Small Town Fun

Recently, I was involved in two potluck meals. — I love potlucks because you get to sample the greatest food around. For some people it’s a way of sharing a special family recipe that their mother and maybe even their grandmother made.

One potluck meal was with the Loomis Historic Society near Crivitz. I didn’t have to bring any food to that lunch. I was their guest speaker. My talk concerned saving family stories, but as I think of it, saving family recipes is pretty special, too. The food was great, the people friendly and I had a great time.

The other potluck was a supper at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Seymour. That evening the Christian Women had their Fall Get Together. Everyone brought a dish to pass, a canned or boxed item for our St. Vincent DePaul food pantry and an item to auction. The evening was a fund raiser for our local St. Vincent DePaul Society.

I came with fudge and two cans of peas. One can was the regular kind I would open for a meal. The second can was a bit larger. It was a gallon can of peas. Rebecca and Andy had given it to us after winning it in a brown bag grab bag for the Cerebral Palsy Center. Since I knew Bob would never, ever eat that much creamed peas, the best thing to do with it was to donate it for use at one of the upcoming holiday meals the St. Vincent DePaul Society would be putting on.

I invited myself to a seat at a table. The women welcomed me and we started a conversation that lasted through the meal.

When it came time to join the line snaking down the tables of potluck food, my stomach growled. Everything looked so great. I wanted to taste it all.

As planned, I started to take a spoonful of each offering. There were all kinds of hot dishes. I sampled meats and vegetables in all sorts of forms. Everyone proved to be extra special.

When I neared the end of the spread, I found something I had hoped to see. It was my favorite: Broccoli Salad. This salad is so special because I only get it at potluck suppers. I’ve never made it at home. Like President George H. W. Bush, Bob doesn’t like broccoli, even if it does have bacon and cheese sprinkled through the salad. So the only time I’ve had this tasty Broccoli Salad was at gatherings like this.

I took extra Broccoli Salad and went back to my table, happy. There the conversation wound its way around to the food. Quite a few of the ladies were widows and missed having certain hot dishes at home. “It’s just too much for one person,” said a woman. I mentioned my feelings about the Broccoli Salad and others agreed with me.

“I wonder what’s in it,” one woman said as she munched.

As we contemplated possible ingredients, our conversation was joined by others down the table. It turned out an old friend had brought the Broccoli Salad. “You’re going to have to share your recipe with me,” I said.

Jean rather sheepishly answered, “I can’t. I got it at the deli.”

We all laughed. Now all of us who won’t bother making a giant Broccoli Salad for ourselves knows where we can find it. That’s a good thing, too.

After our meal, the items brought for auction were taken out and one by one sold. The bidding was especially interesting when two friends were going back and forth, bidding for the same item. It made the evening fun and raised money for a good cause.

A third event didn’t have a potluck, but it did have wine. It was the annual Wine Tasting benefiting the Muehl Public Library. I was there to serve red wine, but after my shift was over, I went around to bid on items in the silent auction. We didn’t have anonymous numbers, so I added my name and bid on a donated wire-feed welder for Bob. — Mine was the only female name on that list.

Ever so often, I had to go back to check on the bidding. When out bid, I upped mine again. Near the end, I saw the one last man bidding against me head back to the table by the welder. Only minutes were left. I broke off a conversation I was having and hurried to bid one last time. Woo hoo! I won.

To tie everything up I’ll give you a recipe for Broccoli Salad I found on the Internet. Here it is:

Ingredients: 8 slices of bacon; 2 heads broccoli, chopped; 1 ½ cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded; ½ large red onion, chopped; ¼ cup red wine vinegar; 1/8 cup white sugar; 2 tsp. black pepper; 1 tsp. salt; 2/3 cup mayo; 1 tsp lemon juice.

Place bacon in skillet and brown. Drain and crumble. In large bowl, combine broccoli, cheese, bacon and onion. In small bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, sugar, pepper, salt, mayo and lemon juice. Add to salad. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Of course, I won’t be making this. When I need some Broccoli Salad I’ll head to another potluck…or to a deli.