This weekend is the Minnesota annual all-day Cooper Book singing convention. The Cooper Book is a variant of the four-shape Sacred Harp, the result of a split just after the turn of the last century. It's often called "the blue book". Our Cooper Book singing is an all-day singing with dinner on the grounds Saturday, followed by an evening potluck social. Then we host a sort of informal gospel brunch on Sunday morning. So that's a lot of food for the locals to provide.
I find that making quantities of food for our conventions has became easier now that I've fallen into a routine. I make a massive bowl of basil tortellini salad (marinated in an olive-oil based dressing) for each day there is dinner on the grounds. I buy a dozen large spinach pies from Emily's Lebanese deli and cut each into six or eight pieces, for the Saturday social. I also buy about four pounds of cheap cheddar cheese and regular old ham, which I slice up and put out cold. Plus a few storebought pies and cakes, to fill in the spaces between all the wonderful homemade food. Sometimes I buy a big tub of commercial potato salad to which I add fresh parsley and fresh-ground pepper before putting it all in a vintage mixing bowl (people are more inclined to take food from a vintage mixing bowl than from a plastic container). This might seem boringly the same, year after year, but people seem to like what I bring and, in fact, most people have settled into making a particular dish (which the rest of us look forward to).
For the Sunday brunch at our February singing, I have taken to getting up at dawn and cooking four pounds of bacon. I cook the bacon in the oven, in five rectangular glass baking dishes of various sizes which I rotate in and around and out of the oven. I have a new oven this year, so it's possible the bacon will cook at the same speed wherever it sits in the oven; this would throw me off in my kitchen dance, but I don't think that's likely.
I bring the bacon to the brunch and the hordes descend, announcing how they never eat bacon any more (munch munch) and how they never make bacon for themselves (chew chew) and how horrible and poisonous bacon is (chomp chomp).
Usually I purchase all my weekend provisions in one huge massive shopping excursion, but this year I had to do it in pieces. Which meant that I bought the four pounds of bacon without the distraction of also buying what looks like an institutional amount of various other foods. For some reason this embarrassed me a little, so I said to the young man bagging my purchase that it was a big weekend coming up for me and that all four pounds of bacon were not for me. He said, oh, he considers two pounds of bacon to be a reasonable serving. I thought he was joking, but then he unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt, moved the lapel aside, and showed me a vivid large colorful tattoo of a slice of bacon.
Do I need to repeat that?
The cashier seemed a little stunned. Me, I was impressed. Well, also he was kind of cute (I don't think you could get away with a bacon tattoo if you weren't kind of cute), but really, it was the tattoo that caused my eyes to open wide in appreciative amazement.
What a wonderful world we live in.