Slow Food Columbus

The Cookbook Potluck: What You Need to Know

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A few weeks ago, we announced a work in progress—our “Slow Food on a Fast Food Budget” cookbook, a short primer designed to show people on limited budgets how to make simple, healthy recipes that will blow away fast food and save them money at the same time.  Our goal is to market it to students and price it in such a way that sales will generate additional copies to be donated to at-risk communities in Columbus-area food banks and community centers.

The more we thought about the project, the more we thought, “We bet we know some people who could help us with recipe ideas”—our members and friends, who always make such great food when we come over for dinner. Many of you are capable of elaborate meals, but we thought some of you might be up for a different sort of challenge:  thinking of a recipe that’s healthy, inexpensive, simple to make, requires a small number of ingredients, and is really, shockingly delicious. So we announced a potluck, from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, March 13, at the North Market’s Dispatch Kitchen, for those of you who want to contribute recipe ideas to the project.

What do you need to know, and do, in order to take part in the potluck?

  • First, read the sample cookbook excerpt that we’ve posted online (link here).  It contains (on pages 8, 11, and 12) a list of kitchen tools that we expect readers of the cookbook to own.  In order to keep costs as low as possible, this is a very minimal set of tools—the only pans, for example, are a cast iron skillet and a Dutch oven.  You may need to make some creative adaptations to make a favorite recipe work.
  • Keep track of ingredient costs, and once you’ve finalized your recipe, download the recipe information form (link here) and fill it out.  Part of the power of the cookbook’s message comes from calculating cost per portion for each meal and side, and we cannot include any recipes that don’t include this information.
  • Once you’re sure you’re coming, drop us a line to RSVP so we can keep track of how many people to expect.
  • And finally, bring the form along with a sample of your recipe to the potluck! Our student judges will be ready and eager to give it a try, and we’ll have the oven on warm to heat or re-heat whatever you bring if necessary.

Anyone who completes these three steps, regardless of whether his or her recipe makes it past our judges, will be thanked in the cookbook when it comes out… and will have the opportunity to sample other people’s simple, inexpensive, delicious dishes.

Edit: I had a chance to talk to Dave from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, and he gave me a tour of their facility that gave me a better sense of which sorts of recipes would be most useful to them.  They get any kind of meat in that you can imagine:  while I was there I saw hams, chicken, beef—you name it (in addition to what looked like about a ton of hot dogs); they also get, in season, just about any fresh vegetable you can imagine.  The real difficulty comes when those ingredients are handed to people who have no idea what to do with them.  There are also a lot of canned vegetables all year ’round.  They don’t have a lot of primary ingredients (flour, sugar, etc.) or spices to give to people, so the challenge lies in making the best use of vegetables and/or meat without a lot of additional ingredients… which, fortunately, sounds a lot like what we’ve already been doing.



One response to “The Cookbook Potluck: What You Need to Know”

  1. […] We asked our readers what vegetable intimidated them the most, and the most common answer was, “kohlrabi.”  It’s understandable, since this is one of the most alien-looking of all vegetables, but in reality it’s far from challenging.  Moreover, the payoff is worth it: this simple recipe, which renders the broccoli-cabbage-y vegetable down to slightly crisp tenderness, was one of the judges’ favorites at our cookbook potluck. […]

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