“Dead Man’s Manicotti” and Project STIR

My friend, Sarah is working on a wonderful idea called Project STIR.

Project STIR is a series of documentary films launching this fall on Kickstarter. The films will follow Abuelitas, Nans & Mamaws passing down heirloom recipes in kitchens around the globe including countries like Panama, New Zealand, Turkey, Croatia & England. Click here to learn more about how to be involved. 

Sarah is hoping to tell the story of families and the recipes they love.  She wants to share the laughter and the tears that have been shared over food and in the kitchen and preserve those memories for families and generations to come. 

Dead Man’s Manicotti

My story of learning how to cook is not unlike that of many others.  Cooking has been an integral part of my family as long as I can remember.  Our family ate dinner together, at the table, most every night of my entire childhood.  We often shared the work of cooking and cleaning.  I don’t have any clear memories of learning how to cook because it was just something that we always did.  Being in the kitchen was a part of growing up.

I can remember one evening when the task of making the meal was left to my sister and I.

Manicotti.  A family favorite, simple enough for two early teenagers to execute without supervision.  

At least one would think.

Mom had set out all of the ingredients and placed her recipe on the counter.  All Amanda and I had to do was follow directions and place the casserole in the oven to bake.

I can recall our excitement over getting to prepare the meal.  We felt grown up and felt as if we were getting to contribute to the family in a significant way by having dinner ready when mom and dad got home from work.

The ingredients and directions were simple enough.

Strawberry Skillet Crisp
Serves 6
A delicious strawberry dessert baked in a cast-iron skillet.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
  1. 2 quarts sliced strawberries
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  4. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  5. 1 cup old fashioned oats
  6. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  7. 1/4 cup flour
  8. 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. 5 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  11. Vanilla ice cream
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch add lemon juice. Mix well and set aside
  3. In a separate bowl combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, pecans and salt.  Cut in the cubed butter with a pastry cutter (or your hands) until the mixture is well combined and forms small clumps.
  4. Pour the strawberry mixture into a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.
  5. Top the berries with the oat mixture, spreading it over the entire surface.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Let cool to room temperature.  Scoop into bowls and top with vanilla ice cream.
Julie D. Kohl http://www.juliedkohl.com/

In Mom’s original recipe the directions said, “Saute the meat until cooked. Mix in all the remaining ingredients except for the sauce and the parmesan.”

Amanda and I read “mix in all remaining ingredients” and failed to read the rest of the sentence.  

We went to fill manicotti noodles with the meat mixture and were terribly confused as to why the meat mixture was more like soup than the thick, meat and cheese filling we were used to.

And then it dawned on us.  We had failed to read “except for the sauce and parmesan”.  We basically had soup instead of meat and cheese filled noodles topped with cheese.

Dinner still needed to be made and served so we improvised.  We chopped the noodle into bite-sized pieces and mixed it in with the saucy meat and cheese mixture.

It looked terrible but tasted great.  We called our dish “Dead Man’s Manicotti”.

I would HIGHLY recommend my mom’s recipe.  Just be sure to read all of the instructions!

Thanks for reading just a piece of my story. Don’t forget to check out Project STIR and please consider giving to Sarah’s Kickstarter to help kickstart her project!


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