It's been a week since we launched what I'm sure will be the next Internet sensation, something on par with Natalie Portman's "I'm A Vegan Now!" declaration in HuffPost (natch) earlier this week (new SNC coming soon).
Much like a super-sized TV premiere, to kick off the first edition of CCW, we have TWO recipes from The Book that promise to illuminate the mind and dazzle the senses.
Yes. Two concoctions. First up, the headliner:
In small towns, you hold your good recipes close to the vest. The good ones are part of you, part of your personality, part of who you are in relation to the town. Mrs. Chadwick down the street may be a hard-working housewife with two bland kids and a husband who ignores her in the exact same way Mrs. Jones is two streets over but have you had her beef stroganoff? It's heaven!Popcorn SaladBest made the day before6 c. popped popcorn (without butter)1 c. chopped celery1 bunch chopped green onions6-7 strips bacon, fried and crumbled1 c. shredded cheddar cheese1 c. Miracle WhipMix all together. No one will guess there is popcorn in it and it is very good.
Church cookbook entries, then, become a strategic game. Give a little but never much. Sometimes - like in the case of Popcorn Salad, I'm guessing - it's a big fuck you to the church cookbook organizer over some long-forgotten slight, something like forgetting to say goodbye after the 4th grade Christmas pageant in 1984 ("the least she coulda done is say goodbye. I even brought her a pie last month when Jim was sick and she barely said thank you for that!")
So you get something like this (click on picture to make it really ugly):
I like popcorn, bacon, mayo, cheese and onions. I also like tuna and peanut butter but that doesn't mean they should be eaten together (wait...........nope).
Growing up, I don't recall eating this or even seeing it. I do recall seeing the same effort put forth at various functions. It's akin to the person who brought a boxed pasta salad mixture, the kind of effort that says I'm putting forth no effort at all. My individual contribution to this gathering says everything I want to say about the impetus, invitation and odd collection of people gathered here today.
The Internet is awash in Popcorn Salad recipes. Check the search and go to the fifth one down. "A great way to get your kids to eat healthy?" Really? Throw a few carrots into it and it's healthy?
Eating it is like putting mayo, melted cheese and bacon fat in a blender and drinking it. Vile? No. Ridiculous? Yes, most definitely. And you know popcorn is in it contrary to the recipe description. You know it's there and you ask, "WTF?" I didn't dare try it the day after. Mrs. Ney did and promptly spit it out.
Ultimate Setting: End-of-the-year fresh-soph baseball party
Brought By: Mother whose kid didn't play (unfairly in her mind)
Drink Pairing: Mark IV Black Cherry Cola
I had eight bites of Popcorn Salad and it was not very good, unlike the recipe's iron-clad satisfaction guarantee.
I had only one bite of our next entry.
It's called "Dessert," just...Dessert. It goes by alternate names on the Internet, one called it "Fruit Magic," which I enjoyed immensely.
From The Book:
Dessert9x13 panSpread evenly in pan:1 - 15 oz. can of crushed pineapple1 can cherry pie filling spread over the pineapple layer1 box of yellow cake mix, dry, sprinkle over the fruit mixtureSprinkle 1 c. of chopped nuts over the cake mix. Cut 2 sticks of oleo into bits and pieces over the top of all. Bake 40 minutes at 350. Can be topped with whipped topping or ice cream to serve.
A disclaimer. We substituted coconut for chopped nuts due to the $10 recipe rule. We found this to be a reasonable substitution, knowing there would be a textural difference but it wouldn't dramatically affect how the ingredients interacted with each other.
The sugar levels would be the same and the salt level wouldn't be altered since the nuts weren't listed as "salted."
In small towns, people have certain assignments corresponding with every scheduled get-together throughout the year. Thanksgiving means Margie's sister brings green bean casserole with canned fried onions. Fourth of July means Dan dusts off his chef's hat and makes his famous potato salad, one of two times in the year Dan touches kitchen utensils, the other being for his famous venison chili to celebrate the end of deer season.
Other times, hastily thrown-together events take place, like Eric's first Communion that just happens to coincide with a pretty important Bears game late in the year and the vital families were already getting together anyway.
Announced on the Friday before, haphazard food preparations are the only ones on the menu and recipes like Dessert slip into the fold. So much time was spent trying to get the main dishes, the idea of dessert falls by the wayside and you end up with Dessert.
The evidence (click on picture for full effect):
Taking a bite, you can't find a discernible difference between the yellow cake mix and the pineapple, there's no salt to separate the flavors and the whole thing collapsed onto itself into a big, sugary glop. Speaking of that, it's not an immediate sugar rush. It's an immediate high-fructose corn syrup rush, the kind that makes your mind race instead of just being oddly alert.
If blindfolded, I couldn't have told you any of the ingredients. Wait, that's not true. I could have told you there was a cake dipped into a glass of water element with a hint of a dirty dishrag quality and something that might have been cherries at some point in the space-time continuum.
A friend of ours got a piece, served it with ice cream and loved it, a guy whose food choices that will become evident in the drink pairing.
Vile? Yes. Ridiculous? Yes. Is it food? No, not even close. It's not even a good vehicle for sugar. One bite and I couldn't get the chemical taste out of my mouth for three hours.
Ultimate Setting: First Communion/Bears Game
Brought By: Host Who Forgot To Make Dessert
Drink Pairing: Myer's Dark Rum and Tab
Next Up: Our first one-dish meal at CCW, Hamburger Casserole that contains a can of cream of chicken soup and a can of cheese soup with frozen hash browns and two cups of sour cream.
Time to butch up, arteries. Gotta game to play.