Monday, May 18, 2009

How Much is Enough?

Photo courtesy of

I have always been impressed by my father's ability to estimate the amount of food needed to feed a group of any size. I don't know if he was born with this gift or if it came to him after fourteen open houses for the graduations and confirmations of seven children, playing host at least a dozen times to extended family reunions, planning Christmas and birthday parties for family and friends, organizing his church's sauerkraut supper. You name it, he's planned the food for it.

And I don't mean to demean my mom's additions of wisdom to these plans. Let's see: 365 days in a year times (let's average under the margin and say) 20 years for (give or take) nine mouths. That would be...hmm...(David, where are you?)...I don't know...whatever 365 times 180 is. That's a lot of meals, okay?

Since Dad's in China, I figured Mom would be THE PERSON to ask to help me make potato salad and brownies for Lauren's confirmation open house. No, I wasn't being stingy with food: five of the families of this year's confirmands at Trinity decided to team up and host a group open house. My responsibility? Brownies and potato salad for 350-ish.

So there I was Friday after school at Meijer, loading up my cart with 20 pounds of potatoes, 2 big containers of Miracle Whip, a jar of dill pickles, a bunch of celery, a jar of mustard, a big container of sour cream, and 4 dozen eggs. Oh, and 6 brownie mixes.

Mom showed up Saturday morning promptly at 9 with a still-warm coffee cake--all ready to peel and chop. My friend Jessica arrived about 45 minutes later to help too. We chopped and stirred and stained and diced, and pretty soon, we had transformed all those raw ingredients into a big bowl of potato salad and 3 sheet cake pans of steaming brownies.

I stretched my arms over my head, and we all congratulated ourselves on getting the whole production done before lunch. Jessica went home, and Mom and I finished up the dishes. Then I looked at that bowl and imagined 35o hungry people taking out heaping spoonfuls of it. Doubt weaseled its way into my brain. My knees began to quake. Suddenly, I just knew it wasn't enough.

Mom must have caught my worried glance. "What is it?" she asked.

"The potato salad," I said. "It's just one bowl. I don't think it will be enough." Mind you, this was a BIG food-service size bowl. A bowl that was so heavy I had to stagger under its weight to carry it to the fridge, where it had to be tilted on its side to fit in the door. "I think I need to go get more potatoes."

I am pretty sure I saw small white diced shapes flicker behind Mom's eyes as she nodded slowly. "20 more pounds, you think?"

"At least," I said. "I'll go to the store. Be right back."

By two, we had another twenty pounds of potatoes made into salad, complete with all the fixings. Two big bowls had to be enough for 350 people, I thought. Surely, there would be enough. I took the bowls out to the school to chill in the big walk-in cooler and went home, promising myself I wouldn't worry any more about potatoes or their salad-hood or 35o people in various states of near-starvation. And I wasn't even going to think about the brownies.

Lauren's confirmation service was beautiful, and I teared up just three times. Once when I was standing trapped in the narthex with a fractious Jared, watching as Clint stood alone behind Lauren to extend his hand in blessing over her as she was confirmed, wishing Jared was not so dependent on me. Another time in a twinge of raw fury when Pastor confirmed my daughter as "Lynn Bro-Brooke Genthner" instead of a smooth "Lauren Brooke." And a third time when I firmly decided that singing "Go My Children, With My Blessing" while watching the projected slide show of pcitures of each confirmand as a baby and young adult was NOT a good idea. Then we were off to set up last minute details for the open house.

Turns out, I wasn't the only one who made salad. In addition to the original menu, there were suddenly a plethora of other side dishes. Salads and fruit trays abounded. My potato salad, although it looked delicious, was lost on the table. And it had a twin of equal size in the cooler!

As the afternoon wore on, I urged each new guest to eat heartily--and to try the potato salad in particular. I got a number of compliments, which was nice, but what I really wanted was to see two nearly-empty bowls.

Alas, as five o'clock rolled around and the last guest left, I came to this conclusion: my eyes are bigger than 350 projected stomachs. I should have stopped at 2o pounds, for sure. I probably could have gotten away with just 15.

So I'm asking you. No, I'm begging you: are you still hungry for potato salad? I have a fridge full. I figure it'll be good for another couple days. Come on over and bring your appetite.

1 comment:

Ilona said...

i teared up reading....such a mesh of baby growing up.....i am an emotional roller coaster...FYI...i was the original planner of the sauerkraut supper