Friday 16 April 2010

The loveliest of all . . .

This time of year I am reminded of the beautiful Pergolas that lay in the back garden of the Manor house down in Brenchley where I worked. The base of each post was surrounded with beautiful clusters of daffodils this time of year, as well as all along the drive. A beautiful happy sea of golden blooms.

It is said that great things hang upon small chances.

Were it not that a particular wind had been blowing so violently as to cause the daffodils by Lake Ullswater to sway about wildly on a Thursday afternoon in April, at the beginning of the last century, one of the loveliest of all poems in the English language would never have been written.

Had he been all on his own . . . Wordsworth may have wandered by, lost in a world of mindless distraction, and missed the moment which has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers since . . .

Thankfully for the world, his sister was with him. There was no beauty, however miniscule or fleeting, that dared escape his observant sister, Dorothy . . .

She made the daffodils dance for William . . . and then William made them dance for the world.

Over one hundred and fifty years have passed since that fateful day in April, and the writing of one of William Wordsworth's most beloved and well known poems, but the words still bring magic to the reader, allowing that wonderful sense of being there . . . the magic of dancing daffodils alongside a beautiful windswept lake.

"They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude."

How wonderful it is that, no matter where you are, or what season it is, or where you live . . . you can always read his words and enjoy the magic and beauty of the Ullswater daffodils.

Ohh . . . I do love April so . . . it feeds my soul in a way that no other month does. All the promise of Spring . . . the budding leaves and flowers . . . the waving daffodils. What a feast for the heart after a long cold winter!

Speaking of feasts, I managed to torture Todd with some pasta over the past few weeks. He didn't really mind overly much though. I often use a slow cooker on Sundays, or make up a tasty casserole that I can quickly pop into the microwave to heat up for after church. Last week I made this delicious lasagne. It is a white lasagne, meaning that there isn't a tomato within two inches of it, not unless you include the ones in the salad I served on the side. Rich and creamy, and just a bit spicy from the sausage meat I used in the filling, it went down a real treat and had us sitting down to a delicious hot meal within minutes of our return home.

Ahh . . . I like it when I think ahead! It makes life so much easier!

*Lasagne Blanca*
Serves 12
Printable Recipe

A delicious lasagne filled with spicy sausage and onions, mushrooms, and a creamy cheese mixture. A béchamel sauce subtly flavoured with tarragon adds a wonderfully rich touch.

1 pound spicy bulk pork sausage meat
½ cup chopped spring onions
½ tsp garlic powder, divided
½ tsp ground black pepper, divided
1 ½ cups shredded strong cheddar cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1 (17 ounce) package of no boil lasagne sheets
½ cup chopped fresh mushrooms

For the Béchamel:
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1/8 tsp dried tarragon, crushed
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Butter a 2 quart lasagne dish. Set aside.

Cook the sausage in a large skillet until browned well and crumbly, mashing it with a fork as it cooks. Drain well. Stir in the onions, ¼ tsp of garlic powder, ¼ tsp black pepper and salt to taste. Set aside.

Mix together the cottage cheese, cream cheese and ½ cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir in the remaining black pepper and garlic powder.

Make the béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a large saucepan. When it has melted, whisk in the flour. Cook for one minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook and whisk over medium heat until thickened. Stir in the tarragon, salt and pepper. Stir in ½ cup of the cheese, stirring it in until melted.

Spread a generous dollop of the béchamel sauce in the lasagne dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Spoon on ½ of the cheese filling. Cover with half of the sausage mixture and the mushrooms. Drizzle with a bit of the béchamel sauce. Cover with another layer of noodles. Spread the remaining cheese mixture over top evenly. Sprinkle the remaining sausage mixture evenly over top. Drizzle with a bit more béchamel. Top with a final layer of lasagne noodles. Spread the remaining béchamel sauce over top.

Cover with foil and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the foil. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and return to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until nicely golden on top and bubbling.

It's Sausage and Mash, but not as you know it! Over on The English Kitchen today . . . Herby Sausages with Parsnip Mash and Stir Fried Cabbage.


  1. Each season brings with it such beautiful treats for the eyes. Spring is my favorite though. We needed some color after the dreary winter and the blooms are just wonderful. Your lasagna sounds wonderful. I love pastas of most any kind. I hope your Friday is a wonderful one!

  2. I was enjoying reading about the daffodils and mentally drifting into a beautiful green pasture with a gentle breeze. But then the lasagna showed up and totally snapped me back into reality. Now I'm hungry!!!

  3. Such spring delights... oh, how lovely! Our daffodils aren't out yet--but soon! This lasagna is wonderful...mmm... I've not made lasagna in ages! Thank so much for wanting to join in on The Blog Cafe! I thought you might like that! ;o) Thank you so much for your email... Super-busy day today, I will try to write you tonight... So glad to have you back here! :o) LOVE YOU HEAPS!! OXOX ((BIG HUG)

  4. Eeeek - i'm falling over mysdelf to get over to the English Kitchen so me and Keith can drool over the bangers and mash!

    Don't they just shout "it's Spring", daffs? I specially like the really big ones, which I'm sure must be what Wordsworth was writing about. They only need the slightest breeze to set them rippling away. You can get some tiny ones and I have to say I don't like them. Well, I like the look of them but they have the most horrible smell.

    love, A, xx

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  6. Marie, this is so lovely. I adore the daffodils and they so remind me of our first trip to Scotland. When we got on our train they were all in bloom and so we enjoyed them all along the way to be reunited with our Jennifer after her mission. It was a sight I'll never forget~just breathtaking!

    The white lasagna is one I am saving...I know Jim will love that one and want to have it be one of our cooking together adventures!

    Tell us all about Chester sometime! Cannot wait to hear more about it. I heard Lowell talking to one of the girls and telling them that one of their ancestors on his side was married in Chester. It was during the time you were gone so I perked up when I heard him mention it! So my little granddaughters have some roots there!

  7. The daffodils in most Northern Utah are beginning to come up! Love this time of year. Brings me hope that summer is on it's way!

    The Lasagna looks delicious. It's definitely something I would like to try!

    So glad you are in your new home! Your new oven is so darn cute. And your new furniture....WONDERFUL

  8. i am sooo going to make that lasagna soon! sounds and looks so tasty!and i agree-april is wonderful! planting gardens, flowers, warmer air, little breezes, birds singing, spring is fantastic!

  9. Hey Marie! Wow what a few months you have had! I am so very, very sorry that your darling Jess has passed on, sweetie. I am heart broken. I'm sending bright energy to you and Todd so that your new home opens new joys and opportunities for you. May you have contentment and peace in your lives again! xxxxx


  10. Thanks for sharing some beautiful thoughts and lovely pictures. We need to be reminded to look at all the beauty around us.
    I will enjoying reading your thoughts.
    I have just started a blog; check it out. Living Waters

    I have missed you so much.... All of us have missed you.
    I am anxious to hear all about your new home. You must show us lots of pictures. I am sorry that it is so much smaller and some of your furniture wouldn't fit in. That is too bad. However, I am sure that you will adjust and soon feel very cozy there.

    I want to know all the details. I am sure that we all do. Tell us more about everything.
    I send love, Lura

  12. I echo Lura's comment...tell us more about everything!! I have missed you so much. Your posts brighten my day. Thank you! xoxo


  13. Ahhh Marie Im so happy you are here!! again! I love reading all you write dear Marie, huggs, and kisses, gloria


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