Monday, February 1, 2021

Welcome to Monday Potluck from @MaddieDayAuthor #giveaway!

MADDIE here. We're starting a new feature today: Potluck Monday

The Mystery Lovers' Kitchen authors will rotate hosting, and I was delighted to draw the first slot. The host decides the content, so you might be introduced to a special guest, read about a new recipe, or find other surprises. I decided to focus on the word "potluck" itself and its delightful foodie manifestations.

What's a potluck? The term dates from the 1590s, meaning a meal accepted from another. You take your chances - or luck - with what might be in the pot. Now it signifies a gathering where each person who shows up brings food to share with all. 

Some groups try to organize the offerings with signup sheets for different categories of food. I rather prefer a true potluck. In July you might get mostly salads, and that's fine. A winter potluck could see an array of soups and stews with not a fresh veggie in sight. That's okay, too!

I'm a big fan of potluck suppers from way back. When I was in college, long long ago in southern California, a bunch of us lived off campus near the beach in off-season rental houses. Three houses of friends all snagged abodes on the same street (Onyx Street on Balboa Island, if you know the area). We had potlucks all the time, including one epic vegetarian Thanksgiving meal at the house I shared with three other girls. Everybody dressed up in our quirky hippy best and we each wore a flower in our hair (the guys had lots of hair at the time). 

For the last couple of decades, my Quaker faith community has been meeting for monthly social potluck dinners. We don't always have time to visit as much as we'd like during our fellowship hour, and this is a way to get to know each other better. Different members host in their homes. 

An indoor potluck at my house

But our house has stairs going into it both front and side. After the church gained several mobility-impaired members, I started hosting the potluck in June on our driveway. The days are long, and nobody was restricted from coming.

Darkness was starting to fall in the driveway by the time I remembered to take a photo

So what's a good dish to bring to a potluck? I like to accommodate vegetarians who might be attending as well as the gluten-free crowd if I can. A cheese quiche is a good bet. I make mine with a brown rice crust, because it's easier and healthier, and that lets those who avoid gluten partake, too.

As it turns out, way back in 2013 I was a guest on this blog with my Herbed Spring-Garlic Quiche recipe! It appears in my first Local Foods Mystery, A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die (the paperback version of which is currently on sale).

I also have a recipe for a vegetarian leek tarte in the 2015 Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.

But really, you can bring anything. One of our Quaker members picks up a to-go pizza. Another always makes a broccoli-walnut dish. The member with chickens invariably brings deviled eggs. Of course, because of COVID we haven't had a third Friday potluck in nearly a year. (Sigh.) But we'll get back to it. Maybe even in my driveway this June.

We hope you enjoy our new Monday Potlucks. I'm looking forward to seeing what's in the pot each month!

Readers: Share your potluck experiences. What's your favorite recipe to bring? I'll send one commenter a copy of one of my Country Store Mysteries except the first one - your choice!

My most recent book is Candy Slain Murder, the eighth Country Store mystery. As with all my books written as Maddie Day, you'll find easy recipes in the back.

The next book out in late March will be the wide release of Murder at the Taffy Shop, the second Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery - up for preorder now!

After that, my alter-ego has A Changing Light, our seventh Quaker Midwife Mystery releasing on April 13! It's also up for pre-order.

I hope you'll visit Edith Maxwell and me on our web site, sign up for our monthly newsletter, visit us on social media, and check our all our books and short stories.

Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell) is a talented amateur chef and holds a PhD in Linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha Award-winning and bestselling author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and also writes award-winning short crime fiction. She lives with her beau north of Boston, where she’s currently working on her next mystery when she isn’t cooking up something delectable in the kitchen.


  1. I always struggle with potlucks since I really don't cook. I probably could if I tried, but it takes away from reading time. So I usually go for something simple - a dessert or drinks or something like that.

    1. Thus the guy who always brings takeout pizza to our potlucks! Which is always fine.

  2. I usually take broccoli salad, it's a basic recipe but can be changed up with different items like sunflower seeds, craisins or nuts.

  3. Since most seem to bring a main course or dessert, I often bring a side dish. This recipe is always a big hit and I’m often asked for the recipe. It’s easy to keep warm, but also good at room temperature. I never go home with leftovers.

    Green Bean & Shoepeg Corn Casserole
    Serves 8
    1 can French style green beans, drained
    1 can white shoepeg corn, drained
    1 can celery soup, undiluted
    1 ½ cups grated Mild Cheddar
    ½ cup sour cream
    ½ cup chopped onion
    1 can water chestnuts, finely chopped
    1 roll or tube of Ritz crackers
    1 stick of butter, melted
    Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray.
    Place drained green beans in casserole dish.
    Top with drained shoepeg corn.
    In bowl mix celery soup, cheddar cheese, sour cream, onions and water chestnuts until combined. Spoon on top of veggies in casserole dish.
    Crumble crackers in bowl and drizzle with melted butter. Stir to coat crackers. Sprinkle over top of cheese mixture in casserole dish.
    Bake in a 350 degree oven uncovered for 40 minutes.
    NOTES: This goes great for a potluck dish. It’s great hot, warm, or room temperature. It never seems to make it to the refrigerator as leftovers but I’m sure it would reheat nicely too.

    Thanks for the fabulous opportunity to win one of your books! Shared but hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.

    May today start you off on a great and fun week!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. Welcome. This looks like you have a of fun. I can see how this would make friends. Years ago the church we were at had a once a month pot luck on sunday before we had to set up for church. At the time we were meeting in a community center. So there was a group of us that would set up and take down. We made some wonderful friends that have lasted for years. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  5. I usually make a Mediterranean style pasta salad. It has marinated artichokes, olives, feta cheese with lots of local produce (bell peppers, tomatoes), and a vinegarette with EVOO and my homegrown herbs (basil, parsley).

  6. I like to take good healthy green salad or one of my favorite cakes like this Sweet Potato Pound Cake. I don't know where the recipe came from, I've been making it for years.

    Sweet Potato Pound Cake

    • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    • 1. Preheat oven to 350º. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Add sweet potatoes, and beat well.
    • 2. Stir together flour, next 3 ingredients, and, if desired, cinnamon in a medium bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (12-cup) tube pan.
    • 3. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool for about one hour.
    • Sweet Potato Pound Cake Loaves: Prepare batter as directed; pour into 2 greased and floured 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loafpans. Bake and cool as directed. I prefer the loaf pans. You can take one and leave one at home.
    • I like to top it with a sugar glaze or a simple syrup. That’s optional and up to the baker.

  7. Love the history of the word potluck, Edith, thank you. Who knew it dated back so far?

    My favorite item to take is usually from-scratch, super-duper chocolate brownies that I make in the microwave. Takes ten minutes to make, and they are always a huge hit. I've added chocolate chips, crushed peppermint, cacao nibs, nuts, and other fancy bits over the years. It's fun to tell people "no nuts" when they're crunching on cacao nibs.

    Pre-COVID our bookclub had a potluck at someone's home every meeting. The offerings were always fabulous, because every member happens to be an excellent cook, but the most fascinating thing is how rare it is for there to be any overlap. We have almost never had all salads or all desserts; there seems to be a natural consciousness of knowing what not to bring.

    1. I love that about potlucks. And the brownies sound great, Karen.

  8. Love doing potlucks with the church. I love your idea of using your driveway for those who cannot do stairs. Thanks for a gluten free recipe. It is always a little scary for us to go to potlucks if you don't know what is in the food! I try to make my brownies or lemon bars, gluten free of course! I never have many to take back home!

  9. I like to bring fruit salad. That way I know I’ll have at least one healthy thing to eat.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

  10. What timing! Our family is having a potluck dinner on the 13th to celebrate our grandson's 100 day.
    Our son is Korean and his wife thought it would be appropriate to do a Korean festival to mark the 100th day. In the past the infant mortality rate was so bad in Korea that any child who lived to 100 days was celebrated because it might survive.
    We're celebrating just because. With proper masks and social distancing.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  11. A beef, lamb or chicken curry dish. During the summer months, I generally do a fruit salad.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

  12. Here in Hawai'i, it's tradition for folks to always bring food when invited to a meal at another's home, whether it's advertised as a potluck or not. As a result, there's always LOTS of food at dinner parties! Since avocados are plentiful, delicious, and inexpensive here, I often make guacamole (with avos, lime juice, and garlic, chile, and cumin powder) and bring along tortilla chips to dip in it.

    Thanks for kicking off our Potluck Monday feature, Edith! I think it's going to be good fun!

  13. We used to have lunches at work and we would pass around a sheet so we knew who was bringing what. I used to bring the six hour pork roast that makes really great pulled pork.

  14. I find almost everyone can eat fruit salad. Whatever is in season and ripe! I usually serve as is but once in a blue moon I'll make a dressing with citrus juice to put on it.

  15. I adore potlucks -- everyone brings their best dishes, and you get to enjoy things you might not make at home. Although there was that one weekend, more than 30 years ago, when a group of us women friends gathered at a cabin on the Olympic Peninsula with three pots of lentil stew and an awful lot of whole wheat bread...

  16. We always bring brisket and sauce to potlucks.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

  17. I love potlucks - before we all started working from home, my office would have a potluck once a month. We are all looking forward to getting back to that. I usually bring a dessert - either brownies or a bundt cake. One of my favorites is a cranberry orange nut cake. aut1063(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Autumn, you are our lucky winner! Congratulations, and please check your email.

  18. One of the dishes I bring to potlucks is butter mochi. Simple and easy.

  19. I usually bring a big pot of stew or chili. Thanks for the chance! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  20. I usually bring calico beans, and they are always a hit. Thanks for the recipe and the opportunity. 🙂

  21. Back in the day when we sometimes went to potlucks, I would try to figure out what was most needed and what most people would not provide. Usually that meant - in our experience - that main dishes were needed. I would make something that was simple and easily recognized like baked chicken pieces or meatballs, etc. that most people could eat.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  22. Deviled eggs are my potluck staple. I always take home 2 empty Tupperware deviled egg containers! I don't have a recipe, just smashed up yolks with mayo, yellow mustard, pickle relish, a tad salt & pepper til it's the consistency and taste you like; stuff it in the whites. Folks gobble those babies up! Thanks for the fun giveaway and new Monday feature! Susan ssnhmptn (at) gmail (dot) com

  23. Since I am not a good cook I bring a green salad or a fruit salad. lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  24. It's been awhile since we did the potluck thing thanks to covid. But I usually bring deserts. I get a lot of requests for my peach cheese cake and also my pecan pie(it's a southern thing, gotta have it every get together). I also always bring some type of homemade cookies for the kids. 1cow0993(at)gmail(dot)com

  25. My most requested dishes to bring to parties were usually potato salad, Italian pasta salad, Parmesan-mustard chicken wings or brownies! lola777_22 at hotmail dot com

  26. I love potlucks. Just like in mysteries, you're always surprised by something. What I bring depends on where I'm going. I have one friend who always requests my Deviled Eggs. Don't tell anyone the secret ingredient is avocado. Another friend loves my macaroni salad. Ok, the secret ingredient is also avocado. Hmmm, is there a trend?

    1. I love avos with a passion, but I wonder if it changes the color of Deviled Eggs?

    2. I have a recipe for Avocado Deviled Eggs in Murder at the Taffy Shop! Yes, they come out a little green, but are so tasty.

  27. I love potlucks. I always enjoy seeing what everyone brings. I usually bring a seven layered salad and a huge batch of brownies. Any type of dessert really I will always bring too.

    Love your books! Thank for the chance!

  28. Autumn Trapani is our lucky winner! Thanks to all for your potluck suggestions and recipes.