Holiday Traditions: Pot Luck

So, the holidays are over now, making this post incredibly un-timely.  However, it has a great recipe that can be used all year round whenever you need to bring something to a potluck that is sure to be a hit.  Or, like in the case of my workplace, it will sit in the fridge because people forgot to pull it out, and then you’ll have a ton of it to yourself.  Which is a bonus, because it’s super yummy.

My mom asked me this year what I was bringing to Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m unofficially in charge of desserts, and my desserts often change from year to year (though, this year both pies I made were so good I think they will be standards.  And probably future posts…).  However, the one thing that never changes.  The one thing that would cause riots from certain family members if it didn’t show up is fruit salad.

I know there are a million and one versions of fruits salad out there.  You’ve got your jello/cool whip variety, the health-conscious plain fruit with maybe a drizzle of honey or yogurt variety, your marshmallow variety, your rice variety… The possibilities with dessert salads are endless.  I don’t think, however, that my family’s style fruit salad has ever shown up at any potluck I’ve ever attended.  And I’m not really sure why…

Let’s begin.  You’ll need:

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream (You’ll only use about half, but you might as well beat it all)
  • 1 c white sugar
  • Splash of vanilla
  • 2 cans fruit cocktail with cherries
  • bananas
  • apples
  • any other fruit you’ve got lying around that you want to get rid of

Really, other than the whipping cream and the fruit cocktail, you can do whatever you want.  I’ve used mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries.  If my sister weren’t so darn picky I’d probably throw in some toasted coconut.  The quantity of everything you use is entirely based on how many people you need to feed/how much you want left over.  There are no rules, which is what I enjoy about this recipe.  Remember, it’s got real whipped cream in it, so unless you add cheese or ground beef or tuna or something, it’s going to be delicious no matter what.

The fun part:

If you don’t have a stand mixer, I suggest getting one.  I have the smallest kitchen in the world, and I insist on having room for my Kitchen Aid.  Growing up, we used a hand mixer.  It gets the job done, but it’s 15 minutes of standing in one spot and holding your arm at a weird angle.  It’s probably why my sister stopped making the fruit salad and why the job went to me.  I put up with the 15 minutes for the opportunity to lick all the cream off the blades when it was done.  I’m easily bribed.

Anyway, in your mixing bowl (my mom always chilled the bowl, which I’m sure is the preferred method, but it works regardless) pour the cream, sugar, and vanilla.  It’s really all to taste.  I never measure, so the “cup” is approximate.  You don’t need a ton because the fruit will add sweetness as well.  The vanilla is just a nice touch.  Get those puppies whipping.

If you have the stand mixer, you can do all the next steps while it’s mixing.  If not, well, sucks to be you, because you’ll be in the kitchen 15 minutes longer than if you had one.  So get one.

Drain your fruit cocktails and rinse them if they were in syrup.  The kind I found at Aldi was in fruit juice as part of their “healthy” line of foods.  In that picture I also threw in the remaining contents of a jar of cherries left over from a sundae bar–halved.  Because the cherries in the fruit cocktail are the best part, right?

Chop up your apples and bathe them in lemon water to prevent browning.  I usually only use one apple because my sister is picky.  There’s a theme here….  She doesn’t like the crunch.  I like the crunch.  It’s a compromise.  Go nuts if you want.  Drain and add to the fruit cocktail.  If you’re like me, you’ll either drain the lemon water into another bowl, or you’ll fish the apples out by hand, because you’re going to need lemon water again.  Waste not…

Repeat the last step with the bananas.  Only this time you can throw the lemon water out.  Unless you’re adding something else that needs to not brown.  Can’t imagine what that might be, but maybe you have special fruit I’ve never heard of.  If you do, please share it with me.

Mix everything up all pretty-like.  Sure, you could eat it as it is right now.  I’m sure it would taste great.  But we’re missing something….

And I’m missing a photograph.  It would appear as if I was a little over-zealous in letting people eat the amazing fruit salad that I forgot to photograph it with the whipped cream mixed in.  I suck.  Regardless… To finish off the salad, heap about half of the whipped cream onto the fruit and stir it in.  If everything is sufficiently covered, meaning you can’t really see the fruit any more, then you’re good to go.  If not, add more a little at a time.  It’s personal, really, how much cream you choose to add.

Okay, I lied when I said there are no rules.  There is one rule: Do not mix the whipped cream into the fruit more than, say, half a day before serving.  You can make this in the AM and serve that evening.  That’s fine.  But don’t mix it in the night before.  It still tastes great.  I still eat it (in fact, it’s my traditional Black Friday breakfast to prepare me for a crazy day of work).  But the presentation is lacking.  The longer the whipped cream sits in the fruit, the more it mingles with the juices, and the runnier it gets.  So, by all means, whip your cream and prepare your fruit a day or two in advance, but don’t add the cream until the day of.  Easy-peasy.

The Christmas Before the Resolution

I had every intention of taking pictures of everything I made for Christmas. Some things didn’t translate well into photograph form (but I’ve been assured I’m getting a photo area at the new house! weeee!), but I also just plain forgot to take pictures before wrapping some. Namely, The Hippy’s.

Let’s start with the ill-fated BILOSORD jacket so that it isn’t the last thing you see….

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I’m reasonably certain it isn’t actually that lop-sided.  The good news is, I have to take the zipper out anyway.  Why?  Because I put it in backward, that’s why.  Because this jacket was the jacket from hell, despite it being the third one I’ve made.  I understood the first one being a pain, but the third?  I’m happy to report the fourth went off without so much as a hitch, but that is one I wrapped before shooting.  It did end up a little short in the back, but that has more to do with the fact that it’s too fat for The Hippy than anything else.  I should have made the small, since that’s what I wear and he’s smaller than me….  But I know his penchant for drowning in his clothes.  Still, he refuses to let me take it in,  all the better, because I don’t feel like it. ; )

Jacket Number Two (in this post AND in real life):

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You only get to see half because blaze orange is a bitch to photograph.  I’m pretty sure my camera started crying.  But this jacket is fully reversible so my dad can wear the camo out on the town (okay, in his recliner like he’s doing right now…), and the blaze orange while sitting in his deer stand.  Two layers of fleece.  Yum.  So warm.

More fleece!  Yay!

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I am all about the reversible, natch.  My dad is three things: A Submarine Vet, “a bit of an eagle nut”*, and always cold.  These two panels lept out at me and demanded to be made one.  I believe his exact words were, “Wow!”

Not fleece:

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Pants for my mom.  Pant-sies.  Heh.  Heh.  No?  I’d wax poetic further on these, but, well they’re just pants.  They were easy to make.  They’re cute.  What more can I say?

I’ll just show more pictures…  Of pants.

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Rocketdog and I are like twins that had some weird almost-eight-year separation.  We like a lot of the same things, so I felt pretty certain she’d like these.  I thought the photo turned out better, but those are cows.  Both pants are made from Debbie Mumm fabrics.  I’m not typically a fan of hers, but I liked these prints well enough.

I also made a space blanket and fleece jacket for The Hippy and a boppy cover and softbook for Rocket Puppy.  Though I’m pretty sure the gift that went over the best was a bag of Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys.  C’est la vie.

Next up: New Year’s Resolution.

*This is an approximate quote from the Minneapolis Star Tribune about my dad.  My parents had an eagle on a liberty bell carved out a tree that had to come down (damn dutch elm!).  Eagles are a common sight in their home decor these days.  Now I gave him seven more 🙂

X-Mas X-Post!

My present to myself today (you know, other than the new sewing machine… *whistles innocently*(*cough* and the crock pot*cough*)) is to go easy on the blogging. So I’m cross posing, suckas!

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Merry Christmas to all my readers and anyone who happens to stumble on this mess. I hope you eat your fill and get everything you wanted and nothing you didn’t. I also hope you get many pleasant surprises, because those are the best.

X-Mas X-Post!

My present to myself today (you know, other than the new sewing machine… *whistles innocently*(*cough* and the crock pot*cough*)) is to go easy on the blogging.  So I’m cross posing, suckas!

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Merry Christmas to all my readers and anyone who happens to stumble on this mess.  I hope you eat your fill and get everything you wanted and nothing you didn’t.  I also hope you get many pleasant surprises, because those are the best.

Lack of… everything

I have made the decision not to post any of the presents I’m making.  While there’s a very good chance my dad, brother-in-law, and boyfriend will read this blog, I kind of want the presents to be a surprise for all involved.  I don’t want Christmas to feel like a repeat for Rocketdog when everyone opens their presents.  Oh!  Merry Christmas!  I already knew you were getting that!

And since Christmas presents are all I’m allowing myself to work on for the next week, we’ll have to go just a little bit longer.  I promise I will take pictures of everything, and that should tide you over until the new year when I unleash my amazing new Resolution Extravaganza!  It will be one year of awesomeness.  I promise.  It will be amazing. Ha.

I’m an expert in this field.

Aside from the whole “jingle horse” thing, that is.

I listen to a crap load of Christmas music.  The majority of it isn’t by choice.  But I have some very strong opinions on Christmas music that I never really thought I would have.

Best Christmas Album Ever: John Denver and the Muppets-A Christmas Together

Extremely Close Second: It’s a Cow Christmas

Honestly, I think the only reason John Denver and the Muppets wins is because it’s easier to find and therefore easier to enjoy.  But the songs on It’s a Cow Christmas are classic in their own right.

Best Christmas Song (three-way tie): Carol of the Bells, Jingle Bells, Baby It’s Cold Outside

Carol of the Bells: Classic.  Amazing as a choral piece or orchestral.  It’s one of the few songs ever to be made better by having sung it in choir.  My reason for this is the tenor part: “Oh, how ha-a-ppy a-are their tones.”  It’s cheesy, but I love it.

Jingle Bells: It’s just a happy song, what can I say?  I cannot, however, get on board with Jingle Bell Rock.  Screw that.  Jingle horse…..

Baby It’s Cold Outside: I never fully appreciated this song until Elf came out.  Seriously, watch that.  Actually, I suppose you could say I never fully appreciated Christmas or Will Farrell until Elf came out.  Anyway, it’s a little bit naughty, though perhaps not so much by today’s standards.  It’s cheeky, that’s for sure.  It’s not outright Christmas, so it can be played for months on end and still have meaning.  In fact, I sing it in the middle of summer when the night time temp drops below… oh… 80.  For this ghoti it’s almost always cold outside.  I also appreciate duets, perhaps more than the average joe.

Worst Christmas Song EVER: Do They Know it’s Christmas.  Most culturally insensitive song to ever be written.  Here’s the lyrics, but let me highlight a few of the gems.

Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears

The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow

And the best line of all–the one I hoped to god I was hearing wrong:

Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

Excuse me?  Thank god it’s THEM?  Why should I be thankful they’re suffering?  Let’s forget for a moment that many Africans probably don’t give a rat’s ass that it’s Christmas.  If you are writing a song that is supposed to inspire people to help others, why they hell would you add a line that says, essentially, be thankful there are people suffering enough that you can help them.  That deserves a good old fashioned Lewis Black freakout.  Too bad it doesn’t translate well into blog, and I can’t do it as well as The Hippy can anyway.

Well, baby, it’s cold outside, and I left work early to heal and sew.  So heal and sew I must start doing.

I make no apologies…

My friends and family get homemade gifts.  That’s just how life is.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune seems to have a problem with this.  The print version is even more snarky against handmade Christmas presents.

My reasons for giving handmade gifts are varied and plentiful.  To name a few: I’m po’, I get a good discount on supplies and I know when I shop, no one I know needs more “stuff” and handmade stuff has a tendency to be useful, it means more (to me, anyway) than any dollar amount spent.

I am frightened by how much people spend at Christmas.  I hear so many people say they’re going into debt buying presents.  Why?  Frankly, if your cousin is pissed off that you didn’t spend $100 on her, she shouldn’t get a present.  Period.  I’ve spent less that $200 total this Christmas.  And I don’t feel like I’m being stingy.  I think I’m giving some pretty awesome gifts.

Homemade presents don’t always work out like I hope, but by the time the next Christmas has rolled around, I can pretty much guarantee I’m the only person who remembers or even notices.  If someone wants to call me on them, I invite them to.  I want to finish anything left unfinished or fix anything that needs fixing.  But if I’d bought a present that broke or I needed to go back for something more that I didn’t make, I wouldn’t be able to guarantee I could follow through.  I work retail; I know how quick the change over is.

People do get bought gifts too.  Sometimes these bought gifts are handmade, sometimes not.  I can’t make everything, and every once in awhile I find that perfect gift that I just have to get.  But honestly, if someone was snide about me making them a present, they’d be written off my gift-giving list entirely.  Chances are, they wouldn’t be happy with anything I bought either.