Nostalgic “September” songs to keep you dancing while you cook

By / Food / September 13th, 2017 / 7

My parents decided I would join the marching band in my freshman year of high school, despite the fact that I never truly mastered the clarinet in the grade-school band.

The first day of band practice, I wandered around introducing myself to one and all until an upper classman told me to shut up and listen to the band director. I learned pretty quickly there would be no grade-school shenanigans in the high school band. No talking, no whispering, no breathing unless it was into your woodwind. When our director spoke, we stood at attention. Marching band was serious business.

We began rehearsals in late August, learning the marching songs in the band room before moving onto the gridiron in September. Truth be told I was never really able to memorize the songs. When the band director walked through our line to hear us play, I toodled the scale in the correct key, hoping he wouldn’t notice that I had no idea what the actual notes were. In retrospect, I’m sure he noticed. But he let me march anyway.

Every year when September rolls around, I think about those long-ago days in the high school band. As an adult, I carved out a pretty good career in the music industry, working for various record labels, where having “good ears” was the ultimate compliment. My ears were tuned to music’s frequency when I joined the high school marching band at the age of 14. I learned to appreciate music, even if I couldn’t play a note of it.

Meanwhile, as I wax nostalgic about the heydays of high school, here are the dishes I’m cooking up in September.

Italian meatball sandwich

serves 4 to 6

I can’t think about September without thinking about Frank Sinatra’s September Song. So here, in Frankie’s honour, are the fixins for Italian meatball sandwiches. I don’t like onions in my meatballs, but if you do, mince a small onion, sauté in olive oil and add to the mix. I also like to make my own sauce, but in the case of meatball sandwiches, it’s my day off. I use whatever sauce I have on hand. You might also want to top the meatballs with sautéed peppers, mushrooms and onions.

1 lb ground veal or beef
1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
Spaghetti sauce, toasted hot dog buns, mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, combine meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Roll into small to medium-sized meatballs and place on baking sheet that has been covered with cooking spray. Bake until cooked through. Time will vary depending on size of meatballs. Spread spaghetti sauce on toasted buns. Top with a spoonful or two of sauce and mozzarella cheese. If desired, run under broiler until cheese melts.

Match: Pass the Chianti.

see you in September manhattan clam chowder

serves 4 as an appetizer or light supper

See You in September by The Tempos was released in 1959 and resurrected by The Happenings in 1966. Despite its incongruous upbeat tempo, The Happenings’ version was a hit. Chowder has nothing to do with the song, but it might have been on the menu at the Manhattan diner where the Brill Building songwriters ate before writing this song. By the way, another Brill Building writer named Carole King had a hit in 1962 with It Might As Well Rain Until September. Is there something about September that inspires songwriters? Or is it the chowder?

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, undrained
2 large red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 can clams, undrained
1 bottle clam juice
Minced parsley and cooked crumbled bacon for garnish

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter with olive oil. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.

Add chicken broth and tomatoes. Using scissors, chop tomatoes. Add potatoes and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in clams and clam juice. Heat through. Remove bay leaf. Transfer to soup bowls and garnish with minced parsley and bacon.

Match: Serve with a Pinot Grigio.

green day green salad

Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends is actually a very sad song about love and loss. However, when I think of Green Day, I think of happier things like green salad. But then I’m one of those people who pretty much relates everything to food. By the way, Green Day has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, meaning these guys have banked a lotta lettuce.

4 cups mixed salad greens
1 Bartlett pear, cored and diced
1 cup green grapes, halved
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

Place salad greens in a large bowl. Add pear, grapes, celery, cucumber and parsley. Toss. In a small bowl whisk vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Top with avocado.

Match: Uncork Sauvignon Blanc.

roasted salmon with herb olive oil

serves 4

I absolutely love Earth, Wind and Fire; they’re one of my all-time favourite groups. Their September is one of those nostalgic-looking-back-at-days-gone-by kind of songs, but it’s all done in a happy danceable groove, plus in the video the band is dressed like they’ve all just emerged from King Tut’s tomb. More recently, American Idol’s Chris Daughtry drags us back down to earth sans wind and fire with his reflective and kind of teary-eyed September, where we’re asked to remember the fleeting summers of our youth. With all this reminiscing, I’m gonna need some brain food. And nothing stokes the brain like the DHA in salmon.

4 salmon fillets, patted dry, each about 1 1/4 inches thick
Paprika, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh parsley, thyme or dill
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Place salmon fillets in pan. Sprinkle with paprika. Roast, uncovered, 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 125˚F. Remove from oven and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

In small saucepan over low heat, cook olive oil, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour the herb olive oil over the salmon.

Match: Serve with sparkling rosé wine and a large dose of nostalgia.

More great September songs:
  • September Morn/Neil Diamond;
  • September When It Comes/Rosanne Cash with Johnny Cash;
  • September Song/Willie Nelson or Ella Fitzgerald;
  • The Late September Dogs/Melissa Etheridge;
  • September When I First Met You/Barry White;
  • Pale September/Fiona Apple;
  • September Grass/James Taylor;
  • Maybe September/Tony Bennett;
  • September Love/Kool & the Gang;
  • September Night/Van Morrison;
  • Flaming September/Marianne Faithfull;
  • September Gurls/The Bangles;
  • September Love/Daft Punk, Earth Wind & Fire.






Quench Food Editor, Nancy Johnson, minced, sliced, chopped, sautéed and sipped her way through George Brown College’s culinary program with a focus on food writing and wine. Nancy cooks by the code her Italian grandmother taught her: For the best results, always use the freshest, best ingredients. She writes for Ohio-based Wine Buzz Magazine and recently published a short story in Woman’s World Magazine. She is always on a diet.

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