ONCE UPON A THYME there lived a vampire. He had long black hair that fell down his shoulders like a theater curtain and skin so golden it was as if his whole body had been dipped into glitter. He lived all alone in a tall, narrow tower made of stone. The tower stretched so high up into the sky that come night fall, the vampire could stick out his tongue and lick the stars.
All day long, the vampire dreamed of leaving the tower but the world below terrified him. He worried senselessly about everything. He feared that the goblins who dwelt in the forest would rob him of his velvet cloaks and that the pixies who fluttered through the skies would pull at his hair.
Whenever his anxiety became too intense, there was nothing left for him to do but dance. Oh, it was quite the sight when the vampire danced! Soft moonlight spilled in through the stained glass windows, the spiders skittled up the cracked old walls, and the vampire shook and shimmied as if his whole life depended on it.
In a way, it sort of did. Dancing always made him feel much better. It was his greatest release. One day a raven arrived at the vampire’s window with a shiny piece of mail in her mouth. The vampire grabbed the envelope and tore into it with his sharp fangs. You are cordially invited, the vampire read out loud. To a monster’s ball.
The ball was to take place in an old castle far, far across town. The vampire’s heart dribbled like a basketball. BA BOOM BA BOOM BA BOOM. He was so nervous! The vampire had not left his tower in ten thousand years. He didn’t know anyone else who had been invited or why he had been invited. His only friends were the birds and bugs that hung around the castle. He hid the invitation under his telescope and pretended he never received it. The next day, the raven returned. What was in the envelope, wondered the raven. Oh nothing, said the vampire. An invitation for a big party. How fabulous, said the raven. You must go. Oh, but I can’t, lied the vampire. I have no way to get there.
Nonsense, said the raven. My family and I will fly you there. The vampire was speechless. Dancing at a fancy strange monster party in a far away castle was his greatest fear. But the raven would not take no for an answer. She told the vampire to be ready by eight. The vampire was so nervous that all that he could think to do was dance. He twisted and twirled in front of his great big wardrobe until he finally settled on his best suit to wear. The ravens appeared at eight o clock on the dot.
The vampire was trembling with fear yet still he climbed up onto the window sill, stretched out his long arms, and allowed the dark feathered birds to transport him to the ball. Together, they flew over forests and flora, past constellations and comets, all the way to the castle far, far, and away. The vampire stepped into the grand ballroom and gasped. Never before had he ever seen such a curious collection of creatures. There were monsters with eyes where they should have had hands and monsters with hands where they should have had eyes. Some monsters looked like nightmares. Some monsters looked like dreams. It was fascinating to the vampire that in the history of all monsters, no two were quite exactly the same. Each monster was brilliant and bizarre in their own special way.
A winged monster with translucent skin and a seahorse nose stepped forward. We invited you here because you’re the only one who can help, said the monster. We are all trapped here. The only way for us to get to our homes is by the ghost train. The ghost train? asked the vampire. Ghost trains are very special, said the winged creature. Ghost trains take you to the most fantastical places, places where monsters dwell and magic is real. But you must be very courageous in order for one to appear. We haven’t seen one in a hundred years. A hundred years! exclaimed the vampire. But I don’t think I will be able to help. I have no friends. I never leave my tower. And I do is —“
Suddenly a table filled with garlic broke. The white bulbs rolled out onto the floor.
The vampire froze, for even more than the vampire feared the monsters, he feared garlic. All vampires do. It is one of the most challenging parts about being a vampire. The vampire’s fear of garlic was one of the reasons why he never left the tower to go for dinner. It was nearly impossible to go to dinner without garlic appearing in some great form.
The garlic and the monsters and the party was all too much for the vampire. He became so nervous that he could barely stand still. He twitched and he trembled until there was nothing left to do but dance.
The vampire danced like he had never danced before. He sauntered and swayed, crushing the garlic cloves hard under his feet until the whole ballroom positively reeked. But the monsters loved it. They clapped and crowded around him and soon, the vampire no longer felt afraid. He felt alive. Then, there was a loud crash through the windows. The whirl of a train roared through the room.
You did it, cheered the monsters. The vampire climbed aboard the ghost train. The ghost train wove through realms so wondrous the vampire could not even believe these places were real. He visited every single one of the monsters’ dwellings until he discovered that he was the very last passenger. The train rode through the forest and lurched up the side of the vampire’s tower.
When the vampire got off, the moon was full. He had time for just more dance before crawling into bed.
Note: Historically, garlic is dreaded by vampires. But often the greatest magic exists on the other side of fear. In this tale, an anxiety ridden vampire debuts a hidden talent to help him overcome his phobia. The results are out of this world.
This recipe was inspired by my late brother. It was always a special treat for us to come home from school and have lasagna for dinner. I think my mother made it frequently because she knew my brother's love for Garfield. I hope you enjoy as much as we did as children.
1/3 cup diced sweet onion
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 lb minced meat of your preference (I use beef and sometimes turkey)
6 oz baby bella mushrooms or whatever is regional
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of seasalt
1 28 oz can crushed tomato
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 Cup your favorite red wine plus 1 cup your favorite red wine for drinking while cooking :)
1 15 oz container of Ricotta Cheese
6 oz Mozzarella plus some for topping
2 oz parmesean plus some for topping
8 oz lasagna noodles
Begin dicing onion, garlic, and mushrooms and set aside.
Use dutch oven and add olive oil once hot add onions and cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes then add mushrooms and cook until they shrink. Add in meat and cook until brown. Once meat is browned pour in crushed tomatoes and mash into meat ( I use a potato masher). Add in tomato paste and stir. Add in oregano, basil, parsley, bay leaf, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and red wine. Stir until combined.
Reduce heat low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
While sauce is on simmer boil water with a splash of olive oil. Once water comes to a boil add noodles and cook to instructions on package. Once cooked drain and return to pot in cold water and olive oil to avoid sticking. Set aside. Next, in a medium sized bowl mix together cheeses and egg (setting aside about 1 oz mozzarella and 1 oz Parmesan for topping).
Once sauce has simmered and all other steps are complete put together your lasagna. Start by coating a 9 by 13 inch pan with sauce. Top with noodles then layer with cheese mixture then more sauce. Do this until you run out of cheese mixture ( I usually have 3 layers). When you are at the top layer you should end with noodles. Add a splash of sauce to avoid dryness and spread across noodles. Then, top with leftover Parmesan and Mozzarella. Bake on 375 F or 175 C for about 40 minutes or until top is crisp. Let cool for five minutes then enjoy!
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