Here’s “potluck” – both the dinner where you bring food and several thoughts I’ll share with you this week.
Those who read my column know I love potluck food events. I think I could go to one every week because of the delicious and often unique food that is brought and the recipes I always seem to want from the cooks.
The annual Bon Air neighborhood picnic again found me rounding the food table and even with as much food as I am exposed to, I still found dishes that I have never had before.
Betty and John Loyd serve as the hosts and hold the event in their backyard complete with table seating, tablecloths and lovely fresh flowers on the tables. This year about 63 people attended and once again everyone praised the efforts of John, Betty and others for pulling the neighborhood event together.
The highlight for everyone is the music provided by neighbor Reed Harrod (no relation, I think) and his group of friends who play everything from big band sounds to Motown. Their music really sets our neighborhood picnic apart and folks come early and stay late or at least as long as the musicians play.
Plus it gives everyone a chance to visit and learn things. Imagine my surprise talking to my next door neighbor Betty Sublett who told me about the chance encounter that she and husband Jim had in Harrodsburg two weeks ago when they drove over to eat in the area.
According to Betty, after dinner they went out into a courtyard where an all-women’s brass group was playing. They decided to sit awhile and listen to the music. Suddenly from nowhere came a surprise to all.
Doc Severinsen, yep the one who for years led Johnny Carson’s late night talk show band and who is a trumpet player extraordinaire, joined the women and played five numbers with them.
“He was something else,” Jim Sublett said. “And he’s 85,” said the 90-year old.
Betty said Severinsen clued the audience in about his presence there.
“He is engaged to one of the women in the band, but did not tell us which one.”
After dinner I went back to Betty who had brought a fresh peach cobbler.
“I had to use cling peaches and I hate them,” she said.
Betty’s correct, freestone peaches are the way to go for a cobbler or a pie.
But folks, it was still wonderful with a delicious flaky top crust that covered the whole cobbler and also one in the bottom – just the way I like it. Jennie Penn brought a blackberry cobbler, equally as delicious. (I’ll share their recipes when we get to ripe fruit season.)
All about beets
Cathy Thomas and I had a conversation about her meticulous vegetable garden she tends on Fairway. I’m always inquiring about her beets.
It’s a vegetable we both love. We don’t want Harvard or pickled beets, we want them cooked with salt and pepper added and either butter (for Cathy) or olive oil (for me).
Our methods of cooking also differ. Cathy boils hers and skins them and then straight to the table.
I, on the other hand, bake mine in aluminum foil with a little oil, salt and pepper. When cool enough to handle I skin them and then go straight to the table.
Remember when cooking fresh beets leave at least three inches of stems on them so they don’t bleed out and lose flavor.
In addition to all the wonderful dishes neighbors bring, the Loyds furnish chicken. This year their next door neighbor John Rose also provided marinated pork tenderloin.
John Rose’s Pork Tenderloin
12 bacon strips
4 pork tenderloins
½ cup Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons onion (grated)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon vinegar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon seasoned salt
½ cup granulated sugar
Wrap bacon around tenderloins and secure with toothpicks. Place in baking dish (I use two 13 x 9 Pyrex dishes – two tenderloins per dish). Combine remaining ingredients and pour over tenderloins. Place in refrigerator and let stand a minimum of 8 hours, turning often. Bake at 300 degrees on center rack for 1 ½ to 2 hours, basting often. Turn the tenderloins once.
Au jus may be served separately. Tenderloins may be thinly sliced before serving for convenience.
This next recipe is one that John and his wife Anne Colley suggest serving with the tenderloin either as a dessert or as an accompaniment to chicken, pork chops, pork tenderloin, or ham.
2 pounds Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (the juice from one large lemon should do it)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into squares (margarine will work okay)
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (buy it in a bag already grated) sharp or mild cheddar will work.
Butter well a one (1) quart shallow baking dish
Peel and remove core from apples
Cut apples into 1/4 inch slices and arrange in baking dish
Sprinkle raisins, cinnamon, and lemon juice over apples (yes, in that order)
In a small bowl combine sugar, flour, and salt
Blend in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse meal
Add cheese to the mixture in the small bowl and toss
Sprinkle the above mixture over the apples
Bake in the upper third of oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until apples are tender.
Another dish that I tried was a fresh carrot salad. An inquiry to the John Loyd revealed his wife Betty had made the dish known as Copper Pennies. Now I have had this dish before but hers was definitely better than most I have tried.
Betty Loyd cut her carrots thick, not so much coin size. Therefore, when they are cooked to tenderize, they retain more of a crunch and I really liked this method.
Copper Penny Salad
2 pounds of carrots, cleaned and cut into slices (Betty’s were at least an inch or more)
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can of tomato soup
1/2 cup of salad oil
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: Slice carrots and boil in salted water until tender, but still somewhat firm. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking process.
Mix all other ingredients and pour over carrots and refrigerate for one or two days.
Thinking about this recipe, I might add another vegetable that traditionally goes with carrots – peas.
Put eight ounces of frozen peas in the colander where you are going to drain the carrots. Pour hot carrots over the peas. (This method will also hasten the cool-down of the carrots.) Then rinse all with cool water; drain well and place in bowl and add other ingredients.