PTO dinner: round 2

October 7, 2012

 

Greetings, readers! I am still grinding away at my humor writing class and boy, is there a steep learning curve! I am thoroughly enjoying it (except for one teeeny pesky fly). I miss you though. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

This week was rather interesting. One dead car battery, a be-headed bunny in the yard, another trip to the dentist, a lost retainer (at 350$ a pop), parent/teacher conferences, 4 meals made for not my family, a birthday, a birthday party, and Holy Mother of God, puberty. It has hit Chez T. with a vengeance.

Hoo-boy.

Since it was parent/teacher conference week, it was time again to provide meals for the teachers. Do you remember last year’s debacle?

Alas, the same perky, freakshow lady is still in charge of the PTO, and true to form, she got her creative on again this year.

(via e-mail):

Hello, PTO parent volunteers!

The theme for Tuesday’s teacher dinner is School Cafeteria Night! Remember and re-create your favorite cafeteria special and bring it in for our staff to enjoy. Have fun with this!

Your friendly PTO

 

Umm…whaddaheck?

As I recall, school cafeteria repasts were absolutely vile. I wouldn’t feed that stuff to the voles in the backyard, let alone the teachers of my children. But I had to pony up and play nice.

As per usual, I was seriously behind in checking my email–when will I learn?–and so the obvious choices, sloppy joes and frito pie and beanie weenie were all taken.

I thought about bringing chipped beef on toast (which my father refers to as “shit on a shingle”), but I sort of want my kids to pass to the next grade level this year.

Then I thought: jello mold. Dangit, already taken. As Miss M. says: the early bird catches…the fish. I ain’t early.

I got stuck with salad. Un-jello salad. I could have just torn up some iceberg lettuce, added carrot shreds and slathered the whole business in Dorothy Lynch salad dressing, but I was supposed to be creative and have fun!

I was seriously screwed. It’s hard to have fun and be creative with salad.

So I did what I always do when I am screwed. I called my mother.

Mama reminded me about this salad–this genius salad–that is probably circa 1973. Mama used to serve it at dinner parties, right alongside some casserole with Campbell’s soup in it. Hey, it was a sign of the times.

As soon as she mentioned this salad, I remembered it vividly, because I thought it was elegant and very, very fancy. I think it was the bacon factor that blissed me out. An entire pound of bacon in a salad? Fancy, indeed.

So I made it. And then remembered that this salad is Hella high maintenance. Frying bacon and making hard boiled eggs? That takes time. As does all the chopping. An hour (+) later, I had salad in hand and plopped it onto the table in the teacher’s lounge. I have no idea if anyone ate the darn thing, but I hope they did. And I hope they forgive me.

 

Layered Salad (aka: White Trash Salad)

serves 10

 

1 small head iceberg lettuce

1 (10 0z.) bag fresh spinach, washed and dried

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1/2 cup chopped scallions or sliced red onion

1/2 cup chopped tomato or red bell pepper

1 pound bacon, crisply fried and crumbled

1 (10 1/2 oz.) bag frozen peas, thawed

2 teaspoons sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated cheese of your choice (I did a colby/jack blend)

Dressing:

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (use Miracle Whip to amp up the White Trash factor)

 

Tear the washed and drained lettuce/spinach into pieces. In a large glass bowl or 10×13-inch glass baking dish, layer half of the ingredients–lettuce, spinach, chopped egg, onion, tomato/red bell pepper, bacon and peas. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt and pepper.

*kinda looks better this way, dont’cha think? 

“Frost” the salad with half of the dressing. Repeat the rest of the salad layers. “Frost” the top of the salad with remaining dressing and top with cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cut the salad into squares (if using a baking dish) and serve.

 

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer October 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

That doesn’t look so bad or white trashy… except maybe the dressing.

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TKW October 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Jennifer,

Yeah, the dressing kind of takes it to the ghetto.

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Katybeth October 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Looks delicious! We are suppose to cook for our teachers on parent/teacher conference evenings but I don’t. I step back on that one–way back. I think the school should pay to order quality food to be brought in and call it done. Parents are working as hard as teachers one way or another and racing to try to make it to the conferences to boot. I reject PTO guilt and when I chaired PTO I didn’t serve guilt. We ordered out from the neighborhood Indian or Thai restaurants for the teachers with enough to feed any hungry parents and I gave the school the bill. They screamed, I said SORRY. The parents loved me and I never had a problem finding volunteers for the many, many other projects that came up during the year. I do remember the pasta from last year, btw! Is it that time of year ALREADY was my first thought when I saw your post. :-D

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TKW October 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Katybeth,

You are my hero.

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suzicate October 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I LOVE layered salad…something about the peas, cheese, bacon and dressing…yes, I’m one of those people who choose this type of salad to lose weight and FAIL MISERABLY at it!

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 7:45 am

suzicate,

You crack me up! You’re right–this ain’t a “light” salad!

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Melissa October 7, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Excellent choice to fit in with a seriously stupid theme. We call it Seven-Layer Salad and it always makes an appearance at family gatherings. I still don’t like the dressing (I think it’s the sugar), but now I feel a tiny bit inspired to improve upon it. I mean, if adding bacon, eggs, and some kind of creamy dressing to salad means that my children might actually pick at part of it instead of saying, “I’m not really a fan of salad,” maybe it’s worth the effort. I’ll keep you posted.

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idiosyncratic eye October 7, 2012 at 11:26 pm

You have to make food to take to parents’ evening?! I’m a little concerned about a salad that can be cut into squares. ;)

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 7:46 am

idiosyncratic,

As you should be! Salad squares are wrong.

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The Meaning of Me October 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I’m with you…salad that you can cut like a cake? Let’s call it…interesting.

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Abby October 8, 2012 at 6:19 am

Oh good lord. I do remember last year and I remember thinking that I would last .02 seconds with those micromanaging stereotypical PTO people (never mind the fact I don’t have kids. Play along.) I say you pick the “theme” next year and make it a BYOB. Liven things up.

What I remember most from the cafeteria was square pizza. It was the only day I bought hot lunch. LOVED the square pizza.

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 7:49 am

Abby,

I do remember the square pizza! They no longer serve square pizza at my kids’ school. I wonder why?

I’m only organizing a theme night next year if there’s a keg AND that Elvis impersonator that was at your granny’s shindig.

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Stacia October 8, 2012 at 7:01 am

You know it’s a good salad when you have to cut it into squares. Awesome.

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Kristen @ Motherese October 8, 2012 at 7:59 am

:)

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Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri October 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Amen. Love this comment by Stacia.

As a vegetarian, I’ve had my fair share of salads. This one rocks! (with one caveat, Morningstar soy bacon for me!:)

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dawn October 8, 2012 at 7:38 am

Love me a “salad” that actually has more calories than a Big Mac

See, I am quite capable of convincing myself this lettuce thing IS healthy

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 7:47 am

dawn,

I know! this is an ass-buster!

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Kristen @ Motherese October 8, 2012 at 7:59 am

I’ve taught at three different schools and the folks that worked in the cafeterias were all lovely, hard-working people, but I can’t imagine that anybody who works at a school would think of classic cafeteria food as much of a treat. I think that PTO lady needs to rethink her tactics.

Nevertheless, you rocked it out, girl. You included bacon and hard-boiled eggs. ‘Nuff said.

P.S. I like Miracle Whip. Shhh…

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

Kristen,

We never ate anything but Miracle Whip in my house growing up, so I like it, too. Your secret is safe with me.

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Erica October 8, 2012 at 8:53 am

Too bad there wasn’t a Shipwreck Casserole category. But then again, you did say that you want your kids to advance to the next grade. :)

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

Erica,

Gahhhhhh, the horror of Shipwreck Casserole! They’d flunk my kids for sure!

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Jenna October 8, 2012 at 9:19 am

Huh. Having grown up in Spain, where parent involvement in schooling is ZERO (not saying this is a good thing–just saying), it always amazes me how much moms are expected to do when their kids hit school in this country. Cooking . . . booster clubs . . . chaperoning . . . man! It sounds exhausting.

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

Jenna,

It is. I volunteer in the classroom (Miss M.’s) once a week and provide meals on conference nights. Other than that, I am the jerk who always says, “Gee, I’m too busy…but I’ll shoot you a check.” *shameful*

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Contemporary Troubadour October 8, 2012 at 10:03 am

This PTO lady clearly has memories of school cafeteria food that I do not. It’s almost a little mean to order up such a theme for teachers who are already being asked to stay late for conferences after wrangling classrooms of 20-30 kids all day … ?

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amanda {the habit of being} October 8, 2012 at 11:04 am

the fact that you managed to use the word “frost” in a salad recipe means you are now one of my fave people ever.

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TKW October 9, 2012 at 9:01 am

Amanda,

That term “frost” is actually in the recipe. It kinda grossed me out, but hey, you gotta go for it, right?

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Tiffany October 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Ok, cafeteria food? That’s an AWFUL idea!!!

Get this…I pitched the 7 Deadly Sins idea and our principal said no b/c it might offend someone. WTF is that about? I really wanted to tell him to grow a pair…but, alas, my kids are there for a few more years.

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Jane October 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Apparently, he’s never read Dante’s Inferno. Offend? Is he serious?

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Tiffany,

That is total assholery. Reminds me of my jr. high principal who wanted to ban dances because “slow dancing leads to pregnancy.” Jerkwad.

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faemom October 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hey, I have an idea! We should do school cafeteria food as our diner theme for our teachers to thank them for all their hard work. It’s not like they ever get a chance to eat at a school cafeteria. We’ll make it cute and fun!-The PTO President.

Sadly, we learned her mother was a horrible cook, and the school cafeteria food was heavenly compared to it. If only we knew before we recalled her. But it was that or letting the teachers deal with her.

(Apparently when I’m tired. I’m very sarcastic. How’s the comedy class?)

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Fae,

I like sarcastic. Which is why I’m not that popular in comedy class. I’m learning a lot, though.

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Jane October 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I’m with Fae. What a dumb idea. Cafeteria food? Are you kidding me? My memory of cafeteria food is frozen square pizza with who knows what kind of “meat droppings” on top. Oh wait. Maybe this is genius. Trash the salad (excuse the pun) and just serve frozen pizza cut into squares. (Although, I’d rather eat your White Trash salad any day of the week. So I’m glad her ridiculous request inspired this post.)

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Sam October 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Okay…I was too lazy to read through all of the comments. So forgive me if this has been pointed out.

Boiling eggs is a pain in the keester. May I recommend purchasing an egg cooker. Way back when, before the husband was a husband, he said “You know, my mom never hard boiled her eggs on the stove. She had an egg cooker.” Admittedly, it pissed me off. I’m NOT his mother. But the egg cooker…turns out to be genius. And highly recommended.

And good for you on stepping on feeding the teachers during conferences. I figure there are plenty of you “good” moms willing to fill the void I leave.

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TKW October 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

Sam,

Please promise me that you’re not the witch who immediately signs up to bring paper plates? As I was hauling in my White Trash Salad, I saw paper plate mommy in the hallway and almost kicked her in the shin, even though I am wretched “Shoot You a Check Lady.” We are all on different levels of the Ladder of School Volunteer Shame.

I hate hard-boiled eggs, so making them was definitely a labor of love. Somehow, the yolks freak me out? I know, I’m strange.

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TKW October 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Jane,

Meat droppings? That made me laugh!

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BigLittleWolf October 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Chuckling, chuckling, chuckling… Hey… it wasn’t tuna noodle casserole! Or Fluffer-Nutters!

Looks very pretty. And you probably made your momma proud.

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Heather October 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm

OMG!!! I lived off this salad in college. We used to drive to the local grocery store that had a hella good salad bar and this was what we loaded up on! Ah the memories ;) I’d love to know what was said about it behind closed doors!

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TKW October 9, 2012 at 9:09 am

Heather,

I’m pretty sure the conversation was ugly. :)

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TasteofBeirut October 9, 2012 at 5:04 am

Your writing always puts me in a good mood and this trashy salad sounds like a lot of fun for a relaxed dinner with girls in front of a trashy movie! what do you say?

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TKW October 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

Taste of Beirut,

The food on your website (which I love) is always so healthy that I feel embarrassed about even posting this! But it’s a good story, even if the recipe is crazy.

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Arnebya October 9, 2012 at 7:38 am

Holy hell I am white trash personified (in black skin!). I loveeeeeeeee Miracle Whip. I am that person in the 80s commercial upset at the fridge when the knife clangs against the sides of the bottle because it’s empty. (Wait, that WAS Miracle Whip, right?) And yes, I had to reread the email because initially I could have sworn you the PTO was supposed to be nice to the teachers. School lunch remembrance BLECH.

Me no like-a the pea.

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TKW October 9, 2012 at 9:12 am

Arnebya,

Peas are the devil, unless they are uncooked. For some reason, I like them in salads? But once you cook those suckers, it’s ugly.

I think you are younger than me (Hell, who isn’t?) but I do remember that Miracle Whip advertisement.

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tracy@sellabitmum October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Licking the Miracle Whip spoon here…don’t tell my mother.

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TKW October 10, 2012 at 8:05 am

Tracy,

Your secret is safe. We should start our own society. White Trash Miracle Whip Lovers, Unite!

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The Meaning of Me October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm

See, now my sisters and I absolutely hate Miracle Whip. Mom loves it. As far as I’m concerned, anything with “miracle” in the name can’t be all that safe.

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Justine October 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm

You can’t go wrong with bacon. Especially a pound of it.

And I can’t believe salad was even an option. Does anyone remember a salad from a school cafeteria fondly?

p.s. You’re in a humor writing class? As a student? Or a teacher? My money’s on the latter.

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TKW October 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

Justine,

You are so sweet to say that. Definitely a student, and learning a lot. Struggling a little because I’m a little foul and “out there”–an acquired taste, I suppose–but my teacher’s been great.

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Kate October 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Foul? Out there? Eh, you’re you, and you’re damn funny.

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Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes October 10, 2012 at 5:03 am

Oh how wish our PTO was so creative!
We always get – extremely bad- pancakes or waffles. And coffee made from ground rubber tires and dead squirrel.

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TKW October 10, 2012 at 8:21 am

Tinne,

Great idea! I should have brought the be-headed bunny on a platter! Ah, maybe next time.

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Kate October 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

My first salad that was frosted came at my in laws. Oh dear god, it scared me. (still does). My husband however adores the stuff.

Any thoughts on that other southern salad – the green jello kind? I know little about it, but found it by my plate one thanksgiving at a dear family friend’s house. It was more or less opaque. And very shocking.

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elizabeth October 14, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Does the head of your PTO actually hate your school’s teachers? Why on earth would anyone consider that theme an enticing idea for a teacher dinner? Jeezy Creezy.

Well, at least you were able to deliver something with bacon. Bacon is always a good idea.

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The Curious Cat October 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Wow – that is an interesting salad…might have to try it sometime! As for the beheaded bunny…poor thing – how did that end up in your yard?!

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Annette October 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I served this in the 80′s. But then again, I’m a little behind! I’ll bet they loved it.

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Wizzy November 1, 2012 at 10:50 am

Oh lovely idea to have a teacher dinner. I have never seen a salad quite like this one but I am of the ‘bacon is good and who says a salad has to always healthy’ camp:-)

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