I'm on a mission to find cooking inspiration. I'm not simply looking for recipes to bookmark to make "someday." I'm seeking inspiration for when people gather in my home and I practice my scruffy hospitality, the art of inviting people over without having to have the house in perfect order first.
Spoonful magazine, a quarterly publication that just wrapped its first year of seasonal issues after being named one of the 30 Hottest Magazine Launches in 2016, provides the type of inspiration I'm looking for. The magazine's focus is home gatherings, whether it's a group of two people, 20 people or more. Looking through the pages of this visually beautiful publication and reading the tales of gatherings accompanied by recipes in the magazine, it occurs to me that Spoonful can inspire both my scruffy hospitality and someone else's picture-perfect entertaining.
"Spoonful is both a high-quality magazine and a seasonal cookbook in one. Think of a subscription as like a cookbook that arrives in your mailbox four times a year with the changing seasons, right when you're needing a jolt of awakening," says Emily Teel, editor-in-chief. When winter is fading, the spring issue breezes in with promises of strawberries and asparagus.
In each issue there are 16 stories, and 12 of them are focused on real home gatherings that have happened — either for a special occasion or a traditional get together.
"You can sit down with a copy of Spoonful," says Teel, "and read one person's story and think, 'Let's try doing that for the first time.' Or it may remind you that you haven't made a certain dish in a long time."
It also may inspire you to try something new that becomes one of your favorite meals.
"There's a beautiful recipe in the first spring issue for Hazelnut Granola with Fresh Figs," says Teel. "It has become my go-to granola recipe. Learning to make this one thing has changed what my pantry staples are."
Personally, I've found a recipe in the current winter issue (pictured at left) that I can't wait to make. I've brought Fromage Fort to my friend's annual Christmas Eve celebration for years. It's a tradition for me to show up with this French cheese spread made from leftover odds and ends of cheese that has collected in my fridge between Thanksgiving and Christmas mixed with white wine, butter and garlic. Spoonful has a variation on Fromage Fort that uses the French apple brandy Calvados and heavy cream. This is exactly the type of inspiration I'm looking for — something that makes me say, "I have to make that and make it soon for my friends."
This is where I think Spoonful shines. More than just giving me ideas for what I might like to cook one day when I invite people over, it makes me want to invite people over soon so I can share a meal with them. Teel says that's intentional.
"We want to get people fired up about food rituals by showing them other people's rituals," she says.
The other four of the 16 stories in each issue focus a spotlight on artisans. "The magazine puts stories in front of readers to inspire home cooking but also celebrates stories of local artisans who are making products that are exceptional," says Teel.
The stories of home cooks and artisans are celebrations, according to Teel. "So much of what we're doing in Spoonful is celebrating people that are makers. At the heart of what the magazine is are people who are using their hands to make food to share."
This video features artisans Chef Taylor Mason and Ian Brendle of Green Meadow Farm as they serve up a fall feast from the farm’s 18th century hearth in Gap, Pennsylvania. The feast was featured in the first fall issue.
Spoonful can be found in Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods and more than 600 bookstores and 200 high-end grocery and specialty stores across the country. Individual issues, annual subscriptions and digital subscriptions can be ordered at www.spoonfulmag.com.