The Lovely Lisa was supposed to fly up from her home in California for the Civil War game last Thursday… then we were all going to drive over to Bend to visit my family. 

Didn’t happen.

Lisa came down with strep throat and was ordered to bed for three days instead. Lisa changed her flight and arrived here Saturday evening… so we could all drive to Bend Sunday morning to visit my family.

Didn’t happen.

Huge blizzard in the mountains! The roads treacherous. My parents have 8 inches of snow and temperatures down to single-digits. (It was a balmy 25 degrees at our house.) Time for Plan B.

While Lisa was in bed for three days, she watched a lot of television and saw Greek Chef Vefa Alexiadou prepare Lamb Baked with Orzo on the Martha Stewart Show. Lisa thought the recipe looked good, so we went to the market, purchased the ingredients and made the dish. At the last minute, we were joined by Lisa’s friend (since 3rd grade), Jen! Our disappointing day was turning around.

The recipe calls for browning lamb in olive oil. Then tomato sauce and garlic is added and the dish is simmered for one hour.

While the stew is simmering, the instructions call for sautéing a pound of orzo (rice-shaped pasta) in butter until the pasta browns.

The dish is assembled by placing the sautéed orzo in the bottom of a baking dish, spooning the lamb over the orzo, pouring the tomato sauce over all and then pouring hot water over everything. Crazy, but somehow it all works. The casserole is covered and baked for 90 minutes, then removed – to top decoratively with sliced tomatoes and cheese – and baked for thirty additional minutes. Obviously not a dish for the harried cook!

Somehow the orzo soaks up all the tomato sauce and water!

I actually pretty-much followed the recipe too… with the following exceptions:

1. I added one tablespoon of dried oregano – there are no spices, except salt and pepper, in the dish. I can’t imagine why. It would have been better with two tablespoons of dried oregano.

2. Recipe calls for 24 ounces of tomato puree and tomato puree comes in 28 ounce tins, so I used 28 ounces.

3. Recipe calls for 1 lb., 2 oz. of orzo and orzo comes in 1 pound bags, so I used one pound… which means I used not enough orzo and too much liquid, but the moisture-content of the dish was perfect.

4. Recipe calls for three cups of water and I used three cups of chicken stock.

For me, that is “pretty-much following the recipe”.

For appetizers, we enjoyed my Hot Olives. I served the Lamb Baked with Orzo with a tossed salad. Dessert was baklava from the bakery.

I begged the girls for photographs, but they refused. They said something about being ugly. No make-up. Unwashed hair.

It is my dream to be as ugly as Lisa and Jen.

Until my next update, I remain, your Greek correspondent.

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