Handmade Gatherings (+Giveaway!!!)
I have a lot of hair-brained schemes, for lack of a better term. My problem has never been coming up with ideas, it’s been finding the time to actualize them, to move them from nebulous concept to tactile, real world product. The idea for Handmade Gatherings, which officially publishes today, came about in a really organic way. Glenn and I entertain, often. For years, we pulled off all of our events on our own. Meaning, we shopped for, purchased, and prepared all of the food, beverages, and decor every time we entertained. Over time, though, we realized that our time with friends could really be enhanced, our experiences deepened, if they participated as well.
We began to move from our two person entertaining M.O. to that of the potluck. Our friends, many of them just as passionate about food and seasonal eating as we both are, showed up with inspired, delicious dishes. Everyone became involved. It wasn’t about one person showing how elaborate or fantastic or determined they could be, it was about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
Glenn has been passionate about collaborative entertaining for a very long time. He was integral to this book coming to life. After we began hosting increasingly more potlucks and collaborative get togethers, he suggested we parlay those events into a book. We both knew, though, that we ultimately wanted the book to be much more than a simple collection of recipes. We wanted it to speak to the magic that happens when people come together to achieve a common goal, especially one integral to our very existence, preparing and consuming food. In a recent exchange with a mutual friend on Facebook, he wrote the following, which I just love:
While developing Ashley’s upcoming book on seasonal, interactive potlucks, which I was particularly involved with, our view was that if people’s takeaway impression was that it was a great cookbook, we will have failed. It was of paramount importance to us that it it was about more than just recipes; it was about creatively connecting to each other over food, which is as Joel Salatin puts it, our umbilical cord to the natural world. It is about the heightened relationships with each other and the food that we eat. And inspired by the philosopher Hakim Bey, it is about creating shared transcendent moments that break us out of the everyday patterns of consensus reality, which he calls Temporary Autonomous Zones.
While we were creating the vision, it was my deepest hope that this book would be a catalyst that helps people to rethink the way we socialize and how we relate and communicate over the food that binds us to each other, our communities, our agricultural systems, and the natural world. The gatherings were designed with that in mind, which is why we took every effort to include things like gathering wild edibles and creating inspired foods from them, while celebrating both them and our time with each other.
Our hair brained scheme is now out in the world, as of today. All of the love and sweat and worry and bliss that we poured into it is now available for enjoyment, inspiration, and scrutiny. Thank you so very much to the fine staff at Roost Books for making our wild idea into a reality. Massive thanks, also, to Amanda Soule for taking this idea to Jennifer Urban-Brown at Roost when it was just a wee thought shared during a visit at her home two years ago. You are a true friend!
To celebrate this festive occasion, I want to give you two things. Firstly, I’m sharing the instructions for making Silk Dyed Eggs, part of the activities included in “The Good Egg” gathering. These come together easily and beautifully, and would be lovely to make and feature at any spring event you might be hosting or attending these next few weeks.
Secondly, I want to give away a signed copy of Handmade Gatherings to one small measure reader. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below telling me one of your favorite seasonal activities or foods, for any season. I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Tuesday, April 15th, EST.
Thank you to all who attended these gatherings and helped this book to be filled with actual events and real food. You’re the best. Massive thanks also to Jen Altman, for shining her lens expertly, providing such gorgeous photographs. Finally, as always, thanks to Glenn and Huxley, to whom I’ve dedicated the book. They are my perennial reasons for partying.