You can go nuts fast worrying about what dish to take to your next holiday or football play-off get-together. I mean to be sympathetic and sensitive to all the concerns, but sometimes when I agonize, I can get a little cynical. That’s a confession and a warning.
I used to just think about 3 things:
1. Will everybody like my food?
2. Did I make enough?
3. Will it survive the car trip to the party?
Now I wake up at night—and I see faces. These are the people who will be at the party:
1. The vegetarians, who have varying degrees of practice, including those who forgive you if you were ¼ cup short of vegetable stock and filled in with chicken stock, and those who won’t.
2. The foodies, equipped with judgment and certainty.
3. The alternative folk, who are concerned that in the course of preparing the food they’re about to eat, no animal or plant suffered pain, and who can spot a shred of plastic anywhere.
4. The souls who just want to get full.
5. Those who are hoping for the good ole favorites, please.
6. The vegans, often proudly and loudly so.
7. The gluten-free, either because they must, or because they find it mildly entertaining or are sure they feel better for the sacrifice they’re making.
I find all of this downright intimidating. But one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more forgiving and more considerate of other people’s needs and wishes. And my second resolution? To still give myself permission now and then to make what I’d like to for parties.
I’ve gotta admit, sometimes I do wonder if we’d all be happier—cooks and guests alike—if we all just brought our own packed lunches.
But, hey, before you resort to that, here’s a sturdy and luscious soup I love to make that will work for all but the vegans and those with peanut allergies at your next party.
What do you make and take that makes everybody happy?
Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook, page 44
Makes 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 6 hours
Ideal slow cooker size: 4-qt.
¼ stick (2 Tbsp.) butter
4 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups cooked and pureed sweet potatoes, or butternut squash*
1 cup smooth peanut butter
6 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
croutons for garnish, optional
crumbled cooked bacon for garnish, optional for anyone but the vegetarians and vegans
1. Place butter, pumpkin, sweet potatoes or squash, peanut butter, stock, pepper, and salt in slow cooker. Stir well.
2. Cover. Cook on Low 6 hours, stirring well after first 2 hours.
3. Serve with croutons or crumbled bacon as garnishes if you wish.
*If you make your own pureed sweet potatoes or squash, add another hour to the Prep Time. Use 2 large sweet potatoes, or a medium-sized butternut squash, in order to get the 2 cups mashed.