Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Of Garrison Keillor and Tater Tots

On this day in 1942 - Garrison Keillor was born.  He is a noted humorist, radio host: A Prairie Home Companion; author: Radio Days. He had a  monologue entitled The News from Lake Wobegon. Lake Wobegon is a quintessential but fictional Minnesotan small town "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average", and every church social or family reunion includes a pot-luck dinner with Tater Tot casseroles and Jello salads.

Every time I hear a rebroadcast, I think of the time that I spent in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, population 3577, located 115 miles southwest of Minneapolis.  It is the typical Midwest small town.  The people are friendly, helpful and know all about you.

A couple of facts about Sleepy Eye--

  • Many watchers of the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series will recognize Sleepy Eye as an important trade post for the citizens of Walnut Grove. It is also a midway point between Walnut Grove and Mankato.
  • Residents of Sleepy Eye made headlines in the early 1990s for trying to ban MTV in the town

All the women had their own secret recipes that they would bring to pot lucks, but everyone made Hamburger hot dish.  They were similar--usually the type of soup would be the only difference.
Here is a recipe that my MIL often prepared--simple but tasty.  It is part of my Heritage Family Recipe Collection.

Hamburger Hot Dish                                 From Alice Murphy
1-1/4 lbs Ground Beef
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 can Golden Mushroom Soup
    Or regular mushroom soup
1 pkg. Tater Tots.

Instructions:  Put ground beef loosely in 2 qt casserole.  Add chopped onion, pour soup over top.  Place Tater Tots closely together to cover ingredients.  Cover with foil.  Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour.  10 minutes before serving remove foil.


  1. I made something just like this when our kids were younger. It was called Easy Tater Dinner but had about the same items. It was good and easy and CHEAP which, when you have a family, you have to count every cent.
    Love the story about G. Kellior. It's always nice to read about others people's stories.

  2. I am a big Garrison Keillor fan and have read and own most of his books. He cracks me up. Like you, his stories remind me of a small town I spent time in, but for me it's Cambridge Springs, PA.