A monthly musing of Kitchen Witchery
Autumn blessings to all of you! (well, if you are on this side of the Equator). I wanted to start off by thanking all of you who attended our last ritual. The amount of food that was brought to our post-ritual potluck was impressive to say the least. This awesome spread led me to this month’s topic: Potluck Pointers. I also think it is an excellent time to post about this with the holiday season approaching. Most us will get invites to family and work gatherings, and these tips might be helpful.
Make what you like
If you are anything like me, you try to be as inclusive with your menu choices as possible when hosting a dinner party or attending a pot luck. It is good to be thoughtful, but it is just as important to make a dish that you would enjoy. There is a chance that some of it will be coming home with you. If you make a dish you love, you can use it for work lunches or as a side to your evening meal the next day.
Variety is the spice of life
Most of us lean towards veggie platters and dessert. They are easy and really yummy. When attending a potluck, it is good to check in with the host, or in the Temple’s case, read over the potluck guide. We post a guide based on your last name in the ritual announcement. When you pop on to preregister, take a glance over it and see what category is recommended. When in doubt, a beverage is good. Also simplicity rules. Dressed greens, a grain, or a veggie side are always winners.
No muss no fuss
Make serving and clean up as simple as possible. Think about how people will be eating your dish. If you made a soup, consider bringing bowls. If you made a roast or a large casserole, slicing it can help when it comes to serving time. The same goes for your famous oven-fresh bread. Cut it up and place in a bowl before the event. Your host will thank you. This will also make it easier when it comes to breakdown and clean-up. Remember to claim your leftovers and dish before heading out. We can occasionally get people to take remaining items with them, but it would help your hosts tremendously if you could take it with you or find it a home before you leave.
Carry in. Carry out.
If you are a camper, you are familiar with this saying. When planning your potluck contribution, think about the container and serving utensils. When possible, use a piece of tape or a tag with your name on it to make sure you are able to track down your items. The host (or in this case, the Temple) doesn’t necessarily have the space to store serving vessels and utensils. We also are very conscious of the amount of waste we produce and would prefer not to throw out a number of disposable containers. When you do bring a reusable container, we do our best to return it to you clean, but no promises.
Location, location, location
Just like in the outside world, real estate is precious and most places you go will have limited electrical outlet and oven or refrigerator space. I generally try and think of a dish that would be okay to be served at room temperature if needed. If you do decide to bring a crock pot, I recommend bringing a power strip as well. That way you can help your hosts extend their space. Remember to label it so you can get it back.
Fingers or fork?
Finger foods are great, but when making them, consider the amount of space they need for serving. Can they be stacked? Even though they are finger food, does their size or shape allow them to be picked up with spatula or tongs? When large groups of people are eating, it is a bit more sanitary to use a serving utensil even with finger foods.
Timing is everything
Potlucks seems like a very easy way to host a meal or gathering, but even potlucks have their logistical issues. Some of them we have mentioned above. Another is timing. Whenever possible, drop off your dish in advance. Also wait until the designated time or announcement is made to start eating (yes, even the dish you brought). We know you worked hard and we thank you. We also know you are starving and the selection looks SOOO amazing, but it is considerate to wait until everyone is ready to eat. In our case, we usually give those who have led ritual a chance to recoup their energy and ground by getting a bite to eat first. We also know that you are going to want to thank them and chat about your experience. Allowing them to have full bellies and to return to a mundane mindset will allow them to be present.
Since environmental sustainability is an important initiative for the Temple, we are trying to create as little waste as possible. By bringing a dish in a container that you will take home afterward, you are helping the Temple limit what ends up in our landfills. If you can go the extra step and bring your own eating dishes and cutlery, that’s even better!
If you are like me, you have a few people in your close circle who have food allergies. The reality is that the number of people who have them is growing. Because of this, it is a good idea to label your dishes and list the ingredients. At our rituals, we have labels available for you if you forget. I personally also try to avoid the big ones like shellfish and nuts when I plan my dish. Labeling also helps our friends who have removed items from their diets such as meat, soy, gluten, or dairy for health, ethical, or other reasons.
Now don’t panic. I can tell you from personal experience that anyone who hosts a potluck is grateful for whatever your contribution is. Please don’t let this list cause you any stress or prevent you from bringing a dish to your next potluck. These are just some things to consider while planning for your next event.
Again thank you all so much for your contributions.
Ryan is an ordained Minister, Seminary Graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft & Deputy Minister of the Cancer Ministry. Ryan is passionate about Kitchen Witchery, the creatures of the Green World, working with Plant Spirits & making magick in daily life. Crafting herbal infusions, candles, and sacred tools, Ryan is co-creator of Drops of Three. You may visit his website at www.dropsofthree.storenvy.com.