Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to Talk Minnesotan: Revised for the 21st Century

by Howard Mohr 

 Penguin               2013
288 pages            Humor

Well folks, I am not going to write a review of How to Talk Minnesotan at all, except to say that the revisions for the 21st century of this classic book will be out on May 28. Not much changes in Minnesota, so the revisions are minimal, except to changes in the prices on the advertisements and a few other additions.

The other day, I heard the checkout woman say, "You bet!" to me as I cashed out at the grocery. When I asked her if she had grown up in Minnesota, her response was "You bet!" I instantly felt comfortable.

I have to go to Minnesota every once in a while to get my fix. When my parents were alive, I was there every month or so. Oh, how I missed it when I wasn't going frequently. Last December, my siblings and I got together for my brother's birthday. Now if you really want to hear someone talk Minnesotan, just talk to my brother. He has it down pat!

Other than calling my brother and talking to him, you can hear classic Minnesota language on this video made by the author of How to Talk Minnesotan, Howard Mohr. You can find it here.

Or you can watch the classic movie Fargo where the accents are so thick you can cut them with a knife. My favorite scene in the movie is when two men are talking to each other with their parkas on. You can't see their faces; all you can see is the steam coming out of their mouths. Classic Minnesota! I saw Fargo for the first time at a theater in Kalamazoo. For much of it, I was the only person laughing.

Minnesotans, however, really know how to put their "You bet!" into action. Last week the House in Minnesota passed the marriage equality bill and the Senate is almost sure to pass it this week. The governor, Mark Dayton, has promised to sign it. My niece, Cory Dack, was there and has been at the forefront of the lobbying. Extremely proud of her.

But in keeping with the theme of the book, I have included two hotdish recipes. One is the classic Tuna Noodle Hotdish and the other is a family favorite, Wild Rice Hotdish. In my family, Wild Rice Hotdish was made for special occasions, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. This particular recipe calls for water chestnuts. If that is too exotic for you, you can leave them out. When I was last there, I brought home 12 pounds of wild rice. "Yah, You Bet. Not too bad!"

Tuna Noodle Hotdish
6 oz. egg noodles (wide or extra wide), cooked
1 small can of tuna, drained and flaked with a fork
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen peas, cooked
1/2 cup (or more) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh bread crumbs cooked in 1 T. butter until slightly crisp
fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl, stir together first six ingredients until well combined.
3. Spread into a small greased casserole dish then sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan cheese evenly over the top.
4. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes and serve warm.
yield: four servings

Traditional Wild Rice Hotdish
1 lb. wild rice, cooked
1 lb bacon, crumbled
3 celery ribs, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
6 diced fresh mushrooms
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. water chestnuts  
1 10 1/2 oz. can chicken broth.

1. Cook and crumble bacon, set aside.
2. Saute onion and celery and mushrooms in bacon fat until tender.
3. Mix all ingredients together, including water chestnuts.
4. Cover and bake at 350 for 1/2 hour until heated through.
5. Keep chicken broth on hand to moisten, in case of drying while baking.

For a book about my part of Minnesota, read The Long Shining Water by Danielle Sosi

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