It’s About the Recipe.

The Sunday potlucks in Goodale Park have started again. An organic element of last summer’s Goodale Park Music Series, the potlucks provided a food-meets-music element that quickly catapulted the weekly events into my Top Ten Favorite Things To Do in Columbus. This year, the potluck (which was originally started by Lauren Wilson, a true gal about town), became an official part of the music series, and I moved up the chain of command from person who brings a dish to person who brings a dish, tablecloths and serving utensils.

Each week, a different Columbus food blogger “hosts” the event, providing a suggested theme (that complements the music) and a specific dish for attendees to look forward to devouring. The first week, Jim Ellison from cmhgourmand.com hosted and grilled more than one hundred hot dogs for his Americana-themed feast. (I brought succotash). This past week, Lisa Dillman from restaurantwidow.com brought a to-die-for shrimp and grits (complete with at least one pound of butter) for her Southern cuisine potluck.

I take advantage of these weekly meals to find a way to utilize my CSA wares, so when I woke up Sunday morning, I knew that my main ingredient was going to be zucchini. Too lazy to bring out the laptop or look at a cookbook, I searched for a southern-style zucchini recipe on my phone until I found the first one that didn’t require a trip to the store for additional ingredients.

More often than not, it’s quality ingredients that do the heavy lifting in making a dish excellent. Even the best chefs attribute their success to sourcing from incredible suppliers. By that theory, my zucchini bake should have rocked; locally-grown zucchini, Amish butter, free-range local eggs, hand-made breadcrumbs and an onion harvested from my own backyard all went into the dish. But what the recipe did not call for was seasoning. And so, even though I added Paula Deen’s Butt Rub (because it’s clearly southern and, for some reason, I have some), the dish came out bland.

That, of course, didn’t stop it from being devoured on Sunday afternoon. One of the best things about community potlucks is the anonymity of the dish. Aside from the dish brought by the hosting blogger, no one really knows who made what.

The series will take a break until August, when Andy Dehus from tacotruckscolumbus.com will celebrate street food, Bethia Woolf from hungrywoolf.com will feature grown-in-Ohio wares, Rachel Tayse Baillieul from houndsinthekitchen.com will fill our bellies with soul food and, finally, Becke Boyer from columbusfoodie.com will bring out the eclectic side of the culinary world. Where’s yours truly in all of this? While I helped to organize the blogger-portion of the event, I wrote myself into a supporting role. Which, if I continue finding my recipes on about.com, (with a one-star rating for heck’s sake) is probably a good thing.

Here you go. You can make it better.

Summer Squash Bake
from about.com

1/4 cup chopped onions
3 tablespoons butter
3 hard cooked eggs, chopped
3 summer squash, diced, about 3 cups
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup soft bread crumbs tossed with 1 tablespoons melted butter

In a saucepan, sauté onion in butter. In a large bowl, combine onions and butter with summer squash and chopped hard cooked eggs. Place squash mixture in a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole. Mix beaten eggs with half-and-half; pour over squash in casserole. Sprinkle top with buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Recipe for summer squash casserole serves 6.

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8 thoughts on “It’s About the Recipe.

  1. Cindy says:

    I would add a fair amount of salt and pepper, and a handful of fresh sage leaves, minced. And maybe some smoked Gouda.

  2. Jill says:

    Ooh! The sage sounds nice. And maybe some thyme, as well.

    I would add some sriracha, I think. And maybe some roasted chicken?

    I don’t know. I think that I’m done with this recipe. And maybe done with about.com (as a recipe source, anyway.)

  3. Maya says:

    I treat the recipe selection process like I do any other research project: No matter how good something sounds, always consider the source. User-generated content (i.e. Wikipedia, or in your case, about.com) is a fine starting point, but always double-check against a reputable source. That’s not to say that I don’t have misses—you’ve been witness to ’em—but they’re especially prevalent when I don’t choose recipes from, say, Gourmet or Martha Stewart, both publications with strenuous test-kitchen requirements. Then again, if you don’t mind a bit of unpredictability, your method is just fine, too. ;)

  4. Tammy McLeod says:

    I love that your dish was devoured at the potluck even if it was bland. I like the gouda and sage suggestions. Personally, the sriracha works for me on anything I eat.

  5. Melissa says:

    I’m a huge fan of Cooking Light, because I have a high success rate with their recipes. I believe all of the magazine’s recipes are indexed at myrecipes.com. =)

  6. Teri says:

    I’ve come to rely on allrecipes.com and epicurious.com for some of my best recipes lately. You should check them out if you haven’t already.

  7. Maya says:

    I second Melissa’s Cooking Light rec. As someone who doesn’t need to watch her sodium intake, I do double all of their salt requirements as a matter of principle, but otherwise, I love their recipes, too.

  8. Joel says:

    I tend just to read a bunch of recipes and comments from various sources to get some ideas, techniques and proportions … then wing it.

    I don’t buy butter, so I’d go with olive oil seasoned with salt, pepper, sage and thyme for both the saute and the bread crumbs.

    I’d probably at least double the onions (or maybe try a leek) and maybe add a chopped celery stalk.

    Adding some chopped sweet red pepper at the end of the saute might be good & colorful.

    Hmm, I don’t buy eggs or half & half either … but I’ll eat ’em. At home I might try plain yogurt, soft tofu and/or unsweetened soy/almond milk w/ cornstarch/flour seasoned with black (pink/sulfur) salt or salt, paprika and tumeric. I’m not sure those substitutes would work well here though.

    Some chives to garnish sounds good too.

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