Lane Hakel juggles acting, teaching and cooking PDF   E-mail
Written by By KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Thursday, 08 January 2009

Here's a fun role reversal.
Lane Hakel's parents, Milt and Lee, recently hosted a holiday champagne buffet at their Bowling Green home and Lane's mom begged him to contribute his popular casserole for the occasion.
"Everywhere he takes it, people just dive in," said Lee Hakel of her son's culinary hit.
But what's most entertaining for Lane, a sixth grade teacher at Kenwood Elementary, is comparing the reaction based on whether guests get the first taste of chile relleno casserole before or after knowing its name.
Invariably, "I first have concerns where people think it's too spicy. It's not."
The guest, reassured, takes a bite or two and smiles widely.
"Then I get comments about the chile pepper, that while not spicy, it is just a real pleasant flavor with the cheese and eggs."
He originally received the recipe from a teacher he worked with while teaching fifth grade in Chillicothe, Ohio, at least 12 years ago.
"She brought it to school as part of a breakfast we had. And I latched onto it at once and haven't let go since."
In the past he toyed with the idea of adding salsa to the casserole, but decided not to "since it tastes pretty good as is!"
Hakel has made the dish many times since, including for co-workers at Kenwood and for family.
"It's something I tend to think of more around the holidays, but I also made it for my son Tim's high school graduation last June," where the colorful dish "looked great next to the Pop Tart Buffet."
The menu was closely geared to the graduate's own tastes. "He loves Pop Tarts! We also had more typical dishes. And instead of a cake we had a big pan of cinnamon rolls from Stimmel's Market. They're great."

He and his family moved to BG in 1999.  Hakel has two children, Matt, 19, and Grace, 13, and three stepchildren, Tim, Bobby and Mattie.  He and his wife, Heidi, just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary.
There are no gender stereotypes in their kitchen.
"My mom started me cooking as a child and I have enjoyed it ever since," said Lane Hakel.
His parents were the first to settle in Bowling Green, about 17 years ago, although "I'd actually lived here a couple summers in the mid-1980s," said Lane. He worked as a line cook at the former Sundance restaurant downtown.
"I wouldn't say it's where I learned to cook.  A good day was when I didn't have to use the fryer!"
He kept Bowling Green in the back of his mind.
"I always thought it would be a great place to raise kids, and when the job at Kenwood opened up 10 years ago, I jumped on it."
He's also an active member of the Black Swamp Players here in Bowling Green as an actor, member of the board, creator of publicity materials, and occasional stage hand.  Recent appearances with the Players are as Oscar Madison in "The Odd Couple" and as Leonard Vole in "Witness for the Prosecution." 
This Friday he'll be opening a play at the Toledo Repertoire Theater called "Pass the Butler," written by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. 
"It is a farce sending up the tried and true plays of Agatha Christie with a delicious Monty Python twist on the twist at the end," Hakel explained. In what he teasingly admits is a "shamless plug," he adds that tickets are available at
"I find my day job very fulfilling as well," he said of Kenwood.  He taught for 11 years previously in Columbus and Chillicothe.  "I am aware of both the honor and the responsibility that comes with being a teacher.
"I have to admit that having a job that has snow days is a plus, too.  It totally turns around one's attitude toward the long winter months and the arrival of the next Alberta Clipper."
For the next snow day on your schedule, try whipping up a chile relleno casserole. It's simple to make but richly complex in flavor, and although a vegetarian dish, it provides plenty of protein.
Hakel said his recipe is deliberately vague about how many layers to create.
"I wrote it as if it would go in two layers, but I have done it in three. It depends on the size of the pan you use."
He's not wedded to any particular brand names for the ingredients, opting for whatever's cheapest. But he did note that the green chiles used to be available only in small, rather pricey, cans. Now, La Preserida brand, available locally, comes in a big can.

Chile Relleno casserole
1 cup half and half cream
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1/2 pound shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 pound shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 large can (27oz.) Mild Green Chiles (Whole)
1  can (8 oz.) Tomato Sauce
Stir together cream, eggs and flour until smooth and set aside.
Open can of chiles and drain.  If necessary, remove any seeds and flatten peppers so that they may be laid in a single layer.
In a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish layer a single layer of chiles, about one half of the egg mixture and half of each cheese.
Repeat layer with remaining ingredients.
Pour tomato sauce over the top.
Bake for one hour at 375 degrees F.
May be prepared early and reheated.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 02 February 2009 )
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