Friends & Potlucks


This website has gone silent for over a year, and I need to tell you why. The main character in the reports of my attempts at cooking is gone. My beloved and infinitely patient husband R. died in February.  For almost a year before his death I no longer cooked nor entertained. He had throat cancer, as well as heart problems and then spinal surgery last Christmas, but it was the throat cancer and radiation that ended the recipes and guests filling our kitchen.

When he could no longer swallow food and was on a feeding tube, there were no more meals together or glasses of wine.  Sitting down to meals, sharing food or even just a cup of coffee – something so ordinary and taken for granted – is such a profoundly important part of life. I realized meals anchor our life with the people we love, meals mark the passage through each day, week, month, and weave a pattern that shapes and enriches our relationships.

As I write this it has been almost four months since R. has been gone, and though the grief is as intense as it was in the beginning, and I suspect will be so for a very long time, I’m inviting friends again to my kitchen table. I’m blessed to have a circle of friends who feel as close as family and we’re having a lot of potlucks. They usually bring the food and I set the table and light some candles. And what a gift this is – sitting in my kitchen, all of us sharing memories of R., teary, laughing, eating, and drinking wine with people I love. Last night I managed to do the appetizers (I bought three kinds of cheese and some good crackers), and Barbara and Louise, just back from Japan, brought our favorite Marie Callender vegetable quiche, Rob brought a Trader Joe’s frozen Key Lime pie, Nicki had roasted Brussel  sprouts, and Kara made a delicious salad, as did Maria who had just returned from Argentina. Nothing is planned ahead for the potlucks, I send out some emails, whoever can make it comes, the kitchen table can seat eight, so it’s eight or less at dinner. The dining room can fit more but feels too formal; six to eight people for dinner seems the right number.

My cousin Sally Court actually suggested the potluck dinner idea to me; she has one every Friday night.

Gradually I’m going back to cooking, collecting recipes again, and as I read through what I’ve written on this website (which had temporarily disappeared into cyberspace due to my inattention to it) I got excited again about the premise of The Intimidated Cook. Our friends and families sustain us through good times and bad, and the best place to connect with them is by sharing a meal at our kitchen table. An easy meal, whether you cook it or they bring it.


“What I miss is the society. Meals are when we most easily meet with friends and family. ..When we feel good together. Meals are when we get a lot of our talking done…. That’s what I miss…What’s sad about not eating is the experience…The loss of dining, not the loss of food.” –  Roger Ebert


  7 comments for “Friends & Potlucks

  1. June 20, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Barbara, it’s great to hear your voice here again and see your table. A few months ago, I began doing the same thing with old friends from L.A. that now live a bit closer. We get together every week–a wonderful ritual to look forward to. One night a week the emptiness is a bit less.
    I think of you often, and when I do, I always send love.

    • Barbara
      June 20, 2015 at 1:56 am

      Oh Denise – this is so good to hear. Yes, when we have the dinners it is less empty. I wish you lived closer and could join us.
      I think of you often too and sent you love. Thank you for this comment. xoxo

  2. Merna
    June 20, 2015 at 4:00 am

    So lovely to see you return with this blog. Coincidentally, as I drove along the PCH today I thought about the blog and hoped you would return to it. Perhaps you were writing as I passed by! Welcome back.

  3. amy
    June 20, 2015 at 5:15 am

    so very gorgeous. thank you for writing this. it was perfectly filling. thank you. xoxoxoxo

  4. Cynthia
    June 20, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    What a lovely post, Barbara and so poignant. I can totally relate — what I miss most is conversations at meals. I’m glad we were able to connect last week and I look forward to more posts! (And I love the quote from Roger Ebert.)

  5. June 20, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    I am so happy to read your words again and to see that you are surrounded by friends during this terrible time. What a wonderful idea to throw impromptu potlucks — I believe I might try to do this very thing! Love to you, as always, Barbara.

  6. Barbara
    June 20, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Dear Barbara,
    So glad you are back in your kitchen. It does help to have dear friends around,
    especially in community of sharing a meal and a glass of wine. Especially with
    people who are not afraid to talk of R and theirs and your memories. So many people are afraid to speak about those that are recently gone, and I found it
    wonderful to hear people with their memories. Blessings to you and on your potlucks! Hugs Barb

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