Bunco Night With Recipes
Written By Linda L. Esterson
The holiday season is the time for gatherings with family and friends and, usually, lots of food. For one group of ladies in Owings Mills, it provides another reason to get together.
Each month, a dozen women convene to play Bunco, a mindless dice game, which features rolling, tallying and screaming.
“It’s a girl’s night out away from the kids,” says Sharon Carr, 42, who has four children, ranging in age from 8-year-old twin boys to an 11-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son. “We get to go off duty for one night and play a game that’s not hard to play.”
Rachel Goldbloom, also 42, agrees. “I play for fun and play for camaraderie,” she says. “And it’s a chance to get together with friends.”
The monthly game also gives the ladies an opportunity to catch up with each other, since many lead hectic lives, constantly juggling obligations from work, husbands and families.
“We follow everyone’s lives — celebrate good times like bar mitzvahs and birthdays and find out how people’s kids are doing in college,” adds Goldbloom, a home-based territory manager for a manufacturing company.
Carr takes the opportunity to ask her fellow players and moms for parenting advice, recommendations for services like cleaning and home improvements, and good shopping tips. She also relishes the opportunity to vent and let off a little steam sometimes.
Goldbloom moved to Owings Mills eight years ago from Connecticut. She never heard of Bunco before moving here.
“It’s fun, it’s not brain surgery,” she says. “I enjoy the camaraderie. That’s why I play.”
Carr’s group started out having monthly themes like Valentine’s Day, pajama day, and holiday gift exchange for the month of December. Each month, a different player hosts the game on the date of her choosing and she is charged with providing snacks and drinks for the crowd. The hostess may even decorate based on the theme and use graphics to design the scorecard the players use. Some even go as far as including foods that align with the theme.
Last year, Goldbloom hosted the November Bunco, themed around Thanksgiving. This year, Carr did the same, and featured holiday foods and a scorecard with a turkey graphic. She also asked each player to contribute a winter outerwear accessory for a child or adult to be donated to a local shelter on behalf of the group.
“It’s a chance to get out and socialize,” Goldbloom says.
What is Bunco?
Bunco was played in England during the 18th century and was first introduced to the United States in San Francisco in 1855 during the Gold Rush.
During the 1880s and into the mid-1890s, Bunco’s popularity spread and it was played in major cities across the country, achieving placement as a traditional parlor game.
During prohibition, Bunco gambling parlors surfaced in various regions of the United States, the most notorious speakeasies and dice parlors located in and around Chicago, Ill.
From 1940-1980, Bunco dropped in popularity, but since the 80s the game has experienced a resurgence, particularly among women.
— Rochelle Eisenberg
Source: World Bunco Association
Sharon Carr’s Chocolate Pizza
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 lb white almond bark
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup crisp rice cereal, colored with blue food coloring
I cup peanuts
6 oz red maraschino cherries, drained, cut in half
3 Tbsp green maraschino cherries, drained, quartered
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 tsp oil
1. Microwave chips and 14 oz of the almond bark in 2 quart microwave safe bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes. Stir. Continue micro-waving 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in marshmallows, cereal and peanuts. Pour onto greased 12-inch pizza pan. Top with cherries, sprinkle with coconut.
2. Microwave remaining 2 oz bark with oil in 1-cup glass measuring cup for 1 minute. Stir. Continue microwaving until smooth, stirring every 15 seconds. Drizzle over coconut.
3. Refrigerate until firm. Store at room temperature.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Rachel Goldbloom’s Bean Puree
Modified from Giada De Laurentiis
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer bean puree to small bowl.
2. Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet. Pour the remaining oil over the pitas. Toss. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper.
3. Bake pitas for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color. Serve the bean puree with pita toasts either warmed or at room temperature with sliced vegetables and crackers.