Dig Deeper - Food, Family and Fond Memories

The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind. – Thalassa Cruso Cassandra Staff Photo.1314

Food is an important part of almost any social gathering whether it's a graduation party, a family reunion, or a simple evening meal.  Many of us associate particular foods, even very specific recipes, with those we love.  I have many fond memories of my grandmother, Leola:  her soft skin that smelled of vanilla when she squeezed me in a gentle hug;  warm, beautiful quilts faded from loving use; and her famous Soft Raisin Cookies.  Every time I visited, even as a married woman, Grandma Lee would always have these cookies ready and waiting for me in a cookie jar shaped like a giant mushroom.  When I first moved out on my own, she gave me the recipe and I've tried several times, but mine are just never quite the same.

The group of people that come together to create a show often become much like a family.  I've very much enjoyed working with the cast, crew and production team for The Red Velvet Cake War.   Although the show is truly a hilariously funny farce, the best kind of comedy comes from a place of truth and love.  The themes of food, love, and family that run throughout the show reminded me of how lucky we all are to have the people we love in our lives.  Thanks, Grandma. - Cassandra Proball

Soft Raisin Cookies (originally by Great-Grandma "Johnny Bull" Dutemple and eventually passed down to me)

1 cup of raisins barely covered with water heated to boiling then cover and removed from heat to cool.

Sift together 4 cup flour 3 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp cinnamon 1 1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup shortening (Grandma Lee always used Crisco) - cut into flour mixture with a pastry knife until crumbly

Add 2 eggs that have been slightly beaten

Drain heated raisins (saving water) and add to flour mixture and stir until mixed in

Add 6-7 Tbsp of saved water to make a soft dough

Empty dough onto a floured surface and knead several times until dough holds together

Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut dough out

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes

Let cookies cool and store in an air tight container

Dig Deeper - Sights to Inspire

Flower Cake-Red Velvet DesignBrian Proball, our Production Director, invites each member of our design production team (props, costumes/makeup, sets, lights, sound, etc.) to share images that they found inspirational for their design concept for the show.  heatwave-Red Velvet Design Here are a few of the images that were shared at the very first production meeting for The Red Velvet Cake War way back on April 1st!  Beehive-Red Velvet Design

When you come to see the show, see if you can recognize how and where these images influenced the designs...Boot Co-Red Velvet Design

Dig Deeper into The Legend of the Red Velvet Cake

red velvet cake recipe Did you know? The earliest cake incorporating a large amount of red food coloring was “Waldorf red cake” or “red Waldorf cake”, initially appearing in 1959. At that time, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel had never served red velvet cake (or Waldorf red cake) or anything remotely like it. This Waldorf-Astoria cake bears the distinction of being one of the earliest American foods to develop a widespread and enduring urban legend.

The Legend: A story circulated that a guest at the upscale Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City, dining at the hotel’s eminent restaurant, ordered a slice of fudge cake for dessert. The woman enjoyed it so much that she asked the waiter for the recipe, with which he complied. Upon receiving her hotel bill in the mail, however, there was a hefty charge for the recipe. To obtain revenge, she began to widely distribute the specifications for making the cake.

Sound familiar? Variations on this urban legend have been told about other famous recipes such as the infamous story about Neiman Marcus/Mrs. Field's cookies. Memory is deeply tied to smell and taste and we all have stories of food and family: a grandmother's savory bread, an uncle's spicy chili, a cousin's sweet lemonade. Make sure you bring your stories and recipes to Lyric Arts and share them on our very own "Hospitality House" bulletin board when you come see The Red Velvet Cake War, opening May 30th. See you there!

Cookies and bars and tequila strawberry cheesecake, oh my!

oatmeal chip cookiesRalph Waldo Emerson said that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. So, the only logical conclusion is that our upcoming bake sale is going to be fantastic because we’re all so excited about it! We just wanted to give you a quick update about the goodies you’ll find when you come to see The Red Velvet Cake War – opening night is less than two weeks away. Of course, you can’t have a bake sale without cookies or cupcakes, and we wouldn't be able to call ourselves a Minnesota theater if we weren't going to have bars. You can also expect to find cake and pie, and Education Director Cassandra is planning a tequila strawberry cheesecake which she says is crazy-popular at parties.pumpkin bread

Bailey, our marketing associate, will bring in pumpkin bread made from her grandmother’s recipe. She says, “The recipe has been passed all around the family, and we all keep making it for each other as a holiday gift. It’s really become a joke at this point, but it’s so delicious that nobody is complaining!”crazy brownies

Our Technical Director Karen has promised to bring Crazy Brownies, which she described as “chocolate chip cookie dough as a base, layered with Oreo cookies and topped with brownie mix.” She says the recipe wasn't learned from her family, but we’re pretty sure it sounds like an instant family favorite. All in all, you can consider your diet ruined, folks.

There is still time to sign up if you'd like to lend your baking talents to the cause. Contact Sharon at 763-233-0802 or sharon@lyricarts.org for more information.

The bake sale will begin opening night of The Red Velvet Cake War, and will be open during intermission and after the show until we run out of goods. If you don’t have opening weekend tickets, get them now and you’ll be entered to win a cake from local café Truffles and Tortes!

Digging Deeper - Everything's Bigger in Texas!

In their Author’s Notes, Jones, Hope, and Wooten note that “the characters who populate Sweetgum, Texas, should be portrayed as real people, not Southern caricatures.”  That being said every local culture has its own eccentricities that can be a fabulous source of humor for outrageous characters like those found in The Red Velvet Cake War.  Here are just a few of the larger-than-life sights you might find on a rocketing road trip through the Lone Star State... John Wayne Boulder Bust

A boulder that nearly caused carnage on a California freeway was transformed into a long-lasting indoor tribute to The Duke.  Brett-Livingstone Strong, a 25 year-old new immigrant from Australia, carved the 13 ton rock into a very good likeness of John Wayne. Strong said that Wayne had volunteered to sponsor him for his green card.  Strong called the head "Life-Time-Light" and sold it to an Arizona real estate tycoon, who eventually donated it to Lubbock Christian University, which in 1991 renamed it "Spirit of Independence" and put it in its library. It's been there ever since.

72 oz steakNo matter how you slice it, 72 ounces is four-and-a-half pounds. That's a lot of meat and at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, it's free. If you can eat it in an hour.  And here's the catch; it's not just a 72 ounce steak that you have to eat in an hour. You have to eat a 72 ounce steak dinner. That means 4.5 pounds of meat plus a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, and a roll with butter (The extras are normal-size).  According to the menu, over 50,000 have started the Free 72 Ounce Steak challenge; less than 9,000 have finished. Only a handful of women try each year -- but they have a better success rate than men, and their number includes the oldest person ever to win, a 69-year-old grandmother. Other notable champions include pro wrestler Klondike Bill, who ate two 72-ounce steak dinners in an hour, and competitive eater Joey Chestnut, who ate his entire meal in less than nine minutes.

Cadillac RanchStanding along Route 66 west of Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch was invented and built by The Ant Farm and their silent partner, Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh III.  In 1974 ten Caddies were driven into one of his fields, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high for all to see on the empty Texas panhandle.  People would stop along the highway, walk out to view the cars -- then deface them or rip off pieces as souvenirs. Stanley Marsh 3 and The Ant Farm were tolerant of this public deconstruction of their art -- although it doomed the tail fins -- and eventually came to encourage it.  Tourists are always welcome at Cadillac Ranch. If you bring spray paint, make sure to also bring a camera. Because whatever you create at Cadillac Ranch will probably only last a few hours before it's created over by someone else.

All information, text, and images are from Roadside America.com.

It's the Red Velvet Bake Sale!


Now that it's finally May and spring has sprung (sort of...), we're excited to announce that we'll be holding a bake sale in conjunction with our upcoming show, The Red Velvet Cake War, opening May 30th. 

You'll surely have red velvet cake on the mind after watching the hilarious Verdeen family bake-off, and we have just the solution. Visit concessions during intermission and after the show–we'll have red velvet cupcakes from Truffles and Tortes, as well as plenty of other scrumptious selections to satisfy any craving (and plenty for you to take home too!). 

Contact Sharon Broscha at 763-233-0802 if you'd like to lend your baking talents to the cause. 100% of proceeds from the bake sale will come directly to Lyric Arts.

In addition to selling scrumptious baked goods, we'll also be raffling off a delicious cake each night of opening weekend from our friends at Truffles and Tortes Dessert Cafe. Come to an opening weekend show and you'll automatically be entered to win! 

Get your tickets now to enjoy an evening of southern-fried comedy and dysfunctional family hilarity with us at Lyric Arts.