Kate Kline’s Veggies and Wine

by Abby Wendle


Kate Kline’s eating habits are evolving – from conventional family dinners in her 1950’s Tulsa childhood, to fancy teas as an officers’ wife, to vegetarianism during her hippie years living in 1960’s Detroit.
For this dish, polenta and vegetable casserole, Kline recommends pouring yourself a glass of wine to drink while you work – it can take a while. We had some homemade mead, honey wine. She also likes dandelion wine. A recipe for that is below the recipe for this month’s Okie Dish.

Polenta Ingredients
6 cups of water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups corn meal
2 tbs. butter

Polenta Instructions
Bring water to a boil in a large pan. Add salt. Vigorously whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and pour into a 9 by 13 inch pan. When cool, cut into 12 squares and then each square into triangles.

Tomato Sauce Ingredients
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium size yellow onion, diced
1/2 tsp. basil
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
16 oz. can of chopped or crushed tomatoes

Tomato Sauce Instructions
Saute onion, basil, 1/2 tsp. salt and pinch of pepper over medium heat in the olive oil until the onion is soft, add garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and simmer for a minute or two. When the pan is almost dry, add the tomatoes and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Polenta Casserole Ingredients
Polenta (See above)
Tomato Sauce (See above)
2 cans artichoke hearts quartered, drained
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
3/4 lb. tomatoes, cored, seeded, cut into large pieces
12 olives (Niçoise, Greek or Kalamata), pitted and coarsely chopped
2 oz. Fontina cheese grated
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

2 tables. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 to 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper

Polenta Casserole Instructions
Take the artichokes and saute them in the olive oil, add salt and a pinch of pepper. Add 1/4 cup of wine, add the lemon juice and half the garlic. Simmer for about 2 minutes. Add more salt, more pepper and more lemon juice as your heart desires.

Marinate the tomatoes in olive oil and the other half of the garlic. Add the herbs and some more salt and pepper. Toss this mix into the pan with the artichokes. Simmer for a few more minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Arrange the polenta triangles upright in rows across the width of the dish, overlapping the triangles slightly. Spoon the veggies and olives between the polenta triangles. Mix the cheese together and sprinkle over the dish.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese bubbles.

One gallon of dandelion wine!
1 gallon of perfect, open dandelion flowers
3 lbs sugar
3 or 4 lemons, juice, seeds, skin, all chopped
3 or 4 oranges, chopped
1.5 – 2 tbsp yeast

Dandelion Wine Instructions
Pick one gallon of perfect, open dandelion flowers. Put the flowers into a 2 gallon or larger crock and pour boiling water over them. Cover crock with cheesecloth and let it sit at room temperature for 3 days. Squeeze the juice out of the flowers, throw them away and save the liquid.

Put liquid in a big pot and add the sugar, lemons and oranges. Boil the mixture for 30 minutes with the top on the pot. When the liquid cools to lukewarm pour it into crock and add the yeast. Cover the pot with cheesecloth and let the brew sit for 2-3 weeks, or until it stops bubbling.

Pour the wine through the cheesecloth and bottle.



Kate Kline: I’m cooking a vegetarian dish. It has polenta in it. Although, when I learned to make polenta we called it corn meal mush.

My name is Kate Kline. We moved to Tulsa when I was in the 3rd Grade, and we ate what everybody ate. Mother had her regular little casseroles that she made. The only vegetables I had were broccoli, canned asparagus, peas, it was the ‘50s and my first husband was a military officer so I had my cocktail dresses and my white gloves and my heels and went to the High Tea with the commander’s wife.

But, I’ve always sought a larger, more interesting world than what I was brought up in and married into. My first husband and I had been separated at one point. We went to a marriage counselor and the marriage counselor said that it was important for me to learn to be a good wife to my husband even it meant changing my personality.

But, I didn’t. I was pretty wild and maybe a bit promiscuous. I hate to say that but I fell in love with my second husband while I was still married to my first husband. His family lived in Detroit so we moved to Detroit. We were hippies. There wasn’t any doubt about that. Long hair and we smoked a lot of dope. And that kind of music, it was wonderful. And when we lived in Detroit my husband took me to a vegetable market. I had never in my life seen such an array of vegetables. Squashes, I had never seen squashes, kale and spinach and leaf lettuce, not just iceberg lettuce. We were vegetarians and I at the time did not know anyone else who was a vegetarian. There were no cookbooks at that time for vegetarians so cheese, we weren’t vegans so we ate plenty of cheese, eggs––ate a lot of eggs. And then I made vegetable soup and I remember my mother-in-law said one day, “How do you make vegetable soup without meat?” And I said, very snidely, “With vegetables.”[laughs] It also bugged my parents. They would always make fun of us. My father would always push meat off on us. If my children went to visit their grandparents, they would get meat under the table. You know, behind our backs. [laughs]

I don’t know for sure why we stopped being vegetarians but we were for about three years. And we survived, imagine. [laughs]