All that you have is your soul. Tracy Chapman
This line, one of my favorites, in a song entitled the same, talks of a woman who learned the hard way that you can love and live and try to hang on but when it comes right down to it, all that you have is your soul. When I heard this song, sung by Emmylou Harris in a beautiful venue in Colorado a few years ago, I felt as if I had found my theme song. Finding out that our birthing, creating and giving are a wonderful part of the journey, but not the journey, is when we grow up. When we realize that apart from our trappings, however fancy or plain they may be, all that we are and all that we have is our soul.
Rather heavy subject this, and so is the casserole which I offer today. Perhaps that is what led me to the topic. I was thinking of a hearty dish which was suggested to me by a gracious person who attended the Kauffman Museum presentation in early August where we discussed favorites from the Mennonite Community Cookbook. She didn't speak up in the large session but as she went through the line, she told me, "The hamburger casserole on page 60 is one of my favorites." Impressed that she knew the page number, I wrote it down that day and determined to make it before my year of Mennonite cooking expired. Turns out my mom used to make this one and I ate it a few times as a youngster. I loved the mashed potatoes slightly moistened by the tomato soup. An atypical combination but it works. A complete meal in a casserole dish. A meal of substance and simplicity. A dish that can holds it own. You kind of get the idea that if this casserole met tofu on the street, it wouldn't back down. I love tofu but I gotta say, if we are talking about solid, mashed potatoes wins, hands down.
But on this subject of soul I have been ruminating. I remember the many days I sat in a pediatrician's office waiting for a doctor or nurse to come and help me and one of my three children. One room contained a poster that said, By all means, take some time to be alone. See what your soul doth wear. It had the word Anonymous written on it. I saw that poster over and over and every time I had the same two thoughts. First, who said that? It was so darn smart, deep and philosophical that someone ought to take credit for it. Second, Exactly! Bingo, Right on, Tell it. This was some good advice for young parents, for teenagers and for anyone who lives and breathes. Be friends with your soul.. listen to it... feed it. It is really, in the end, what you have. It's a long row to hoe, feeling one with your soul, but the most necessary gig we've got to show up for.
While you are hoeing that row, here is a great casserole to sustain you.
Hamburger Casserole: A One Dish Meal
1 large onion, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb cooked green beans
1 can of tomato soup
4 medium potatoes, diced and cooked
1/2 cup warm milk
1 beaten egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Brown onion and ground beef. Add beans and soup and mix together.
Pour into buttered baking dish.
Mash potatoes and add milk, egg and seasoning.
Put the mashed potatoes on top of meat mixture.
Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes.
By all means, take some time to be alone,