Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 12, 2013

The Chafing Dish

I once received a very nice gift from my mother, for which I had no use whatsoever.

chafing dish 2

My mother, who is very good at refinishing and making Salvation Army finds look like a million bucks, had spent a great deal of time cleaning, polishing, and oiling (the wood parts) a copper chafing dish that would have been very expensive if she had bought it new.

She presented this gift to me during the only time in history when fondue was popular in America: the 1970s.  I had just moved to a new state when she gave me the chafing dish, and knew no one. I anticipated no fondue parties in my immediate future, especially since I lived in a one-room hovel minutes away from seedy downtown Las Vegas. So up it stayed in its gift box for quite a while.

I never did pull the chafing dish out for one of the few parties I have thrown in the last four decades. But it has been entertaining to occasionally visit the dish, waving to it where it lives — waaaaaaay up on the very highest shelf of my kitchen — and watch the copper and brass patina, the chafing dish slowly darkening and turning green as the years have gone by.

My groom of 25 years claims I did actually make fondue with the chafing dish once.  I disagree, but  I do remember him using the brass bottom half as a serving platform for a plate of really nice sushi he bought me as a surprise.

A few days ago, my husband showed very good timing when he asked if I would make something substantial and tasty for the photo department office party at the LA Times scheduled for today. I had just visited the chafing dish again when I was searching for serving platters for Thanksgiving.

I asked my husband  if dragging a chafing dish to work would be an inconvenience. Nope, and what’s a chafing dish, he asked.

So last night, I sent my husband off to purchase the components for his offering for the potluck party — and some Sterno cans — while I spiffed up the chafing dish.

It took one episode of “American Horror Story: Coven,” two episodes of “The Chew,” and one episode of “Modern Family” to get the damn thing clean. I imagine it took a crew only slightly longer to last de-patina the Griffith Observatory’s copper dome a couple of years ago.

cleaning chafing dish

In keeping with the extreme retro theme, I decided to make my husband’s co-workers a “hearty appetizer” whose recipe is probably older than my chafing dish.  Its primary elements involve pre-cooked meatballs floating around in a sweet/savory sauce whose foundation is grape jelly and Heinz chili sauce. You can go to town on the additional seasonings…. which I did. I hope the Photo Department likes red pepper and garlic.

The party began a few hours ago, and my husband has texted me a few photos. Despite sending my him off with 6 lbs. of meatballs and a vat of the jelly and chili sauce, I don’t expect anything to return home.  The rest of the ravenous Editorial department found out about this yearly potluck a long time ago, and the photographers are lucky if they even get anything to eat. Unlike a lot of lame potlucks where people bring a head of lettuce and a bottle of Italian dressing, or a nasty store-bought potato salad, the photographers take a bit of pride in what they offer to their co-workers.  I see a roasted turkey in the panoramic photo I just received a few minutes ago…..


meatballs

potluck2

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Responses

  1. this is some fine writing — The rest of the ravenous Editorial department found out about this yearly potlock a long time ago, and the photographers are lucky if they even get anything to eat. Unlike a lot of lame potlucks where people bring a head of lettuce and a bottle of Italian dressing, or a nasty store-bought potato salad, the photographers take a bit of pride in what they offer to their co-workers.

    • Thank you, Dave!

  2. Omigod — I see deviled eggs!

  3. By coincidence, a box of Swiss fondue cheese has been sitting for many months at the back of my refrigerator. I bought it on impulse, because it called to mind college dormitory fondue parties of the early1970’s. It is yours if you want it, Cassy. The date stamp says it is best before September 14, 2013, but that should not matter.

  4. P.S. An expired box of Swiss fondue cheese! What a gift!

    • Let’s test that fondue out, Janice!

  5. Love those meatballs AND that copper pot!


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