Sarah Kieffer's Maple-Cinnamon Granola

Sugar is bad. Too many carbs are bad. A diet of mostly vegetables is best. Blah, blah, blah. I know, to some extent, this is all true, and yet, and yet, baking something and sharing it with people just feels so right, don’t you think? In her lovely new book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book, Sarah Kieffer takes this idea even further: “There is something deeper, something soul-full that happens when we slice the cake, when we break the bread. There is taste and smell that draws out memories, binding us to those present, those past.” Yes. continue reading

Photo by Yossy Arefi

Photo by Yossy Arefi

Technically, we have about three weeks of the season left, but Labor Day always seems to put a nail in the summer coffin, doesn’t it? If you’re looking to make something for an upcoming party or picnic, might I suggest something from (ahem) Modern Potluck?  Some of my favorite writers and photographers have been sharing recipes from the book all around the Internets. Here, find links to many of the recipes below. Hope you find something tasty!

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Modern Potluck Cover

In six days, Modern Potluck will be out in the world. It’s hard to believe this journey started more than two years ago, when my daughter was not yet two years old, and I could (technically) say I was in my early 30s.

Things have been quiet around the blog lately, but behind the scenes, I’ve been aligning pieces to make sure as many people know about my book as possible. My hope is that you’ll hear about it in one place, read about it in another, and be so sick to death of it that you go and buy the book. Then you’ll love it so much that you’ll tell your friends and write reviews and host more potlucks and post about them on Instagram, and feel a little bad that you were annoyed in the first place. 😉

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Modern Potluck cookbook

Wow! I can’t believe that in less than three months, Modern Potluck will be out in the world! I’m thrilled. Plus the book is now available for pre-order. Hurray!

I’ve written a lot about my book journey, and in my first post, I touched on why I wanted to do a potluck book: Because the genre of food was in serious need of an update. While many of us are more aware of international ingredients, like harissa, and otherworldly-looking vegetables, like sunchokes, we still tend to find the same old macaroni salads and creamy soup-based casseroles at potlucks. Most of the dishes in my book (besides the few that contain a respectable amount of mayonnaise) are lighter and brighter, with lots of fresh vegetables (and some Instagram-worthiness, to boot). Essentially, I wrote Modern Potluck to give people updated, foolproof, crowd-pleasing recipes that will hold up on the buffet table and are a little bit impressive.

I also love the idea of potlucks because they solve a major problem: In a world where we are all overwhelmed by work and other obligations, bring-a-dish-style gatherings give us low stress ways to come together over a meal. I used to love to throw a dinner party—one for which I’d shop and cook all day. These days, with a small child, that type of entertaining doesn’t work for me, and going out is hard as well. My new friend, Sarah Grey, wrote about how she fostered the community she was missing in her own life by starting something profoundly simple called Friday Night Meatballs. Each week, she and her husband cook meatballs and her friends fill in the rest of the meal. Essentially, it’s a potluck! Her award-winning essay launched a phenomenon, and two years after it was published, she still hears from people who are inspired by it. My book is for those who want to start or continue a similar type of tradition but who are too fickle (like me) to cook the same dish week after week.

Finally, potlucks are a great way to gather people with food intolerances and those who love them. While we eat more adventurously than we did in the past, many of us are more restrictive about what we eat than ever. In my book, I code recipes as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free and use a wide range of ingredients that appeal to many different tastes. In my own life, I cook for people who, for various reasons, don’t eat red meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, any meat, dairy, gluten, onions, various vegetables and anything spicy. Depending on whom I bring together, the only overlap in the Venn diagram that would be called “What These People Eat” could conceivably be sunflower seeds and black beans. Instead of trying to figure out an entire menu around these limitations, I prefer to pass the work onto my guests. “Make something you’ll eat! And let’s get together.”

Lucky for me, I eat all of it.

P.S. And if these reasons aren’t enough to get you to potluck, how about the fact that potlucks can change the world. It’s true: After George Clooney threw a $100,000 per plate dinner for Hillary Clinton, fans of Bernie Sanders got together and created #Dinewiththe99. Regardless of your political leanings, you have to find this kind of grassroots activism inspiring.