Can I make a confession? A confession that could potentially alienate my friends or at least cause them to roll their eyes and say "Really? Get over yourself!"
I am a competitive potlucker. It is sort of like my own mini version of 'Throwdown with Bobby Flay' or 'The Next Food Network Star'. Oh come on, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about! Either you do this or you know exactly the woman at your church of whom I speak.
There's a church potluck tomorrow and I began mapping out my strategy early this morning. (Yeah, I'm a lightweight. A real competitive potlucker starts the moment the potluck is announced.) Should I bring one dish or two? One dish allows me to pull out all the stops and really give that dish my full attention. But if it fails then I have just brought one really bad dish that no one likes. Two dishes means I must divide my time and attention, but there is greater chance that at least one of them will be a rousing success. OK, two dishes it is. Best to do a main and a dessert, there's just not as much glory to be had in a really well done salad. But it IS summer and pushing 100 both outside and apparently in my kitchen as well, so I'll do a salad-y sort of main dish. Risky, but necessary.
Once the courses are decided on the searching begins. Go with a tried and true recipe, or find something new off the internet? Take a risk on a recipe on a food blog that doesn't come with a rating or use a site that has handy stars or forks to rate how highly recommended a recipe comes. Stars are always good, preferably from several hundred people or more. Nine hundred people can't be wrong, right?
Hmm. Blueberry zucchini bread? Interesting. Summery, should hit about the right note. Do I go for the full sugar that I know earned it a lot of those rave reviews, or follow my instincts and the advice of the more health conscious reviewers and reduce it by half? Ah, health consciousness, I hope you won't be my downfall...half the sugar it is. Oh, one reviewer added streusel topping; should I do that? Nah, I think I'm going to aim for the 'simple knockout' strategy on this recipe. Into the oven it goes.
Whew, it's getting hot in my kitchen!
Salad time! Did I mention that there are bonus points to be had from knowing that some people love the lack of highly processed ingredients? Yep, there are. Hmm. The ramen noodles may take me down a peg, but the dressing is all homemade. And once again the heat wins out as I chop up a rotisserie chicken instead of preparing my own.
When the day of the potluck dawns I will cart my offerings to church and lay them out on the altar of fellowship. I will sample the foods that others have brought, I will watch the dishes to see which item disappears first. (It's always the pizza and KFC, but I'm not counting those.) Did someone just take seconds of my dish? Point! Did someone at my table just say "Wow, this bread is amazing? Who brought this?" Double point! Triple points if a short conversation ensues between several parties about how good it is. Bonus if I get asked for the recipe after humbly declaring my ownership of the item in question.
Yes folks, I am indeed competitive about my potlucks. But in the end, whether I succeed or fail the truly wonderful thing is gathering with my church family. Some of them can't cook worth a hoot, bless their hearts, but I couldn't think of anyone I would rather have fellowship with, no one I would rather laugh with, chat with or drink powdered lemonade with. So bring on the potluck, and may we all go home satisfied!
Disclaimer: This is slightly tongue in cheek, I'm not really THAT competitive. Maybe.