Eating together has been one of the great human pleasures since forever.
Potlucks Make Eating with Friends Possible
But now more than ever, sharing the job of preparing that food is important, maybe even necessary, if eating together is going to happen. Otherwise, we may not sit down to a meal with friends anymore—except in a restaurant.
Mercifully, most of our good friends and family also live over-full lives. They know we aren’t lazy, disloyal, inept, or cheap if our invitation to a meal together comes with a food assignment.
Family Reunions and Fellowship Meals
When I was growing up, we took a hot dish and a cold dish to family reunions and church fellowship meals. That’s when I learned that Dorothy’s deviled eggs were the best and Luetta’s rhubarb pie was unmatched.
When our kids were growing up, we lived between two great families. Our kids played together, but we grown-ups seldom had more than two-sentence-long conversations. That’s when we instituted three backyard picnics a summer.
Each time, one of us made a main dish (usually grilled), another provided salad and veggies, and the other brought dessert. We took turns bringing the different foods. Whoever hosted the event took care of dinnerware. Unless we were running short on plates or silver and asked for a little assistance from the others. It was that kind of easy atmosphere.
Which Potluck Today?
When our kids were in college and growing weary of cafeteria food, they devised a scouting system to find out which nearby churches were having fellowship meals on Sunday noon. When the word came back, a raft of students showed up at those places, probably mystifying the congregants with their sudden interest.
Our Scattered Family
Ever since both of Merle’s parents are gone, the sibs and spouses meet for a quarterly potluck. We take turns hosting, which also means making a basic main dish—and asking the rest to bring either a salad or dessert. I know we see more of each other because we share the responsibility of food prep, and we are less tempted to try to amaze each other with this kind of set-up and expectation.
So here are the pleasures of potlucks:
1. Good chance you’ll see your friends and family more.
2. You’ll likely be less tempted to feel pressured to impress your guests.
3. I believe this is a maxim: The more comforting the food, the more casual the atmosphere, the more fun people have.
4. If you’re the host, you’ll have company in the kitchen. No more just listening to the fun going on in the family room or on the deck while you sweat and slave.
5. Whether you’re a guest or a host, it’s okay to use convenience foods if they make it possible for you to participate—rotisserie chicken, store-bought canned or frozen vegetables, boxed chicken broth, frozen whipped topping, canned soups, and baking mixes.
6. Potlucks can be contagious. Instigate one, and you double your chances of being invited back to one. Give your social circles permission to share food together in this way—in the prepping as well as the eating.
7. Give thanks for good food—and relaxing times together with your friends. And make sure you do your part to make them happen.
My newest cookbook, Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven, will be out in October. Here’s a delicious recipe from the book, perfect for your next get-together.
Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven
Makes 6-8 servings
Prep. Time: 5 minutes
Marinating Time: 8 hours, or overnight
Grilling Time: 16-20 minutes
1 tsp. ginger
½ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. dried minced onions
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup bourbon
½ tsp. garlic powder
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1. Mix ginger, soy sauce, minced onions, brown sugar, bourbon, and garlic powder in a bowl. Pour into a large, heavy plastic bag.
2. Add chicken. Place bag of chicken in large bowl in case of any leaks. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Remove chicken from marinade. Dispose of marinade.
4. Grill indirectly for about 8 minutes per side, or until juices run clean and meat is no longer pink.
Tips for Cooking and/or Serving this recipe
-Sometimes I make a second batch of marinade so we can pour it over a bed of rice and the cooked chicken.
-To use a grill pan, instead of a grill:
1. Coat grill pan with a light layer of olive oil or nonstick cooking spray. Heat grill pan on medium heat until very hot.
2. Place chicken on grill pan and cook for two minutes per side.
3. Place chicken on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees, or until juices run clear and meat is not\ longer pink.
You may substitute sparkling apple cider, sparkling cranberry juice, or sparkling grape juice for the bourbon.
To pre-order your copy of Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven today, click here.