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Let’s Cook: A Perfectly Understood Reunion

By Chuck Repnow - | Aug 21, 2021

You haven’t changed a bit – or have you? This was the question I asked not only of myself but of the Ray Auditorium recently during Grain Palace Days and the All School Reunion. Isn’t it fun to ask ourselves a question and even more fun to ask a great big room? I was not alone in the newly remodeled city auditorium – across the room was also a woman saying, “I think of all the square dancing I did in this room.” She, too, was here to reminisce.

I explained that Jan and I had danced here 32 years ago at our wedding. I didn’t know this soon-to-be friend in the auditorium, but soon made connections of people we both knew. She knew my wife’s family, and when she shared her maiden name of Binde, I explained that I had danced in this room with her mother, Marlene, at our wedding. It made me feel good because sometimes going to a spouse’s hometown can make one feel left out. It is not intentional; it is merely a case that one can get wrapped up in the excitement of seeing former classmates, neighbors and friends that a spouse has no connection to.

Our conversation didn’t take long to meander towards cooking and recipes. It was at this point that LeAnn Binde-Olsen mentioned how much her family enjoyed the recipes from the Rainbow Valley Lutheran Cookbook. I knew exactly what she meant because this is Jan’s home church, and this cookbook is filled with seasoned performers that come through each time. Long before there were cooking shows, the platform to showcase your talents and favorite recipes would be the church cookbook. Only a fool would submit a recipe with their name attached that was not respectable. Church cookbooks could be considered one of the first stages to feature one’s culinary talents. To this day they are still featured on popular TV cooking shows and YouTube venues. Rather than a big part, church cookbooks had the dramatic lead role in home cooking – and to this day, countless church cookbooks still give a stellar performance. Take one look at the table of contents and you will find the best in co-stars. A diverse cast of breads, cakes and frosting, casseroles, bars and candy, soups and salads- and one cannot forget the ethic section. It is here that rommegrot, flat bread, sot suppe, and fattigmand stand tall among the fine credits.

LeAnn’s radiant review of the Rainbow Valley Cookbook had my mind racing and how this whole scene would play out. Next step was to get her and Jan together, and it happened briefly on Main Street. They put the recipes on center stage and I reclined in my lawn chair for the performance. Frosted cookies entered stage left as if they were Lauren Bacall and stepping forth on stage right were Gerda’s Company Casserole with the zest of Bette Davis. It was a great performance and one that would have gone on if it had not been for the parade was beginning!

I desired to see Act Two and it was for this reason that I set up a luncheon on the grounds of the North Dakota State Capitol for Jan and LeAnn. The mini table was dressed in a pink tablecloth, vintage snack sets, an original coffee pot from the Rainbow Valley Church complete with angel food cake with fresh blueberries and strawberries.

As Jan and LeAnn shared stories about Rainbow Valley ladies, the community of Ray, and their teachers who inspired them, this story line had me smiling. It was evident that the teacher who taught them to square dance, the teacher who inspired them to memorize poems, the coach that pressed them also inspired them to always be proud of what you are and whatever path you choose in life, to do the job well – even the very small ones, to give life your best and create your own path, to realize that plans change but to have faith in your dreams.

Their visit drifted back to the Ray Auditorium, and they talked about the Ray Squarenaders, and how square dancing was not only for adults but also teenagers. Once again, the scene was acted – old yet ever new – as their voices expressed the appreciation for the many diverse opportunities in their home town of Ray.

It was a privilege to be part of the reunion spark that these two teachers ignited. Act Three will include inspiring students, cooking from the Rainbow Valley Cookbook and traveling new roads while being proud of their hometown and the “Do Si Do” life lessons that has promenaded them to never underestimate their potential.

Angel Food Cake

By Edith Anderson, Rainbow Valley Cookbook

This is a favorite recipe to use when making a homemade angel food cake.

1 cup sifted cake flour

1 3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup egg whites

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Have all ingredients at room temperature. Sift together the flour and 3/4 cup sugar four times. Place egg whites and salt in large bowl; beat at high speed to a coarse foam, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle cream of tartar and extracts over surface of egg whites; beat at high speed for 1 minute, until whites barely hold peaks and are very moist and slightly foamy. Beating at high speed, add 1 cup of sugar in 2 tablespoon portions; beat until mixture holds peak but tip of peak falls over, about 1 1/4 minutes.

Stop mixer, scrape sides of bowl and beater. Sift flour and sugar mixture on top of batter all at one time. Fold at low speed for 1/2 minute. Stop mixer; scrape sides of bowl and beaters. Fold at low speed for 1/2 more minutes.

Pour batter into ungreased 10″ tube pan; bake about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; invert and allow to completely cool before removing from pan.

Salad Dressing

By Marlene Binde, Rainbow Valley Cookbook

Combine in quart jar:

1-pint Miracle Whip

2/3 cup sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

4 medium green onions with tops

1 green pepper, chopped

4 tablespoons catsup

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Stir well; fill jar with salad oil, shake well; keeps well in refrigerator.

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