Friday, September 16, 2011

Curious George and an ambitious cooking effort

No, this is not the title of a new Curious George book. But rather a short tribute to the man and his wife who wrote the endearing series many of us read in our earlier years and books children still enjoy today. The cooking effort is reference to a new recipe that caught my attention.

Today is the birthday of H.A. Rey (1898). He was born Hans Augusto Reyersbach in Hamburg, Germany. He and his wife, Margret, both German Jews, were living in Paris in 1939 when World War II began. They were at work on a new book featuring the most endearing of Hans' animal drawings, a mischievous monkey named Fifi. "It seems ridiculous to be thinking about children's books," Rey wrote to a friend. "[But] life goes on, the editors edit, the artists draw, even during wartime." By June 1940, it became apparent that Paris was in imminent danger from the Nazis, so Hans built two bicycles out of spare parts, and the Reys gathered their most precious and portable belongings, including the collection of monkey sketches for the book manuscript. They left Paris two days before the Nazis invaded, and rode 75 miles in three days. By bicycle, train, and boat, they fled on a four-month journey that took them to Lisbon, then Rio de Janeiro, and finally New York.

The drawings of the little monkey were proof of the Reys' occupation and helped them get visas. The first book, Curious George, as the monkey was now called, was published in the United States in 1941. (In Britain, the monkey was called Zozo, to avoid offending King George VI.) Their first book was an instant success about the adventures of a mischievous monkey and his friend with the yellow hat. The Reys went on to write eight more adventures tales of Curious George.

Hans Rey was also an astronomy enthusiast, and in addition to the beloved Curious George books, he wrote The Stars: A New Way to See Them in 1952. The book includes constellation diagrams with cartoon outlines to make them easier to remember and recognize. His new diagrams were widely adopted by other astronomical texts, and the book is regularly reissued as we learn more accurate information about our galaxy. Both Hans and his wife were prolific writers and wrote many other books besides the Curious George books.

The Reys relocated to Cambridge Mass in the late 60’s. Hans died in 1979 and his wife Margret died in 1996. There is a bookstore called Curious George and Friends located in Harvard Square.

How much can you remember about these books?

In the first adventure Curious George ends up flying through the air by what means?

  • a bunch of balloons
  • a glider
  • a magic carpet
  • wings

Where does the man in the yellow hat find Curious George?

  • at the zoo
  • at a pet store
  • in a jungle
  • in a restaurant
In the book Curious George Rides A Bike what does ho do with the newspaper he is suppose to deliver?

  • make paper airplanes
  • make paper boats
  • drop them in a puddle
  • read them

answers: bunch of balloons, jungle, paper how did you do?

Today I woke up to a very chilly 28 degrees. Sure seems too early in the year for this when last week it was hot in the 90's! I knew this would be just the perfect day to try some comfort food. The recipe for lasagna made in a spring form pan and served on a cake stand intrigued me. The recipe is from a BHG publication called Best Comfort Food. I needed to make several modifications and will pass those ideas along.

Mile High Meatless Lasagna Pie


  • 14 dried lasagna noodles
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped carrots
  • 2 cups finely chopped zucchini
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 3 large tomatoes chopped and drained
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced or 1 tsp, prepared garlic from a jar
  • 1 box of white mushrooms washed and diced
  • 1 small package (9-oz.) of baby spinach with stems removed
  • 1 tsp. dried basil or 2 tsp. minced fresh basil
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 -15 oz. container part skim Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 26 0z. prepared Marina sauce
  • 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella or Fontina cheese
  • Rosemary sprigs for top garnish
Directions: Note the veggie mixture can be made the day before for easier prep
  • Cook noodles till al dente rinse and drain and lay out on paper towels on counter
  • In skillet add 2 TB. olive oil and saute covered on medium heat garlic, carrots,zucchini, onion for about 5-8 minutes till veggies are softened
  • Drain and add back to skillet with 1 TB. olive oil, mushrooms, basil, tomatoes and spinach, salt and pepper
  • Cook till spinach is wilted,drain juices and set aside
  • In a bowl beat egg , add ricotta cheese, and Parmesan cheese
To assemble there will be three layers of noodles when using a 9 inch spring form pan or 2 layers if use 10 inch pan
  • Lightly PAM spray bottom of pan
  • Add noodles to fit bottom some trimming will be necessary
  • Add 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of noddles
  • Cover ricotta mixture with some of the veggies
  • On top of this add some of the pasta sauce
  • Grate mozzarella or Fontina cheese over the pasta sauce
  • Repeat layers with noddles, ricotta cheese, veggies, pasta, grated cheese two more times ending with cheese on top
  • Place spring form pan on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 for one hour and 15 minutes
If lasagna has been refrigerated before cooking let set out about 1/2 hour before baking and please note if preparing dish ahead of time to refrigerate then cover the bottom of pan with foil and place it on a larger dish with sides that are rounded to prevent leakage in the refrigerator
After cooking let lasagna set about 15 minutes on a wire rack then remove sides carefully

Voila!!-hopefully it will look just like the picture posted-its a great menu item that just might dazzle your company

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