Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Friday and the Internets are buzzing

The first two links are about unintended consequences:

  • People are traveling to Mexicali, Mexico to get affordable healthcare.  These are mainly low-income people who don't have insurance, but apparently some insurance plans are encouraging subscribers to go to keep costs down.  It will be interesting to see how the recent SCOTUS decision affects this.  I was just kind of taken with the idea of a doctor who was available to answer your calls and questions anytime, and a nurse who warmed your hand before giving you a shot. 

(By the way, just so we're clear, I am all for recycling and access to good health care, have no problems with anyone going over the border to get healthcare, but am just struck by the current and the future potential unintended consequences of what we do.)

Steve has a ravioli recipe that can't be beat.

Lili talks about thrifty freezer and food storage.

Bryallen wants to know what you'd do with a £1,000 windfall (or, going by the exchange rate, a $1,553.52 windfall for me).  Honestly, I'd put it into savings.  

Make your own homemade almond extract for much less than what you'd pay for at the store.

Club Thrifty talks about the benefits of working a regular job, as opposed to being an entrepreneur. 

We're in for another heat wave again here in New England.  Here are some tips for staying cool that won't break the bank.

Update: This from nicoleandmaggie: Equifax is TERRIBLE.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dogs, cats, and their pet humans

So apparently now it's all the rage to provide your dog with a tricked out doghouse.  I've also seen fluff news stories on people who designed their homes for their cats.

Don't get me wrong--I think you should make your pet comfortable and happy.  For cats, that means building or adding a few things that they can climb and perch on, even if it's some empty shelving on a wall or a ledge by the window (or a tall scratching post).  For dogs, it's a shelter that keeps them protected from the elements if they are outside.

Your pets need love, care, and attention.  They need exercise, so walk your dog (seriously, walk your dog, don't just leave it outside on a lead, that's mean) and play with your cat.  They need--or at least most of them seem to like--scritches and some cooing.  They need decent food (not gourmet food, though I'm sure my cat would put in a plug for popcorn, which she tries to eat and which I will not let her have) and clean water.  They need a clean living environment (and cats need a clean litter box).  They need to be brushed and groomed and bathed, depending on the animal.

They do not need heated, tricked out doghouses.  They do not need diamond collars.  They do not need the pet version of starter mansions.  Not only do they not need them, they don't care about them. They care about things like being pet, fed, and being comfortable. Which is really the beauty of having pets. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Frozen lemon slices

When there is a sale on lemons, I buy a bunch and use what I need.  Sometimes it simply costs less to buy an entire bag of them rather than two for three dollars.  However, I wouldn't use them up before they'd start to go bad.  I read somewhere (maybe the Tightwad Gazette) that you can freeze sliced lemon or lime.

So I tried it and I was hooked. What I don't use I slice up and place into freezer bags, and freeze them.    (I cut off the ends of the lemons, save them in a separate freezer bag for potpourri, slice the lemons in half length-wise and then slice the halves in 1/4 inch pieces.)  If I wanted to be very conscientious, I would spread them out in one layer onto a cookie sheet and freeze them that way first. However, I can pry them apart pretty easily and don't mind two or three slices in my drink.

I use them either with ice or as a replacement for ice with what I'm drinking. I especially like a few iced lemon slices in water or in a mixture of cranberry juice and soda water (frozen lime slices work well, too).  Now that it's summer and the mint is going gangbusters, I add a few mint leaves to my drinks as well.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mixed greens stew

My share from the CSA was huge--beets, turnips, radishes, lettuce, spinach, arugula, fennel, and spring onion.  The beets and radishes also have edible greens, and I don't like wasting anything.  I also knew I wouldn't be able to eat everything this week, so. . .I did what I usually do, which was to make a meal ahead of time and freeze it.

I was going to try my hand at pot greens, but there was a lot of them.  And I knew I'd want soup this week--there's something about soup that is just very satisfying to me.  It also keeps well in the freezer.  I knew the greens would need something smoky and rich to cook with them--so I took out the turkey kielbasa from the freezer.

I washed and chopped the beet and radish greens (I'd chop them smaller next time), a garlic scape, a spring onion, and a bulb of fennel. I also sliced up the kielbasa.  I put them all into my large, 6-quart slow cooker and covered them with water, set it on high, and cooked it for three hours, adding a teaspoon of black pepper and teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.  I added in the spinach for the last hour of cooking.

This tasted pretty good; it's filling but won't make you feel like you've got a rock sitting in your stomach after having a bowl of it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday links

It's been 90-plus degrees here in Massachusetts.  Not that I'm complaining--I know if it's cold you can always put on another sweater, but my hands get sore and slow, and sometimes I just don't feel warm enough no matter how many sweaters I put on.  I drink some iced water and I'm good to go in the heat, though.  Not that I'm about to run any marathons in the desert or anything.  Heck, I'm not about to run any marathons, period.

Here are some of the things I've read this week.

The Six Creepiest Lies the Food Industry is Feeding You (at  I knew about the meat shenanigans, was surprised at my surprise at the honey fakery, and am livid about fake mafia-trafficked olive oil.  Seriously.  DAMN YOU MAFIA JERKS. MAY YOU DIE A THOUSAND DEATHS AND ENDURE ETERNITY IN HELL WITH MUZAK AS THE BACKGROUND MUSIC AND KETCHUP FOR TOMATO SAUCE.

21 Pictures that will restore your faith in humanity.  This got me teary-eyed.

There is a glut of used clothing, apparently.

Strength training at home (and mainly without weights).  You can also go to this site and build up enough strength to do 100 pushups in six weeks.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stem-to-root cooking

Last year, the New York Times ran a story on stem-to-root cooking.  I was going to post about it but got caught up in my gardening morass and so didn't.  However, now that my CSA is in full swing again, I'm thinking about the article.  The concept is not a new one to me; however, I had never heard it called "stem-to-root," never realized the many ways to use up the last bits of vegetables, never knew that even corncobs had edible life to them, or that this was now kind of trendy.

I've always done a version of this with both meat and vegetables.  My version of root-to-stem cooking was to use the edible parts I know about, boil the tougher parts for stock, and then compost them (with meat, I cook and eat or save the meat and use the bones for stock.)  I also eat and enjoy the parts of the plant I know are edible (so, for example, I don't just eat the beets, I will steam the beet greens and eat them with a little cider vinegar).

Some things are already well-known (at least to older generations).  Yes, you can pickle watermelon rind.  Apparently my great-grandmother did that all the time, and it's supposed to be tasty.  Yes, the broccoli stalk is edible--once you peel it, it's actually more tender and tasty than the florets.  But the article has some good suggestions of what you can do with things that many people either don't eat or don't enjoy eating.  (For example, I didn't know you could make a relish from the tough ends of asparagus--I use them for stock.)

Learning which parts of the plant are edible (because it's not just what you get in the supermarket) and the different ways you can prepare them can save you time, money, and stress.  It's also kind of amazing--I didn't know that carrot tops were edible. (When do we ever eat carrot tops?)  If you want to buy produce from a farmer's market, or you grow it, you can actually use the whole vegetable and not worry about needing to get more within a day or so.  You don't have to buy a lot of vegetables, you can buy a few and use up every last part of them.  You can eat the same plant but in varied ways--steam the cauliflower, and saute the outer leaves in some olive oil and garlic, for example.  Out of garlic?  Are you growing it?  Use the scapes that are shooting out of the ground. You don't have to go to the store or market to get more food, you have plenty and can use what you have.  And you can try something new.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mediterranean Fish (dinner and leftovers)

I had friends over on Saturday for dinner--one of them is trying to eat more sensibly and so I figured I could make Indian food or a light fish dish.  Well, Indian food is delicious, but I figured cooking things in ghee would be defeating the purpose.  Also, it would take some doing, and I've been a bit tired lately, so I decided to make Mediterranean fish.

This is very, very easy and feels quite luxurious.  It is a good go-to dish when you're trying to make a fancy meal that doesn't take a lot of time or energy.  And it makes for decent leftovers if you get a little creative (granted, don't go heating up fish at work).


1 pound of firm white fish (cod, haddock, etc.).
1 small jar of capers
1 14-oz can of stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tsp of olive oil

Lightly oil a shallow casserole.  Place fish inside.  Cover with capers and tomatoes, pour white wine over it.  Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 30-50 minutes, until fish is opaque and flakes with a fork.

This dish cries out for crusty bread--the brothy sauce that comes out in the baking process is simply heavenly.  The first time I made this, I had no bread--it was for my parents on Christmas Eve and they were trying to cut down on carbs.  Trust me on this, indulge in one piece of crusty, chewy bread to dip in the sauce. You'll be glad you did.

For leftovers, I flake the fish a bit, heat the whole thing up, and toss it with a little pasta and olive oil (see the picture to the right).  It's delicious.  I do not bring the leftover fish to work as that's just plain cruel to my coworkers.

Monday, June 18, 2012

How does my (work) garden grow?

I have two garden plots--one at a community garden in my town and a large one at a community garden at work.  I'm very lucky because I don't have to pay a rental or a fee for the plot and, in the case of the community garden in my town, there are volunteers who will help repair the containers, put up trellises, water them during the day, etc. (though we all take turns watering in the evenings).

My work plot is huge.  I am sharing it with a colleague which has been a big help--we get mulch for the plot, have planted together, and can take turns watering or maintaining.  As you can see from the picture above, the weeds are still taking hold, but trust me when I say it isn't nearly as bad as it was last year.  My colleague set out string between each row so we will know where to walk; one of those walkways is fast being filled in by grass and so I need to add some more seaweed mulch.

The plants were looking a little waterlogged--it was a very cool and rainy week, and while it was supposed to be warm this weekend, it was cool.  I hope it warms up soon as I would like fresh tomatoes!

So, here are some pictures from the work garden:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday blogaround--the garden edition

Before I start, this was actually a search term that got someone to this joint: "old people are lazy."  Well, if they are, I'd say they've earned it.

Inspired by Juneteenth, The New York Times to run a story in the Thursday edition of the paper on freedom gardens and gardening and farming in the African-American community.  You should definitely check out the African American Museum's Freedom Garden if you are in the Donaldsonville, Louisiana area.  (I would certainly like to visit one day.)

Bryallen's vegetables are coming along.  Check out her post as she has some useful tips on growing different vegetables.

Dan's garden in his still fairly new home is coming along as well.

And oldie but a goodie from Five Cent Nickel on four frugal gardening hacks.

You can grow your own stevia.  Yes, it's the same stuff used for the new sugar alternative.

Most people with gardens have at least one zucchini plant--sometimes more.  Then they have more of the stuff than they know what to do with.  Well, prepare now! Check out these zucchini recipes.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Every night frogs serenade me

 Every night I hear about 2-3 frogs (or more) calling from the trees.  This is a fairly new development--over the past few years they've gotten a little more numerous and loud.  I never heard them when I first moved here.  I don't have a picture of the little guys but I do have a Youtube video of one of them calling.  They are Eastern tree frogs.

Last night I was walking with my neighbor and I heard her say there were a couple at her door.  I have been dying to see what these little critters look like--I actually love their calls.  There were two right up against the front door to her building.  I cooed over them (she must think I'm really odd) and moved them to a less hazardous place.  One of them wasn't having it and jumped back in my path, staring me down, like, LISTEN CHICKIE, WE WERE INVITED TO A PARTY IN THE DOWNSTAIRS CONDO BUT WE CAN'T REACH THE BUZZER SO DO NOT PATRONIZE ME AND PUT ME IN THE SHRUBBERY WITH ALL THE BARK.  DO YOU HAVE ANY CRICKETS TO EAT? I LOVE CRICKETS.

They are adorable. One hangs out in the tree outside of my second bedroom window--I know because I can hear it at night quite clearly.  It's soothing as I go to sleep, though, and it's another reason why I'd rather not turn on the A/C if it's not that hot outside.  If I had my camera with me, I'd have taken a picture (and probably freaked the poor frog out, who would have joined a human contact survivors group and been all like AND THEN THE CREATURE POINTED A SQUARE THING AT ME AND THERE WAS THIS BRIGHT LIGHT AND I SAW ONLY PINK AND LIME GREEN DOTS FOR THE NEXT 10 MINUTES.  I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT A LIME IS BUT I KNOW THAT GREEN WAS ITS COLOR.  And all of the other frogs would have been like, YOU'RE DELUSIONAL and that frog would have set up a website and a newsletter about how the tall things are part of a conspiracy).

So, you know, probably a good thing I didn't do that.

Probably also a good thing these things haven't made it onto my balcony.  My cat would throw herself through the screen to get them and be all like OH YES FROGS LEGS ITS MAH FAVORITE YUM.  My cat's a sweetheart unless you're small enough for her to hunt or you're a small dog or another cat.  In which case, she will mess you up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: The Stepford Wives

I know many of you have heard the term Stepford Wife. It's a part of the lexicon, at least the American Lexicon, and for good reason. The original movie was creepy (the remake was a mess, which is too bad, since they could have done some fun things with it). The novella it was based on was terrifying and wrenching.

Okay, the review is filled to the brim with spoilers for the book (and the film) so if you haven't read the book and/or seen the film, don't read this review (which mainly focuses on the book).

 The Stepford Wives is a beautifully written, nasty little piece of work, and I mean that as the highest compliment. It's a novella--I read it in a few hours--and it delivers a gut punch the 1975 movie really doesn't. The film was creepy and kind of scary--a thriller in broad daylight--but the book made the movie look like a Saturday-morning cartoon.

Ira Levin captured several things: the sterility and conformity of the very affluent suburbs, the feeling of isolation in such a community, the misogyny and ultimate gutlessness of a certain type of man (not the type you'd necessarily think), betrayal, denial, and the logical conclusion of the cult of domesticity. There is a reason why some have called this book satire, and I have to agree with it. It's not very funny--once you know the ending you can see a mirthless humor in it, sure, but it's not an overt pack of laughs. But it's a satire, a devastating and creepy one.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Preserved Lemons

I read about making preserved lemons in this book: Well Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods.  I was intrigued.

First, the original recipe is for preserved Meyer lemons, which my grocery store does not have.  According to the book's author Eugenia Bone, Meyer lemons are a little sweeter and they have a thinner rind, so it won't take as long for the brine to permeate the lemons.  No matter.  I used regular sale lemons.

Preserving lemons basically entails sterilizing a couple of pint jars and heating up the lids and bands in simmering water, cutting up the lemon in quarters, and layering the slices with kosher salt, adding lemon juice at the end.  Screw on the jar caps and leave on your counter for 2-3 weeks (two weeks if you use Meyer lemons).  Turn the jars over every couple of days to make sure the brine gets to all of them.  After the second or third week, put the jars in the fridge.  The lemons should be good for months.

Now, what would you use them for?  Well, chicken tagine often calls for preserved lemons.  And I enjoy cooking and eating fish, and these add a really nice, tangy flavor to them.

All I really did was pan sear the salmon with some garlic and ginger, chopped up a slice of the preserved lemon, and added it to the pan.  It was an easy way to dress up the fish and went well with the turnip greens.

This was actually quite easy to do, so if you find lemons on sale (or get one of those bags with tons of lemons in them), this would be a good way to use some of them.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Stretching the life of things, stretching a dollar

Yes, I do try to stretch my dollars.  However, I'm no fabulous frugalista as I'm also a sucker for the odd meal out and sometimes forget to bring lunch to work (so have to buy lunch).  But there are things I do to stretch the life out of things.

Vegetable stems and ends--I make stock with them.  Then I compost them.  If I cook meat with the bone in, I'll make stock from the bones.  I was able to get a good price on a huge container of dried mushrooms; when I reconstitute them for a dish, I save the water they were reconstituted in, as it's a delicious stock.  I freeze it in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into a marked bag.

Speaking of compost, if you have stinging nettles in your yard or garden, you can compost them.  Bryallen tells you how.  Though keep in mind that nettles are edible, like many weeds.  (And if you want to go out foraging, make sure you know what plants are safe to eat and what may be poisonous look-similar plants--a hospital trip isn't frugal, my friends.)

Bread ends--I run them in the food processor and use the bread crumbs in recipes (I store the crumbs in the freezer).

Laundry--I use about half to three quarters of the detergent that I'm "supposed" to.  My clothes come out very clean.  I also hang dry them, so they last longer.

Do you need a dutch oven?  Patty-Ann has a solution; use an old crockpot insert.

If you can sew, you can make a quilt completely for free--just save old clothing.

Pickle brine--I slice another cucumber and put it in the jar with the brine.  (Or I use whole pickling cucumbers if they fit into the jar that way.)  I've also read that you can use it to brine chicken, though I haven't tried that.

Olives--My friend Steve from World of Okonomy will occasionally splurge on the really fancy green olives.  Once he's done with them, he'll save the brine and fill the container up with the cheap green olives he gets from the dollar store.  He figured it was the brine that made the olives taste good (or awful) and apparently, he's right.  So he stretches the brine of the expensive olives, and makes it even better by adding rosemary, cloves and garlic.  Each week he adds different herb and spice mixtures (basil, dill, hot pepper, etc.) to the brine.  He swears these olives are the best he's ever had.

Scones--Steve also mentioned his love of scones but his difficulty in buying a package of them.  Like me, he's single and so a package would go stale before he could eat them all.  He realized he could freeze them, take out one the night before he'd like to have it and let it defrost (in a bag to keep any bugs away and to keep it from getting stale) and eat it in the morning.  I do this with bread and other baked goods when they go on sale.

Jeans--when they get torn or raggy, I cut them into shorts.  I'm going to try and make potholders or trivets out of the next raggy pair I have.

Cracked or chipped jars--these are useful as pen/pencil holders, or as containers for odds and ends like paperclips, coins, etc.

Soap pads--I cut them in half or quarters, and store the one I use in a small baggie in the freezer.  It doesn't rust as quickly, and the smaller amounts mean I stretch the life of them even further.  Patty-Ann does one better; she makes scrubbies from the mesh bag that holds oranges.

What do you do to stretch the life of the things you have?  How do you reuse the things you have?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Kale smoothie

Yes, you read it right.  Kale smoothie.

I made one last night when I got home and one again this morning (see the picture?).  Yesterday was my CSA pickup day, and kale is on the menu.  A friend of mine had posted on Facebook about how she made kale smoothies, I was curious, I worked the Google, and then I improvised.

This is what I used last night:

1 cup of fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into halves or quarters (depending on the size)
1 1/2 cups of chopped kale, stems removed
2 tablespoons of my homemade yogurt
A dash of cinnamon

I pureed it well in a blender and drank it.  Well, first I looked at it doubtfully, because unlike most of the pictures I saw of kale smoothies that showcase luxuriously green drinks, this one was the color of my bedroom--Mississippi Mud.  Which is a nice color on a wall (really!) but has me thinking of, er, things other than kale and smoothies when it's in my glass.

However, it tasted delicious.  And it's making me want to try this with other greens and other fruit combinations.  (I'm willing to bet it would be green and still quite tasty with melon and chopped mint, for example.)

The one this morning, which is decidedly greener (see the picture above), has the same ingredients sans cinnamon and, after the first blending, I added another cup of chopped kale and blended that in, too.  It's good though the kale taste really comes through.  Now, I don't mind kale, but if you don't want the flavor in a smoothie and you want the green color, I'd suggest adding in a chopped apple or kiwi, or green grapes, or some apple or orange juice.

I'll keep you posted about my further adventures in smoothie land.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Homemade yogurt

It is quite possible to make homemade yogurt.  In your slow cooker.

There are links all over the internet on how to do this.  (This site has a printable step-by-step guide that I used.) It's pretty basic.  You cook milk in the crockpot on low for two and a half hours, allow it to sit in the unplugged crockpot for another three hours, mix some of the milk with yogurt (make sure it has live, active cultures), add it back in, cover the crockpot, wrap it in a thick towel or a blanket, and allow it to sit for eight hours.

After 8 hours, the yogurt should be firm.  Scoop it into clean containers and refrigerate.  Allow to chill before serving or eating.

That's basically it.  (If you're vegan or lactose intolerant, it's apparently quite possible to use soy milk with soy yogurt as a starter.  I gather can also use almond milk, though the linked recipe calls for regular yogurt as a starter.  Find an almond milk yogurt recipe that is totally dairy free here.  You can also use coconut milk if you want.  I haven't tried any of these, so if any of you have tried making them or are inspired to do so, please tell me about your results in the comments section.)

I used two quarts--about 1.9 liters--of milk (I used powdered skim milk), and store brand yogurt.  It came out pretty well.  I had some for breakfast and stirred in some frozen blueberries and a little honey.

Some people add in some dried milk powder with the milk or gelatin as it adds thickness.  If you want Greek-style yogurt, line a mesh colander with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, put the yogurt in it, and set it over a bowl.  Allow the moisture to drain through for about 4 hours (8 hours if you want yogurt cheese/spread, which is supposed to have the consistency of cream cheese).

Save a 1/2 cup or 118 ml of the yogurt you made to use as a starter for the next time you make it.   Or freeze some of it in 1/2 cup portions, pop out of molds, and put into a freezer bag.  When you want to make yogurt, you can take out one or two of these (or however many you'll need), thaw it, and use it as a starter.

This was a lot less expensive than buying yogurt, it cut down on the amount of plastic I use since I wasn't buying new packaging, and it is strangely satisfying to make your own yogurt.

Yogurt has a lot of uses--I will use it instead of mayonnaise sometimes when I make tuna salad--a few tablespoons of plain yogurt, some curry and cumin and cayenne pepper, and I have a delicious filling for a sandwich or a tasty pate for some crackers.

Yogurt is great if you're eating spicy food and you need to cool your palate off a bit.

It's great in smoothies.

You can blend it with fruit and freeze it in molds for healthy freezer pops.

You can allow it to thicken for a few hours and mix it with herbs and spices for a vegetable and cracker crudites dip.

It can replace things like sour cream when you're baking--it adds moisture and body to cakes and muffins.

You get the idea.  If you have a slow cooker I suggest you give this a whirl.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vegetarian Lasagna with Sage Bechamel Sauce

This sounds a lot fancier than it is.  I made this for a couple of friends who came over for dinner.  They are both cutting out a lot of meat from their diets.  One of my friends was pregnant and a little sensitive to strong tasting things; I'll tell you what I did and I'll also add in what you can do to add some more punch.  This was a big hit without the extra garlic and without any onion, so keep that in mind.  This is a very comforting, easy dish to make.  Both of my friends liked this dish a lot (which was a relief, since it was my first time making it and let's face it, I improvised).

For the lasagna:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 box (or 1 1/2 boxes) of no cook lasagna noodles (sue me, I'm lazy and I always destroy the noodles when I cook them first).
  • 1 16-oz package of frozen cubed butternut squash
  • 1 10-oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh mushrooms or 1 cup of dried mushrooms reconstituted in hot water and chopped (save the mushroom stock for another use)
  • 1 clove of garlic (or if you want a stronger taste, use two to four cloves of garlic), minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (I left this out due to the whole "lets avoid the strong taste" thing since torturing my friends when they are gestating children is not high on my list of enjoyable activities)
  • 1 lb of mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the white sauce:

  • 4 tbsp of flour
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 4 cups of milk (I used skim)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh or frozen sage leaves (you could probably use a teaspoon or two of dried)
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread thawed squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, and bake for about 20 minutes or so, until tender.  Meanwhile, saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat until translucent, add spinach and mushrooms, and allow to cook through until warm.  Set vegetables aside.

For the sauce, melt the butter over a low heat, add the flour, stir to make a paste.  Add the milk, and heat over medium heat.  Add a pinch of nutmeg and the sage.  Stir/whisk constantly until the milk gets very thick. Do not let it boil.

Spread a thin layer of the bechamel sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan.  Place noodles over it to cover.  Add 1/2 vegetable mixture and a little less than 1/2 of the cheese, then enough sauce to cover in a thin layer.  Repeat layers (this made me two layers).  Spread the rest of the sauce over the top layer of noodles, add remaining cheese.  Cook in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

This goes well with a salad.

Dessert was basically vanilla frozen yogurt topped with homemade rhubarb and strawberry jam.