What You Want is Often the Very Thing You Need

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad.  The windows were open throughout the house, and the cool air pouring in was tempered by several hours of heat blasting from the oven.  The Great Autumn BakeFest has begun.  I simply couldn’t hold back, so I held off on what needed to be done, and did what I wanted.  Made a batch of oatmeal cookies with a shot of orange zest and some cinnamon, and a loaf of garlic cheese bread to go with the beef roast in the crock pot, and made some dough for four small loaves of stollen, too, and was it ever a fine time. [Read more...]

One Fine Time

A Prairie Home Companion Street Dance — Fitzgerald Theater

Well, autumn is here, and that means back-to-school for some, and harvest time for others. It’s the season of gathering and turning, season of golden light and shorter days and thoughts of things cinnamon. Seems time, to me, to do a bit of gathering and turning of our own, and what better reason than a celebration of sorts, a new beginning after summer’s end, A Prairie Home Companion’s Season Opener. Next Saturday, it is, the 20th of September. Show starts at 5:00, Meatloaf at 6:00, and Dancing at 7:00. At least once in a lifetime — if not once a year — one ought to find oneself swept up in a crowd of polka-lovin’, two-steppin’, goodhearted people — bellies full of meatloaf — at twilight. I’d get there early if I were you, and stay late, and you’re sure to have one fine time.

A Prairie Home Companion Street Dance — Fitzgerald Theater

In the spirit of fine times, here are a few recipes to try, or share, or both, and if by some fluke you can’t make it to the Opener, well, turn on that radio read loud, and make yourself some meatloaf, and maybe some potatoes, too. And cake.  And don’t be afraid to whoop it up right there in the kitchen, should the moment feel right. It’s in us, you know. To dance and sing. Sure is.

Meatloaf Surprise

1 1b hamburger
4 slices bread, shredded into small pieces
1 egg
1 egg white
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. basil
1 T ketchup
2 tsp. mustard
1 T barbecue sauce (optional)
Dashes of salt and pepper

brown sugar
ketchup

cheese
miscellaneous “surprises”

In large bowl, mix raw hamburger, bread, egg, egg white, and seasonings until well-blended. (This works best if you use your hands.)

Cover bottom of 9 X 5 loaf pan (or your favorite loaf pan) with brown sugar (about ½ – ¾ cup). Squirt ketchup in a grid design over brown sugar until it is about half covered (½ cup or so). Press about ⅔ of the meat mixture onto the brown sugar/ketchup base. Create a trench in the meat by pressing a large spoon down the center. Fill with cheese of your choice. If you wish, add some chopped green pepper or mushrooms or be creative. Press down, and cover and seal with remaining meat mixture.

Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove cover. Bake another 20 minutes or until desired darkness. Remove from oven. Let sit five minutes, loosen edges with a spatula, and carefully invert onto a platter. Your meatloaf will be covered with a tangy sweet sauce. Makes good sandwiches as leftovers.

Cheesy Potato Casserole

1 bag of tater tots
1 can cream of chicken soup
16 oz sour cream
8 oz shredded Cheddar cheese

Let tater tots thaw and crumble into a large bowl. Mix in soup and sour cream and ½ the cheese. Spread into a baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosted Carrot Cake

2 cups sugar
1½ cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
3 cups raw shredded carrots
2 cups flour
2 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp salt

Mix together and bake in a lightly greased 9×13 cake pan at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 lb powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Cream together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.
Slowly blend in powdered sugar.
Frost cake when cool.

Enjoy!

Not a Sad Thing, Summer’s End

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad.   It was a broadcast recorded at the State Fair the night before, and it was, and has been, a fine way to take leave of the carefree days of summer.  It’s not a sad thing, summer’s end.  But there’s a wistfulness there, the bitter sweetness of having returned, briefly, to a place of few worries, to the cabin, to childhood perhaps, and inevitably – as the cool winds blow in from the north and the leaves begin their turning – it’s time to pick up and move on.  There’s work to be done. [Read more...]

Blessings All ‘round

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad.  Lot going on this week on every level, almost too much if there is such a thing.   Mostly packing up two kids for college, and my gosh.  I ran out late the other night to pick up a fingernail clipper and a large plastic storage bin and socks.  Yes.  Socks.  Just before 10:00 p.m.  On top of three days of Gathering Miscellaneous Things, during which I  sprained a finger trying to shove a box into a too-small space.   Broke a shelf in my refrigerator by doing the same thing with a too-large bowl.  Shrunk the heck out of my daughter’s new wool sweater.   Burned my hair a bit when I bent over too close to a lit candle. [Read more...]

Crockpots of Comfort

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad.  Spent the evening in the kitchen making just about everything I felt like making, summer comfort food mostly:  crockpot scalloped potatoes, broccoli salad, meatloaf filled with green peppers and Monterey jack cheese, sugar cookie cutouts shaped like sunflowers and some simple circles, all of which I frosted yellow and – on the plain circles — sprinkled sugar into smiley faces.  [Read more...]

No Shame in Needing to Heal

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Got a call from my best friend Angela during intermission, and she had some good stories to tell about a workshop she attended last week on something called “equine assisted psychotherapy”, a form of therapy where horses help people understand things about themselves and their emotions. [Read more...]

Floating Over the Rough Stretch

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Funny how music can pick you up and take you out of your life like a dream. It carries me away, often, and on those days when the din becomes a roar, or silence grows loud, I turn on the radio, or put in a Johnny Cash or Eva Cassidy cd and float on through whatever it is the day has brought that begs for music to take the edge off. [Read more...]

Something Bigger Than You

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad.  Been a hot week, and I’ve done my best to avoid air conditioning and go with open windows.  Gets a bit toasty, yes, but if there’s a breeze, it makes all the difference.  I like how it feels on my face and neck and forearms as I wash dishes, and I can breathe in all the scents from beyond my own yard — the neighbors’ barbecued chicken, hot tar, the blooming flowers and lawn clippings across the street, the tall field grasses down the road, lake water, and wood smoke from a campfire somewhere.  And the sounds, too, of lawnmowers and children hollerin’ and dogs barking and people talking and old trucks barreling on by.  And the cicadas.  Summer sounds. [Read more...]

Visions, Unedited

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Some good music and good laughs and with Mr. Sundberg on his way to Michigan and the kids out at the drive-in with their friends, it was just me and the radio, and after the show? Off went the radio, and it was just me. I got to thinkin’ about how good it feels to just be quiet for a while and how much more of the world I notice when I don’t speak or sing or make noise for a stretch. [Read more...]

Everyone Needs a Break

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was one of those days full up with billowy clouds and wind and sun, and felt like summer in every way. Except one. With all the graduation festivities, the summer jobs, work, lawn care, farmers’ markets, college preparations, all of everything, we haven’t had some real down time, time to simply Be. So we’re off for the weekend to the cabin, and it’s going to be a good time. [Read more...]