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…).