Easeful Entertaining ✼ Potluck!

Last weekend we hosted a gathering of my cousins on my Dad’s side. There are six of us who grew up near each other in Ontario, all children of three brothers who emigrated to Canada from Belgium in the 1950s. Every few years we and our collective significant others get together to enjoy each other’s company and keep the family spirit alive. This involves much laughter and loud conversation on topics both deep and frivolous, and of course food!

Being me, originally I was planning to make all the food for our reunion, but one of my cousins kindly pointed out the insanity in this approach and suggested I make the event a potluck. I came to my senses, sent out a group email asking everyone to ‘reply all’ with what they would be bringing, and immediately felt more relaxed.

My mission was to provide the meat dishes for the carnivores in the crowd. So, several nights before the big day I simmered ribs and then froze them, ready to toss onto the barbecue when the big day rolled around. (Post to follow!) I already had hamburgers in the freezer, from a big  batch I’d made ahead while I was on vacation in May.

The day before, I slow-cooked a pork butt in Cuban mojo sauce using Karen’s recipe over at the excellent blog Back Road Journal, then shredded it and stored it in the refrigerator to be heated up before the dinner.

On the big day I was feeling relaxed enough to bake an olive oil and red grape cake as a back-up to the dessert one of my cousins was bringing, and take a trip to the store to buy a selection of fruit as an afternoon nibble.

The event got going with a couple of different veggie and dip trays, my bowl of fruit, and a big pitcher of sangria to lubricate the conversation. Good start! I wish I’d taken a picture of that sangria – it was a work of art, chock full of fruit and ruby red. (Actually, I do have a picture of it, but the pitcher’s pretty much empty – it was good and a much appreciated offering!)

There were two beautiful salads, one featuring asparagus, sugar peas, sweet potato and chickpeas, and the other mixed greens with nuts and fruit.

We had a big basket of multi-grain buns, and a delicious broccoli and cheese dish.

To go with my Cuban pulled pork, I dressed purchased (make life easy!) shredded cabbage and carrot with a spicy lime vinaigrette for a zesty coleslaw.

For dessert, there was a fabulous pistachio and cream confection that was so good I completely forgot to photograph it. That’s a shame, since it was so pretty! And, of course my cake, which I got an image of before everyone arrived and things started hopping.

Considering I had 12 people over, this was an incredibly easy party to throw. Major thanks to my cousin for suggesting the potluck! It’s a pleasure to cook for others, but sometimes it’s smart to take some of the pressure off yourself, and also give others the pleasure of contributing some of their favourites to the menu. As the host, I was still fairly busy, but had much more time to visit and enjoy my cousins’ company than if I’d tried to do it all alone. Everyone rose to the occasion with flair, and we had a very good dinner indeed!

What’s your favourite potluck offering?


  1. Your potluck get together sounds like it was lots of fun. I can see that you enjoyed a lot of good food. I’m glad you enjoyed the pork with mojo sauce…thanks for the mention.

  2. I think making the dinner a potluck was a great idea and I bet you felt relieved once the change was made! And what a potluck it was! Each of those dishes look great, very appetizing! That pork butt looks incredible and I’ve got a small one in my freezer that’s been waiting for a good recipe. Your cake, too, looks delicious and it’s on my summer bake list — once I get done with this cheese business. 🙂
    It sounds like you were able to enjoy your family without the pressure of making the entire dinner, too. Way to go!

    • Wasn’t I smart to have invited such talented cooks to the potluck? 😄 It really took a lot of the pressure off me (a.k.a. The Queen of Doing It All Herself) and I was able to enjoy the company of my guests even more.

      On a completely different note, the Culinary Enthusiast and I took a trip to Milwaukee this past weekend. I was driving as we navigated the incredibly massive highway system around Chicago, and managed to catch exactly two glimpses of the Chicago skyline. My, it was impressive, even for the short moments that I saw it. I thought of you, of course!

    • It’s too bad you weren’t at our get-together … there was definitely enough food and you would have enjoyed the company too. My cousins are a lot of fun! Maybe next time!

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