Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Life Changing Recipe

My wonderful mother is incredible. She met my Dad when she was 18 and new at OSU. (Ohio not Oklahoma) Lore has it that he was supposed to have a blind date with my Aunt Dorr but Dorr was busy. So the date went to Mom and the rest is history. They married when she was 19 and he was 23 and I was born a few months before she turned 21. Mom left her academic career and became the wife and mother keeping house and making life great for her family of 3 daughters and her busy pediatrician husband. After dad finished medical school, he set up a general practice in Berlin Heights, OH. This was not his heart so he pursued a specialty in pediatrics. To do this he went to Detroit and we stayed in Toledo seeing Dad when he was off. When Dad was gone, every night Mom pushed the dining room hutch in front of the door to keep intruders out. I don't know what she did with the back door. This is so dear because it so depicts Mom and Dad's partnership in his career and in their relationship. The sacrifices they made together is what makes them strong today!

Mom sewed dresses and Halloween costumes, helped with school projects, kept pets, kept a sparkling home and ran everyone to appointments and meetings and activities. She also volunteered in the community doing mobile meals with one of her best friends and volunteering at the art museum. She is amazing. She had 3 children under the age of five by the time she was 25. Whew! She also did the laundry for Dad's office.

Mom made meals that were very good and she worked hard to please the tastes of young children and her husband. Mom and Dad's commitment was to have dinner with us every night as a family. Dad would come home after the office and have dinner and leave to go to a meeting or see more patients. Meals were of the meat, starch, vegetable variety of the 50's. Mom 's chief complaint was that she would spend hours making dinner and it would be done in 5 minutes. Though she made great meals, she was not passionate about cooking. She often would enjoy something new at a friend's home or at dinner out and would make the dish for us.

When we were in high school Dad's practice now included two other physicians and there was some more time for a social life. In true form Mom and Dad made sure we had dinner before they went out. Saturday dinner was more casual and did not have to closely adhere to the meat plus formula. One weekend Mom had a great new recipe. Reuben sandwiches. She made the first sandwich and served it with Tater Tots - those frozen logs you bake until crispy. The sandwich was delicious and we liked it very much. One thing about Mom when she finds a formula it becomes a keeper. We had reubens and tater tots every Saturday forever. I ate so many reubens and tater tots I reached the point I could not eat another reuben sandwich or tater tot to save my life. I couldn't even consider a reuben ingredient. I vowed off reubens and tater tots forever.

Decades went by and about 10 years ago I was having lunch with some friends. On the menu was my nemesis. For some reason - absence makes the heart grow fonder - I ordered a Reuben - no Tater Tots. It was delicious. The crusty bread, melted swiss cheese with the tart sauerkraut and the tang of the thousand island dressing. WoW! It was the first Saturday night all over again. My sisters and me at the kitchen table laughing at something very silly. Dad dressed up laughing with us and teasing and Mom walking through the kitchen, her high heels clicking on the tile, perfume wafting through the air. OMG! I had been saved through a reuben resurrection!

Needless to say I've continued to enjoy those reubens,

Reuben sandwiches

artisan rye bread very seedy with a salty crust
thousand island dressing - homemade
sauerkraut, rinsed and pressed with a paper towel - no excess water
sliced corned beef
Jarlsberg cheese or Emmentaler, sliced


On a slice of bread, spread the dressing
lay several slices of corned beef
place some sauerkraut on top of the corned beef
on top of that place the cheese
on all of this a slice of bread

Melt a little butter and oil in a skillet. Add the sandwiches and toast on each side. The heat should be medium. Your goal is to toast the bread, heat the sandwich contents and melt the cheese.

Serve with chips, french fries, anything but those dam#@d Tater Tots.


  1. I think you DO have a little genealogy gen lurking within you, Anne!!! This was precious. Before I make any further comments, I am a fan of those frozen logs called tater tots ;- ) Your Dad's physican schedule sounded too too familiar. The dinner together and then running back to his patients. That was our family routine, too. What ever happened to that kind of doctor committment? Long story short, my folks did party on Saturday evenings, and I grew up thinking that boxed ChefBoyRDee (?) was spaghetti and the canned Chung King was asian.

  2. ok, like, i love reubens. is there such a thing as a reuben panini? would lee put tabasco sauce on that?