Last night I hosted our monthly Cookbook Club for the very first time! In our very new kitchen! It was a such a delight getting to share this beautiful space we’ve created with dear friends around the table eating incredible food. A dream, really. My favorite kind of night.
To me, it is these intimate moments surrounded by candlelight, soft music, and mismatched dinnerware that help make a house feel like a home. Decorating is a blast, arguably one of my favorite hobbies that I can confidently say will remain so forever, but making messes and laughing and going deep into motherhood and passing plates and sharing stories, that’s where the magic happens in homemaking. Inviting others in, sharing the love you’ve poured into your home in all the various layers that making one entails, it’s those times that added up create an invisible tether that ties us to a specific place in time, and what makes homes as places so incredibly special.
Cookbook Club…it combines all my favorite things: new recipes, incredible food, women gathered together, time shared at the table, and, naturally, cookbooks! It’s something six of us gals have been doing together for several years now, and it’s about time I tell you all about it so you can create your own.
What is Cookbook Club and how does one work?
Cookbook Club begins with a group of women, six is a great place to start as you all want to be able to gather around a table, all of whom love to cook and try new recipes. Each month, or every other if need be, one woman will host at her home and choose any cookbook of her liking. This is the really fun part, because as a host, you get to thumb through all your favorite cookbooks and recipes selecting one you want to try more recipes from. This month I chose Bavel, a new cookbook featuring mouthwatering dishes from around the Middle East.
As a guest, it’s equally thrilling because you essentially are along for the ride, giving you the unique opportunity to cook food you may have never otherwise encountered or have made on your own. Last night’s meal included a lot of new ingredients that, I suppose, if one had made entirely on her own, would have could have taken all day (or days) and in turn, would have been quite a lot of work. Sharing the burden of labor and time by cooking together and eating family style is such a enjoyable and fresh way to experience cookbooks, if you ask me.
If you love learning about food and enjoy trying new cooking techniques in the kitchen, this form of foodie sisterhood is something you should consider starting up. Our club in the past has cooked all sorts of food, with recipes hailing from France, California, and Israel, to name a few. And now, all six of us have officially hosted!
What does the host do?
Whoever is hosting that month selects whatever cookbook they want everyone to cook from. She will choose an entree, I did a roast chicken, and will select about eight or so recipes that would go well with said entree. You could skip the entree all together and just do sides, or salads, or dips. This is your club so you get to finagle the details and cook as you want. I personally offered up eight recipes for each guest to choose from, sending photos of them to our group text, alongside the recipes. Each guest chose her recipe about two weeks in advance. I offered a selection of a few appetizers, a few salads, and a few hearty side dishes to accompany the main dish I was going to make, the roast bird.
It’s a swell idea for whoever is hosting to cook whatever is hardest to transport, and in addition to this, when selecting recipes, to keep distance in mind. It’s probably not the best idea to offer medium rare lollipop lamb chops for your guest to make and bring, as I doubt they would travel well. Babaganoush on the other hand, go for it! Choose recipes that are varied in range as well, giving your guests the chance to cook something easy if it’s a harder season of live, and more adventurous if they have the time and energy to dig in and get their hands dirty.
In addition to cooking the most demanding of the recipes, give or take, the host also hosts! This means setting the table, picking the wine or cocktails, choosing the playlist, etc. etc. etc. You know, things hosts do. At the end of the meal, I gave my sweet guests a little something to take home – Bavel pickled turmeric yellow beets and cauliflower Stella and I made a few weeks earlier on a lazy Saturday. It’s also a good idea to have your guests bring take home containers if you feel like the dinner is going to be on the heftier side. That way everyone gets to bring home a little bit of everything that is left over.
What do the guests do?
Your guests will each select one or two recipes to make and bring from those you offered. They cook their respective dishes and they bring them to share, potluck style, or however you, as host, dictate. That’s the perk in being a guest, you get to truly relish the evening with minimal fuss. You dine together. You enjoy and talk about the food you made. You catch up on life. You savor.
Cookbook Club is a joy. It’s an intentional way to carve out time in one’s life for sisterhood, for womanhood, for good food and beautiful conversation.
A few more tidbits & favorites: