I came to know Mariann Laue and her late husband, Jim, through my 1980's work with the Kettering Foundation. One of their staff members introduced me to Jim and his social justice work. Jim Laue was appointed by the U.S. Justice Dept. to join MLK's Civil Rights events. He was with Rev. King when he was shot. In the historic photo of the shooting on a hotel patio, it is Jim's handkerchief that is covering Martin Luther King's face. Jim Laue worked with the Kettering Foundation as he transitioned from social justice research to the specific field of peace and conflict studies.
Jim's academic role was at George Mason University where he established their Peace Studies Program. As a consultant with Kettering's National Issues Forum research on peace, I was sent to Washington D.C. periodically. One time, I extended my working visit a few days after being invited by Jim to stay as his residence in Virginia. I felt as if I had a found a second family with him, his wife, Mariann, and their still-at-home son, Ron. For the following three or so years, their home became my second home and a couple of times I brought my husband and our young son with me to stay with Jim, Mariann, and Ron.
Enjoying Mariann's "Methodist" casserole on a late summer evening was one of our quiet treats. She often set the stage for dinner by playing a few hymns and pop tunes on the piano. Our son would pet their German Shepherd, Spicer, or throw tennis balls to this gentle four-legged giant tennis as they played on the Laue's rolling backyard lawn. The casserole, served on the Laue's screened-in porch, would be accompanied by Pepperidge Farm French Bread, fresh from the oven.
Dessert was light---such as sugar free peach ice cream because Jim was an insulin dependent diabetic. I add this detail because Jim usually had to give himself an insulin shot before we were served dessert. The disease took him too soon. Mariann, who is a two time breast cancer survivor, eventually remarried. We stay in touch during Christmas and she and her blended family are growing with their children's spouses and children. I hope Mariann continues to serve her casserole when the grandchildren come to visit and plays her songs on her piano as the bread and casserole bake.
Even though our son grew up to be a professional chef, this simple recipe is still one of his "comfort food favorites."
Brown a pound of ground beef (can substitute ground turkey) with 1 tsp of ground oregano in oil.
Boil two cups of egg noodles.
In an oven-proof bowl, mix the cooked noodles and browned ground meat with 1/3 cup of water and 1 can of tomato soup.
Top the mixture with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake uncovered in the oven at 350 degrees until cheese is thoroughly melted and mixture bubbles. (10-15 mins.)
Serve with warm bread.