Things are a bit different now
April 16, 2007
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was a bit tricky this time around since I was hosting a birthday party for my mother and there were cousins and aunts and brothers and nieces and significant others all over the place. Feeding a crowd isn't like it used to be. I remember potlucks and fish boils when I was a kid, when Uncle Roy put up a big long table and Grandma sent the aunts out with casseroles and salads and plates of brownies and bowls of pickled herring and platters of sliced cheese and we just ate all we wanted and ran off to play. We could come back anytime that afternoon and the food would still be there with something new here and there and nobody stuck a thermometer in it to check the temp and nobody got sick.
Things are a bit different now. Someone a while back did a study and measured the number of bacteria and germs and such on things unrefrigerated, and now we know there's a window of time where food can be out and then you've got to wrap it up or you're running the risk of gastrointestinal chaos. And then you've got to be sure and have a vegetarian dish, and something for the lactose intolerant, and something the kids will eat, and then there's organic food, and along with white buns do you serve multi-grain or whole grain or whole wheat or wheat bran to go with the shaved turkey?
So I ordered pizza. The kind you bake yourself. The oven was going all afternoon and people could just stop by the island in the kitchen and grab a slice. There was potato salad, too, which Aunt Shirley made, because in her mind potato salad makes an event out of anything, and she very well may be right. We drank pop out of cans and coffee out of cups, and for dessert we had Mom's Five Pound Vanilla Cheesecake which she insisted on making. I'd picked up a can of chocolate RediWip and some fresh strawberries, so dessert was memorable, especially with a lit candle for every year of Mom's life. I imagine, had we been outside, it would have shown up on a satellite photo. She made a wish and blew, and just in time, since about 30 of the candles had burned down to the cake.
I ate my cheesecake in the pantry. I didn't have a choice. The show had begun and wherever I went there were kids hollering or adults telling jokes and I couldn't hear a thing, so I figured the pantry was my only real option. The door locks, and there's a light and outlets, and the three shelf-lined walls are filled with you-name-it: corn and paper towels, oats and cereal and flour and jam, pickles and light bulbs and board games and chips, and chocolate stashed way up high. There's a stool in there, too, to reach the chocolate, and a radio just in case. So I had a seat and tuned in to the show and savored the heck out of that cheesecake. No one bothered me, and I peeked out every now and then just to check. It's nice to have a place to hide when you need to take a little time. A haven, I like to call it. You should have one, too. If you don't, you ought to consider it. If you're working on it, keep going. In the meantime, should there be severe weather or something nuclear, come on over. There's room enough for a good number of people for a good long time.
I would have sent this along earlier but I was egg-baked-out last week for Easter. Now, as I re-read the recipe, I'm thinkin', Mmm...
Baked Egg Dish
3 cups seasoned croutons (Brownberry works for me)
1 pkg. Jimmy Dean sausage, cooked and cut up (or 1-2 cups of your favorite cooked sausage)
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1 t. mustard (wet or dry)
1 can cream of mushroom soup plus 1/2 cup milk
Layer in 9 x 13 greased pan: croutons, then sausage, then cheese. Mix egg/milk/mustard and pour it on over. Cover with foil and chill overnight. In the morning, mix soup and 1/2 cup milk and pour over.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for one hour. Enjoy!