40 Days of SNAP: When Potlucks Become a Problem
By Susan Herman
Our second grader, Camilla, will cap off a project about ancestry with a dinner at school. Each student is to bring a family artifact to display at the dinner, as well as two dishes to share: a main dish and a vegetable or dessert. Each dish should serve 8, says the assignment sheet.
Well, this is awkward.
It’s not a huge expense—we are putting maybe five extra dollars into this meal from our SNAP grocery budget—but it was just sort of assumed that each family could afford to buy and prepare food for this special event. What if we really couldn’t spare it?
In her oral report, Camilla chose to focus on Denmark as her country of origin (though more of her roots are in England and Germany). Seven generations before Camilla, in 1860 or so we surmise, the Peterson family sailed from Copenhagen to Britain and thence to Boston where they quickly made their way west to Nauvoo, Ill., and traveled the Mormon trail—possibly with a handcart company—to Utah.
I thought maybe ableskivers, a spherical Danish popover-like bread, would be good for the dinner. Perhaps a savory version, with a bit of cheese inside. But we’ve never made them before, so I worried that experimenting and probably burning a few batches would cost too much in wasted ingredients. I wouldn’t have worried about that before.
So we’re making ham biscuits and greens, to celebrate her North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas roots. I suppose you could say buttermilk biscuits are akin to the English scone? Or something like that. We know how to make it, it’s cheap, and if the kids don’t eat the greens there are some eggs and a pie crust waiting for the leftovers back at home.
Susan Herman is an independent editor and coordinates the Northern California chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association.
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