Artichoke Dip, Saucepans, and Paper Roses

"As all caregivers know, at four o'clock, children must be fed something."--Laurie Colwin

With triplet boys, Suzanne T. knows this all too well, and around 4:00—at least on the days that I've been in her house—she is putting out little somethings to eat. Cheese and crackers, chips and hummus, veggies and dip.  Of course I've done this myself, who can't do this? But did you ever notice that the hors d'oeuvres always look greener in someone else's kitchen? Why do most of us possess a slightly nagging suspicion that as well as we do it, somewhere there's someone doing it cooler?

Oh screw it. Anyway, where was I? Right, the 4:00 nosh, and out of the oven Suzanne pulls a crock of amazingness: hot artichoke dip. We fell on it with pita chips and groans. I offered a taste to Panda which she accepted with a wrinkled nose. Next thing I knew she was elbowing Jeeps out of the way to get her chip into the heart of the crock. Move over ranch dressing, there's a new kid in town. 

So tonight Redman was at a friend's and got the playdate extended to dinner, and Panda asked if I'd make the dip. Why certainly, my dear. Let's have a little cocktail hour of our own.

By the way, did I ever introduce my little Corning Glass saucepan?  I have two of them.  Did I tell you this story?  No?  Well once upon a time, I used to waitress at Ponderosa. I'll pause while you process that. Yeah, it sucked, but there were small glimmers in the misery. One was this guy David who was a salesman for Corning. 

David would come into the Ponderosa every Wednesday or something, and he'd always sit in my section. He was an older guy, greying with a mustache, and just very nice to me. He possessed that keen trick some men have of taking an ordinary, restaurant-issue paper napkin and folding it into a rose. And he'd leave that along with the tip every Wednesday. 

Time passed and soon I was moving on to bigger and better things, and on my last Wednesday, David left more than a tip and a paper rose: he gave me two little Corning Glass saucepans. We said goodbye and never crossed paths again.

Or we might have.

A few summers ago, when Panda was quite young, we were down at the Jersey Shore and out to dinner at the Italian restaurant on the corner. All through dinner, there was this silver-haired gentleman with a mustache, sitting with his wife and grown children at a table across the room, and he kept glancing sideways at Panda and smiling. 

When he got up to leave with his family, he came by our table and held out to Panda a paper napkin, folded into a rose. "I just love your red hair," he said gallantly, winked at me and left. It was like a full five minutes later when my head snapped up and I thought, Oh my God, was that David?

Highly unlikely, but it makes a nice story to have over the 4:00 hors d'oeuvres.

Suzanne's Highly Unlikely Artichoke Dip

  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of horseradish (optional, I didn't have any, neither did Suzanne when she made it this last time)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a small oven-proof pot, crock or casserole

Bake 25-30 minutes.



Photo Credit (via creative commons):
Tavins Origami