Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Remembering Sept. 11, 2001 September 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 3:30 PM
An eagle represents freedom in the veterans' memorial at the Waseca County courthouse.

An eagle represents freedom on the veterans' memorial at the Waseca County courthouse.

HOW CAN IT BE, I wonder as I eat my BLT sandwich at noon, that half the day has passed without my considering that today is 9/11?

Have I become so complacent in eight years that I forget the significance of this day?

So I think. And I remember.

I remember the phone call from my husband alerting me to the first crash of an airliner into the first World Trade Center tower.

I immediately switch on the television set, not quite believing what he has told me. And then not long thereafter, I hear the sheer disbelief in the news anchor’s voice as the second jet steers into the second tower.

The horror of it all brings tears and an incredible feeling of fear unlike any I’ve ever felt.

On the floor, my 7-year-old son, who is home sick from school, and his friend Sam play, seemingly oblivious to the real-life action playing out on the screen.

But later, I watch as they stack wooden blocks into towers and then ram toy airplanes into the spires, sending blocks tumbling across the living room carpet.

How, I wondered back then, back eight years ago, could I explain to them that what they saw on television was real, very real, and not just a television show?


Here’s a poem I penned shortly after 9/11:

Flags fly at a temporary Field of Honor at the Kenyon Veterans Memorial Park.

Flags fly in Kenyon in August.

September 11, 2001

You clutch your silver toy jetliners

then blast them into the twin towers,

blocks scattering across the floor.

Like that show on TV,

you tell me,

where the planes crashed

into those two tall buildings.


Somehow I must tell you

that this was no show on TV,

but real people

in real buildings.

Moms and Dads

with little boys just like you,

boys who build towers and fly toy airplanes.


How do I begin to show you the truth

behind a scene so terrifying

that it keeps replaying in my mind?

Hollywood could have written the script,

the latest disaster film, grossing millions

for an industry embedded in itself.

You’re right; this could be a show on TV.


Except this is very real,

so real that I want you to believe

those were just pretend buildings, pretend airplanes.

But you see the worry in my eyes,

hear the sadness in my voice.

You know the truth,

even before I tell you.


My son, only seven years old,

too young to fully understand

the evil that has invaded the world,

the fear that grips the American heart, my heart,

the sense of security forever lost.

Like so many blocks scattered across the floor,

we must pick up the pieces and rebuild, peace by peace.


© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Miranda makes arroz con pollo

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:14 AM
Arroz con pollo tastes much better than it looks.

Arroz con pollo tastes much better than it looks.

Any time I can hand kitchen duties over to someone else, or eat food prepared by someone else, I’ll jump at the chance. I freely admit that “I hate to cook.”

So when my daughter Miranda, who has worked the past two summers in the Concordia Spanish Language Village kitchen, offered to prepare a meal for us, I quickly agreed.

This woman knows how to cook. And she didn’t learn it from me. Thank you, Concordia staff, for teaching my daughter how to cook.

She prepared arroz con pollo, a delicious Latin American dish of chicken and rice seasoned with fresh garlic, onions, red peppers and fresh cilantro.

Even my finicky son proclaimed the food tasty, although he did push the red peppers to the side of his plate.

For me, Miranda prepared a lettuce salad topped with a tomato picked from our backyard. She cut the tomato into the shape of a rose, a skill she learned from the head cook when the Mexican ambassador visited the language village. The ambassador was served a tomato rose-topped salad, just like me.

Miranda completed the meal with a mixture of fresh fruits, including mangoes. Now, I’ve never bought a mango, never eaten a mango. Actually, if someone placed a mango in front of me, I would ask, “What’s that?”

Yes, I have much to learn about food. But I’ve got my Spanish major, “I’ve lived in Argentina,” “I’ve cooked Latin American food for two summers,” daughter to teach me.

Arroz con pollo (rice with chicken)

Sautee 3 cloves minced garlic and half an onion, diced, in vegetable oil. Mix with 2 ½ cups instant, raw rice. Stir the rice mixture into 2 ½ cups chicken stock that has been brought to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit, covered, per package instructions.

In vegetable oil, sautee 1 ½ to 2 boneless chicken breasts (cut into small chunks) with half an onion, diced tomato and diced red pepper.

When the chicken is cooked, add the chicken mixture to the rice. Heat over low heat for several minutes, adding more chicken stock as needed.

Mix in fresh chopped cilantro and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Miranda said this is not the “official” Concordia arroz con pollo recipe, but her adaptation of it.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling