Bite this Book: Gatherings

Folks, I have one more cookbook giveaway for you to wrap up my Bite this Book series in 2014. It couldn’t come at a better time, as we are preparing for the holiday season and some of you might be quaking at the thought of hosting.

Canadian food writers and my friends Jan Scott & Julie Van Rosendaal have joined forces to bring us guide to making casual entertaining simple and accessible. Gatherings: Bringing People Together With Food is a beautiful cookbook full of helpful tips for real get-together from cocktail parties to potlucks, equipping you to go fourth and entertain with confidence.

I can’t wait to put Gatherings to good use over the holiday season. I’ll be hosting a handful of events and will be counting on this beautiful book to help me survive and thrive. Bookmarked already are the chapters: Weekend Brunch, Snow Day, Holiday Open House and Cocktail Party.

Read on for an exclusive interview with both Julie and Jan, plus a chance to win a copy of Gatherings: Bringing People Together With Food!

Gatherings Cookbook Cover


Q & A with Jan Scott and Julie Van Rosendaal

When did you first notice you had a knack for bringing people together over food?

Jan ~ I had forgotten about it, but recently some University friends reminded me about a Thanksgiving dinner I organized while we were all living together outside of the dorms. I made the main components of the meal (turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy) and asked everyone else to contribute a side, dessert, or beverage. It was a terrible tasting feast, but when we all think back to those school years we remember it so clearly, and I think that’s when I discovered that one of my biggest joys in life is gathering people around my table, filling their bellies with food and their minds with memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Julie ~ My mom likes to tell the story of when I was 3 and asked her when I could cook by myself… she said when you can read a recipe by yourself, you can cook by yourself. Cooking has always been my thing.. ever since I had to push a chair up to the counter to reach it. I loved how it made people happy, how people gathered together around it, how it was a source of comfort and nostalgia. It’s such a big part of our every day culture.

"Gatherings" Holiday Table

Who is ‘Gatherings’ written for and what will this book help them accomplish?

Jan ~ I think the book is written for everyone who loves to eat with others. It’s intended to be a guide for the inexperienced host, and possibly a reminder to those who gather with others regularly that less is more, and everything doesn’t have to be precious and perfect for the meal or event to be a success. It saddens me to think that people are intimidated by the thought of feeding a group, and my hope is that the book will take some of the pressure off and provide those folks with ideas for making it fun and doable.

Julie ~ Gatherings is written for everyone – except I suppose those who prefer to dine solo. Most of us tend to like eating with other people though – it’s such a social thing, whether it’s a regular dinner on a Tuesday night or a big celebration. Food is a part of so many life events, big and small, and it’s a shame so many of us are intimidated by the thought of feeding others. We want to take the pressure off, and make people comfortable with the idea of gathering around their own tables.

"Gatherings" - Cheesy Christmas Tree

What sort of gatherings are planned in your home this holiday season?

Jan ~ We are keeping our gatherings small and low-key this holiday season. I’m nearly eight months pregnant and have decided that the people I want to gather with the most are the ones who live in my own home. So, aside from the big Christmas dinner (for 20 people) that I cook every year, I’m planning nothing but a fondue feast with my kids and their friends, a board game night with lots of finger foods, and a few at-home date nights with my favourite person.

Julie ~ We’re just finishing a kitchen reno, so we won’t have quite as many gatherings at our house as usual, but we will have our annual Polyester & Cheese party – everyone brings something cheesy, and wearing polyester is optional, but fun. It’s sort of a potluck-slash-cocktail party, and everyone loves it. Who doesn’t adore cheese? And then of course we have the requisite turkey dinners – one at my mom’s, one at our house, and one at my husband’s cousin’s place. Never too many turkey dinners, friends and relatives this holiday season!


Ta-Da! I have a copy of Gatherings to give away to one lucky North American reader. ** This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Sharon Holbrook, our winner! Sharon look for an email coming your way soon.**

To enter: tell me in the comments below about an upcoming gathering you’ll be hosting (or attending) this holiday season!

Remember: If you are reading this post via email, please note that you must enter on the blog post, NOT by replying to the email.

Giveaway ends Sunday, December 21 at 7AM EST. Good luck to all.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Christmas eve homemade pizza party and Christmas dinner with family and then off for a few days of extended family fun and food.

  2. Will be gathering in Florida to spend Christmas with my sister. My dad and brother will coming along from the midwest…Cant wait…Merry Christmas…

  3. We hosted the party for the deacons of our church and will be having my husband’s side of the family tomorrow. On Christmas day we will be having a big dinner with just our children and grandchildren.

  4. I have no specific plans to entertain this holiday season, but have been thinking that I should…it may help my spirit and prompt me to get my house more festive. I will be attending extended family Christmas, I will bring a passing dish, but more importantly I will be bringing an assortment of savory and sweet jams and jelly to pass out for holiday gifts. I have been preparing them over the past 11 months and look forward to sharing them with loved ones.

  5. I will not be hosting anything this year — except my son’s December birthday party. But I will be cooking with my mom for her Christmas party. She cooks way too much, gets way over-stressed, so hopefully me and my littles can bring her some fun and take that hostess stress off her shoulders. She certainly deserves it.
    Plus this book looks amazing. Holiday celebrations really are about bringing people together around a table to share and love!

  6. Tomorrow I am off to a family christmas gathering! I baked some goodies to bring along and will be bringing a marinated goat cheese dip which is sooo easy yet delicious.

  7. This is my family’s first Christmas together in a new place, so I will be hosting a Christmas Day lunch: beef bourguignon, good bread, kale salad, roasted potatoes, and a pear and chocolate cake. I hope the meal and time together as family will help everyone to feel comfortable, loved, blessed, and merry this holiday season.

  8. I will be hosting a new years eve party at my house with my family! I love to cooking and baking. I could spend days on end in my kitchen – it is my happy place! I would love to win this cookbook so I can recreate this recipes for my new years eve gathering! I am a big foodie!! I also have a Youtube channel with my best friend where we share healthy recipes and tips – we have some delicious holiday recipes up now.

  9. I will be traveling to the midwest to celebrate Christmas with family. Even though it’s not at my home, I’m “hosting” the meal and asking everyone to contribute.

  10. My boys and I will be going to my mom’s for Christmas dinner. She is not a very good cook! LOL! So I hope to get there a bit early to “help out” 🙂

  11. For Christmas Eve, my family and I will be going to our family friend’ home! I am planning on doing a lot of baking – starting with gingerbread cookies and my kids’ favourites: monster cookies! My kids love baking during the holiday season.

  12. We will attend a hannukkah party tomorrow night, we will bring some sweets and an Apple pie

  13. Our first family gathering is in Iowa tomorrow evening, but schedule changes may prevent us from making it… fingers crossed!

  14. I host my family on Christmas Eve. We usually do boiled shrimp and this year I’m looking to expand on that this year. Would love to win a copy of this.

  15. I’ll be making the Christmas day meal and we’ll be enjoying it at a friend’s home. Merry Christmas!

  16. We are looking forward to hosting for New Year’s Eve. This book looks beautiful!

  17. We are having 11 people at our tiny house for xmas eve! It will be fun!

  18. I’ll be joining my family for our traditional Chritmas Eve celebration. We eat a simple meal together and lots of yummy treats and then have a white elephant gift exchange and often other group games. We talk and play until we are all too tired to carry on.

  19. Shannon Nicks says

    We are having our first Christmas Day at our own home as a family this year (usually we are travelling to see loved ones). We are hosting our first Christmas dinner ever (still not sure what I am cooking however) and I am looking forward to starting some traditions of our very own. Other than that, I too am nearly 8 months pregnant (like Jan!) so we are keeping things low key this holiday season. I would love to add Gatherings to my cookbook shelf.

  20. Tomorrow I am making breakfast sandwiches on freshly baked rosemary focaccia for eight adults and five kids — while morning sickness lurks. It should be quite the feet.

  21. Christmas Eve we will be ordering in Chinese food! Love to cook but I look forward to this every year!

  22. We are hosting a Xmas eve gathering for family before the midnight mass

  23. We will be having turkey dinner at my sisters this Christmas and are hoping to host a tobogganing/potluck party when we have more snow!

  24. We do a big Italian Christmas Eve dinner with my family.

  25. The current plan is Chrstmas brunch and Christmas dinner but that could change. Last week we were suddenly hosting a dinner party for 20 when the host’s power went out. ‘Tis the season of plans change.

  26. Christmas dinner with my husband’s family. It is very casual but very fun!

  27. Christmas Eve lobster dinner with my brother and our families. It’s been a family tradition since we were little kids growing up in Nova Scotia.

  28. Karen Jeanne says

    I will be hosting a small tailgate party for one of the college football bowl games after Christmas. I plan to serve cheese & crackers, tortilla chips with homemade salsa and/or hummus, bacon wrapped smoked sausages, & ginger cookies with spiced pumpkin dip, in addition to drinks. Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. Hosting a Christmas Eve shrimp dinner

  30. I will be hosting Christmas eve and Christmas day.

  31. My parents and sisters are coming to our house for Christmas this year, so we’re busy preparing to have an extra five adults living here for a week!

  32. I’ll be hosting a cookie exchange tomorrow for family: aunts, cousins, grandmother, sister, mom. Years ago, we used to all get together to actually bake the cookies. But it grew to be such a hassle for us all to be cooking out of one oven. So last year, when no one was really suggesting a bake-together day, I invited everyone to bake the cookies at their own houses and then come over to do an exchange. Less stressful, still fun! I wanted to adapt so as not to lose the tradition altogether. Plus, I really have been wanting to host more so I was glad to find an occasion to do so! It was a success, and we are doing it again this year.

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