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Friday, October 31, 2008



On the day this column gets posted, it will be Halloween. And then it’s November!

Where did this year go? What amazes me the most is that in less than 3 weeks, I will celebrate yet another birthday. I don’t really mind getting older, with each year something new happens and I enjoy finding out what exacting is coming next.

Since January I’ve seen some pretty major life-changing events happen. A second grandchild arrived, my son-in-law became a juvenile corrections officer, grandson #1 not only started walking, but talking-in full sentences, my husband got a promotion, so did my son, our son became engaged, I started working as a paid freelance writer, I became a moderator for a magazine, lost my day job and began a very cheerleader type campaign to work full time as a writer.

So now the holidays are coming up. Right after I turn 51, Thanksgiving will be upon us.

Since we now have even more in-laws, our annual Thanksgiving dinner will be somewhere between 25-35 people.

That’s a whole lot of mashed potatoes I’ll be making this year. If only I had known that my recipe would become such an integral part of all family celebrations-I probably would have thought twice about how badly my kids needed to eat more than potatoes as a vegetable and created a much less labor intensive dish.

Anyone who’d like to serve this dish, which has been in even Family Circle magazine, the OC Register, on Woman’s Day website and is a favorite on, I will put the recipe into a column before the big day. It really isn’t that hard or time consuming, but when you have to triple and quadruple the amounts-well, that is an awful lot of spuds to peel and mash!

Speaking of food-a cyber friend and I were talking about the upcoming potluck season and she had mentioned she was trying to find something to put a dish into that wouldn’t be missed if forgotten at the hostess’ home.

I told her about how I’ve remedied this sticky situation and we both agreed this might be a great tip to talk about here.

In our family, we do a lot of potluck events. Group birthday parties for the deluge in April and May, July 4th , Thanksgiving, Hanukah and sometimes Christmas and Passover (my husband and I try to get away during those two times, so while the party goes on, we aren’t part of the festivities), plus little get-togethers at other times.

These little handy tips come to mind. One I particularly love is but I can’t take credit for came from one of the guys I used to work!

First mine-I hit the dollar stores or BigLots and buy disposable foil and plastic containers. I even hunt the clearance aisles at TJMaxx or the markets for all different sizes and shapes and oven capabilities. Depending on the food, I just use these and leave them at host family’s home. Same with serving pieces-sometimes the dollar stores will have nice big serving spoons and forks. I don’t have to make that trip back to wherever we were to pick up something I’m going to be needing.

My former co-worker does something even better-he goes to thrift stores and buys up nice looking platters, cake covers, single dinner size china plates and leaves them with the host as a gift. He has said the only caveat is that you need to really be vigilant about checking out all the used pieces first. The best part, the proceeds go to a worthwhile charity-so by buying them and giving a nice gift, you are also doing something nice for someone who could really use a little kindness.

And since the holidays are coming up-what more could we all ask for given what has been happening across the country?

I don't have an idea for taking to a potluck, but one on bringing home leftovers.
One Christmas a friend gave everyone of her guests a chip/dip container...the plastic ones with a lid. It is large and has deep wells. If you wanted to take any food home you had to bring it and if you forgot...oh well.
Needless to say, I never forgot my "take home container" ☺
that is a good one ruthie, thanks for sharing!
I wind up using those ziploc containers or bags when sending home goodies for guests.
Mashed potatoes . . . I'm so there. As someone raised in a semi-Polish family, we were a meat and potatoes clan. And I would personally mash the potatoes just so that we would have them on the table.

Fifty one, eh. That was about five years ago for me. I can't even remember back that far. Hopefully you do like I do, send out holiday family newsletters detailing all the happenings, then keeping a copy for yourself so you can refer to it five years later. Or six or seven . . .
Actually,I would say yes I have them all, but Dave, there's that pesky little "crashing" incident that rendered me "blank".
But I have found that if I write the year end letter and mail it-I don't have to send cards, which I really am so not into.
Happy Halloween and upcoming 51st birthday to you, Carine !

Potluck dinners are so much fun !

I hope to get to taste your potatoes one day :)
Hi Annie,
They're actually really easy, very delicious and quite figure friendly! Plus, kids and adults love them.
Happy Halloween to you as well.
no kiddies at my door yet. ;-(
Thanks for your sharing here.This is nice sensible blog.

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welcome siva! if nothing else, my parents always referred to me as the "alta cuppe", which translated out of yiddish means essentially and "old head"-I guess being sensible goes along with that.
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