The Herald Bulletin

December 11, 2013

Residents share holiday potluck etiquette, secrets

By Kelly Dickey
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Call them potlucks, pitch-ins, carry-ins or just dinner, most people contribute food to at least one gathering during the holiday season. For many, the most wonderful time of the year means it’s time for friends, family and food.

Anderson Public Library clerk Martha Green said cooking during the holidays is a special time for her family.

“My father was a cook in the Navy and so I learned how to cook from both sides of the family,” she said. “I come from a family of six so I’m used to making things in big quantities.”

Green said she’s known for several recipes, especially deviled eggs, which she learned how to make from her mother. Her brother, she said, makes the best macaroni and cheese with his own secret ingredient.

Clea Spears, former Anderson resident now living in Indianapolis, said the key to bringing something to a pitch-in is to keep it simple.

“Brownies are always good and you can put a topping on to go with the season,” she said. “Maybe put green mint frosting for the holidays or something like that.”

Deborah Stapleton, The Anderson Center for the Arts director, said she used to be known for throwing dinner parties but she doesn’t do it often anymore.

“It’s because of time,” she said. “Basically I’m way too busy to prepare things anymore.”

That doesn’t mean that she still doesn’t get special requests. Stapleton said friends and family often ask her to make some of her signature dishes, such as Olympia Shanghai, a mixture of meat and fruits in a wonton skin that she learned to make from old friends from the Philippines.

“I would serve for friends or events at The Center for the Arts and people would be like, ‘Oh, I really love that,’ or ‘Could you bring that with you (to a potluck)?’” she said.

Stapleton said she has friends who appreciate her more exotic dishes, while she knows others who prefer simple, traditional dishes.

“You kind of have to think of who you’re presenting it for,” she said.

Stapleton, Spears and Green said potlucks are a good opportunity to experiment with new recipes and to share their concoctions with others.

It’s understandable if people are too busy to cook, though.

“It’s perfectly OK and allowable to pick up something to bring,” Green said. “I just tell them I didn’t make it myself but I worked hard for the money to buy it.”


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