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Dear Perky,

Recently, I was invited to join some local ministers’ spouses for their monthly potluck luncheon. The group includes Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and a few independents. I want to make a good impression, but I don’t want to fix anything too fancy and look like a show-off. What would be an appropriate dish to take?

                Wilma Pratter – Prairie Flats, Oklahoma

Dear Wilma,

It sounds like you enjoy cooking. I’ve never understood why anyone would be that way when there are so many nice places to eat out. Now and then, Buck decides he wants a home-cooked meal. I suggest he visit his mother.

For our church suppers, we usually pass around a list of possible dishes and ask folks to check-off items they wish to bring. I find there’s always a need for napkins, cups and plastic forks, so that’s my first choice. In a pinch, I’ll go for more complicated items. Potato chips are nice (tortilla if you want to get fancy).

One lady in our church, Susan Primm, loves to make fancy dishes. I still remember her macaroni shrimp salad. It would have been a bigger hit if she had taken the heads and shells off the shrimp before adding. A word of advice—macaroni salad with shrimp and mayonnaise should not be left in a car during Sunday morning services in July.

Of course, one can’t go wrong with a nice dessert. Our head usher, Benton Bowood, fancies himself a gourmet chef. Last Easter, he surprised us all with what we thought was a pecan pie. When he mentioned it was amazing what one could do with pinto beans, I noticed several folks popping napkins over their mouths as they sprinted for the restrooms.

Another popular item is fried chicken, although politically correct “nutrition” nuts have just about eliminated this staple from potlucks. One of the younger ladies in our church, Catherine Nosey, who is into organic foods, brought a turkey made out of tofu to our Thanksgiving celebration one year. No one knew which end to carve. Quite a bit was left over, so she offered a chunk to Buck to take home. Always the gentleman, he accepted the plate with great appreciation. At home, our dog, Benjy, ate a large helping. He had to sleep outside for a couple of days, and we never could get the stain out of the kitchen rug.

One item you can’t go wrong with is green bean casserole. You can throw just about anything in there and someone will eat it. In fact, I faced an emergency situation one Thanksgiving after I forgot to buy canned onion rings. Did you know some people can’t tell the difference between onions and turnips? I would add, however, that consistency of the dish suffers a bit if, instead of mushroom, you use chicken noodle soup.

A word of caution, don’t take anything too spicy. Elpheba Pearson once made a Mexican cheese sauce with what she thought were sweet banana peppers. Turns out they were habaneros. Buck almost had a heart attack when he saw one of the ladies shouting and waving her hands in front of her face. He thought she’d gone Pentecostal.

My time is up. Buck just got home and wants to know what’s for supper. I told him, “It’s a surprise.”

Love and Blessings!

Perky

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