My Favorite Potluck
Have you heard the saying: “You might be Lutheran if you carry silverware in your pocket when you go to church just in case there's a potluck.”?
Lutherans and potlucks. Yes, they go together! It’s easy to see why. In churches, just as in families, coming together around food enriches our relationships. So it’s no wonder why potlucks are a favorite fellowship event at most churches.
Not everyone loves potlucks. For those with food allergies, they can be difficult or even life-threatening. Small children can be fussy eaters and some guys I know—meat and potatoes guys—worry about not getting enough meat. But most people really seem to enjoy potlucks.
Gathering around good food offers an opportunity for conversation beyond weather and church business. We may find out something about a fellow church member’s life that we didn’t know before.
We even have a good example to follow: There are stories about Jesus and meals in the Gospels. Just as we do, Jesus seems to have enjoyed eating around the table with his friends. A few examples: (Mark 2:15) (Luke 11:37) (Luke 19:1-10) (Luke 24:30)
My church has always had wonderful potlucks because it has so many good cooks. I’ve heard the same about St. Paul’s cooks and St. Paul’s potlucks. My mom, however, would have been the first to admit that she wasn’t a good cook. However, I had very few complaints about the meals she fixed while I was growing up. In fact, there have been many times since she’s passed away that I’ve missed certain meals she used to make. My mom did take advantage of the cooking shortcuts and time savers that became popular in the late 1960s and 1970s. I remember meals featuring Shake & Bake Chicken and I also remember quite a few meals featuring Hamburger Helper. I also remember evenings when we had TV dinners.
I doubt whether there was Hamburger Helper at the church potlucks I’m remembering. What I do remember is so much food that it was impossible to sample everything. So, I’d have to pick and choose. Do you have favorite potluck foods that you always choose? I always loved the tomato pudding made by one of my church’s good cooks. I also loved the casserole my mom would bring. My family never let my mom forget the memorable and unique version of that casserole that she brought to church one particular Sunday. It became my favorite church potluck memory. Thank you, Mom and Cheez Whiz!
My mom’s favorite side dish to bring to church potlucks was “Broccoli, Cheese, & Rice Casserole”. Because it was made with Cheez Whiz and Minute Rice, it was convenient and easy – my mom’s favorite kind of recipe. I really loved it and I always looked forward to it at our holiday meals at home. It was a perfect side dish to Christmas and Easter ham! It was popular at potlucks, too, and my mom always left with an empty and scraped-clean casserole dish.
However, on the Sunday in question, I can still remember my mom’s look of shock and surprise when she sampled her own casserole and needed to follow it with a big glass of water. It wasn’t until we got home and could check the empty Cheez Whiz jar that our suspicions were confirmed. Unbeknownst to Mom, Cheez Whiz had come out with a version with jalapeños. Mom never noticed that the jar label was different from regular Cheez Whiz! For years, family and friends would recall and laugh about that when we sat down for dinner at church potlucks.
Churches aren’t holding potlucks as often as they used to but I hope they never go away. I think church families need to continue to share food and eat together. A shared meal represents friendship, community, hospitality and grace. And, if someone has a little recipe “accident”, it’s fun to laugh with friends and family!
Are you interested in Mom’s favorite potluck recipe? It follows:
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup Minute Rice uncooked
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 18 ounce jar Cheez Whiz
2 10 ounce boxes frozen broccoli
Pam non-stick spray
Let the packages of frozen broccoli partially thaw, then chop broccoli. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir together. Turn into a casserole dish which has been coated with Pam. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour.