In which I don’t lose anything.
I got a text from my friend telling me she lost her car keys. Clearly this is one of those weeks for her where nothing goes quite right, but that’s her story to tell, not mine. As I was reflecting on her lost keys, I started to laugh. Initially this could seem like a very insensitive thing to do, but out of nowhere I remembered something I hadn’t thought about in years. My mom used to lose her keys all the time when we were teenagers. It was a regular occurrence. I don’t remember when she started to pray to St. Anthony, but it became the default. Whenever something went missing, my mom would ask if we’d prayed to St. Anthony. (Except it was common enough that we just called it “talking to Tony”)(We aren’t even Catholic). More often than not, the answer would be “no”. To which she always reminded us that we should be doing that and perhaps we shouldn’t bother her until we had. This is not to imply in anyway that my mom was not sympathetic to whatever it was we had lost. She was, but she didn’t have time to keep track of all of our stuff on top of everything else she had to do. And besides, like I say to my kids all the time, “if you put your stuff away properly…” We all know how it goes and if you don’t, come be my Yoda and teach me how to improve. Anyway, back to my mom’s keys. She would seriously lose them all the time. It wasn’t because she wasn’t organized, but we know how women’s purses are. And when you are in and out of the car and it’s winter and kids and chaos and life. Even if I didn’t get it then, I do now. It was around that same time that my sister and I had the opportunity to go to Italy. I am still grateful for that opportunity. While there, we visited Padua. (St. Anthony is from Padua.) During the visit to the church dedicated to St. Anthony, (who is the patron saint of all sorts of lost things.) we stopped at the gift shop. We already had in mind what it was that we wanted as a souvenir. Arriving home we couldn’t wait to present our dear mother with her very own St. Anthony keychain.
I’d like to be able to say that she never lost her keys again. But I doubt that’s true. Also, I am not sure that she didn’t lose the St. Anthony keychain. She’ll have to confirm for me. Regardless, we tried.My friend texted back later to say that she did find her keys. I tried telling her about St. Anthony. She said that Lutherans don’t do that. (I’m going to take credit for invoking the name of St. Anthony for her.)
So what does any of this have to do with side dishes? Sometimes you don’t even know that you’ve lost something, but when it’s presented to you, you realize that you were missing it all along. And sometimes it’s in unexpected places. Like old newspaper clippings pasted inside an old, red Freshman Handbook. This recipe grabbed me from the first time I saw it. There is nothing in it that I don’t like. Rosemary, maple syrup, mustard, bacon, sour cream and lima beans. Yes, please! But that’s not a guarantee that the recipe is not going to fail. (See Sweet and Sour Bean Combo and “Japanese” Chicken if you don’t believe me.) And sometimes, the recipes leave something out. (Christmas Sugar Cookies, for example) This recipe didn’t disappoint. It was maybe just a little dry. This could easily be combated by adding more sour cream or thinning it with milk. It was such a nice change from regular baked beans. The creaminess and the bacon together was a bit like a carbonara (speaking of Italy…).
In which I mention that friend that wanted to be mentioned…
I have this friend that has an amazing German heritage. Her family speaks German and sometimes when trying to talk “secretly” in front of people they will speak in German. Her grandma forgets that I understand German also, which is why I found out that her grandma lost her teeth on the way to the birthday party. “Ich habe meine Zahne verloren!” She exclaimed upon entering. I tried to stifle my giggle, but tend to have a very expressive face.
I wish I had made this dish when she was coming over, but instead I made it when my brother was here. We also have amazing German heritage, but our celebration of the culture has a lot more to do with sausages and beer than it does language. (That might also be the Wisconsin background. It’s pretty indistinguishable, really.) Regardless, it’s an excuse we didn’t even need to eat brats and sauerkraut.
You are going to have to excuse these terrible pictures. They are from the time where I was still learning how to use the basics of my camera.
The sauerkraut here is not something you do in a hurry, regardless of what the recipe says. To get it to the point where I felt it was done, it took at least a half hour, maybe longer. Maybe their idea of a hurry was different than mine? I mean, they are making Jell-O salads that take all day. These are not things that a working mom can do on a limited schedule.
Ok, so taste. Have you had a French choucroute garnie? Because it’s like that. I’m sure that doesn’t help a lot of you. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it. If you don’t feel like clicking over, it’s sauerkraut, sausages, potatoes, onions, and beer all cooked together for a nice long time and best served with mustard (not the yellow stuff, the good stuff). The long cooking time mellows the bite of the sauerkraut and everything sort of melts into each other. This has amazing similarities to that dish, but much quicker. It’s kind of like sauerkraut for beginners.
When you have time to make this “in a hurry” dish, you may want to put on your leiderhosen, put on some polka, make some spaetzle, and indulge. Even if it wasn’t my brother’s favorite, I thought it was pretty darn good.
In which I attempt to hold onto summer for a minute longer.
I still have a few tomatoes clinging to the vines in my garden. There are plenty of green tomatoes that I should pick and use to make Green Tomato Mincemeat or Fried Green Tomatoes. That might come later. I’m clinging to the skirts of summer, pulling on the hems, begging it not to leave quite yet. There is so much preparation that has to happen before winter and so little daylight to do it all. Rather than dwelling on the melancholy of passing time, I’m going to grab another ripe tomato and make this salad again.
There is a movement going on right now called “Will It Waffle?”. In his book Daniel Shumski answers this question over and over to delicious ends.
I believe this salad was created with a similar thought in mind, and probably before Mr. Shumski was even thinking about waffles. Everyone has had BLTs. There is that pleasure of biting into the crispy toast and having the tomato juice combine with the mayo as it drips down your hands. Saladizing the classic sandwich gives it a bit of elegance. You can serve it in a bowl, eat it with a knife and fork. It instantly becomes fancy food. It’s not just a salad, it’s a Panzanella.
Take one last bite out of summer. Find that last red tomato and make this salad. Fancy it up with a good loaf of Italian or French bread. Use your favorite bacon. Get out your fancy dishes and eat this salad.