Cookbook Club!

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