Monday Menu Memories

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I don’t dread Monday’s like some people do; never have really..except, maybe when I was in High School and Jay Ruckdaschel had promised a Monday biology test the preceding Friday.

I suppose it’s because I didn’t dread my job at Keloland; especially since my work hours were such that I never had to set an alarm clock to jar me into consciousness each morning. For several years during the 90’s I looked forward to the first day of the work week because it was Monday Menu Day on the Early News at 5; a six minute cooking segment featuring invited guests who would come on and display their culinary skills. Co-host, Angela Kennecke and I would assist the cooks in their preparations then…to the delight of our audience..tasted each dish and give our opinion.

I forget the name of our 10 year old guest chef on Monday Menu but years later I did a story on him all grown up and a chef at Minervas; inspired, he said, by that experience on our show.

I forget the name of our 10 year old guest chef on Monday Menu but years later I did a story on him all grown up and a chef at Minervas; inspired, he said, by that experience on our show.

 One of the questions people would often ask me over the years was weather I really liked the stuff people cooked on Monday Menu as much as it seemed or whether it was all an act. Well, truth is, most of the recipes were really good and worthy of our “mmmmm’s” and “oh, that’s delicious” comments. But there were plenty of exceptions.( More about that in a minute.)

I think our bosses at Keloland were pleasantly surprised at the popularity of Monday Menu. So much so that after a while, they built us a fancy new set that included cupboards as well as an actual stove and refrigerator so guests didn’t have to provide their own electric frying pan and ice chest. Each received a Monday Menu apron for appearing and their recipe was written up in the Shoppers News. Before long, Monday Menu was THE place to be for promoting a cause or event. For example, every spring a representative from Freeman’s Schmeckfest would be there to prepare some German cuisine; everything from boiled home-made sausage and kraut to Kuchen and poppy seed rolls. The Sons of Norway would promote their annual Lutefisk feed by force feeding some of that foul fish down our gullet. No amount of butter could make lutefisk palatable to me then or now. But I’d be first in line when we had the lefse bakers on.  Oh, we had some bizarre stuff people tried to pass off as food..especually during the tofu times when there was a nationwide effort to convince Americans that this gelatinous glob of goo could actually be a delicious alternative to unhealthy red meat that was clogging our hearts and shortening our lives. I’ve tried tofu baked, fried, in soups, salads and casseroles and if that’s all there was to eat, life wouldn’t be worth living anyway. I don’t believe I ever went “MMMMMMgood” after sampling anything made with tofu on Monday Menu. My hypocrisy only goes so far. There was the time when somebody made a warm salad that included lemon grass and nearly made me gag as did anything with liver as an ingredient. I was also never big on seafood so when a guest fixed that, I’d have Angela do the tasting honors..including the time we were served a whole trout including the head on a platter for us to try.  There were so many interesting cooks that appeared on the air with us. It was a thrill when Wynn Speece “The WNAX Neighbor Lady” was there. Wynn was a dear friend to the thousands who listened to her on the radio sharing her recipes and gentle conversation for over fifty years and it was such and honor when she came on Monday Menu at my request.

Lawrence Diggs with just a few of the thousands of vinegar varieties for sale at his International Vinegar Museum in little Roselyn, SD

Lawrence Diggs with just a few of the thousands of vinegar varieties for sale at his International Vinegar Museum in little Roslyn, SD

One of the more interesting characters on the show was Lawrence Diggs AKA “The Vinegar Man” from Roslyn, South Dakota. An expert on all things vinegar, Diggs came to Roslyn from busy San Francisco for some peace and quiet and do some writing. Before long, the townfolk thought he should set up a vinegar shop on Main Street which led to the International Vinegar Museum and Vinegar Festival in Roselyn each summer. Anyway, Diggs came on with several different varieties of vinegar for us to taste and to explain his passion for this sour wine. Angela and I sampled each one on a sugar cube and were fascinated by Diggs’ knowledge of something most of us think very little about.

Also memorable was the appearance of our colleague and fellow anchorman, Steve Hemmingsen who agreed to prepare and share his legendary recipe for Beef Wellington. It was by far the longest most complicated recipe ever featured on Monday Menu and we darned near had to join the CBS Evening News in progress because there was no way Steve was going to get finished within the allotted six minutes. Thankfully, there was no liver in his recipe and it was delicious. Oh, if you’d like to have it..click here.

Most everyone who worked at Keloland TV had a turn or two on Monday Menu including Angela and me..several times.

I’ve often been asked which one of the foods featured was my favorite.

Never any peppers in Antonitis' recipe

Never any peppers in Antonitis' recipe

There were lots and lots of really good things to eat but, I suppose, the one that sticks in my mind was Philly Cheese Steak served up by our new General Manager, Mark Antonitis; a Philadelphia native . We were understandably uneasy about having the boss cook on the show. What if it was inedible?.  In fact, Angela and I were both so nervous that we each made the mistake of calling it Philly Cheese CAKE during the intro.But we got through it and when it came time for the tasting well..the thinly sliced and quickly griddled sirloin beef served on a long crusty toasted roll with caramelized onions and  melted cheese, was to die for.

Ironically, not long after he cooked that fabulous feast on the show, Mr. Antonitis called a meeting to announce he was changing the format of the Early News dropping all the daily features including Monday Menu. He figured a news show should have more…well, NEWS. Mondays weren’t as much fun after that.

Man, all this talk about food has my gut growlin’ .

“Linda, do we have any sirloin steak, hoagie rolls, onions and Cheese Whiz in the house?

13 Comments

  1. grouse says:

    Man oh man, you town kids are all alike….turning up your nose at delicious liver and nutritious lutefisk! Even the heathen like lefse! I think you’ll find that verse in Leviticus somewhere, although I can’t remember chapter and verse! I distinctly remember non-Lutherans scoring lefse on what passed for Volga’s version of the black market. Too much access to mass produced foods and snacks from Westaby’s grocery and Bob’s Texaco totally destroyed the taste buds of a whole generation. Now all they crave is pizza and spaghettios. Sad…so sad.

  2. Hemmingsen says:

    I haven’t made Beef Wellington in years. I did, on occasion…later…use liver pate. Added a little sweetness and held the filling together. If I remember correctly, it was also one of our most requested recipes. Woster eventually topped me, did others probably.

  3. Mary C Der Hagopian says:

    While growing up in Upper Michigan, we ate Lutefisk, but never with butter. It was served in a white sauce.
    Never have had the intestinal fortitude to try it with just butter.

  4. JDS says:

    You should’ve had your old buddy Peterson from Brookings down to eat your Lutefisk. He would’ve been asking for thirds ina 6 minute segment.

  5. Tracy says:

    I was a guest on Monday Menu when I was in the 6th grade (1990-1991 ??). A fellow 4-H friend and I made cheeseburger pie. Knowing how shy and soft-spoken I was back then, I was probably not the best person for TV. I’d love to get my hands on a copy of that video tho, if possible.

  6. Doug Lund says:

    Tracy..I remember that cheeseburger pie and it was great. Sadly, no video tape or even still photos remain from all our years of Monday Menu. The picture above was from the young chef’s mom who taped the program.

  7. Doug Lund says:

    Mary. When our families got together for Christmas Eve they made a sauce out of cream and butter to pour over the lutefisk. I remember how delicious it was on the mashed potatoes. No wonder I was destined to be “fluffy.” Thanks for reading the blog.

  8. Sweeps says:

    OK, I’m 99.99999999% Norwegian, and the story I was always told about lutefisk is that the Norwegians use “drawn butter” and the Swedes use a cream sauce. I wouldn’t have touched the stuff when I was growing up, but when I was an adult in my 30s, a co-worker convinced me to try it. I actually like it a lot now, but it’s got to have lots of butter. It also depends upon how it’s cooked: if it’s boiled too long, it becomes gelantinous–nasty! My grandma (a Norwegian immigrant) made The World’s Best SWEDISH meatballs for us kids while the grown-ups got the lutefisk. I’d give anything to have Grandma’s Swedish meatball recipe. Nothing I’ve tried comes close.

  9. MaryD says:

    I always keep looking or a REAL Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. It is made with Cheese Whiz not white American Cheese as usually served around here. And…a REAL one, as you said, is to die for with lots of Cheeze Whiz.

  10. Tracy says:

    I can’t believe you remember it, Doug! That’s great. I still have the photos to remember it by, and I just gave the apron to my niece.

  11. Larry Best says:

    DOUG; I REMEMBER YOUR MOM MAKING LEFSE AND IT WAS GREAT I ASKED MY MOM TO MAKE IT AND SHE SAID THAT SHE WOULD’NT DO IT BECAUSE IT WOULD’NT COME CLOSE TO HERS. I GUESS THE NORWEGIAN IN ME WAS ALL MEAT AND POTATOES.BUT LIKE YOU LIVER IS OUT OF THE QUESTION.MY AUNT USED TO GET IT FROM THE BUTCHER FOR FREE SO SHE COULD FEED IT TO HER CAT. BUT I DON’T THINK THE CAT WOULD HAVE EATEN ANY LUTEFISK . (NOT OUT OF A SILVER BOWL ANYWAY)

  12. john mogen says:

    Still wear the Monday Menu Chef apron with pride, Doug! My Mom always thought that Brother Paul’s lefse was better, but I’d ask her, “He never made lefse on television, did he?” Our Uncle Chris Christoferson taped the show and used it as a tutorial for his children’s lefse-making training! They would have their video cameras rolling while he played the tape!
    You usually tell me that my lefse is the equal of your mother, Gladys’ lefse. Although I’m honored by the comparison, deep-down I know that you just want me to keep “bringin’ it over!”

  13. Warren says:

    I remember the Monday menu segment and tried reveal of the recipes.
    One of the things I miss about the 5 pm news , and the early morning news is that in the 80′s & 90′s the broadcast seemed a bit less formal than the 6 & 10 pm news. Also there seemed to be more “feel good” stories on both the early morning and 5 pm instead of the usual sensationalism stories seen in the 6 & 10pm news.

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