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Love a good cookbook? This one takes the cake.
Love a good cookbook? This one takes the cake.

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October is the third annual Dining Month on All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2009." 

For those of you who show people you love them by cooking for them, like I do, my husband very well may have found the perfect cookbook. Scott's in independent sales, so he periodically brings home samples from manufacturers that spark my interest, but this one takes the cake.

 I am terrible at following recipes, but I LOVE cookbooks. I love to just sit outside on a sunny day, sip a glass of wine and leaf through "Gourmet" or "Saveur" magazine or a nice hard cover cookbook. I read them like some people read romance or sci-fi novels, and I make mental notes of things I want to try in the future, of course, with a twist.

But the other part of my deviating from recipes falls in my failure to make an inclusive shopping list for the grocery store-sometimes items I seriously mean to pick up get tossed from the dish during preparation because, oh yeah, I forgot, and I'm not heading back to the grocery store for a small bottle of verjus when I can make due with a combination of wine, sugar and white vinegar.

So, I'm completely enamored with "The Gathering of Friends Volume I," by Michelle Huxtable and Alyse Christensen, a total food lover's cookbook with 15 chapters of complete dinner party menus for 10-12 people. In addition to breathtaking photography and easy to prepare dishes that sound as delicious as they are easy, the book provides a complete shopping list that tears out of the book, and a pocket in the back where you can store it for future use. I love this. For me this offers the whole kit and caboodle right at my fingertips and I don't have to worry about forgetting anything I really want at the store.

There is also a page of decorating ideas for each themed soiree, and pages for your notes and comments. The 15 gatherings cover all three meal times, and include ideas such as "An Enchanted Evening," with lemon pepper salmon, zesty grilled chicken made with 7up soda and Italian dressing, croissant parmesan twists, grilled vegetables, a couscous shrimp salad, and a chocolate fountain dessert table. Chapter 16 offers ideas for how to turn your home into a venue for entertaining, and begins with the words, "When someone comes to your home, sits at your table and breaks bread with you, your relationship is forever changed." I couldn't have said it better myself.

"The Gathering of Friends Volume I" is available locally at The Pharmacy Station, 601 N. Milwaukee St., in Waterford. (262) 534-9222. For more information, visit



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