I recently shared potluck supper at our community center with the smidgeon of others who ventured out on a snowy eve.

Community potluck happens every second Tuesday of the month from September through May here in our little town. We’re primarily a tourist location. Our summer population swells to four thousand then shrinks to three hundred for the winter months.

We have way too many people to schedule a potluck during the summer in our tiny community center, but it’s a fun event in the winter. You can visit face-to-face with neighbors who otherwise stay huddled inside their homes close to a fire on these cold wintry days.

You never know what you’ll find on the serving table on potluck Tuesday. The selection varies except for Dwayne’s chicken and dumplings, which is the main reason I go every month. Dwayne makes the best ever homemade dumplings. He and his wife Edna were chuck wagon cooks and they do know how to cook.

Me, I bring different things. Nothing baked, though.

I’ve yet to master high altitude baking. High altitude adjustments don’t seem to work for my scratch recipes no matter what adjustment advice I use. My hubby doesn’t mind the flops, but I’m not about to take the failures out in public.

Last time I took what I call Sunshine Salad. After a dreary day of snow, I thought the bright colors of orange Jell-O with mandarin oranges and pineapple might cheer us up.sunshine salad

I was right. People smiled and I took home and empty bowl!

The hiccup came when everyone wanted the recipe and I had to confess what I served wasn’t really, truly Sunshine Salad.

You see, my Grandmother made her Sunshine Salad using the traditional congealed salad recipe you’ll find if you Google Sunshine Salad.

She used lemon Jell-O and lemon juice and topped each serving with a dollop of mayonnaise. Lemon is not sweet enough for my family’s discerning palate.

Not only that, she added shredded carrots and pecans.

Two of my adult kids and half my grandchildren won’t touch nuts with a ten foot pole much less eat nuts and carrots are a VEGETABLE.

carrot saladI loved Oma’s Sunshine Salad. Still do.

But I love my kids and grandkids more.

That’s why I made up my Sunshine Salad recipe using sweet mandarin oranges and pineapple tidbits jelled in a ring mold.

Whenever the family gathers to share a meal, we serve the standard things with sides for those who eat those things, but I can’t have half the guests starving.

I fix their favorites — Kraft macaroni and cheese along with my special pineapple/mandarin orange Sunshine Salad.

They’ve come to expect it. And I see the same smiles on their faces that I saw on the adults at the community potluck last week.

Smiles that were sunshine to the eyes on a snowy day.

I guess Sunshine Salad will become my standby like Dwayne’s chicken and dumplings.