“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more.”

Edgar Allen Poe

Dinner and a Movie Monday – Young Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein is a 1974 comedy directed by Mel Brooks. Gene Wilder stars as a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein. A great supporting cast included Teri Gar, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman and Madeline Kahn, among others. The film is a parody of the classic horror films of the 1930s. Mel Brooks shot the film entirely in black and employed 1930s-style opening credits and scene transitions like fade to black. The film also features a period score. A box office smash, Young Frankenstein ranks No. 13 on the American Film Institutes’s list of the 100 funniest American moves.

In my books it’s a classic. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. And I still do, every time I watch the movie. Peter Boyle’s portrayal of the monster was hilarious, He could speak volumes without ever opening his mouth. Cloris Leachman was perfect as Dr. Frankenstein’s housekeeper and paramour and who could forget Marty Feldman’s Igor?

And the outtakes…when Igor says “what hump” or Gene Hackman as the blind man shouts to a frightened monster running out the door “Where are you going? I was going to make espresso.” And then there’s Igor’s reference to “abby normal” or Gene Wilder’s “Put…the…candle…back” If you need to kick back and have a belly laugh, this is the movie for you.

Sauerkraut and Sausage

2 lb sauerkraut, rinsed and drained

1 T caraway seeds

¼ c brown s ugar

1 diced apple

½ bacon

1 large onion, chopped

1 ½ lb kielbasa sausage cut into 1 inch slices

  1. Place the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, brown sugar, and apple into a large saucepan over medium-low heat, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  3. Place the bacon and onion into a skillet over medium heat, and cook until the bacon is almost crisp and the onion is beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir the bacon mixture into the sauerkraut. In the same skillet, brown the kielbasa sausage in the remaining bacon grease until the sausage begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes; stir into the sauerkraut mixture. Spoon the sauerkraut and sausage mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until bubbling, about 1 hour.

A starry, starry night

One of the things my family loves to do on a crisp fall evening is to head out to the fire pit. Sweaters, blankets and quilts are rounded up, fire wood gathered, coffee brewed or hot chocolate made. Someone usually digs through the pantry in the hopes of finding ingredients for s’mores or make a mad dash to the store if necessary.

When everything is ready, we circle the chairs around a blazing fire, sit and talk. No television and no electronics. We actually spend time communicating with one another. Even the kids.

It’s always a good opportunity for story telling. I love to share the stories my grandparents and parents passed down to me while spending an evening on the front porch swing or one of those old metal gliders that squeaked. I liked to stretch across the cool concrete and listen to them talk about things that happened long before I was born.

We have lots of family stories to revisit, whether it’s camping trips that flirted with disaster or one of the unplanned road trips taken through the years. Someone might even bring up the one about the year two cats got into a fight…in the branches of the Christmas Tree. And we laugh no matter how many times we hear the same story.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to make a very special memory, one I find myself revisiting often. It happened on a cool, clear night in October when the ground fog crept across the fields beyond the house. The moon was yellow and full. My grandson, Caleb, was seven at the time and full of energy. He was twirling around in circles beside the fire, dancing freestyle. And he kept insisting that I join him.

“Oh, honey,” I said. “It’s really dark out here, and I can’t see what I’m doing. I might fall down and break my ankle.”

“Take my hand, Granny,” he said, reaching out for me. “I won’t let you fall.”

How could I refuse? That’s how I ended up, dancing with my grandson under the stars on a beautiful fall night. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.