My Raven is only 8, but we started with dyeing Easter eggs 4 years ago, then making meatballs & marinara sauce for her ghettis & meatballs, then macaroni and cheese, then mushroom gravy, now we’ve revisited red sauce to make it a meat sauce for lasagna and an Alfredo like cheese sauce. Thanksgiving & Christmas she was in charge of peeling, scooping insides, mixing and filling deviled eggs, with just a little help from Nona. She’s petite and not only too short to reach the stove, she cannot lift pot with 1-1/2doz eggs, water, vinegar, etc. I tell her how much of each condiment goes into mixture, but if after tasting the mixture, I defer to her if she thinks more mayo or something is needed. We put small diced, candied bacon on 1/2 of them. Big hit! We’re looking forward to making “Purple Rain” cake for my daughter’s birthday. She is a tremendous Prince fan, and literally received condolence message from around the world ;London, Hawaii, Germany, Caribbean, West Coast, Panama. Her business means she meets people from all over. I only have the one grand, but if she turns out like her mother, she will be a terrific cook. She leans towards vegetarian meatless dishes sometimes, so I have expanded my heavy on Italian repertoire to include meatless meals that are satisfying, or that pure carnivores can add a steak or chop on the side. Martha Stewart and Jacques Pepin both have great meatless cookbooks. Keep posting, we’ll keep reading!
    Oh, by the way… if you ever feel like giving away an afternoon including makeover(s), clothes borrowed for shoot, and pictures, I volunteer! My last professional portrait was almost 69 years ago and I don’t remember it. I’d love to have a portrait taken. I was bald back then. This time I have hair, though it’s gray.

  14. This is so much fun! I love the pictures from different points, the laughter (I don’t like cottage cheese, either), the process! Thanks for sharing this slice of life. 🙂

  15. Sounds like a wonderful day! I love cooking with my mum, in fact one of my favourite parts of Christmas is cooking the dinner with my mum.
    First time my friend told me about using ricotta in lasagne, I was surprised, almost everyone here in the Netherlands uses bechamel sauce, which is an italian white roux sauce. I gave ricotta a try and thought it delicious, will give youe cottage cheese/mozzarella/basil/pepper mixture a try too. Do you use an equal amount of cottage cheese and mozzarella?

  16. I was smiling the entire time I was reading that. I have to Grandboys (as I call them) and finally had a little grandbaby girl. She is almost 2. She is the beat in my heart. I swear that child has just brought so much joy to my world in just two short years. I cannot WAIT until I can do such things with my little Abigail.
    It was so nice to read about you doing just a normal day with the people in your world. I have loved and admired you for more years than I can count. So, it was really nice to think of you as just a normal grandma with a big heart.
    Thank you for this!!

  17. Nora, I only recently signed up for your newsletter. This means I’m not as “in the know” as everyone else here. Do you mind if I ask – is Kayla (who’s lovely btw) Dan’s daughter; or Jason’s? Sorry if I sound clueless. 🙂

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