~Potlucks are not for the faint of heart~

Potlucks. I love them. I was reminded of the impending holiday season yesterday at my Writers’ Group meeting, where we planned our Christmas potluck for December 14th. I am returning to my comfort zone for my contribution to potlucks and bringing a salad. After reading this post from last year, you will understand:

Fruit and berries in a grocery store, Paris, F...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cookbooks are kind of a hobby for me. I love to read about food, about exotic ingredients combined in unusual ways to create magnificence, all the while stirring 1% milk into my macaroni and cheese and warming up meatballs from the frozen section of the grocery store.

I have long made fun of my skills as a cook. I have a friend who calls me on it, saying that she thinks I use my “phantom lack of skills” to ward off any criticism of my cooking. And she is right. I am not a bad cook—my family is not starving, and I can be creative in my own right—but I am not a particularly confident cook. I attended a small get together on Saturday night—a casual dinner party, and having volunteered to bring dessert, I had visions of all kinds of delectables I could make and offer lovingly to my friends. I usually volunteer to make the salad, but in my new quest to “take risks” I offered to bring the grande finale to the dinner instead.

I told my sister of this unusual offer to make dessert and she promptly emailed me an easy and foolproof recipe fora dessert that she was sure would be a hit. She is aware of my skills, so sent something that had very few ingredients, and even fewer steps. I think that part of my problem is that I am a languid (synonym for lazy) cook, as well as a little unsure when it comes to feeding anyone outside my family.

I was determined to try the recipe. I made a list of the ingredients and was all set to buy them and “compose” a homemade dessert. Then I got cold feet. I perused the bakery section of a local grocery store and found a sinful dessert that would be sure to please. I considered putting the caramel chocolate mousse cake {with artistic chocolate curls} on a plate from home to “make it seem” as if I had baked it. But I decided instead to be honest, knowing they would see through my ruse anyway. I presented the cake unapologetically in its original packaging. These were good friends—they would understand. And they did. But they did not know the angst that went into “buying” dessert.

I never judge when people bring “prepared” food to a potluck, as I understand their trepidation. I suffer from it too. To those of you out there who either do not care what people think about your cooking (good for you) or are such good cooks that you have great confidence from years of success, I honour your commitment to “homemade” and enjoy it immensely. There is also a faction out there who is unabashedly unapologetic—as they should be. They bring offerings that may not be “from their hands but from their hearts” and I honour you too. We are all talented in different ways and being made to feel guilty because you do not make your offerings from scratch is just not hospitable.

So, this holiday season, as we all venture out to our potlucks, go with what makes your season bright and not stressful. If “homemade” is not your forte, that is what grocery stores and specialty shops are for.

Salad with Thousand Island Dressing

Salad with Thousand Island Dressing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A note: my salads are not of the iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing thrown over them ilk (though this is good and has its place). I go all out with fancy greens, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, cheese, and even, on occasion, have been known to make my own dressing. I take my commitment to bring the salad very seriously.

What do you bring to potlucks? Are you brave–or do you have tried and true recipes?