The View From Mrs. Sundberg's Window

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Mrs. Sundberg's Recipe Collection - 12 tried-and-true--one for each month of the year--featuring an introduction and tips from Mrs. Sundberg herself

Just me and the radio

August 13, 2007

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. The kids were inside all day as it's been a bit hot out lately and just as the show started things were flying through the air — paper airplanes, socks, gumballs, colored markers, multicolored rubber Frisbee things they got from their great aunt at last week's picnic, a Honeycrisp apple, the TV guide, and so on. The kids have always enjoyed throwing things at each other and I can't say I blame them. I've always enjoyed pitching old vegetables off the back porch at the old oak tree. There's something glorious about the way a soggy green pepper hits and splits, or the manner in which a too-ripe tomato nearly disintegrates when skin meets bark. Anyway, when I got beaned a second time with a balled-up sock, and hit in the behind with a Nerf football, I'd had it. For God's sake, I hollered, that's it. Everyone upstairs. Clean up your rooms or read or build something until I call you for dinner.

And then it was just me and the radio, and a hankering for cherries. To heck with dinner, I thought, I'm making a pie. And that's what I did, with a homemade lattice crust and fresh cherry filling. Two of 'em, I made — one for the kids, and one for Alice, my friend who works part time at the grocery store. I've gotten to know her pretty well over the past few years, one of those friendships where you learn each other in brief encounters on a regular basis. I know her well enough now that sometimes she puts things in my cart for fun and when I get to the register and pull out a toilet plunger or can of cat food, I smile big. I've gotten her back by tossing things like paper towels or rubber gloves over the shelves from one aisle to the next, where she stands facing cans or pricing boxes. I hear a squeal and an "Oh, my!" and I laugh and she laughs.

Alice drives a red pickup and has a beer every night after dinner, and I've yet to see her without a smile. But Alice's eyes have been misty lately. Her husband died recently, heart attack I believe, and I imagine she's more than a bit lonely. Just this past week when I stopped by the store she told me all about the new pizza sauce that just came in and she took me on a tour of the dairy section which has all new shelving. "And you ought to stop by the bakery. The new cherry pie they're featuring tastes just like homemade." She seemed to want me to stay all afternoon, and told me to come by her house sometime, and I said I would.

And I did, Saturday just after the show. I drove on over with the warm pie wrapped in foil and a flour sack towel and knocked three times. I could hear music, so I tiptoed in and kind of whisper-hollered, "Alice!" No answer, so I set the pie on the kitchen table and wrote, "For you, with love, Mrs. S." It was as I turned to go that I saw her, curled up in the leather chair by the window, eyes closed, sighing as she slept. On the coffee table in front of her, there was a can of beer and an untouched plate of tater tot hot dish. "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" played on the stereo, and Figaro, her cat, slept in the matching leather recliner facing her.

When I got home, the house was quiet. Dinner! I hollered, and the kids came barreling down the stairs. "Where's the food?" they asked. There isn't any, I said. We're going out for pizza, to celebrate. "Celebrate what?" they asked. The fact that we're here, I said, and we have a bit of daylight left, and there will never be another Saturday exactly like this one.

We call this hot five bean salad "Five Beaner" because it's easy to say. Invite some friends over and cook it up and serve it with hot beefs or hamburgers, and some good potato salad, and homemade cherry pie with vanilla ice cream.

Five Beaner

16 oz butter beans
16 oz lima beans
1 can pork and beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1/2 lb bacon (sometimes I use 1 lb for the heck of it)
1 lb ground beef
1 c chopped onion
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c brown sugar
2 t vinegar
2 t mustard

Crisp bacon and drain. Brown hamburger and onion, and skim off some of the fat. Add other ingredients and drained beans. Throw in the bacon. A shot of barbecue sauce is optional.
Cook in the oven for an hour or so at 300, or in a crock pot all day on low. Sometimes I sprinkle a cup or so of Monterey Jack cheese on top. Makes a nice crust.


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