Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pat's Favorite Dip

The week before vacation, the school PTA scheduled a fashion show. So when the PTA president was camped out in the hall at 8:30, buttonholing parents who were taking their kids to class, I felt compelled to offer a dish for the refreshments. I had thought about making deep-fried grits balls, which sound delicious, but in our calorie conscious household, wouldn't really be the best thing to present at a party. But on Thursday night, when it came down to what would I make, I plumped for Pat's Favorite Dip. I was not going to stay until 7:00 pm, frying grits balls in the teachers' lounge.
When I turned to the page, I saw a poignant note next to another recipe, Cheese Balls, made almost exactly 20 years ago, in November, 1991 "for the superintendent." I remember that event exactly. It was a reception mounted by the PTAs of the Ward III schools to meet the new superintendent, Frank Smith. Parents were urged to bring food for the buffet table. So bearing my cheese balls, my husband and I hopefully trekked up to the high school to meet the man who was supposed to halt the inexorable slide of the DC Public Schools into not only mediocrity but downright disaster. Long story short, as my daughter's friend Crista likes to say, he didn't. The schools actually got worse, and Frank Smith was followed by a succession of other superintendents, including a former army general, (Julius Becton), a superintendent who had retired from Montgomery County, ( Paul Vance) and a shy, retiring man named Clifford Janney until we got the famous Michelle Rhee, who actually was able to pull us out of the morass.
So seeing the note by the cheese ball recipe made me sad.
The recipe for the dip, which is covered with yellowing spots from the cheese balls, is a typical Southern recipe. It contains, for example, three tablespoons of sugar and pimentos. I doubled the recipe, but left the sugar alone. That seemed to work well. At 5:00 am, I set to work, mashing cream cheese, chopping onions and green peppers, and cooking the egg, vinegar and sugar in a double boiler. I packed the whole thing into two Chinese food containers and went to work on planning for that day's lessons. It tasted good, but I didn't get any feedback on whether or not people liked it. The food table was overwhelmed by vegetable trays from the supermarkets, so people had lots of stuff to dip in the dip.

Pat's Favorite Dip

1 egg
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 eight ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons finely chopped onions
3 tablespoons chopped pimento
3 tablespoons chopped green pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Put the egg, vinegar and sugar in the top of a double boiler and cook over hot water, stirring until thick.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cool. Chill and serve with fresh raw vegetables. Makes two cups.

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