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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Potluck (Meal or Gathering) Deadline 7-26-12 @ 10 AM NY Time (07/19/12)

TITLE: In a Pinch
By Catrina Bradley


Candy's phone call threw Maggie into a tizzy, but she managed not to drive off the highway and to cover her consternation with aplomb. "Sure, Candy, of course I remember the potluck tonight." Maggie swallowed. "Yes, Josh and I will be there with bells on."

Maggie did remember. It was written in her datebook – for next week. A glance at the dashboard clock told her she'd better speed up a little.

Kicking off her heels as she bolted in the door, Maggie flung her keys in the general direction of the hall table. She flew to the kitchen, threw open a cabinet door and frantically shoved cans of carrots and corn out of the way. She spied her prize and plucked two cans of BeeBee's Baked Beans from the back of the shelf.

Thank you Mama K. for your side dish sermons.

The elder Kleinsdorf women, from generations before Maggie's mother-in-law, have preached the same lesson to the young women who marry their sons. “Always be prepared in a pinch.”

Maggie's signature “pinch dish” was her own Grandma's barbeque beans. ¬Although I don't think canned beans was the type of thing Mama K had in mind when she admonished her daughters-in-law.

Maggie smiled, thinking of how folks back home had always crooned over Grandma's beans and clamored for the recipe. But this wasn't Foster's Hollow, and these weren't her folks. And beans didn't sound all that special anymore. What do church ladies bring to potlucks in the city?

Knowing she was fresh out of caviar and lobster, Maggie scanned her selection of canned goods and frozen foods, checked her watch, and, taking into consideration her limited options and the ticking clock, made the only logical choice.

Despite the recipe's name, Maggie had never made Company Carrots for anyone other than Josh. Her quick-dinner canned version cut the cooking time from 35 minutes to five. She prayed it would still be appropriate for company.

Maggie hoped she and Josh could saunter in nonchalantly and she could make a break for the kitchen. Her plan was foiled when a flurry flew at her as soon as they cleared the social hall doorway.

"Maggie!” Candy squealed. “And Josh, so glad you could come. Randy's over there talking football with the guys; he'd love a fellow Tech fan to back up his trash talk. Maggie, do you need the microwave? What did you bring? Please don't say beans. I love beans but we are overrun with them tonight. But if you did, it's ok.” Candy snagged the dish from Maggie's hands. “Come on, let's go to the kitchen.”

Maggie sent a pitiful look Josh's way, but he just smiled and gave her a thumbs-up as he made his way to the gaggle of men. She had no choice but to follow in Candy's weaving wake through the islands of people.

“I'm sorry,” Candy threw over her shoulder, “I didn't give you a chance to answer. I'm bad about that. Do you need to use the microwave?”

“Yes, please,” Maggie blurted out before she lost her nerve. They breezed past the buffet on the way to the kitchen, and she saw that Candy hadn't been exaggerating. Beans of all shapes, sizes, and flavors populated the long row of folding tables. In addition to five varieties of baked beans she saw three-bean salads, chickpea salads, Lima beans, butter beans, black beans, red beans and rice, succotash, and several obligatory green bean casseroles.

“So,” Candy said, bursting through the kitchen door ahead of her, “whatcha got?”

Maggie was stunned at the bustle of women, plus a few men, stirring tea, scooping ice, wrapping silverware, and otherwise making last minute preparations. They look kinda like me—harried and hurried. But they don't look panicked. They're...laughing.

“Maggie? The microwave's over here. What did you bring?”

“Oh, uh, carrots. It's not much really, but it's one of our favorite dishes.”

Candy was actually silent for a few seconds before she squealed and said, “Carrots? Oh bless you! Like I said, beans are good, but a person's digestive system can only take so much. Not to mention the ventilation system. Emma! Are those your famous baked beans you're about to nuke? Yum! But we've already got some on the table--can we save yours? Maggie brought carrots!”

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This article has been read 446 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mona Purvis07/26/12
Light, fun read down a path many of us are familiar with.
Laury Hubrich 07/26/12
Hooray for carrots! Very fun read. It sounds so much like what I do at potlucks too. Pray no one sees what a pitiful dish I bring. haha;)
C D Swanson 07/26/12
Hahahahahaahaha! This was great fun...a sheer delight to read. Thanks! God bless~
Linda Goergen07/27/12
Such a fun read! I don’t even like carrots but I was so glad Maggie brought carrots! I went to a pot-luck once where three people brought spaghetti, but never so many beans. What a laugh! Great job on this!
Helen Curtis07/28/12
This is so funny. I bet the young boys ate most of the beans :-) A very entertaining look at the potluck dinner culture of churches - and a very good reminder to always have a quick mix recipe ready to go at any time, but not beans!!! Blessings, Helen.
Allison Egley 07/28/12
Hehe this is good. Good thing she decided to go with the carrots. ;)
Deborah Engle 07/28/12
Beans? I enjoy beans, but tend to avoid them for obvious reasons. Carrots? Only raw, thank you. Pot lucks and I don't really get along too well, but I sure did enjoy the story that came with this one.

Good writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/29/12
This is a charming story. I could easily relate to the MC. I could feel her discomfort grow as my stomach lurched in empathy for her.

The only red ink I have is ok should be capitals--OK or written out--okay.

You did a great job of covering the topic and I enjoyed how her fretting and worrying panned out for her in the end. It makes me feel a tad better about all the worrying I do! :)
Noel Mitaxa 07/29/12
Liked Maggie's sense of deja vu - we've all bean this way before ;-) But I liked the energy and fun that flows through the honesty of this piece.
Laura Manley07/30/12
What a delightful story. I love your descriptive way of writing. Your story flowed extremely well and was a delight from beginning to end. Your title was very appropriate as well. I personally didn't see anything in it that I would change. Excellent writing!
Loren T. Lowery07/30/12
You carried this story through with a frantic pace, matching perfectly your MC dilemma. It was all very believable and you did a good and honest job with the dialogue. My wife's "go to" is a raspberry fruit salad. Somehow she always seems to have what's needed to make it. But then she is a southern (little bit of this and a little bit of that) cook which helps.
lynn gipson 07/31/12
I enjoyed this....it is usually the least that turns out to be the best!! Great Story!
Beth LaBuff 07/31/12
I enjoyed everything about this story, from the hurried inventory of the pantry to the debate over beans or carrots. For the sake of the pot-luckers, I glad she brought carrots. I loved the thought you gave the reader that perhaps all the potluck-goers were also harried (like your MC) and made last minute dishes too. :)