In our series Saving Southern Recipes, Associate Editor Kate Williams explores the deep heritage of Southern cooking through the lens of passed-down family recipes.
If your family is anything like mine, you spend the holidays talking about food. Sometimes this means planning your next dinner, and other times it means reminiscing about meals and dishes long gone by. We talk about the SPAM sushi my grandfather used to make and the countless grapefruits my mom's parents ate. All of this chatter around cooking got me thinking — why not make it into a party?
Throwing a recipe share party is kind of like hosting a potluck with a mission. You'll ask your guests to bring in their favorite family recipes, along with copies of the recipe itself, to eat and share and enjoy. It's a great way to keep the conversation going around family cooking, with more food and drink involved.
Here's how I'd do it:
The main attraction for this party is the food itself, of course, so spend some time filtering through your recipe boxes and folders and cookbooks to pick out your favorite family recipe. It could be anything — a secret recipe for chili, your grandmother's chocolate chip cookies, or braised rutabagas with pulled pork — but keep in mind how you'll serve it. Slow cooker recipes are particularly well-suited to potlucks, as are any desserts that are easy to transport. Pan-seared fish and multi-tiered cakes probably aren't.
In need of some inspiration? Here are some recipes to get you started.
Ask all of your guests to do the same. Consider assigning categories if you're worried that everyone will show up with Jell-O salads; two or three desserts will be fine, as will several types of chili, but, again, you may not want 12 towering orbs of congealed vegetables. (Unless that's your thing! Make it a Jell-O recipe share party!)
If you're throwing a party, you can't forget the drinks. The time of day will help determine your course. Is it an afternoon party full of nibbles? Maybe you'll want to stick with sweet tea and lemonade. An evening dinner party? Consult our pairing series for wine ideas. Brunch? Try these twists on sparkling wine-filled mimosas. Or do you have friends with secret family recipes for punch? Assign them the drinks category and incorporate it into your potluck.
In addition to a full stomach, you'll want your guests to leave with a little keepsake. You can have guests make a physical recipe scrapbook, or create a digital version using hashags.
If you want a favor you can actually hold in your hands, ask your guests to bring in copies of their recipes. These can be typed up recipes or copies of recipe cards. Hustle up a Polaroid camera (yes, they still exist!) to capture pictures of each dish. After you're done eating, have guests cut and paste the recipes and pictures into small scrapbooks. Encourage adding notes and tips by passing around colorful Sharpies. We all know that those personal notes are the best part.
Or, go digital with it! Do a little searching on Instagram and choose a unique hashtag for your party. (There are currently no posts with the hashtag #recipeshareparty2017 — first person to claim it wins.) While your friends are eating and chatting, encourage them to snap pictures of the food and recipes, and post them using the hashtag. At the end of the party, you'll have a collection of images and recipes to return to when you're in need of some dinner inspiration. If you do go this digital route, you'll also still likely have guests who want to leave with physical recipes, so encourage everyone to bring copies of their recipes as well.
As with any potluck, there will likely be plenty of food left over. Instead of keeping it all for yourself, encourage sharing by asking your guests to bring in a collection of containers. They can pack up extra soup and cookies to take home and enjoy the next day.
Do you have a beloved family recipe to share? We'd love to try it. If it's written on a recipe card, even better. Send a picture of the recipe card or a typed-out version of the recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can, please include any stories or memories you have about the dish — these will help make your recipe shine! Our goal is to build out a robust visual database of Southern recipe cards to share with you, our community.
We'd also love to see your Southern recipes on social media, so share with the hashtag #savingsouthernrecipes on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!