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Mrs. Sundberg's Recipe Collection - 12 tried-and-true--one for each month of the year--featuring an introduction and tips from Mrs. Sundberg herself

Oh, My

May 19, 2008

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I spent most of those two hours throwing together a hotdish for Sunday's church picnic. Every once in a while, when the kids are outside and Mr. Sundberg is napping or away for the weekend, I like to experiment a bit in the kitchen and try to come up with a new recipe with what's left in the cupboards. I'm not always successful, but it's usually a good time. So I dug out a box of penne pasta and a brick of American cheese, and there were some sunflower seeds and a bit of broccoli and some butter. It seemed, after I got going, that bacon would be good in the mix so I fried up a dozen strips real crisp and crumbled them in with the cheese and pasta.

I waited until Sunday morning to bake it, and since the service ran long I had to run home from church during the sermon to pull it out of the oven. There it was, complete with crushed corn flakes on top and the unmistakable aroma of fried bacon. I covered it with foil and wrapped it in a flour sack towel with which I fashioned a knot to make it easy to carry. Church was nearly over as I parked the car and walked over to the park where the potluck was nearly ready to go, and I nestled my casserole in between a crock pot full of spaghetti and a bowl of baked beans.

Everyone brings his or her best to a church potluck and that's why we all show up. It's like the county fair without the ribbons. We're there to try a little bit of everything and make a few comments on what was really fine. There were three crocks of meatballs and a huge pan of chicken wings, and five or six pasta casseroles and several big plastic bags full of buns. Then several bowls of green beans seasoned with soy and almonds or sesame and oil, and there were baked beans and calico beans and an entire bowl of edamame (which I have questions about, but later). Then came the cold salads: lime Jell-O fluff with pineapple and marshmallows and orange Jell-O with coconut and seashell pasta with tuna and chunks of cheddar cheese. There were more cold salads than anything, I think, and the red Jell-O with bananas went first, and the rice pudding was a close second. What a sight it was, all those people lined up with their paper plates and napkins, talking away with their neighbors in line. The sun was out and there was a decent wind blowing, and everyone wore their Sunday best and some of the women wore hats, and Norman Rockwell would have thought he'd died and gone to heaven.

The dessert table came last. Oh, my. There were separate plates for dessert, and most people loaded 'em up on the first run-through because whatever-it-was might not be there on the return trip. Five or six shades of brownies, frosted or no; chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and yellow cake with chocolate frosting and white cake with white frosting and red velvet cake and pistachio cake and lemon cake and spice cake. There were cream cheese pies and lemon meringue pies and several apple and cherry pies and Mrs. Johnson brought her Southern Pecan-laced-with-bourbon Pie, and Mrs. Hatfield brought her Three-layer Raspberry Lemon Trifle, and Annie Stewart brought her Chocolate Tranquilizer Cake. There were cookies arranged on big round platters, and a plate of fudge, and a bowl of mints, and toothpicks at the end of the table just before the coffee and the red Kool-aid.

Enough food to knock you out. Which it did. The picnic lasted a good hour or so, not long. A few clouds came in and the wind grew chilly and hats were blowing off heads. We folded up our chairs and headed on home, and some of us read the paper and some watched movies and some of us curled up for a good long nap. It was a fine picnic there at the park on Sunday, and I imagine it won't be long now before we feel like eating again.

Praline Sauce

1 stick butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 T Dijon mustard
Dash nutmeg
2 dashes curry powder
1/2 cup crushed pecans

Melt butter in a medium saucepan
over med/low heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla
until creamy. Mix in mustard and nutmeg and curry powder
and pecans. Remove from heat.

Form 8 oz cream cheese into a ball and make a dent in the top.
Spoon some sauce over the ball and serve with crackers.
Or enjoy the sauce on ice cream.

Mmm.

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