Once upon a time, a common enemy would unite people. World War II is a great example of a common enemy – Germany united Russia and America to fight on the same side. This common bond was never better demonstrated to the press than the reenactment of East Meets West on the banks of the Elbe River.
It’s hard to fathom today that Allied Forces in World War II to oppose the Axis Powers would be the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States. In 1941 President Roosevelt gave the USSR weapons and other support in their fight against Nazi Germany. Can you see that happening today, given the political distrust between these nations? I don’t think so.
Four years later, the United States and the Soviet Union saw victory and the end of World War II. Once allies, the US and the USSR co-founded the United Nations together as a way to ensure that World Wars would be a part of our past and not a part of our future as inhabitants on of this planet. Yet by 1947, struggles between the US and the Soviets for domination in certain sectors of the world gave birth to the Cold War. While the Cold War officially ended with the dissolve of the Soviet Union itself, the struggles and mistrust continues.
American intelligence continues to accuse the Russian Government of meddling in our elections, and some blame the Russians for Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump. We have become our own worst enemy. Our fears and mistrust have become a dividing force in this country. Abraham Lincoln once said a house divided cannot stand. Yet it is this very division in America that gives unbridled power to politicians that do not have the best interests of the people in mind. As long as we are divided, as long as we are afraid and mistrusting, we won’t see what’s really happening.
Wow, that’s a rant I didn’t see coming. Back on subject – East Meets West. On April 25, 1945 American Troops on the east banks of the river and the Soviet Armies on the west made three separate, unplanned encounters with one another. The following day, for the press and positive publicity, these encounters were staged for the cameras. Good press. But it’s also a truth. When these soldiers came upon one another, they didn’t see the enemies their two nations would one day become. They saw fellow soldiers – fellow human beings. Fathers and husbands and sons. It didn’t matter that they called different countries home or that they spoke different languages. Differences were set aside. As it should be for all people. We have more in common – mothers and fathers love their children, want the best for them. Love is the common bond.
While Elbe Day isn’t a National Holiday anywhere, maybe it should be. If for no other reason than for the bounty of delicious comfort foods.
Elbe River East Meets West Barbecue
Olivier Salad (Russia)
Stadium-Style Bratwurst (Germany)
Oklahoma Onion Burgers and Baked Beans (America)
2 medium Yukon Potatoes
1-1/2 cups frozen Peas and Carrots
1 Firm Roma Tomato
3 Hard-boiled Eggs
3 large Dill Pickles (Gherkin)
1/2 lb Diced Smoked Ham
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Mustard
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Capers for garnish
Peel potatoes, boil in a pot of salted water until just tender. Let cool, dice and set aside.
Microwave the peas and carrots according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to cool, drain well and let cool.
Seed and dice tomato, set aside. Finely mince hard-boiled eggs, set aside. Dice pickles, set aside. If needed, cube ham into smaller pieces. Mix the cubed ham, eggs, vegetables, pickles and potatoes. Add diced tomatoes, fresh dill to taste, then season with salt and pepper.
Gently fold in the mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard to the salad mixture. Cover and chill well.
For a nice presentation, use a 2-inch round mold to form individual servings. Garnish plate with fresh dill. Garnish each serving with a few capers. If not, serve salad in a decorative bowl garnish with capers and fresh dill as desired.
1 large Yellow Onion
1 tablespoons Shortening or Bacon Drippings
5 Bratwurst Sausages
12 oz Beer
Peel onion, cut in half from root to tip. Cut each half into slivers and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt shortening or drippings in the skillet, swirl pan to coat bottom.
Place Bratwurst Sausage into the skillet. Let cook for about 6 minutes undisturbed to blister. Turn sausage, continue to cook another 5 or 6 minutes. Remove sausage from skillet, keep warm.
Scatter onions over the empty skillet. Cook, stirring as needed, until onions begin to brown. Return sausage to the skillet. Pour beer over the bratwurst. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer until most of the beer has evaporated, the brats are cooked through and the onions are tender.
Bratwurst can be eaten with a knife and fork, or placed on sausage rolls with onions on top. Serve and enjoy.
Oklahoma Onion Burgers
Salted Onion Mounds
1 large Yellow Onion
1 teaspoon Salt
Peel onion and cut in half to create two “domes”. Lay onion, cut side down, and cut all the way around to create thin slivers. Repeat with second half of onion. Combine onion and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl and toss to combine, transfer to a colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Cut several layers of cheesecloth, large enough to hold onions in a bundle. Using tongs, transfer onion to cheesecloth, gather edges and squeeze onion dry. Divide onion mixture into 4 separate mounds on a rimmed baking sheet, set aside.
1-1/2 lbs lean Ground Beef
Garlic Powder to taste
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Bacon Drippings
4 slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Place ground beef in a mixing bowl. Season with seasoning salt, garlic powder and pepper as desired. Mix seasoning into the meat. Form beef into 4 lightly backed balls. Place beef balls on top of onion mounds and flatten beef firmly so that the onion adheres and patties measure 4 inches in diameter.
Melt bacon drippings on a griddle over medium heat. Using spatula, transfer patties to griddle, onion side down, and cook until onion is deep golden brown and beginning to crisp around the edges, 8-10 minutes. Flip burgers, increase their heat to medium-high and cook until well browned on the 2nd side, about 2 minutes. Place 1 slice of cheese over each burger, allow to melt.
4 Hamburger Buns, buttered and toasted
4 slices Beef Steak Tomatoes
4 Lettuce Leaves
Ketchup as desired
Mayonnaise as desired
Mustard as desired
While the burgers are cooking, toast buns, slice tomatoes and wash lettuce leaves.
To finish, spread favorite condiments on buns. Place a lettuce leaf on the bottom of each bun. Top with onion burger and a slice of tomato. Place top bun into place. If desired, cut burgers in half to make it easier to handle when eating. Serve with plenty of napkins.
Easy Baked Baked Beans
1 (28 oz) can Baked Beans
1/4 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Yellow Onion
1/4 cup Ketchup
1/2 teaspoon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
3 slices Bacon
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Empty Baked Beans in an oven-proof dish. Scatter brown sugar over the beans and set aside.
Peel and finely mince about a quarter of an onion. Scatter onion over the beans. Add ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire Sauce. Stir to mix well, spread out evenly in the dish.
Lay bacon over the top of the bean mixture. Place in the oven, uncovered to bake. At 30 minutes, remove from oven, remove bacon and stir beans well. Cover and continue to bake another 10 to 16 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.