Pot Luck Heaven

Header photo by Luke Jones via Flickr – CC 2.0

Today’s post comes from Barbara in River Town

According to Wiki, a pot luck dinner is:  “a gathering where each guest contributes a dish of food, often homemade, to be shared. Synonyms include: potluck dinner, spread, Jacob’s join,[1][2] Jacob’s supper, faith supper, covered dish supper, dish party, bring and share, shared lunch, pitch-in, bring-a-plate, dish-to-pass, fuddle, and carry-in.” I always enjoy learning where words like this come from, and Wiki says:  “The word pot-luck appears in the 16th century English work of Thomas Nashe, and used to mean ‘food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot.’[this quote needs a citation] The sense ‘communal meal, where guests bring their own food,’ appears to have originated in the late 19th century or early 20th century, particularly in Western North America, either by influence from potlatch or possibly by extension of traditional sense of ‘luck of the pot’.” The only rule, unless you’ve been asked to bring a particular type of dish, is to bring enough to share with several other (not necessarily all) attendees.

I remember once reading an advice or manners column (which one is lost in the mists of time) stating that when hosting a Holiday Dinner, it is incorrect to ask the guests to bring food. I heard myself saying aloud to the newspaper, “What universe do you live in??”

So far in December we’ve been invited to 8 potluck Christmas or Holiday gatherings. This week alone there are Husband’s pool group (billiards, not swimming) party, our Harmonica Group and Wellspring Singers, my T’ai Chi group, the Wiscoy Community Farm carolers, and the Unitarians (Garrison would have a field day here) after caroling at nursing homes on Saturday. The folk dancers have their party on the 30th

This is in addition to non-holiday pot lucks – November 12 we joined a spontaneous “sing-in” out at Zephyr Community Farm, sort of a coping tactic after the election. Last week was the Frac Sand Ban Victory bash put on by the Land Stewardship Project – the Winona County Commissioners voted in November to ban all further frac sand mining here.

Of course, this will all come to a screeching halt in January, and we will go through Party Withdrawal, along with Christmas Music Withdrawal, and Colored Light Withdrawal. At any rate, I hope there is one pot luck somewhere in January.

What’s your “go to” dish to bring to a pot luck?

70 thoughts on “Pot Luck Heaven”

  1. Tuna casserole. I enjoy the preparation of the topping part when it comes to crushing the potato chips while they are in the bag. The remnants at the bottom always betray their dippability so making them smaller yet is my revenge.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like potlucks when it’s a small group. I’ve gone to some large gatherings where there were tables so loaded down with food that only a small fraction was actually consumed, and I find those discouraging to cook for. Once I baked a pumpkin cheesecake that had only a small slice taken out of it at the end of the evening. I had pumpkin cheesecake in the freezer for a long time afterward.

    I tend to fall back on chips and salsa (Snappy Dog pineapple is my favorite) or chocolate peanut butter fudge. If those things don’t get eaten it’s easy enough to finish them off at home later. Or I buy those little filo tart shells and make a savory cream cheese appetizer with nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our big church eschews pot lucks, pun intended. We don’t have friends who invite people nor do we.
    My mother used pot luck to mean using up th ends of things, like in spring when our winter larder of food was running out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here i s a piece of pot luck, in my mother’s sense of the last remnants, I put up the last part of the long story on my site. Then I will be done posting these.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. please dont be done . i love the stroies bt an tooooo bsy right now. i hope things get better fr me bt i love reading the stories. it doesnt need to be once a week but once a day wold be ok if i can get to them later. i a sorry for no communication but i am buried right now. i love what i have read


  4. You guys probably haven’t noticed reports about our winter storm. We got a freezing snow/rain that turned all streets and highways into skating rinks. People had commutes of five hours. Traffic on the freeways moved at speeds of 4 mph, so a lot of folks abandoned their cars on the margins of the freeways and trudged home on foot.

    My potluck contribution always used to be a salad made of chicken and wild rice (plus pea pods, almonds, parsley and other good things). It is in the Kitchen Congress file under the name of Steve’s Wild Summer Salad. It’s delicious. And, no, I didn’t invent it.








      Liked by 1 person

    2. I knew that Seattle had some snow (daughter got to go into work late because of it) but didn’t know about the winter storm in Portland.

      Don’t like freezing rain. Rain is good (in moderation). Snow is good (in moderation). But driving on skating rink stuff scares me.


  5. I changed our family’s Christmas Eve celebration, or at least I changed the way it worked when we were the hosts. Christmas Eve had always struck me as a difficult blend of a big family meal and the gift-giving process. So one year I turned the meal into a buffet. It wasn’t a pot luck dinner, but could have been. People could eat what they wanted to eat, when they wanted to eat it, all night long.

    Doing the big meal as a buffet took a lot of pressure off the cook (me) and was much less stressful for the youngsters. The meal itself became less of an event, while the family gathering to share gifts was more the center of the night. That would offend some folks, I guess. We liked it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Because my daughter and s-i-l are so busty at Christmas, I cook something for Eve, usually something that can be reheated easily like lasagna, for when they get home later. On Day we have meat and cheese tray we buy and breads and crackers and all the sweets they are given for Christmas. Pastors get desserts and tacky stuff for C & E.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t engage in a preponderance of potlucks. The most regular and frequent one is the annual Peter & Lou House Concert. I find that most folks tend to bring sweets/desserts (although this year was an exception). As such, I usually bring something sandwich based. My bbq pulled chicken, as an example. This year, I cheated and brought pulled pork from Aesop’s Table. I highly recommend them!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, Peter & Lou Berryman still come up here for a House Concert just before Thanksgiving. The couple that used to run the New Folk Collective host it at their house on Ashland in St. Paul. Get on Peter & Lou’s mailing list and they’ll send you a postcard (hey! actual mail!). Although, Peter did mention this time that it’s getting harder and harder for them to do this…


      2. Oh, and for a title, I’d have shortened it to Preponderant Potluck. Unless, of course, this would have been about a Potluck Coffee Klatch. Then, I’d shorten it to Potlatch. But then it would’ve been about being in Cloquet, the virtues of calendars, and being smelly.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I typically bring a healthy, green salad salad if I can. It’s easy and is a nice change from all the saturated fat, cheesy casseroles and carb-laden goodies that abound at Minnesota potlucks. As Barb mentioned in the blog post, Miss Manners obviously doesn’t live in the real world or the folks she knows who have big dinners must have cooks, caterers and servants to do the real work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I usually bring an egg-cheese appetizer – anyone who comes to BBC knows it well. I brought it to this morning’s T’ai Chi potluck.

    While standing in the food line, started talking to a woman – finally realized she’s the one last friend from 30 years ago that I hadn’t been able to locate, when we returned here in June. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I love pot-luck gatherings. Most of the ones I go to are connected to music, or friends I know through music, and there are some excellent cooks in the mix.. House concerts are always fun.

    Don’t really have a “go to” dish, it all depends on the occasion, time of year, who the participants are, and, last but not least, my frame of mind at the time. For the Eddies’ annual Memorial Day picnic, I usually bring a sturdy grain and vegetable salad of some kind; something that will hold up well for a couple of hours in unpredictable temperatures. Pulled pork is another easy, no fuss dish that is popular (I make it in my crockpot), and during the winter months, a big pot of chili is always a winner. For Thanksgiving, Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish is a must. Need I tell you that all of my friends know better than to ask me to bring a dessert?


      1. I see that Renee has provided her cranberry relish recipe below. Here’s the recipe for Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish:

        Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish

        2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
        1 small onion
        3/4 cup sour cream
        1/2 cup sugar (I go easy on the sugar)
        2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar (“red is a bit milder than white”)

        Grind the raw berries and onion together. (I use my food processor for this.)

        Add everything else and mix.

        Put in a plastic container and freeze.

        Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. (“It should still have some little icy slivers left.”)

        I serve this not only with turkey. It’s excellent with a pork roast as well.


  10. OT – it’s so frigid here that my car is frozen solid. Won’t start, and won’t let me change it out of Park to Neutral. With tomorrow’s predicted snowstorm, this could be a royal pain in the posterior. Any suggestions?


    1. What would you do if you could put it in neutral? There’s usually a little plug near the shift lever you can pry out to reveal a little release for the shift. Do you have AAA or the equivalent? It will be a lot easier to get them to come out today than after the snow starts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hans gave me a jump when he returned from pickle ball. Bill, I know very little about cars or what makes them run, but I had some vague idea that I’d need it to be in neutral if I was going to have it towed. As it turned out, it started easily enough with a pair of jumper cables.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. sorry to miss this. there is a slot to stick a key in next to the shifter on the console in my car. you push a key in it and shift to neutral
          call if i can help


        1. Good question, ljb. I do, and I don’t. Right now my brain is frozen, can’t think straight. I need to find “that little plug near the switch lever” that will take it out of park and into drive. See you all on Groundhog’s Day.


  11. I tend to bring baked goods: bread, cookies, clafouti, etc. I like things that are easy to serve, although I do remember a book club potluck at tim’s house once that I had expected to have the food inside so I brought fresh bread and a stick of butter still in the wrapper. We had the food outside in the warm sunshine and I ended up with a very drippy butter wrapper. Luckily, Linda came to the rescue and let me use a small plastic container to pour the butter into.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Cranberry Salsa

    1 bag of cranberries
    6 green onions
    2t. ground ginger
    1 jalapeno, seeds and all
    1/2 bunch cilantro
    small section of red sweet pepper-2 inches wide
    juice of 2 limes
    2/3 c. of sugar

    Whiz it all together in a food processor or blender. Let sit overnight. We eat it with wheat thins.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Putting the two recipes in Kitchen Congress. Yum.

    I don’t have a go-to potluck dish – I’m all over the board, depending on the occasion, although in December you can usually count on a platter of cookies!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. In a pinch I raid the cellar for the pickled beans and beats and even brought some pickled green tomatoes one year. They are a hit with the older folks who are unable to do any canning anymore. I even gave a jar of pickled beans to the son of the deceased at a funeral when he bemoaned the fact his mother would not be making them for him again. We will have a pot luck in church the end of January after our annual meeting. That should help us get over the loss of the Christmas meals here. Loved this post!!

    Liked by 1 person

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