Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pot Lucky

As I've said before -- Hosting a once a month neighborhood pot luck is one of the best things we've done to connect us to our neighbors in a meaningful way.

It began as  a way to live out Jesus' command to "love your neighbor -- as yourself" but like most of God's rules there is a surprising reward in complying.
Last week at the beach the Big Sister Girls asked me to break out the steps in starting neighborhood pot luck.
Here it is:
For the first few months I delivered a notice to each neighbor's home stating the day of the week -- time (start and end) . We provide a main dish and water to drink. We encourage BYOB (bring your own beverage) to keep cost down and allow folks to drink their preference.
Each month we asked for E-mail addresses (gave mine) on the invite so we could build a list. Now all we do is send out an E-mail notice to the group.
We host it the second Thursday at 6:00 (if you want to have a drink before dinner) and give the blessing at 6:30. We like to have it during the week to insure that it won't be a late night. We meet September --- May.
I bought a big new garbage can and use it only for the pot lucks. Inside the can I store heavy plastic ware that can be reused, large garbage can liners, melamine plates I found 75% off after the summer, Costco large paper napkins, name tags (a must if you want to have people mix and meet), small disposable clear plastic cups for wine and large plastic disposable cups for water. I keep all of the supplies in the can and store it in the shed – ready to pull out the day of the dinner.

I bought about 12 large spoons at the restaurant supply and put out: pot holders, a spatula, several cutting knives and salad tongs. These are flung on the counter.

Joe and I set up tables all over the place and in our small house it is amazing how much seated space we can make.

Joe brings home a bag of ice for the ice holder and we set the drinks station up on the porch. It gets people to spread out and not all congregate in the kitchen.
Joe and I go over the needs and concerns in the neighbor's lives and he mentions them when we all hold hands and say the blessing.
I make an inexpensive main dish like turkey meat loaf or teriyaki chicken legs and try to keep the cost under $20.00 so Joe doesn't feel like I'm a one girl "Feed the Nations" operation.
Once people get here we just let it go and act like company.
People are great to pitch in and help stack the dishes after dinner. Clean up takes about 20 minutes.
The quality of the food has improved with each month. I suspect there is a little competition going on.  The size of the group has increased too.  I imagine folks wanted to wait awhile to make sure it was going to be regular and not boring. 
We encourage others to invite people we don't know.
The mailman Reggie comes all the way back across town to come each month.
We have gotten back so much more than we've invested! We thought we were doing this big sacrificial service but in reality we have received the gift of family and memories that will enrich our life forever.
This is the recipe for one of last night's "hits"
Vidalia Onion Pie (courtesy of Paula Deen)

3 cups thinly sliced vidalia onion
3 T butter melted
one 9 inch prebaked deep dish pie shell
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1teasp salt
2eggs beaten
3T all purpose flour
4 slices bacon crisply cooked and crumbled

preheat over to 325. Saute' onion in butter until lightly browned. Spoon into pie shell. Combine milk, sour cream, salt, eggs and flour. Mix well and pour over onion mixture. Garnish with bacon. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm in center. Pie has taste and texture of a quiche.

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