Friday, January 16, 2009

my favourite things: potlucks

gosh! i just love a great potluck! it's one of my favourite things! just the *idea* of a potluck gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling! friends or family coming together to share in fabulous foods and fun visiting. everyone brings a fun food. it's not too serious. not too stressful. it's a retro-classic that's oh so much fun! and it's a handmade food-lovers dream!

over the years, i've been lucky to have been to a fabulous bunch of potlucks. some great themed ones (the orange foods only potluck was super! the purple one ended up being a bit tricky - lots of fun eggplant recipes, though! ; fine-art potlucks; holiday themed events, etc). often we've enjoyed potlucks to celebrate special occassions (we even had a potluck as part of our fun wedding weekend!). but whatever the occassion, i just love the handmade atmosphere of a festive potluck!

now i know not everyone is as excited by a potluck as me.. but hey - maybe you just haven't been to a fun one yet!

incase you haven't been to so many yet, or are afraid of potlucks, or are thinking of hosting your first, i thought i'd throw together a potluck of ideas to get you rolling!

first: what style will you have? a theme might be fun, or not is also great. will you ask certain folks to bring an item from a certain potluck food group (i.e. a few salads, a few mains, a few desserts, etc) or just leave it up to the potluck powers how it will all turn out (a *true* potluck as my mom would call it! :)

a fun invite is a great way to start things off! love these handmade invites from tofutti break:

or how about a nice and easy online e-vite.

at the actual event, i always love a few fun decorations, just like any party. be sure to have lots of utensils, plates, napkins condiments, serving gear and pretty tables on hand if you're the host! wouldn't lots of these potholders be fun by girlscantell!

and the music... i love hearing a fun musical potluck at a potluck: a great variety of tunes for the event! maybe they'll fit the theme.. maybe the music will be a greatest hits of songs... oh how fun it will be!

now... what to bring yourself. if you're attending a potluck, the joy is in the choosing! now's the time to make that showstopper dish! or maybe you'll make a family favourite. maybe it's fun to try something totally new! either way - it'll be great (even if it turns out to be a disaster, i think good-times potluck people will enjoy the tale of it, nonetheless!)

i think there might just be two basic potluck rules i'd stress: one: make enough for lots of people. no sense making a tiny amount of food - everyone will want to try it! and two: i think it might be proper potluck ettiquette to make sure your item is ready-to-serve: no dishes that need a lot of last minute prep work at the party... that way the hosts will have space in the kitchen! that said, bringing a hot dish that might need to be kept in an oven (or it's own warming case) is always fun - just make sure there's lots of space for it! if i want to bring something warm, i learned early on in life (from many a wonderful family potluck) to try to keep mine in my slow cooker - that way it'll free up the oven!

over the years, i've gone thru lots of fun favourite recipes to bring to potlucks. (and it's always a great idea to bring a few copies of your recipe along, cause hey, lots of the talk at a potluck is about the great foods! love these great handmade ones on etsy: these fabulous letterpress cards by


and these fun owl cuties by the lovely

boygirlparty )

for a while, i always brought something hot & fun to wintery potlucks. lots of soups and veggie chillis for cold-season potlucks! (maybe i'll do a post in the summer about summer-time potlucks!) i also love bringing a yummy dessert: the wonderful fiveforty's scrumptious bread pudding recipe was a great hit at a party we went to last year! (she always has so many amazing looking recipes on her fabulous blog: maybe try her yummy-looking samosa recipe, or her coffee shortbread! for your next potluck!)

when in doubt, i'd say you can't go wrong with a healthy green salad with a specialty homemade dressing.

fun & colourful potluck green salad recipe. (makes lots!)

2 heads of green leaf lettuce
2 heads of red leaf lettuce
3 grated carrots
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
1/2 cup *fresh* raisins
1 cup red seedless grapes, sliced
one or two sweet peppers sliced for more colour

and one of my favourite, easy salad dressings:

(an adaptation of a recipe i first saw in Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant... the very very yummy)
Carrot Ginger Dressing recipe
yields about 3/4 cups
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 med. onion, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 med. carrot, grated (about 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce
1 teaspoon apple cider or apple juice
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup mild rice vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

in a blender, whirl garlic, onion, carrot and ginger for 30 seconds. add the rest of the ingredients, except the salt and pepper, and blend til thickened. stir in salt and pepper to taste. can keep for 4 days in refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar.

this is a nice and thick dressing. you can thin it out as needed.
nice and tangy!


another favourite is a good ol' updated modern casserole. and whatever kind you choose to make, wouldn't it look gorgeous in this beautiful casserole dish by sunrise mountain!

oh there are so many fun possibilities - maybe check out kate black's fun Kitschy Kitschy Cook vegan recipe zine!

whatever you choose to bring to a potluck, or if you have your own... i hope it's lots and lots of fun! it's a great time to visit old friends and new, over an array of dishes! you might make a new friend or find a new favourite recipe!

lastly, have fun. whether you're the host or a go-er, be sure to revel in all the fun variety of folks & foods! and since there is lots of standing up to get your food at a potluck, that means lots of fun mixing and mingling, if you're so inclined! (so don't worry that you'll be stuck beside the same person like in a formal dinner, for hours! you can just go back to the buffet whenever you need a change of pace! ) a great way to see lots of fun folks!

so happy potlucking!

and i'd love to hear about your fave potluck, or what you love to bring!
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  1. GREAT POST, rikrak :) I am a potluck lover too!

    My go-to dish is also a salad — baby mesclun greens, strawberries, pine nuts, goat's cheese... and the pièce de résistance: steamed asparagus.

    Dressing is SUPER simple: olive oil, fresh lime juice, maple syrup and crushed garlic. I get lots of great feedback when I make this. Yummm. Now I'm hungry!

  2. Wonderful post! You have me wanting to host a pot luck dinner.. want to come over for it?

  3. I never even heard about the word potluck! We do this time of thing in summer with a BBQ but never had anything themed! I love it & might try it sometime soon! :) Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wonderful post!
    I'm making your salad for a dinner party I'm having tonite, sounded so delicious.

    Unfortunately it's not a potluck, next time!

  5. Sometimes even a mediocre cook can bring something everyone wants to taste.

    My favorite dish to bring is a big fresh fruit salad. It works for a salad or a dessert, and it's always so pretty in a clear glass bowl -- no matter which fruits are combined.

    I'm really enjoying your posts, thanks!

  6. oh thanks so much, nicies!
    m: your salad sounds fabulous! i'm gonna try it!
    and thanks pegg & artmind!
    adorn: how'd it go?
    thanks, lcs: i love a fruitsalad, too! great thinking!


thanks so much for your comments, nicies!
it's a joy to read what everyone writes here.
thank you!