Not so ‘Queen of the Potluck’

We all have fears and phobias that cause us anxiety. For example, I’m afraid of barbershop quartets (long story), but they are pretty easy to avoid. I just have to stay away from steamboat river cruises and the year 1885.

Whenever I’m invited to a “carry-in”, I have a lot of anxiety over what to make or take. In my 20s, I could get by with bringing a bag of Doritos and giving it a cutesy name like “Bachelorette Surprise.” But the older you get, the more is expected of you.

I went to a picnic recently and was asked to bring the dreaded covered dish. I did an internet search on “Easy Picnic Dishes” and landed on a recipe for Mini Corn Dog Muffins. They looked adorable.

Wahoo! I’ll be the Queen of the Potluck!

I have to admit that one of my problems with cooking is that I tend to second-guess the ingredient list. Instead, I make substitutions based on what is available in my house.

It called for cornbread mix and “bun-length” hot dogs to be cut into pieces. Since I had a few cans of Vienna sausages on hand (long story), I decided to make them with those instead.

I also have a problem with “skimming” the recipe directions. I knew it said something about putting a piece of hot dog down into each mini corn muffin, then baking it. Well, the Vienna sausages stuck up above the rim of the muffins by about half an inch. I figured this would be just about right since the muffins would rise and the Vienna sausage would then be level with the top of the muffins.

Wrong.

When I pulled them from the oven, the Vienna sausages still hovered above the cornbread muffins. They looked like tiny bald men drowning in quicksand.

So, I covered them with aluminum foil so that no one could see what was under there.

When I arrived at the picnic, I sashayed through the crowd with my plate. I wanted credit for bringing something, but didn’t necessarily want anyone to see what I brought and connect that mess to me.

My plan was to sneak them into the food area, but when I arrived there, the self-appointed Queen of the Food Table snatched them out of my hands and ripped off the foil. Her contempt was obvious.

She gave a heavy sigh and strategically placed them at the back of the table where they couldn’t even be reached.

Driving home — still-full platter of muffins in tow — it hit me that life is too short to laden ourselves with unnecessary anxiety. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses and honoring them makes us fully self-actualized human beings.

So, the next time I’m invited to an event where I’m to take the dreaded Covered Dish, it will be a bag of Doritos.

Of course, I’ll strew them across a lovely platter and cover them with aluminum foil.

At least they’ll have a fighting chance of being eaten.

Columnist Kay Frances, MBA, holds a BS in Education and she is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP).

Salt Magazine