JEFF TIEDEMAN: Potluck show stoppersDiscover lots of tasty dishes at work get-togethers.
I love everything about potlucks — from the planning to the preparing to the feasting — especially the feasting.
I’ve been involved in a couple of them the past week or so, the first with fellow journalists in the Herald newsroom, and the second with Therese’s co-workers at Lake Agassiz Elementary School.
I brought a favorite dessert to the Herald potluck — homemade apple crisp with Cool Whip. I switched gears for the Lake Agassiz get-together, which was held in a clubroom at the Lincoln Park golf course. I made homemade barbecues that we served with mini-buns. I called them “slider Joes.”
The potlucks I’ve had over the years with my friends at the Herald always have been a lot of fun. We’ve been having them in the newsroom since the early 1980s, and it never ceases to amaze me all of the different —and tasty — dishes that people bring.
At the most recent Herald potluck, we had cheesy potatoes, a chili served over rice whose secret ingredient was chocolate, a meat and cheese tray from L&M Meats, veggies and dip, a cream cheese-salsa dip and chips, Parmesan penne, brownies, cupcakes and vegan chocolate chip cookies.
Perhaps the favorite of the two dozen or so people who attended the potluck was the tortilla wraps that graphic artist Bobbi DuChamp made. (The wrap filling calls for mixing an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, an equal amount of sour cream, a 4-ounce can of diced jalapeno peppers and an 8-ounce jar of sliced green olives.)
One dish that’s been part of past Herald potlucks — and I wished we’d had at this one but didn’t — was Paulette Tobin’s bread pudding with caramel sauce. (Instead, Paulette made the delicious Parmesan Penne, from the 2009 Taste of Home Church Supper cookbook.)
Paulette said that when she worked at the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal from 1987 to 1993, her fellow reporter, Diane Grant, used to make this dessert for potlucks. Now, it often is requested for newsroom potlucks at the Herald.
“The caramel sauce is so good, if you poured it over an old shoe, people would eat the shoe,” Paulette joked.
They’re more than food
Of course, potlucks are not all about eating. Good planning and preparation are important, too.
If you are thinking about a potluck, here are a few tips to ensure that things go off without a hitch:
n Appoint one or two people to coordinate.
n Remind people about limitations in facilities, such as tight refrigerator space or the absence of a stove for reheating things. For safety’s sake, be sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
n Aim for a variety of dishes; post a sign-up sheet so everyone doesn’t show up with the same salad.
n Remind people to bring whatever utensils are needed for serving their dishes and to label everything from knives to lids.
n Decide how to provide for items such as plates, forks, napkins, beverages and ice. If people are supposed to bring them, check early in the day to be sure they remembered.
And perhaps the final and maybe the most important thing to remember about a potluck: Decide ahead of time how cleanup will be handled.
An appetite for tidiness will go a long way toward a successful potluck.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.