We walked in the door one night to a fabulous aroma, but once the casserole was served we wanted to gag. It was so unappetizing that we ate as much as we could stomach and threw the rest away. I followed the recipe exactly as written and the ingredients list looked good. Not being able taste test the recipe before making it left us hungry and dumping our food and money down the drain - at 9:30 at night.
With the Internet, blogs and magazines there is always a myriad of new recipes with tantalizing pictures for us to try. I often find recipes this way and am becoming better at having success in picking recipes my family likes, but I always wish I could just reach through the screen and take a bite - just to make sure.
Joining or starting a recipe group is a fabulous way to get new recipes for you and your family. Come together with your friends, co-workers and neighbors for a potluck, eat, talk and then walk away with a handful of new recipes that you've tested and you know you're family will love!
When we lived in Portland I started a recipe group. It was fun to get together with friends, taste test food, share cooking ideas/experiences and have new recipes to expand the repertoire of meals I fed my family. Here are my ideas and experiences with being in and starting a recipe group.
1. Meeting Schedule: We typically met once a month. If your schedules are busy every other month would also provide you with plenty of new recipes.
2. Meeting Location: Determine the best location depending on your circumstances. The group I had was filled with moms who had several children, like me, and our husbands were very busy in professional schools and rarely home to watch the kids. We all lived in small apartments that wouldn't easily accommodate our large crowd so we held our group at our church. This way we had room to set up tables and our kids could come and eat with us too. (We held ours at lunch time, before naps.)
If you don't have kids (or your spouse is able to watch them) you could rotate having the recipe group at each other's homes. This would provide a great comfortable atmosphere and would allow for cooking demonstrations too. We even held one at a local park during the summer. Just do what's best for your situation.
3. Pick a Theme: To keep things organized and have variety we had a theme each time we met. Some of our themes were; desserts, breakfast, salads, breads, chicken, beef, appetizers, low-fat, casseroles, crock-pot, cheese, summer cooking, soups, quick meals, 5 ingredient recipes, etc. . . There are many theme options to choose from to provide you with a variety of recipes to share.
4. Education & Discussion: I wanted our recipe group to not only be for eating and recipe sharing, but to be a place that we can could learn from each other and share tips and personal experiences that we've had in the kitchen. In addition to having a theme each time we met we also had a specific group discussion where all in attendance could participate. Sometimes the discussion would coincide with our recipe theme, but other times it did not.
Some of the discussions we had were about kitchen gadgets, food safety, feeding kids, nutrition, recipe organization, baking tips, meal preparation, budgeting for food, spices, gardening etc. . . I would inform the group of the topic ahead of time so they could be thinking about it.
In addition, we would would start our group by having everyone telling what dish they brought and anything else they would like to share about their specific recipe. If your location allows cooking demonstrations are also a great addition to a recipe group (as mentioned above).
What did the kids do during our discussions? On occasion we would take turns having one of the mom's watch all children in the church nursery. Our discussions were only about 15 minutes before we began eating so it wasn't too hard. Some days the kids would just run around and play on one end of the gym while we talked. A little noisy, but it worked fine.
5. Distributing the Recipes: The whole purpose of a recipe group is to share our recipes so we could have new meals to feed our families. Making sure that everyone gets a copy of the recipes they want is important. Our group found it easiest to share our recipes through email. This way each person could store the recipes how they like - digitally or printing them.
Within 24 hrs of our group meeting I would send out an email to everyone with my recipe and ask that they in return 'reply to all' and send an email to everyone with their own recipe. This worked quite well for our us and we also included those who didn't want to or couldn't physically attend the group. They could email a recipe if they wanted to.
Other options would be to have a group blog that all members contribute and post their recipes on or to bring actual copies of your recipe to the recipe group meeting.
(Bruschetta Chicken - recipe coming soon)
*So there are my ideas and experiences with having a recipe group. It was a lot of fun visiting with friends and I loved tasting everyones home cooking! I learned many great cooking tips from our discussions and now use many of those recipes to feed my family!
Are you a part of a recipe group? Leave any other ideas or suggestions in the comments! I'd love to hear from you.