Anyone for dinner

Recently there have been too many days of going out to shop and doctors’ visits. Our dinners had been those soup and sandwiches, hot dogs and beans or hamburgers and fries. It was time for a really nice sit down dinner with all of the trimmings.

A local supermarket had lamb chops on sale, one of our favorites. I was standing at the stove heating up a little olive oil in an iron frying pan, thinking about the time our favorite restaurant had discontinued serving lamb. It’d been such a disappointment. Now, I was doing that chore. They’d served creamed spinach as a vegetable, so what else could I do? I went to the freezer and got out some spinach.

As the chops sizzled in the pan, I cooked the vegetable and began a nice cream sauce. It was going to be a really delicious meal. I put the chops in the oven, along with baked potatoes, finished the spinach and covered it to rest, It was then I spied something in the corner of the kitchen counters, something that has a history that always makes me smile.

In the corner I keep a large serving tray I’ve had for years. My husband Van and I had bought it at a flea market in the 1980s when living in Fresno. It’d cost all of a dollar! Most people would probably have passed it up, but I was fascinated by this large metal platter and have used it more times than memory serves. It’s painted with pretty flowers.

As I stood in front of the stove, I wondered how many of our friends would remember the parties we threw where this platter was used to hold oh so many different dishes. I especially remember one when my son Doug had brought his children, Curt and Lara to our home in Cascade, Idaho, for Thanksgiving. The kids had a ball being taken around on the deep snow.

Doug and Van rode them around our large lot on our snowmobiles while I got dinner ready. There were a great many ohs and ahs when I put that huge twenty-pound turkey down on the table. I’d made my grandmother’s recipe stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce and all the rest of the goodies we serve on that particular holiday. The kids had never had this kind of stuffing before.

The kids were reluctant to try my mincemeat pie. However, I’m the only one in the family who likes that particular dessert. Then I recalled the time when Van had just begun working for the Forest Service in Cascade. We had invited everybody who worked there for a special “hello we are new in town” party. Van and I had just gotten checks from our last employment in Nevada and went all out.

The table was loaded with a ton of food I’d prepared and in some cases frozen ahead of time so that we would have a variety. One special dishes was my Swedish meatballs. I think I may have made a hundred of them, but they went fast. Of course there was potato salad, chips and dips, and I had made some Chinese egg rolls and set up platters of assorted cheeses and meats.

Added to everything else were three kinds of bread and Van had a cocktail lounge set up in the kitchen. What was so surprising was that I do believe every single person that worked at the Forest Service came and brought a friend. It was wonderful, crowded, but terrific. We had a really great time. And in the middle of that table of food was that special metal platter filled with something good to eat.

There was also the time I’d purchased a leg of lamb after a state fair in Cascade. I remember I paid $25 for that thing. It was worth every cent. The lamb had been a contest winter, and been fed the best corn, etc. I stuck garlic cloves throughout the lamb and roasted that leg with potatoes and onions and carrots. There were four of us that time at that table.

When dinner was over, there wasn’t enough left on that metal platter to even make a pot of soup from the bone or even a sandwich. There are other memories attached to that dollar platter, memories that make me smile. I hope, if the Good Lord keeps me around just a while longer ... I’ll add to those pleasant wonderful times.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


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