Mom called and asked if I wouldn't mind helping her sort through her canned goods. She keeps them in the basement, in a cabinet. It's a good system, in theory. She doesn't have much room for excess food in the kitchen and the cabinet keeps everything neat and organized. However, over the last few years, her arthritis has made it tough for her to get the new cans downstairs or rotate the old ones upstairs for use. Over time, the supply in the basement has gotten older and older, and now it was time to toss out the unusable and unsafe food.
As I always do when there is work to be done, I called my cousin, Maria. To sweeten the deal, and make it less of a chore, I suggested we do a family potluck after the work was finished.
Our family has a tradition of secret potlucks. Everyone makes at least one dish, without telling anyone else what they are making. Sometimes you end up with three salads and a dessert. Other times you have five desserts. You can make anything you want, as long as you use a brand new recipe.
To make it even more fun, I suggested we shop for our supplies at Wegmans. In case you haven't heard of this place, it's the mecca of all grocery stores. I've never seen anything like it, outside of Berlin. Everyone agreed to my plan, and we were off.
We picked up Maria at her job in the Annapolis mall and headed for Wegmans. We tried to have dinner at the sit-down restaurant, but it didn't work out. First, we were chased out of our table by the tidal wave of perfume coming from the overdressed lady who came in after we had been served our drinks. Then, our waitress forgot our order, not once, but twice.
After an hour of waiting, we asked if we could have a refill on our water, and then watched her wander back to the food prep area where she stood and chatted for ten minutes. She obviously had the attention span of a gnat. We finally gave up and left to get some food from the salad/food bar. We should have started there, after all, that's where the soda machines are that dispense over 100 flavors of soda, lemonade and water. I love those machines.
We finished eating and grabbed our groceries. By the time we got home, it was after 9. Maria and I stayed up until 1 am. She washed dishes and chatted while I made a cherry-raspberry pie and put together a seven-layer salad. (lettuce, spinach, bacon, red peppers, dill dressing, cheese and snap peas.)
Mom called in the morning to say that Sassy was sick, so while she took her to the vet, Dad and Maria and I got to work. It took a couple of hours, but all of the cans from the early 1990s through 2009 were disposed of and the cabinet was reloaded with the remainder.
We finished just in time for lunch. We started with my salad, which was too heavy. I would use a lot more lettuce and less dressing next time. The flavors were good, though. Then Maria served her stew, which she made with pork tenderloin, onions, garlic and green peppers. Yummy. Mom made meatball subs (double yummy) and Dad served deviled eggs he bought at the Amish market (cheating, but they tasted great.) Then we had my pie with ice cream and Dad's low-sugar devil's food cupcakes. We were all half-sick from too much food, but it made a huge chore into a family event.
Sassy is still not feeling well, by the way, but the vet told Mom not to worry. It was probably just something she ate. I know how she feels. Only in my case, it's not what I ate, it's how much!