Potluck Cookbook – Sharing Food, Sharing Friendship

I planned a simple menu for my holiday potluck luncheon. Basically, it was a soup and salad menu. Thanks to the culinary skills of my friends, this menu morphed into gourmet fare. Ten of us gathered around the table to enjoy the food and swap stories. We also exclaimed about the food.

The Hungarian mushroom soup was a delicious surprise, flavored with fresh thyme and low-fat sour cream. The wild rice soup was chock-full of vegetables. Even the salads were gourmet. One mixed green salad had fresh pears, oranges and balsamic dressing. The wheat orzo salad was flavored with feta cheese.

Artisan breads from a local bakery — wheat, Asiago cheese, and fruit — rounded out the soup course. And the desserts were a sweet finale to the luncheon. Irish Cocoa Cake sounded pretty ordinary. But when guests tasted it, they all exclaimed in surprise. The cake was moist, gooey, and so delicious you wanted more. The fudgy brownies lived up to the adjective “fudgy.”

After lunch I offered to compile a potluck cookbook for everyone. Their yes vote was unanimous. “We could add to the cookbook every year,” one friend suggested. “I really want to make the mushroom soup,” another commented. We came up with a plan. I would type the recipes and email them to my friends. They would print out the recipes and file them or put them in a binder of their choice.

You may want to compile a similar cookbook if you have a potluck breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here are the steps to follow.

1. Send an email reminder to friends about the cookbook. Ask them to send you their recipes immediately.

2. Read the recipes carefully to make sure no ingredients are missing. Do this several times because errors can be hard to spot.

3. Misspelled names are offensive, so make sure each person’s name is spelled correctly. Include nicknames if you wish.

4. Give credit where credit is due. If the recipe is from an existing cookbook, be sure to credit this source.

5. Group recipes into the categories listed on the original invitation. These categories may include ethnic recipes or specific dates.

6. Choose an easy-to-read font. Though Times Roman is the most popular font, you may choose something different, such as Verdana.

7. Make design decisions. You may prefer one recipe per page, for example. Photos add instant design interest.

8. For convenience, enter the recipes in larger type.

9. Tell the stories behind the recipes. This will make your Potluck Cookbook unique. If it is a family recipe, say so, and include preparation tips, such as having eggs at room temperature.

10. Email the menu and recipes to friends. Some guests may not have email, so you will need to send them printouts.

Your Potluck Cookbook will be a sure winner, so much so, that you start planning next year’s potluck now!

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