Listed to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I was in Decorah and had a bookstore to visit so I missed the tail end of the show, which I caught later, online, and it was lovely. Felt like home away from home, and later that evening a friend of mine called, a dear woman in her early sixties named Elaine, and reported a big thumbs up on the Meatloaf Supper and Street Dance, where she and her new friend Larry had what she described as a “magical” night under the end-of-summer sky, lights overhead, music playing, lots of people mingling. They danced much of the evening, and Mr. Keillor walked among the dancing people, as he does, and sang, “Let It Be Me”, and that was the moment she’s talked about several times since. Hmm, I say.
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was wonderful, really, when you figure in the weather, which has been just right, and the neighbor children laughing outside, and the first leaves of autumn turning out there on the maple, and how lovely the red of apples piled high in the big white bowl on the kitchen counter. Made some apple crisp with those apples, and talked with the kids who called from school to let me know everything is rollin’ along as it should be, and our youngest daughter came skipping through the kitchen now and then, tasting dough and apples slices and shining with her stories of musical auditions and political science discussions, and she showed me a photo of a rabbit swimming — floating, really, quite serenely — in a pond. “This is the most calm thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.
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.
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.
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.
1 1b hamburger
4 slices bread, shredded into small pieces
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
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
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.
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.
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.