‘Potluck’ is perfect party philosophy for hard timesFor Terri Middleton, potlucks happen at work. Other people picture a few friends gathered around the kitchen table — or picnic table, depending on the season — each with a dish to share.
By: Jana Peterson, Budgeteer News
For Terri Middleton, potlucks happen at work. Other people picture a few friends gathered around the kitchen table — or picnic table, depending on the season — each with a dish to share. Foodies Rae Katherine Eighmey and Debbie Miller picture church dinners and 1950s ladies luncheons, as is evidenced in their book, “Potluck Paradise: Favorite Fare from
Church and Community Cookbooks.”
Regardless of the setting the word “potluck” conjures in one’s mind, there is a common theme: A potluck involves a gathering of people where each person brings a dish to share (or some other contribution, like paper plates, said Middleton).
“We call it ‘food day,’ but it really is a potluck,” said Middleton, who works at US Bank in downtown Duluth and is often the person tasked with organizing said “food day.”
“Sometimes we have a theme, like tacos, and everyone will bring a different ingredient,” she said. “Other times, we just sign up to bring something. One girl always makes meatballs. Mark makes chili. I make my party potatoes. ... It’s nice; we get a lot of people from different floors eating lunch with us.”
Potlucks are also an ideal way to entertain in difficult economic times because the cost — and effort — is shared among many.
Find the idea of friends descending on your home armed with crockpots, jello rings and salad bowls overwhelming?
Why not have a progressive dinner with friends, and serve each course in a different home? It’s a more complicated variation on the theme, but still takes the pressure off any one host.
Middleton shared her party potatoes recipe with the Budgeteer; we also snagged three recipes from the “Potluck Paradise” book, recently published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Recipes follow.
24-Hour Vegetable Salad
Serves 6 to 8
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can tender young peas
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can French cut green beans
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can shoepeg (sweet) white corn
4 large stalks celery, diced
1 can pimento, cut fine
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Directions: Drain and mix vegetables in a large, heatproof bowl. Combine sugar, paprika and salt in a saucepan. Add vinegar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and pour while hot over the combined vegetables. Stir to mix well and add the vegetable oil. Refrigerate overnight.
Köenigsberger Klops (German Meatballs)
This tasty dish appeared in the cookbook of the Hospital Service League of Sycamore, Illinois. It’s nice because you don’t have to fry the meatballs. They bake in the oven in beef stock.
Serves 6 to 8
1/2 pound each ground beef, pork and veal (see Note)
2 slices white bread soaked in water, squeezed out and broken into small pieces
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup finely minced onion
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt or less if you prefer
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups (16 ounces) beef stock or consommé, lower-sodium version (see Note)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickles
juice of half a lemon
1–2 cups reserved beef juices
Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine meat, bread, eggs, onion, parsley, salt and paprika. Mix well and shape lightly into 2-inch balls. Place in large casserole or 13x9-inch glass pan. Combine lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce with beef stock and water; pour over meatballs to almost cover. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes (to an internal temperature of 160°F). Remove meatballs and keep warm. Reserve beef juices to make gravy. Melt butter in small 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle flour over butter and stir, cooking for several minutes until mixture is bubbly. Then add pickles and lemon juice and stir thoroughly. Add in the pan juices gradually, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps as the gravy thickens. (You may not need all the pan juices.) Pour over meatballs and serve.
NOTE: Like many meatball recipes from this era, this recipe uses three meats: beef, pork and veal. In tests the cookbook authors found that substituting more beef for the veal didn’t make much difference in the end product. We also used at least 90 percent lean ground beef. If you don’t have ground pork available at your market, you can purchase a half pound of pork and process it in a food processor to approximate ground pork. I used the full-strength beef stock that comes in waxed boxes and in cans. If you are using condensed beef broth, dilute it according to instructions on container and use 2 cups of the diluted broth.
Recipe courtesy of Virginia N. Ovitz
Pork Chops in catsup sauce
1/4 cup catsup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
6 pork chops
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons shortening or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
8 ounces pitted prunes
Directions: Combine the catsup, mustard and salt. Brush mixture onto pork chops. Heat shortening or oil in frying pan that has a lid. Brown chops on both sides over medium heat. While chops are browning, combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until prunes are plumped.
Pour prune sauce over chops, cover and simmer until chops are done, about 20 to 30 minutes depending on thickness.
(The above recipes are printed with permission from the Minnesota Historical Society Press from the book “Potluck Paradise: Favorite Fare from Church and Community Cookbooks” by Rae Katherine Eighmey and Debbie Miller.)
Terri’s Party Potatoes
2 lb frozen cubed hashbrown
1 small onion chopped
1 can cream of potato soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cups sour cream
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
1/2 lb bacon, brown and crumble
Directions: In large bowl mix everything together. Put in 9 x 13 baking dish, pour 1/2 cup of milk over top. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Use fork to make sure potato's are soft.
“For potluck, I make them the night before and put them in a slow cooker for the next morning,” Middleton said.
Recipe courtesy of Terri Middleton, Duluth.