Potluck Protege

By most standards, I am bad at being a girl.

I’m not very domesticated, and domestication tends to come in spurts. I’m not exactly skilled at home decorating, cooking, and cleaning. I’m 22 years old and I’m still learning how to take care of white laundry and avoid bleeding in bright colors. I’m not dainty, nor am I ladylike. I swear like a sailor, I’m not always sure what fork to use at a fancy meal, and most days I’d much rather wear a pair of muddy, manure-soaked cowgirl boots than designer stilettos.

But, I’m blessed. I would like to be more ladylike. I would like to be more domesticated. I would like to learn how to dress fashionably in the workplace. And lucky for me, I have some fantastic women in my life who are willing to gently and patiently guide me toward a more mature, ladylike state of being.

(Never fear, though; I’ll never fully abandon my redneck tomboy ways. This is just a new phase in Kelly Rivard’s quest to be a chameleon.)

While fashion and home decor are two on-going conquests, I seem to have reaches a new level in my food capabilities. You see, about a month ago, I hit a milestone. I prepared my first ever potluck dish.

When I found out we were having a potluck at the church I’ve begun attending (and REALLY, REALLY LIKE) was having a potluck, I kind of panicked. As in, “I want my mommy” panic. It’s not that I’m necessarily a BAD cook. It’s that I wanted to make a good impression, and knowing that a large group of people would eat what I prepared kind of psyched me out. I quizzed Facebook and Twitter, grilled friends for hours on what would be the best dish, received a deluge of suggestions that left my head spinning and mildly overwhelmed…but one idea stuck in my head.

So, being the voracious meat-eater I am, I went with what my gut (and taste buds) told me: Bacon Smokies.

Step 1. Using a pound of bacon which has been cut in half cross-wise (so the bacon strips are half their usual length), wrap a container of smokies in bacon.

Step 2. Roast in the oven. This not only cooked the bacon for safety issues, but it also “seals” the ends of the bacon rolls. And, most importantly, it gives you bacon a crispy, yummy, delicious texture! I did mine on 350 for about half an hour.

Step 3. Put your bacon in a crock pot. I just have a little two-quarter crock pot. It works well for hors d’oeuvres and dips, as well as for someone living alone cooking small-batch meals for leftovers.

Step 4. Add your sauce. There are lots of different flavors that complement Bacon Smokies well. In this case, I used a raspberry chipotle dipping sauce. I ALMOST went with chile lime instead, but the raspberry spoke to me. I’ve also had these with traditional barbecue sauces and they’re still amazing. Be bold! Be brave! Try flashy flavor combos!

Now, my church potluck story has an unfortunately twist. Knowing I’d be in a rush the next morning, I threw these together the night before. I also sampled them the night before, because, let’s face it…having bacon-wrapped anything in front of you means you need to at least try it. It was amazing. Now, I knew if I let it sit on “Warm” for a while before being served, the bacon would soak up more of the chipotle raspberry flavor and really just blend together well.

So I did that. Or so I thought.

What ACTUALLY happened was, I left it on Low rather than Warm and I showed up to my first church potluck with semi-burnt Bacon Smokies. I tried them. They weren’t horrendous, but they weren’t exactly good, either. But, I either attend a church of overly-nice people or my standards for myself are much too high. I got several compliments on the dish. So, now I’m committed to prepare this dish for them again — and this time, do it right without semi-scorching my Bacon Smokies!

So, there you have it. While I may still struggle with my wardrobe, making my apartment “pretty” or understanding the finer points of high society, I CAN fulfill the role of a potluck participant. I’m just lucky that I have women willing to make me their potluck protege.





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