Quick: Who is the one person you know who is LEAST likely to win a prize for cooking? Hint: Her photo appears in the sidebar to your right.
Yep, the Devil is buying ice skates right this very minute. I have won the highly coveted Neighborhood Pot Luck – Salad Division Award! Okay, so technically, it was a tie with neighbor Roger who made a yummy pimiento cheese salad, and if I had quit eating and talking long enough to cast my vote, he would have won outright.
But he didn’t–we tied, and my name was called as a (co)winner of an Award in Cooking! I beat–I mean, WE beat out a cole slaw, a Chinese cashew salad, some sort of Cool Whip concoction, and three different versions of potato salad (gotta love the South.)
I wish I could tell you that my entry was a “healthy” salad, but it wasn’t. Past neighborhood pot luck experience has taught me that “healthy” don’t move. The average age of attendees is probably around 70 (maybe a little higher), and they don’t want what those of us here would call “healthy.” What they want is low-cholesterol, sugar free stuff they don’t eat every day at home. So I pandered to the masses and chose a recipe that fell somewhere between truly healthy and a category I like to call “probably won’t kill you in small portions every now and then.”
I’ll share the recipe with you, just in case you find yourself in a similar situation. I poached it from AllRecipes, and made only a few minor changes. It’s inexpensive per serving (important for the unemployed person cooking for a crowd), easy to prepare, and colorful. Plus, it probably won’t kill you.
• 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks (I used 2 cans, packed in juice)
• 1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (I used sugar-free, nectar of old people)
• 1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained (I couldn’t find any juice-packed, so I used light syrup)
• 1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained (I used 2 jars, minus 3 cherries)
• 3 bananas (my bananas were small, so I used those plus one medium sized)
1. Drain all of the juice from the pineapple into a large bowl. Set the pineapple chunks aside.
2. Add the vanilla pudding mix to the pineapple juice and mix well until smooth. Stir in the pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, and maraschino cherries. Mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Just before serving slice the bananas into the bowl and fold in.
I also sprinkled a few whole pecans across the top for contrast. I think I read that in a magazine once.
Okay, so it’s not really cooking, just stirring. And in my book, it’s more dessert than salad. But considering it was a “salad”, I’ll let that part slide. (I’m generous that way.) I’m mostly just gratified that people liked what I brought. Some poor lady made a spice cake (from mix, I think) that had only four small squares taken. I had one of those, and she insisted I take another piece home with me. Since I’ve been in her shoes and had to take home most of a dish I’d prepared, I agree. Unfortunately, I “dropped” it in my yard when I was walking home, over on the side where the birds congregate in the mornings. (The chocolate-covered marshmallow thingie made it in the house safely.)
Overall, it was a fun and informative evening, with the social aspect of it being the most enjoyable. We had around 45-50 folks in attendance, and I met some new-to-me neighbors for the first time. AND I get to see my name (and Roger’s) in the next neighborhood newsletter as prize-winner(s)! Plus, now that I know there’s a contest involved (I had forgotten that), I can begin planning what to take to next year’s event.
Unless I’m busy with my new show on Food Network. How does “Cammy Stirs!” sound for a series title?
Does your neighborhood have potlucks and gatherings like this? What types of foods do folks typically bring?
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend! I’m off to the gym to counter some birthday/potluck excesses.