Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Potluck Today

(Sing along to "Deck the Halls"!)

‘Tis the season to have potlucks,
Fa la la la la, la la la la
The company’s too cheap to spend some of its bucks
Fa la la la la, la la la la
So all bring in their three bean salads
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
And guess what casserole that one o'er there is
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Then the church has its own party
Fa la la la la, la la la la
I guess that means I should not dress tarty
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Deviled eggs and blue ambrosia
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
If you get sick, I certainly warned ya’
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Are potlucks primarily a Southern thing? After my family moved down here, my mom commented that she never went to so many potlucks all the years she lived in Philly. You have a party, you provide the food – the guests just bring themselves . . . makes total sense to me! Even if you just order a pizza or just have cheese and crackers and beer, people appreciate you trying to entertain and feed them.

Down here, it seems like you always have to bring your own food. My mom would always bring something substantial, like her homemade mac & cheese or fry up some of her yummy chicken – and the next thing you know it was all gone in five minutes, because everyone else brought random salads that even the people who brought them didn’t want to eat. One time, the hosts complained because she didn’t make a large enough batch! So after a while she stopped bringing the good stuff and started bringing simple things like a bag of chips . . . making an effort gets tiring after a while.

I’m starting to get to that point myself, although I haven’t had the lousy experiences my mom has had. For potlucks I usually either make (a) green bean casserole or (b) some sort of cheesecake.

Now my green bean casserole is slightly different from the Campbell’s recipe:
I am a little more sparing with the Fried Onions,
I use cream of chicken and mushroom soup (adds a bit more flavor),
I use FROZEN green beans, rather than canned (EWWWWWW!) – this makes the beans crisper and they usually are a nice healthy green color.
Instead of just black pepper, I also put in a little Mrs. Dash for some more flavor.

. . . So people really like my version, and actually request that I bring it. Yay!

Same deal with the cheesecakes – I always make them from scratch and do the whole long baking process. You know, one and a half hours baking in the hot over (with a pan of water at the bottom, so there is no cracking), one hour in the oven with the oven turned off, then one hour on the counter to cool a little more, then at least 8 hours in the fridge. So it is a bit of a time commitment to make one . . . you just can’t decide to make one at 10 at night, unless you really want to stay up until 4 AM. So they tend to be rather popular . . . which makes me happy, because then it is worth all of the effort.

However, this time of year . . . oy! There’s always two or three potlucks scheduled for the same five day period. There’s the church party, and other friends’ parties and work parties . . . and all the baking gets rather tiring (and expensive!) So I always think I want to hang it up and bring the bag of chips or platter of cookies . . . but then I feel so lame doing so, like I let the universe down somehow . . . I’ve really got to get a grip on that . . .

The holidays are not supposed to stress you out, but something about this time of year makes me want to give Martha a run for her money. Being sick doesn’t help much, it just makes me feel bad that I’m not doing the things that I want to do. I must accept that being sick is the Universe’s way of telling me to slow down . . . get a bit of rest . . . stop trying to do eight million things . . .

I’m trying to be laid back, Universe! I’m trying! Just stop with the darn potlucks already!

[Apprentice note for VG – Randal totally lost my love in the last 60 seconds of the show. What a snot! I was under the impression that Trump was kind of asking Randal if he (Randal) would hire her, as his apprentice. I totally believe that Rebecca would have said yes if the shoe was on the other foot, because Rebecca had so much respect for Randal. Rebecca seems destined for better things anyway. I didn’t know she was only 24? She’s certainly a lot better candidate than either Kendra or Kelly were, ugh!]


Merci said...

It's only called a Potluck at church (or a Covered Dish Dinner) up here, but we seem to have slipped into the same tradition in the North. I'm not quite sure when it started. My family never did it. But then, my family was originally from Philly, too!

I don't like to have my guests bring a dish, but they often insist on it. I'd rather enjoy myself when I'm company, and do the work when I'm the hostess, so that my guests may enjoy themselves.

Take care of yourself, and remember that the season is about spending time with family and friends. You won't ruin anybody's holiday if you buy a dessert or a dish instead of making one.

I'll bet one of Trump's business contacts, or one of his other divisions, will hire Rebecca.

Virginia Gal said...

Random Kath - completely agree with you about the Apprentice. I think Rebecca would have hired Randal and I think it was wrong of him to say "no." But you're right, she's probably destined for better things (so much better than Kendra!).
As for the potluck thing - I love them! We do them at work all the time, sometimes just for the heck of it, and I like the variety of foods - we never are lacking in something and it is more feasible than going out to lunch (especially in Washington DC). Yet if it was my own party, I would never ask people to bring food - I agree that as the host, I should provide the meals.