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I wouldn't think twice about asking for GFIL, and mixed cuisines don't seem weird to me at all.  For two families 2-3 salads seem fine, although probably they should be big salads.

What are you making for dessert?   😄

Edited by JennyD
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Yes for all the salads. As for GF, I would just make them aware or remind them that he is part of the family and will be accompanying you. Asking for permission would be awkward, and it isn’t as if they’d say no. 

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I think if you are also taking dessert, only take two salads. I would guess there is a good change that the hosting family will be providing something else in addition to the entree, and that two salads will be sufficient and three may seem like an overwhelming amount. I love the idea of a caprese and a pasta salad, personally.

It's totally fine, in my opinion, to ask if Grandfather can come.

Have fun! It's so nice that people can start socializing more, again!

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If there are a number of kids involved and you don’t know their pickiness level, given they are doing hamburgers and hotdogs, I might bring a pretty basic salad as an option.  Or maybe even a pretty tray of chopped fruit.   I might do a more basic dessert too.  Like brownies or cookies or bars.  Or if you were feeling ambitious you could bring a mixed tray.  Or fancy cupcakes if you wanted to do more.  I assume you are eating outdoors and this is kind of like a picnic?  Bringing something easy to serve might be good.

I just know plenty of kids and teens that wouldn’t be super excited about any of those options including pavlova even though 3 fancy salads like that would be a dream meal for me!   The host is kind of setting a tone by doing basic picnic fare.  I still think you could do a couple yummy fancy salads especially if they would hold as leftovers.  
 

I would definitely ask about grandpa!  💕

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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I've made that mango salad, and it's very yummy.  

 

I think a lot of pickiness is related to familiarity.  Familiar salads for most kids might be:

- carrot-apple salad (grated carrots, apple chunks, some kind of sweet mayo dressing)

- cole slaw

- Potato salad

- green salad

- fruit salad

 

As a previous commenter said, I would LOVE for someone to bring me a NEW salad to try.  I get tired of the old recipes!  But I tend to go with simple for kids.  Maybe one simple/traditional plus one new?  Or, stash a couple bags of potato chips in the car.  When food comes out, if the hosts haven't put out chips and people are giving the salads a stink-eye, suddenly remember "Oh, ds, we left the bag with chips in the car!  Will you run out and get it?"

 

And I cannot imagine anyone saying no to grandpa coming along, especially since he lives with you!  I would just inform them nicely.  

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2 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

So, if you have picky eaters, what would your kids eat that counts as "salad"?  

My kids are nervous, inflexible eaters, not necessarily picky.

They will eat fairly plain garden salad - "lettuce" (they are fine with some spinach added, but nothing too bitter), carrots, cucumbers, not tomatoes but they will pick them out if they are big enough pieces. They like when I add shredded cheese and chopped apple. If we did not have a food allergy to work around then I would add croutons and everyone would rejoice.

Half of my kids even eat their salad plain because they don't like the sliminess of dressing.

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I am just answering as someone who regularly does potlucks with extremely picky people. But has culinary  preferences very similar to yours!  I have adults that I regularly have to feed (well pre-covid days) that would pick at a lot of that.  

We've had luck with a simple green salad with creamy dressing in some settings. But for picnic, I almost always bring a fruit tray.  I often pick stuff I wouldn't mind eating with breakfast the next couple days and I arrange it nicely on a board or platter if I want to play with the aesthetics.    Even the don't mix my fruit crowd will pick some stuff from this I have found if you  arrange the fruit nicely and don't mix.  
https://veggiedesserts.com/fruit-platter

I've also done similar veggie trays with a basic ranch dip.  

If you wanted to keep it simple, you could just slice a watermelon with your salads if you can get one this time of year in your area.  

Anyway, I absolutely think most kids would eat berries and whipped cream even if they were unfamiliar and not willing to try a full on pavlova. I just think a lot of kids wouldn't be excited about that as a dessert at a picnic.  In settings like that, I often make something like basic brownies, sugar cookies, vanilla cupcakes, rice krispy bars.  And maybe make something that would appeal to a more adult palate - like little lemon tarts, I make lemon cupcakes with a raspberry buttercream and pipe the frosting. I have a cookie recipe for sour cherry, pecan, chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies, etc.  You could even do bite size pavlova and assemble right before the event. 
https://natashaskitchen.com/pavlova-recipe/

I think there are some merits to bringing something simple to serve to an outdoor get together like this.  Especially during covid.  

Anyway - you can ignore my thoughts entirely of course.  I've done SO many potlucks for people of unknown palates over the years prior to covid and this is just some stuff that has generally worked well for the super picky and still allowed me to introduce some more sophisticated stuff into the mix too.  If they said they were making like lamb kabobs and couscous, I might make some different choices.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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I'm on the side of a basic salad - maybe a traditional coleslaw and a fruit salad. Honestly, if someone volunteered to bring a salad to my house, I would expect one - not 2 or 3! Your salads sound wonderful, but unless you know the kids and their typical menus, the salads sound like they might well be outside the family's normal experience = suspicious. I had one young teen tell me he was pretty sure lettuce would kill him if he ate it! I tried a spinach strawberry salad and it has been viewed with great suspicion. Pasta salad might be a good option too. 

As for dessert, I'd bring something straight-forward. Brownies are always good - and can be made more exciting - but still acceptable - with add-ins (Reese's pieces, M&M's - something fairly common - even chopped Snickers). A tub of ice cream works too. 

I think it is fine to contact the mom to ask how many people will be there so you can plan the amount of what you are bringing - and you can let her know the size of your family (and I would take GFIL - he is part of your family). I, personally, would tell her what I was thinking about bringing to see if she thought that would work with her family. 

I've had people bring something over that would be servings for 3 people, and I've had people bring things that would serve double our number. So, for me, if I'm having a dinner with other folks that I don't know yet, I tend to make sure I have enough to cover everyone - for me in this case it would be hamburgers + fixings, chips, drinks, side - like baked beans maybe, and a dessert. But I also think you can never offer too many desserts!  Anything the new family brings would be great, but sometimes there are a lot of leftovers. 

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

o, I guess in my mind picky kids just don't eat salad, and if they do trying to predict which salad wouldn't work.

 

1 hour ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I would LOVE for someone to bring me a NEW salad to try.

This thread is making me realize that perhaps I''m not the ideal potluck guest, but it would honestly not occur to me to worry about picky kids when bringing dishes to a party.  (If I'm hosting then I do make sure to have one or two simple things on the table, just in case.)  Good salads are so labor-intensive; I'm always delighted when someone brings a nice one.  

Socializing!  So exciting!  We are having my parents to dinner tonight -- first time eating indoors all together in a year -- and I am so happy.  

 

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9 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I like to try new things, but if I invite a new family to a cookout (ie first time I have ever really socialized with them) and I say "oh that sounds awesome, you can totally bring salad!"  I am thinking like super ultra basic.......pick up a tub of Kroger potato salad and ball up some melons and call that a fruit salad.  And I would then feel totally awful if they showed up with multiple fancy salads and not a single person in my family would come near them and one of my super blunt kids proclaimed "Eeeeewww, what iss THAAAAAAATTTTT?!?!?!?!?!?!" and I then had to send my kids to their room and apologize around 50 times to these new people. 

 

Once at a family holiday gathering, I brought a melon salad just like above...watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe.  I had mint growing in my herb garden and had like eleventy billion tons, so I picked some, sliced it up thin and mixed it in....DH and I thought it was awesome, as did DD12.  However every single other person in my family, including grown adults were like "Hey, what on earth are those GREEN things?  Mint?  That is SO WEIRD."  (that's an actual quote from my 40yr old sister lol.)  They proceeded to pick off each tiny bit of mint before they ate their melon balls lol.

 

I am not suggesting you shouldn't bring whatever you want to bring.  I am only suggesting that something more basic tends to have greater mass appeal. 

This is exactly what it is like feeding my inlaws.  😂  Which at this point includes 15 adults (my kids are the youngest) and I can only say one of them is open to expanding their palate.  Honestly, my teen is still pretty awful but she is trained to keep her mouth shut at least at gatherings.  This is why I default to basics for folks of unknown culinary preferences.  Especially if the host is choosing to make something very basic as the main course.   I could see bringing a basic salad/fruit, a fancier salad, and an easy to serve dessert tray with something simple and something fancier.  

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In a situation like this one, where you have no idea about the pickiness or preferences of the other kids and adults for that matter, in place of one of the salads, I would do a veggie tray with dip. Separated "salad components" minus the base. Even the pickiest of person will usually gnaw on a carrot or celery stick or love cherry tomatoes.

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4 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I don't mean to make it sound like my family is super picky, or super rude or super difficult to feed (well, 2 of my kids are........kids that literally throw up if they lick a green bean are my meter stick for super picky lol.).  Its only that...if they want to try something new, they want it to be their idea lol.  My sister, the one who thought mint in a melon salad was weird, used to own a cake shop.  She loves to try new baked goods, loves to make those things from scratch, etc etc.  So it's not that she's closed minded about food.....she just likes to be in charge of the new things lol. 

 

Feeding new people can be it's own adventure lol

Oh and I actually love my inlaws. And my somewhat picky kid!  LOL.  Being picky about food is not a character issue at all to me.  It's very charged for some people which is fine.  Although some of the adult nieces and nephews can be rude.  I expect younger kids and even some teens to need reminders about their filters at times especially at family get togethers.  My own younger kids were appalled in a restaurant last year right before covid watching their older 20-something cousin pick and complain at a restaurant.  We had  ordered very basic pizza and pitchers of soda. 

But over the years doing the simple/something new mix I have introduced this group to foods they might not have eaten when I met them!  I actually have a few more interesting salads and sides that they will reliably eat now.  Like a cabbage vinaigrette based Asian slaw pops to mind.

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I would do one nice interesting salad, a bowl or platter of plain fruit, and bars or cookies for dessert.  Mostly because I tend to be an extravagant cook and I would want to let the hostess/host shine at her party. No more than one fancy dish when I’m a guest.

But for future cookouts that you may be hosting, cookout salads definitely do NOT have to match cuisines.  Variety is better.

 

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If doing pavlova, I'd have a pan of brownies or a dozen basic cupcakes on hand, too.  And the mango slaw thing sounds interesting - but also have a plainer basic salad or a veggie plate with dip as mentioned already.  You do not know how adventurous this family is, food-wise, yet.

Edited by JFSinIL
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I’m team make whatever makes you feel happy. If I’m asked to bring food and have checked about restrictions, I assume that who ever has invited me is open minded enough to enjoy what I bring and/or had a plan for picky eaters in their household.  If a family is really picky or adverse to surprises, than I find they usually ask for things that won’t be objectionable (paper goods, bottled water/soda, etc).

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2 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I only use frozen corn, because if corn on the cob was in season, we'd just make actual Mexican street corn on the cob.  

Have you had it with sweet corn somewhere? I’ve never seen it that way, only with flint corn, which I adore. Or maybe you have tips for obtaining flint corn (that doesn’t involve growing it oneself)...? Please please please! How I miss elote!

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I would do a more “normal” salad and a more “normal” dessert. And just one salad. Only because you don’t know these people and have no idea what they like, and also because they are probably planning on a pretty casual dinner. 
 

We regularly go to many, many picnics, bbqs, and potlucks. A tossed green salad always goes over well. Most ppl ask me to bring that..it’s kind of become a trademark, even though it’s so easy. My general “recipe” is just mixed greens, maybe spinach, plus a dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, etc.), a fresh fruit (apples, strawberries, pears, etc.), a cheese (feta, goat, etc.), a nut (toasted almonds, candied pecans, walnuts, whatever), and a homemade salad dressing. You probably have one you like. But just like a sweeter vinaigrette style is great. 
 

You could also do a pasta salad, corn salad, etc., as those tend to be good picnic style foods. 
 

i would not do pavlova. Sounds delicious, but for a bbq, I’d stick with brownies, cookies, bars, lemon squares, etc.—something you can serve easily and eat on a paper plate or with your fingers!

Have fun! We’ve been getting together with friends and family and I would be soooo ready to socialize if we hadn’t been doing that! Hope it’s a good time for everyone! (And maybe just give them a heads up about grandpa so they know who to expect!)

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I think potluck/bbq food is extremely regional, and if this other family is as excited as you (we all) are about an “event” actually happening, they won’t care what you bring. There are some things that are “safer” than others, but ultimately, polite adults will eat whatever you bring, and the majority of children/young adults will as well. I guess I would care more that the dessert is a hit, since I suspect your son is making it. Maybe he could chat with his friend and see which would be best. Or maybe the event is happening now, and it doesn’t matter!!

Have fun!

ETA: Forget to mention, since I seem to be in the minority of responders, my family would be very happy with all your original ideas, and they’d be happy to not be having another potato or macaroni salad.

Edited by Arctic Bunny
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4 hours ago, medawyn said:

I’m team make whatever makes you feel happy. If I’m asked to bring food and have checked about restrictions, I assume that who ever has invited me is open minded enough to enjoy what I bring and/or had a plan for picky eaters in their household.  If a family is really picky or adverse to surprises, than I find they usually ask for things that won’t be objectionable (paper goods, bottled water/soda, etc).

This.  I would just take whatever you want.

 

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

So, potato salad, coleslaw, and the carrot and apple thing suggested as "familiar" food are things that in my mind, picky eaters don't eat.  <snip>  

I also feel like since I promised "salads", I can't switch it up and bring a tray of veggies and dip or a watermelon.  Because for all I know they have those things and that would be awkward.  And there need to be at least 2, since that final s was there.  I actually went back to the email chain and the s was specified.  

I am definitely making the mango slaw thing, because it is so good.  If our family members are the only ones who eat it, that's fine.  I probably won't notice.  It sounds like a green salad is getting the most votes to go with it?

I'd extend the 'switching up' concern to a lot of the suggestions, honestly. Around here, potato salad, fruit salad, coleslaw, and pasta salad are all things that would be specified and not expected when salad is the word used. It would be fine to ask/clarify, but you do have to ask, because it is definitely possible that someone is already bringing potato salad when they accept your offer to bring salad. 

With no clarification, "I'll bring a salad" translates into "I'll bring chopped greens mixed with common salad vegetables such as carrots, bell pepper, and so on." People will absolutely eat and welcome a wide variety of recipes, but bigger gatherings in particular need more clarity so you don't wind up with five salads and yet no greens, lol. 

I know this is a small gathering, but yes, I would vote on a green salad to go with the mango slaw. I think that hits the right balance of something potentially new and interesting, along with the expected.

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9 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

So I probably have never had real elite, because most of what I have is made by me and that’s always sweet corn.  

What I make tastes good.  Fresh is better of course but even with frozen corn we like it.  My youngest, who generally doesn’t like Mayo things likes the salad enough that we had it for his 1/2 birthday.

But it’s possible that real elote is much better and if I had had that I would no longer like what I make.

Darn, I thought you might have a line on some flint corn. 😉  Another year of no travel has me jonesing for it. I will get some this year if I have to pay someone to grow it for me!  
 

I’ve never had elote of sweet corn, but will definitely try it. It’s essentially the same ingredients as esquites, which are made with sweet corn, so I’m sure it’s delicious, just not the type of corn I’m used to. And it’s entirely possible that elote is made with sweet corn in some places and I just haven’t come across it. What I like about flint corn is that it is satisfyingly meaty (but doesn’t taste at all like meat, of course) to bite into and to chew. And it has such a wonderful corn flavor but isn’t sweet.

I bet your esquites and elote are exquisite!! Your family is lucky to have such a good and adventurous cook. 🙂

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On 4/23/2021 at 5:20 PM, BaseballandHockey said:

 

I am not really good at following recipes, but this one comes closest:

https://www.servedfromscratch.com/mexican-street-corn-salad/

I only use frozen corn, because if corn on the cob was in season, we'd just make actual Mexican street corn on the cob.  

 

I made this today and it was delicious!  Thank you.

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On 4/23/2021 at 10:38 AM, bibiche said:

Have you had it with sweet corn somewhere? I’ve never seen it that way, only with flint corn, which I adore. Or maybe you have tips for obtaining flint corn (that doesn’t involve growing it oneself)...? Please please please! How I miss elote!

I see elote made with sweet corn all of the time!  I see it Texas style (grilled to char, with chile, cotija, corn and cilantro)--on cob or elote en vaso.... and I see it here, where there is much more of a central American & Oaxacan influence. Oaxacan elote = esquite which is elote en vaso with mayo (mayonesa) and lime juice. Elotes asados guatemaltecos are much more likely to be flint corn, on the cob, grilled and served with lemon or lime and salt.

I can get flint corn in the farmer's markets here....I have to go early, and it's a very limited season, but it's totally freezable.

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2 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I see elote made with sweet corn all of the time!  I see it Texas style (grilled to char, with chile, cotija, corn and cilantro)--on cob or elote en vaso.... and I see it here, where there is much more of a central American & Oaxacan influence. Oaxacan elote = esquite which is elote en vaso with mayo (mayonesa) and lime juice. Elotes asados guatemaltecos are much more likely to be flint corn, on the cob, grilled and served with lemon or lime and salt.

I can get flint corn in the farmer's markets here....I have to go early, and it's a very limited season, but it's totally freezable.

You can get flint corn?! No fair!!

I have never not once seen sweet corn elote but I will definitely try it. You’re lucky to have so many options there! My favorite is grilled flint which I usually get with just salt and lime, but every once in a while indulge and have an “elote loco”. Not a big fan of the boiled elote, and my favorite esquites are tossed on a comal to give them some color and flavor. 😭 I miss Mexico!
 

 

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I just wanted to mention that I love threads like these! I love salads but always feel like I end up in a salad rut 😞 I am looking forward to trying the Kachumber Salad that Dreamergal mentioned as well as BaseballandHockey's Mexican Street Corn Salad!

 

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Yeah, it’s easier to find here than when we lived in Texas. This isn’t even a place where it is easy to grow corn, but there is a strong foodie influence here—it’s easier to get some ethnic food ingredients. I see it called Indian corn here in English or as maiz pedernal in the places where I speak Spanish. I don’t ever see the words flint corn. 
 

When I lived in the Midwest it was heirloom corn or calico corn. I totally realize flint corn is the proper English term—I just don’t see that term.

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8 hours ago, pinball said:

Why is serious eats telling me flint corn is used for milling and grinding while this thread is implying it is eaten off the cob?

Because flint corn tends to be known for animals and cornmeal or grits/polenta. I never even knew people ate fresh flint corn!

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10 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I'm glad you like it.  My family addicted to a recipe that I think you shared for black lentils with pomegranate and mango. 

Oh, I'm so glad!!!  I make that salad (double batch) EVERY SINGLE WEEK!  It is what is keeping my 14 year old from eating us out of house and home!

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Hey, @BaseballandHockey, I've got another filling vegan salad for you!  I just made it last night and LOVED it and remembered you were into salads and had a vegetarian to feed form time to time.  

 

Chickpea Waldorf Salad (I ate it as a sandwich actually...)

 

- 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed drained, dried (I put the drained beans in a bowl on top of a couple paper towels while I did everything else)

- 1 lemon, juiced

- 1 granny smith, diced, then let it sit in the lemon juice for a few minutes while you prep the rest

- 2 green onions, finely sliced

- 3-4 stalks celery finely diced

- red grapes, halved (maybe a cup?)

- some craisins (couple handfuls?)

- optional toasted pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped

 

In a bowl, combine all the solid ingredients, reserving lemon juice.  Mix about half cup vegan mayo (or regular if it doesn't matter) with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Pour over everything, mix it up, let it sit 15 minutes, eat.  For the best texture, you want all your ingredients to be around the same size- so split the celery down the center before cutting it into pieces, etc.  Only the onions should be sliced really thin, no one wants a chickpea-sized hunk of onion in there!  

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6 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:

That looks really good!  Thank you!

I have a question for you from my personal chef, AKA DS10.  He likes your lentil/mango/pomegranate salad.  I told him that the person I got it from said it was "vegan cocaine".  Now he wants to know why vegans can't have regular cocaine.  Do you know?

😆  Well, I think cocaine is derived from a plant, so I guess all cocaine is vegan?  🤣

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