REVIEW – Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook

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Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook

The Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook: Recipes and Stories to Celebrate the Bounty of the Moment

  • Author: Nancy Vienneau
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (June 17, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401605176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401605179
  • Cover price $24.99

Five mystery casseroles, three buckets of chicken, and a dozen containers of ranch dip…the potluck supper can be difficult to organize and an unappetizing affair to attend. But on the third Thursday of each month in Nashville, Tennessee, a different type of potluck has become legend, co-founded by “recovered” caterer, noted food writer, and community food activist, Nancy Vienneau.

There are no rules: no assigned dishes, no RSVPs. Rather, a magical combination of devoted cooks and innovative dishes has made this a potluck like no other. In the pages of Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook ($24.99, June 2014, Thomas Nelson) learn Nancy’s secrets to creating your own potluck. Inspired by the bounty of the moment, Third Thursday casts a fresh slant on its possibilities.

Structured by the month, the Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook contains menus, stories and 150 seasonal Southern recipes, along with tips and tools for a successful gathering. Nature provides the ideal seasonal menu; Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook organizes those naturally occurring culinary themes into easy-to-execute monthly menus: July is for tomatoes, August for figs, December for gifts from the kitchen, January for staying warm. With recipes like Smoked Gouda Risotto with Spring Peas, Cider-Braised Pork with Pears, Crab Mac-and-Cheese, or Brown Butter Honey Cake, stirred appetites will ignite for honest and imaginative dishes worthy of sharing with neighbors and friends.

Nancy’s premise has always been simple: on the third Thursday of each month, bring a fresh seasonal dish for sharing. The results have been gloriously rich: new friends, engaging conversations, incredible food and camaraderie. Create your own culinary community and experience the joy and spirit of a good ol’ fashioned potluck…extraordinarily reinvented.

About the author: Nancy Vienneau began cooking professionally in 1980 as a caterer. These days she works in her community promoting local farmers, urban gardens, healthy affordable cooking, and food security. Most Fridays you’ll find her cooking at Second Harvest Food Bank. Her work appears in Alimentum: The Literature of Food, Relish Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, her weekly restaurant column in The Tennessean, and her blog Good Food Matters.

I’ve never been to a potluck meal, unless you count things like work lunches or sports team get-togethers where everyone brought a dish. As such I was particularly interested to see what would be in a cookook dedicated to potluck dinners.

Chapters include:

  • June – First Solstice
  • July – The Big Tomato
  • August – For the Love of Figs
  • September – Burger Power
  • October – Growing Roots
  • November – Autumn Bounty
  • December – Gifts and Tips
  • January – Staying Warm
  • February – Good Fortunes
  • March – Going Green
  • April – Pasta Party
  • May – Berry Happy Birthdays
  • June – The Big Garden Gathering

The beginning of the book explains the concept. Basically the group gathers once a month for a potluck dinner. The food at those dinners is made with in-season produce grown locally. Then comes the recipes.

The recipes are all easy to understand, and feature lots of spices, herbs and produce. The ingredients are a mixture of things you’ve got or can buy and things I have never heard of. A little background on each is included. Helpful notes and tips are scattered throughout the book. Cooking time is missing completely from some recipes, in others it’s hidden within the recipe. I find that the cookbooks that are the easiest to work with are the ones that include cooking and prep time prominently near the top of the recipe, so you don’t have to read for it. The photos that are in this cookbook are lovely. That being said, not every recipe has a photo, probably about half of them do.

This book would be perfect for anyone that enjoys potluck dinners, or cooking within a specific theme or with a specific type of produce.

Do you have a go-to dish that you bring to potluck dinners?

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Kungphoo July 22, 2014 - 4:54 pm

Thah would be a cool group to belong to.. I wish i could cook though.

Scott July 22, 2014 - 5:21 pm

I usually make up a big batch of chicken wings. They’re always a hit with whatever men are there!

Dede July 22, 2014 - 9:47 pm

I saw this book cover on a publisher site and considered getting it. I wondered if the recipes would be in potluck proportions or just “good for potluck” dishes. I’m not good at scaling the recipe to size; it seems that I always mess up somewhere along the way.

nancy at good food matters July 23, 2014 - 6:46 am

Dede, the recipes generally serve 8-10 guests, which is a good number for potluck. Many can be easily doubled for even larger groups, or cut in half for a family of 4. But I designed the recipes to be appropriately sized for a potluck gathering. The book has many tips on how to start your own, too!

Sam B. July 22, 2014 - 10:14 pm

Potluck dinners are fun! I usually make a dessert or a pasta salad…yum!

patricia Marsden July 23, 2014 - 8:11 am

If potluck means covered dish, then if not dessert then something chicken.

Stefany (ToBeThode) July 23, 2014 - 8:25 am

I am usually the one bringing some kind of potato dish. I love hash brown casserole especially.

Teresa McCluskey July 23, 2014 - 4:05 pm

I make a dish called worms and dirt. Its Cool whip, crushed oreos, crushed mints and gummyworms!

Lexie Lane July 24, 2014 - 3:26 am

Oh! I love surprise dishes so I know I would definitely enjoy this! wish I could be in this group!

Karen W July 24, 2014 - 10:05 am

I always find myself at a loss at what to bring to fellowship meals or other gatherings. Sounds like a neat cookbook, though I also prefer recipes to have the cooking information at the top so I can check at a quick glance whether it is something I can make at the time. I also prefer having a picture for each recipe so I can see what it is supposed to look like. I need all the help I can get.
I do love the sound of that group.

Melissa July 24, 2014 - 11:03 am

This cookbook sounds awesome.Wish I had more time to cook through. Thanks for sharing.


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