It’s been 37 years since I celebrated Father’s Day with my dad. Hap, as he was know by many of his family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances (his given name was Ervin), died in March 1975 at the age 59, and hardly a day goes by when I don’t think about him.
More than anything, he taught me the importance of a good work ethic. Nobody worked harder than my dad, whether it was during his almost 30-year career as a heavy equipment operator and area maintenance foreman with the Minnesota Highway Department (now the Department of Transportation) or as husband and a father.
One of the things I’m most grateful for is what he taught me about gardening and cooking. Dad always had a very neat and orderly garden. His rows were always straight, and I don’t ever recall a garden of his being overridden with weeds.
And although my mom did most of the cooking in our house, Dad was a very good cook. He was a great soup maker. Homemade vegetable beef, bean and ham and boiled dinner were among his specialties. I can remember whenever he made the boiled dinner, my Aunt Harriet would tell my Uncle Curt that he was on his own for supper because she was coming over to our house to eat Hap’s soup.
And there were many nights I recall coming home late and dipping into the kettle of vegetable beef soup when my stomach was growling for something to eat.
But perhaps my favorite food that Dad made was his hand-pattied venison sausage we would have with eggs, toast and tomato juice. Dad was an avid deer hunter and always had all of the meat ground into burger. And all of it would go into those patties that my brothers and I so dearly cherished for breakfast or supper.
The cooked patties always were juicy because Dad steamed them in a frying pan with the cover. The patties were seasoned with salt, pepper, mustard seed and his secret ingredient, ground cloves.
This Father’s Day, I’m going to make some of those patties. I can’t think of a better way to remember Dad.
Hapâ€™s Hand-Pattied Venison Sausage
1 pound ground venison
1 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
2 teaspoons pepper (or to taste)
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours. Take out of refrigerator and make 8 to 10 patties. Place in frying pan over medium-low to mediumÂ heat and cover. Cook slowly for about 20 minutes before checking for doneness. Do not remove cover.
Serve with eggs and toast.