Archive for the ‘Pot luck’ Category

Fish in Aspic

So, I was looking through one of those hoity-toity magazines at the doctor’s office while I was waiting to get some scratches looked at. Now, I’ll admit that the magazines there are pretty old, but this one was at the bottom of the stack and it was older then me. So it was really old, right? No, not really old. I’m not that old. Don’t you even say it.

No. Don’t even think it. There’s still plenty of wriggle in the wiggle. I am far from old-bat-dom.

So anyway, this ancient magazine had this crazy recipe for fish in aspic. It sounded really fancy. But way more complicated than I could remember and I didn’t have a pen and paper to copy it all down. And ripping a page out of a magazine is frowned upon. I mean, if everyone who waited there for two hours ripped out a page, there would be nothing left of the magazines except for the subscription cards and the rind.

So as best I could remember, the aspic is a wiggly sort of jello thing, right? And you suspend the fish in it. Easy peasy.

Fish in Aspic

  • 1 middle-sized can of tuna
  • 1 bottle of clam juice
  • 1 small can of peas
  • 1 big package of lemon jello
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1 lemon
  • Mayonnaise

Make lemon jelly using package directions, but use clam juice instead of water. Add tuna and peas and stir real good. Pour into a bundt pan or angelfood pan if you have one. If you don’t (I mean, who does?) you can use one of those chip dip bowls where the chips go around the outside and the dip goes into the embedded bowl in the center.

Chill the whole thing until it’s good and solid, then plop it out onto a plate it fits into. Put the shredded lettuce in the center, squeeze the lemon over the lettuce, and dollop plops of mayonnaise all over where ever you want it.

Now, this didn’t look too good, but it didn’t taste so bad, particularly after I doused it in hot sauce and had a few Margaritas.

As far as the scratches, the Margaritas really helped. I’m still mad at mom for clawing at me when I found her chocolate stash.


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At every gathering that includes my husband”s family, this baked bean recipe graces the table in memory of Auntie Jane, who was “called home” as they like to say.

And almost inevitably, an argument ensues. Did Auntie Jane make it this way on purpose, or was she simply being lazy? Fistfights have nearly broken out over these beans and Auntie Jane’s amazingly artistic creativity or lack of motivation. No one thought to ask her when she was bringing the beans herself.

Now, the beans have become something of a potluck affair with different people bringing a can of beans and someone else bringing a random barbecue sauce. And then the cans are opened and poured and people talk about Auntie Jane for a few minutes. Sometimes they even say nice things about her.

Auntie Jane’s Secret Baked Beans

  • 3-6 cans of different types of baked beans (depending on the size of the gathering)
  • 1 bottle of barbecue sauce

Open cans of beans. Pour cans of baked beans into microwavable serving plate. DO NOT STIR. The point is to make sure the beans stay mostly separate. Open bottle of barbecue sauce. Pour it over the beans in a swirly pattern, using 1/2 of the bottle for the three-can version, and all of the bottle for the 6-can bottle. DO NOT STIR.

Microwave until hot. Serve.

Now, not only is there controversy about whether the lack of stirring was about laziness, but there’s controversy about how to serve the beans. And since it’s mostly served buffet-style and otherwise always served family style, that’s all about how you server yourself. Some people take a serving of one type of bean. Some people take two types of beans next to each other. Some people take a spoon full of each type.

It’s enough to make your head spin.

Me. I skip the beans and go for the potato salad. There’s no controversy there.

Oh – and when I say that she was “called home” they don’t mean she’s dead. She violated parole and got herself locked up again.

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It’s Soup. I Think.

Yesterday was community service day, although how the county thinks it’s a service to the community to have most of the women in town wearing orange jumpsuits and picking up trash on the side of the highway … well, the logic just eludes me. Few humans look good in neon orange to begin with, and there we all were poking at bits of trash with pointy sticks instead of being at home making a decent dinner for our families.

But that’s what the county wanted us to do after the sheriff had to break up the bar fight on Christmas Eve morning. They let us all go right away because of course we all had family doings to attend to, but later we all got sentenced to this so-called community service.

Poke, poke, poke. Mash the trash into the bag. Poke, stab, poke. Shove more trash into the bag. It was tedious and boring so of course we got to talking and then we got to thinking about what we were going to do for dinner because all that stabbing and poking and wandering around made us hungry. They brought us some sandwiches and pop from the diner for lunch but the more we talked about it the more we thought that we should celebrate the end of our day of service with a little party.

Now, when we party, we party. Those that bake bring cakes and pies. Those that cook bring stews and casseroles. Those that brew bring beer or wine or something a little stronger. Those that don’t bring chairs and plates and napkins. It all works out in the end and everyone gets fed and drunk.

But not tonight. There was no time for making anything, so we started talking about what we had that was done that we could put together. In my little group of stab-and-pokers, I had half a pot of chili, Angie had pork chops, Sarah had mashed potatoes and Beth had sauerkraut. We went down the line and asked who had what left over, and none of it was enough to make part of a meal, but we sposed that if we put it all in a pot with some water and cooked hell out of it for a while, we could call it soup. Which we did.

And my some great miracle, we all lived through that meal to see morning.

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Grilled Cheese

I got this recipe from my best friend Angie who lives next door. She’s not from around here, but she fits in with the locals pretty well, anyway. Angie’s parents moved here from New York when Angie was just two, and they pretty quick moved into the old Lansbury house down by where they tore the old post office down after the hay baler accident.

Angie’s parents still live in the Lansbury house, although they travel a awful lot. Last year they went to Florida for three weeks in February, and they took a couple weekend trips to visit Angela’s older brother. He never really fit in here and he moved out as soon as he turned 18. First he went to college, then he got a job that moved him around a bit. He settled down, finally. A man’s got to have roots, and his are a good four hours away from here. So the parents go and visit him sometimes on a Saturday and spend the night so they don’t have to drive, and they get home Sunday. It’s a shame they have to travel like that to see him, but he works a lot of hours and the government doesn’t want him to go far from home when he’s off work. Or at least that’s what Angela says.

Anyway, Angela suggested this recipe to me when she was over here one afternoon and my future ex-husband was giving me a hard time about me using his tools. I don’t know what he gets all het up about. I mean, I don’t ever break anything, and I didn’t actually burn the whole house down, I just singed some parts of it. And when he stormed out with his propane torch I asked Angie how I was sposed to make a good grilled cheese sandwich with burnt cheese if I couldn’t use a blowtorch on it.

So Angie said she was scared of blowtorches, but she loves her microwave. So what she does is toast the bread first (but not as burnt as for the glop on toast) and then she puts her cheese on and put the sandwich in the microwave and lets it go until it looks done enough.

Well, after Angie left, I gave it a try but it made a hellava mess when the cheese melted off the toast and puddled in the microwave. Angie’s a good girl and my best friend, but she’s no brain scientist. After cleaning up the microwave – twice – after trying Angie’s recipe, I decided to put my own twist on it so I put the toast on a plate before I piled on the cheese and nuked it to oblivion. This time it was much better.

I’m not telling Angie, though. I don’t want her to think I’m trying to one-up her on her own recipe.

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