Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sunday-Dinner Tips from Tammy Algood

When Joe and I bought our first house as newlyweds, we made a commitment to practice hospitality. Although our cottage was small and I was still a novice cook, we would invite one or two couples to join us for lunch after church on Sunday. I made the same few meals over and over, but week by week we discovered wonderful new friendships. Sometimes we even prepared food ahead and offered an impromptu invitation to whoever joined us on the pew! These days, our family of six is more likely to sit down to lunch at a restaurant after church, but reading Tammy Algood's new book, Sunday Dinner in the South, has reminded me how special it is to break bread together at home. In this post, the food personality and cooking-school instructor offers practical advice for continuing this culinary tradition. 

What advice would you offer someone new to entertaining?

Cookbook Author Tammy Algood
First of all, my number one rule is to relax! Guests and even family members will quickly pick up on your stress if you are allowing self-imposed demands to consume you.

Planning is the key to making sure you are able to spend more time visiting with your friends and still serve a meal with confidence. I love a pretty table and will frequently have it set and ready either early in the day or the evening before. Also, pull out your serving dishes and serving utensils as well so that everything is ready.

Making sure you have everything you need is essential to keeping stress at bay. That’s why I pull all my recipes and do a quick inventory of what I have on hand. This eliminates pantry and refrigerator clutter by regularly rotating ingredients and also keeps costs in control.   

What practical tips can you offer for menu planning?

Don’t be afraid to prepare things ahead of time. Utilize the freezer! The recipes in this cookbook give guidelines as to what can be assembled ahead. If you want to prepare something for immediate consumption, do as much prep work as possible beforehand (i.e. chopping, measuring, mixing, etc.) to make assembly a breeze.

Can you share one of your secrets of Sunday-dinner success?

Appetizers can be a real help and I don’t think that many use them enough during a noon-time meal. They serve the very excellent purpose of keeping hunger pangs in control and, if necessary, these can be served in the den or on a sunny patio to occupy your guests elsewhere, giving you time to put some last-minute items together.

And a final word of advice?

Certainly don’t hesitate to involve your family and friends in the cooking process. It blesses everyone!  

Do you have fond memories of Sunday dinners shared or advice on keeping this tradition alive? If so, please share in the comments.

Stop in tomorrow for a sweet Mother's Day craft.

Tablescape photo from A Little Loveliness. Author photo used with permission.

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