Bring It On

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was one of those crazy storm days, when the sun is shining bright and the wind is blowing hot and hard and the skies are full of billowy clouds and on the horizon there’s a looming dark mass and you know all day it’s coming in the evening hours and it does and my gosh it’s beautiful. The Storms of Summer are right up there with the Storms of Winter and I love every one of them. I love the smell in the air, the changing colors of the sky, the roiling, the lightning, the crash of thunder and the inevitable torrents. I love the way the air is charged, the way we keep watch, the feeling after, once again, of surviving.

I’m sure ol’ Freud would have something to say about this, but I know I’m not alone out in the field of storm-lovin’, and it’s been that way since I can remember. Summer storms remind me of higher powers, of feeling alive, of how small I am and how being swept away is always a possible thing. They remind me of God. And they remind me that we can’t hold onto much, that — ultimately — what you can hold in your arms is about all you can take with you and sometimes it’s your own self.

I mean, really, haven’t you given thought to what you’d grab if the F5 hit? Or how ‘bout an F6 — what they call “the inconceivable tornado” on the Fujita scale — whose winds would clock at 319-379 mph and evidence for which you’d see only some odd swirl on the ground. Everything would disappear. So what, my friends, would the point be in gathering up anything except the people you love?

Well, all of that makes me think a few things. One is that dusting is pretty much a waste of time. Another is that we think we are in charge, but really we aren’t (but it’s nice to THINK so, anyway). And it makes me consider that, in the best kind of life, there’s really nothing to grab because it’s all in you. The memories of bike rides and family dinners and walks by the river and conversations and laughter. All the memories of every story you’ve ever heard, and every one you’ve ever told, and all the songs and campfires and sweetnesses and prayers and, the fish you caught and the berries you picked, and all the love you’ve ever loved. It’s in you. You’ve been gathering it all along, and carrying it with you, and that, my friends, makes for a beautiful life.

So, next time a storm threatens, turn on the radio. Open a window, grab an iced tea and go sit out on the porch and watch it all roll in. You’ve got all you need, and bring it on.

Here’s a recipe that’s not so much a summer thing, but it CAN be if you serve it up with a Greek salad and some baklava. Or try the bonus recipe below, Mr. Keillor’s mother Grace’s Waldorf Salad recipe. The best way to make it … with heavy cream.

Greek Stuffed Peppers

2 large red bell peppers (look for peppers with flat bottoms so they stand up)
½ a small red onion, minced
8 ounces ground beef, 90% lean works well
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
6 pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers, then scrape out the seeds and white pith. Save the pepper tops and set ‘em aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Divide the beef mixture in half and stuff it into the peppers, then place the tops of the peppers back on. Transfer the peppers to a baking sheet and bake at 400 until the meat is cooked through and the peppers are soft and starting to shrivel, 40 to 45 minutes. Serves 2.

And from the Keillor Cookbook…
Grace Keillor’s Waldorf Salad

2 cups diced apples
1 cup sliced celery
½ cup broken walnuts
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 T sugar
½ tsp lemon juice
dash of salt
½ cup heavy cream

Combine apple, celery and nuts, and set aside. Then combine mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice and salt and stir until well blended. Fold the whipping cream into the mayonnaise mixture. Then fold into the apple mixture. Chill. Makes 6 servings.



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