This past weekend was my church’s corn boil, which is basically a picnic with corn on the cob as one of its main dishes. We’ve had this annual picnic for quite awhile and what once began as a menu of corn on the cob, hot dogs with sauce and lots of desserts has evolved over the years.

More than 140 people attend the picnic each year, which means there are varied tastes and a multitude of recipes available. Each year the additional side dishes that have been added to the meal have grown so that now we set up two buffet tables with lines going down each side to fill plates up quicker.

Usually I make my hot dog sauce or a dessert, but this year I made a side salad and a dessert, the first time I have made each of the recipes I chose to take.

Many people are familiar with the dessert called Texas sheet cake. Usually this is chocolate with chocolate icing and chopped nuts. The recipe I found in a Taste of Home magazine for church potluck dinners took the Texas sheet cake idea but through out all but the chopped nuts. The cake was instead pineapple and the frosting was a cream cheese icing. There were chopped walnuts both within the cake and atop the icing.

While the cake was moist and tasty, I have to say I was a little disappointed that the pineapple flavor was not more pronounced. The recipe lists a 20 oz. can of crushed pineapples undrained as one of the cake ingredients. I thought with the pineapples and the juice that the flavor would have been very prominent. As I sat at the picnic eating a piece of this cake, I’ve was already thinking of how I could tweak the recipe to taste more like I envisioned it would. Before anyone says you can use a pineapple cake mix (do they make those?), I have to say that the cake part of this recipe was from scratch, which was one of the things that drew me to the recipe. Instead, I think I’ll add another 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple but drained this time so that there isn’t too much liquid added to the batter.

Labor Day weekend may be a perfect time to try this recipe, I’m thinking.

The salad recipe, from the same Taste of Home magazine, was a hit I think as there was hardly any left by the end of the picnic.

This was a type of salad I had never made before. I’m used to making a macaroni/tuna salad or a potato salad or even a fruit salad for picnics. This was a broccoli salad but it wasn’t like others I eaten. This recipe called for a pound of bacon, crumbled. Now how could I go wrong on this salad? I mean, when you’re adding a pound of bacon to a salad it has got to taste good.

In fact, that was the part of the salad that took the longest – cooking up a pound of bacon to a nice crispy in order to crumble it. I began with one cast iron frying pan but soon realized it was going to take forever at five slices at a time. I needed room to make sure the slices of bacon were laid out as best as possible. Soon I had bacon sizzling away in two cast iron frying pans.

Once the bacon was crumbled I took about seven bunches of broccoli heads (recipe called for three but that just didn’t seem enough to me). I cut them into florets, cutting off most of the stems. Placing the broccoli florets into a large bowl, I added the bacon, dried cherries, dried blueberries and chopped toasted pecans, which I had toasted in another cast iron frying pan. The only ingredient I left out was the 1/4 cup of chopped red onions. Neither Dad nor I care for onions in our salads. I suspect there are many other people who share that view so when I am taking a dish to a gathering I will normally not add in any raw onions.

The dressing for the salad was simple with only three ingredients – mayonnaise, sugar and cider vinegar. I ended up making one and a half times what the recipe called for because I didn’t think it would coat all the broccoli in the salad.

Once I had the salad ingredients mixed, I poured the dressing on top and tossed it to mix. I gave Dad a small helping of the salad as a taste test. With a thumb up from him, the salad was placed in its serving pan and refrigerated until time to head to the church.

Whether I make this duo again for next year’s picnic I can’t say. It depends what other recipes I come across between now and next August.

For those of you who asked, yes, I’ll plan to bring hotdog sauce once again no matter what else I may make.

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