I feel I should be upfront here, and admit that I know I’m a few weeks behind in posting (according to my goal of posting once a week). You see I was gonna post about a dinner party, but then that didn’t happen*, and then I was gonna post a brownie recipe, but I’m still refining it,* and I was gonna post about the kitchen cure in January project, but I haven’t finished that either. Oh and I also still need to post the third scones recipe (and scones rambling) and that cool cheddar corn coins thing. Bother. So here I am, vowing to break the inertia and get back to posting. This will probably happen again.
That’s not what I was going to tell you about this week, however. This week I want to tell you about Cookbook Club! Late last year, I read this article on Serious Eats about cookbook clubs and started thinking. I got a handful of virtual raised hands from other local folks who would also be interested in such a thing and lo and behold, we actually started one.
(People cooked! It was great!)
Here’s the basic premise:
- Select a cookbook (which we did via nominating and voting on Google Sheets)
- Select a date and time
- Everyone gets or borrows a copy of the cookbook and makes one dish from it
- There’s a casual potluck at which everyone can try dishes, talk about the book, and generally have a good time
- Do it again the next month
Here are some things that made it work well:
- Everyone could decide their own comfort spot of what to cook. More experienced cooks choose something that would push their edges a little, or vowed to actually follow a recipe where we would generally riff on the idea but disregard the instructions. Less experienced cooks choose something more approachable and pushed the edge of “making things for a crowd of cook-type-people”. Those with more time used it; those with less time choose according to that limit.
- It was a social gathering with a pre-built conversation starter. This, for the introverted and/or socially anxious among us, was awesome.
- We kept it casual***. There was no pressure to have a dish perfectly plated or piping hot which greatly simplified logistics.
- Rotating hosts. Next month is at someone else’s house. This takes the pressure off starting the whole thing in motion.
January’s book was Heartlandia, and I made fried chicken for the first time ever****. I probably won’t follow that exact recipe again; nevertheless, here’s what I learned:
- Boneless chicken makes for a much easier eating experience and is totally worth it
- Brining (2 days in advance) and buttermilk soaking (1 day in advance) the chicken yielded super moist and delicious chicken even for the pieces I overcooked
- Shaking chicken in a paper bag to coat with seasoned flour will cause clouds of seasoned flour to drift down over a very large radius (and I probably won’t do that again)
- Frying in a skillet works
- Beef tallow makes for yummy fried things
- I can fry chicken!*****
Next month, I’m making fresh pasta from Plenty, even though I habitually leave the pasta making to my spouse, and I can’t wait to taste what everyone else makes!
*The party did happen. It’s just the post that got lost in the sands of time. You all should definitely make Romesco though. It was so so good.
**Perils of food blogging! So many brownies! You have no idea!
***We kinda had to. We didn’t have enough chairs.
****Having grown up on Shake and Bake