As I watched the sun set in an orange haze over Oneida Lake last Sunday, the song “The Old Gray Mare Just Ain’t What She Used to Be” kept replaying in my head. I was sitting at a table with friends at Alpine Resort’s annual customer appreciation picnic, and I have to admit I was wore out. That picnic was the fourth one I had attended in two days.
The first one had occurred on Saturday afternoon, and I had a hand in its formation. As president of the Friends of Birch Lake Club, I was in charge of making sure the beer was on tap, and that the rotisserie chickens were turning over a bed of coals by 10 a.m. for our annual club party.
Of course, these shing-dings don’t come together by themselves, and I’m lucky that I have an enthusiastic group that helps with all the little details. By the time people started arriving, a tent was erected, tables and chairs were set up, the chickens were almost done cooking and the beer was pouring cold and pure from the tap.
As a seasoned party organizer, I revel in that moment-when all the preparations have concluded, and the only thing left to do is sit back and watch the festivities unfold. This was a “bring a dish to pass” affair, and two long tables soon filled up with the most delectable food imaginable. Salads dotted with home grown tomatoes; noodle dishes and even one of those watermelons cut to look like a basket and filled with fruit salad. And oh my the desserts. They were really something.
The wafting aroma of grilled chicken filled the air, spurring on everyone’s appetite, including mine. Soon I was slowly picking my way down the line, my mouth watering at all the goodies displayed before me. I love buffets, where you can dab a little of this and a spoonful of that. Pretty soon my plate was full, and I dined with fellow club members beneath a big pine.
All too soon that party concluded, and after clean up it was on to the next affair, which happened to be a 50th birthday party for a friend of mine. B-B-Qs were on the menu at this get together, along with a cake thick with chocolate frosting. There was much chiding of the birthday “boy” and unique presents, including useful items such as a tube of denture cream, a box of Depends and some laxatives, to name a few.
That night I fell into bed exhausted, knowing the next day would be a further round of gastronomical endurance. And soon enough I found myself at yet again another customer appreciation party, complete with grilled brats and a long table filled with delicious goodies. As I sat down to yet another heaping plate of food, I marveled at all the people having fun. The chatter of neighbors and friends catching up with each other; kids frolicking throughout and even a couple of bored dogs reclining in the shade of a tree, their tails flapping languidly as people gave them a passing pat.
After a while I heaved myself out of my chair and moved on to party number four at Alpine Resort. My friend Dee and her son Scotty were hosting this affair. It was lakeside, and the band Dirty Side Down was playing. Scotty is the drummer, and as I watched them perform, listening to their excellent music fill the air, I felt a sense of relief. I felt like I was in the final rounds of a very long marathon.
This week I’ve included a couple of recipes that work well for a buffet or potluck. There’s still plenty of summer left for these parties, and I’m sure I’ll be attending more. At least I hope so, because as I sat there watching the sun set with a cold one in hand, I got to thinking about the weekends during the winter, when NOTHING is going on. These plentiful party weekends will provide for lots of reminiscing, and yet, I wish they could be spaced out a little more. In my younger years I could (and did) attend multiple parties in one weekend with great endurance, but, and I hate to admit this, the tune, “The Old Gray Mare Just Ain’t What She Used to Be” is still playing in my head.
1 can shrimp
1 can tuna
1 can crabmeat
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
3 green onions chopped
1 pkg. boiled and cooled rotini or Creamette noodles
4 quartered hard boiled eggs
2 fresh tomatoes, quartered
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. horseradish
1 cup Henri’s Tas-Tee dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Mix the salad ingredients together. Mix the dressing together, then pour over the salad ingredients right before serving. Toss gently.
Pistachio Pudding Salad
1 small box instant pistachio pudding
1 16 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 medium can mandarin oranges, drained
1 carton Cool Whip
Place pudding powder in a bowl. Slowly mix in pineapple (with juice) oranges and stir. Fold in Cool Whip.