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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Gray Matters: A Potluck Dinner from the Past

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm not sure just what triggered this bit of nostalgia. Perhaps it's because a change is being made in the food service here where I am now living.

With nothing better to do some residents spend a lot of time discussing the pros and cons of the matter. In any case, all of this food talk has triggered memories of the old-fashioned potluck dinners that used to held at church. I expect many of you, past a certain age, can join me in similar indulgent recollections.

After services and bible class the men would stand around in little groups talking over the things men talked about when they stood around in little groups. Some women were busy in the kitchen while others were doing a bit of chatting on their own.

The youngsters were scurrying around under everyone's feet enjoying their freedom. When the meal was ready the pastor led in the common table prayer and we all fell in line. Calorie-counting resolutions were set aside and all other caution abandoned as a feast was about to begin.

First came the meats and casseroles. We often speculated about the various ways fried chicken was prepared, some was dark and moist, while other examples were golden-crisp. And how about the casseroles? Where do you imagine those many recipes came from?

Though some were quite similar they were all individually and tastily prepared. Next, the vegetables. Someone always brought escalloped corn. How I loved that. When I was small Mom canned our sweet corn.

To "foxy" it up a bit for special meals she "scalloped" it with cracker crumbs, butter, egg and light cream--Mmm. In my day, after painstakingly freezing corn the way my kids liked it, they would have flat-out revolted if I'd dared to add anything but a bit of milk, a dollop of butter, salt and a lacing of sugar. So it was at the church dinner that I depended on getting that delightful golden spoonful of pure nostalgia.

Following that were the salads--a joyous wonder. They could range from varied vegetable combinations to the whipped-cream enhanced fruits--every one different and every one delicious. (That, of course, is a figure of speech for I never actually tried them all, much as I might have liked to).

After all of that, I suppose we might have asked, "Who needs dessert?" But remember, it was a day to indulge. What an array there was! I'll just take the time to tell you my recollections of one very special pie. The same lady always brought a perfect meringue-cream pie.

It might have been lemon, butterscotch or chocolate, she seemed to alternate varieties as I recall. In any case, both crust and filling were made from scratch and all was topped off with an exquisite meringue.

With lard and a bit of deft handling most of us could make a good crust, and we could manage a decent filling, but only this gal could make the perfect, Purple-Ribbon meringue. She's gone now and its secrets have gone with her. All that is at an end, as are my musings on a Potluck Dinner from the Past.

Confession time: I have been looking over some notes made years ago to help refresh my memory so if some of the above seems a bit repetitious, there's a reason. Will you please forgive me? If it aroused some lip-smacking memories of you own I hope you feel it was well worthwhile.