Each December, the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation hosts its annual meeting and Christmas potluck at a local historic venue. This is year we used the recreated Southern Pacific depot in the historic town of El Dorado. Around 45 railroad volunteers and their families packed into the station. This was the largest crowd we've had in memory.
I've often used to potluck to feature new dishes. This year my wife and I brought a Mexican casserole with black beans in a 9 by 13-inch roasting pan. I adapted the recipe from the Deer Crossing Wilderness Camp kitchen manual, where it was served every other week at dinner.
I had two jobs this year, so to speak. As the cook in the family, the task of preparing the casserole fell to me this morning. My other job, assigned by the president of the foundation, was to present a talk on rail passenger service on the Placerville Branch rail line of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
After the annual meeting (and before the meal), I presented a mix of historic photographs and newspaper reports on passenger service, which ran from March 1888 to January 1939. One of the two daily trains was provided by a McKeen motor car.
The meeting and potluck were a success. The volunteers enjoyed my presentation. And the dish was nearly cleaned.
MEXICAN CASSEROLE WITH BLACK BEANS
Leave the beef-bean-corn mixture a little on the dry side. You do not want a moist or sloppy sauce. The recipe is a favorite of Deer Crossing Camp in Eldorado National Forest, California. A double recipe fits in a 12x20x4-inch hotel pan and serves 24.