Confession time. Hosting makes me really nervous.
Maybe it's the thought of something going wrong with the food, or realizing at the last minute that I don't have enough cutlery/napkins/small talk, or just that I'm actually a closet introvert that panics at the thought of a bunch of people in my house. I'm not sure. But it is something I'd like to change about myself, and there are two people who have inspired me to make hosting with confidence my personal resolution in 2015.
The newly-released cookbook Gatherings by my friends Jan Scott (Family Bites) and Julie Van Rosendaal (Dinner with Julie) is part of my Best Christmas Gifts for the Home Cook 2014 wish list. I have spent the past week posting giveaways for every item on that list here on Family Feedbag (you can still enter them all!), and giving away a copy of Gatherings to one of you feels like a really special way to wrap up the festivities.
With recipes and hosting tips for kids birthday parties and showers, Gatherings goes even deeper into home entertaining with practical, fun ideas for sleepover parties, retro game nights and even a pie party. Wait, what? Yes, a pie party. No need to wait until a certain holiday to host a get together. Gatherings will have you wanting to bring friends together over good food any time at all.
I have this theory about trying out new cookbooks, that if you try a recipe hidden deep somewhere in the book, especially if it's one of the few that doesn't have an accompanying photograph, and it's good, then you can bet the rest of the book is good too. I dug deep into Gatherings and found the Book Club chapter, which includes lovely ideas in the short essays 'How to Start a Book Club' and 'How to Host a Cookbook Club,' as well as a long list of 'Recommended Food Literature for Book Clubs.' Across the centre fold from that list, I found a yummy-sounding recipe for Garlic Bread Focaccia.
So I made it.
No surprise, of course, the focaccia is awesome. Jan and Julie know how to bring people together with good food, and I'm looking forward to trying out more of their recipes in Gatherings and putting their party planning tips into action in my own home.
To enter to win a copy of Gatherings (Whitecap Books), leave a comment on this blog post telling me your favourite kind of gathering to host, or one you would like to host for the first time. BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS so I can contact you if you win.