30 ways to be a good guest

As Alex and I go into yet another summer without a patio to house an outdoor grill and a dozen of our nearest and dearest, this means but one thing: doing our best to get ourselves invited to as many barbecues, pot-lucks and patio parties as we can. Nobody can say that we don’t have goals.

Of course, when trying to convince people that you’d be a welcome guest at their party and not, say, the type of person who will drink all of their sangria, teach their children off-color jokes and ultimately pass out in a chaise lounge in the shade, not to be found until long after the shindig has wound down, it helps to have a cooking blog–the kind you’d like to bring samples from.

In fact, I find that the number of invitations we receive correlates closely with the number of times I promise to arrive bearing slaw, sides or cake. Especially the cake. (And to think people said you couldn’t buy friends!)

As we gear up for a barbecue a day this holiday weekend, I have rounded up some of the things I’m considering bringing along, but I think we all know that what I’m really going to do is make all new things because I am allergic to cooking anything twice. But don’t let that stop you from considering one of the things below (and then drinking all of the sangria, because they’ll be so in love with your cooking, they’ll forgive you.)

Slaws (because I’m just a little obsessed with them)




Portable Sweets

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48 comments on 30 ways to be a good guest

  1. Nan

    Hey! You’re invited to our barbeque!! Bring Alex, and yourself and forget the slaw, salad and cake…maybe just a nice little package of those salted oatmeal cookies! Come, stay for the day or the week, what have you got to rush back to? I heard it’s stinkin’ cold there! Well, it’s stinkin’ cold here but that’s normal for Seattle! You’ll put on a sweater, wrap yourself in a quilt and sit under the umbrella on the deck while you watch the mister burn everything on the grill – I’m telling you – you haven’t lived until you’ve heard grill-swearing! We’ll probably have to eat dessert inside, just to give our digits a chance to warm up and then maybe we can talk the boy into entertaining you with his Guitar Hero prowess and Caesar-Beezer the Wonder Dog will even sing along! There is NO END to the fun! If you don’t come, just know we’re wishing you a happy barbeque whereever you end up! Nan

  2. We have a new condo, and share a deck with the neighbors. The realtor said they used to share their grill w/ the former owners of our place, so maybe some of these recipes will help them want to share the grill with us too :)

  3. Before Joce get’s here…Where’s the empanada recipe??

    All of it looks delish! You and Alex are welcome to our non-barbecues any time you feel like heading to Texas.

  4. deb

    And mess up my perfect grid?! But seriously, I thought they were a tad fussy for a BBQ (and I don’t automatically associate them with such). However, for those of you who want to make, oh, only the Best Empanadas in the Entire World, the recipe is here.

  5. I’m having a graduation party for my daughter on the 7th… I would love for you to come! You can bring anything you want! ;) Or one of each… hehehe…

    Oh, it is a bit of a drive though…we’re in MD.

  6. Yes! Excellent collection of recipes. These will be great for the upcoming potluck I’m attending, I want to astound them! Otherwise, a great summer compilation. Perfect for our 4th of July bash.

  7. I love when summer arrives… I love the expectation and the menu development and outdoor dinnerware and large patio umbrellas with paper lanterns… Great menu!

  8. What a wonderful post!!! You can come to a bbq at my place any time – actually – you can use my house to host the whole thing – I only need 30 different dishes – I suspect you can accomodate.

  9. This is a perfect post, especially with the “Backyard BBQ” season in full swing. We have SOOO many cookouts, it’s sometimes hard trying to find different ways to host them all! Well, if you are ever in Maryland, be sure to come to our backyard…chances are you will be treated to delicious Maryland Crabs!!

  10. Carissa

    Awesome. I had already searched for potato salad and coleslaw in preparation for the weekend festivities, and now here they are all arranged neatly in a row. So convenient.

  11. auntjone

    Just remember as your collecting a bevy of invites: someday you may have a home with a patio and a grill, then you’ll have to reciprocate on all those invitations. What if they aren’t as good a cook as you? You’ll end up with 3 gallons of potato salad from the local grocery….

  12. I am addicted to napa cabbage slaw. My mother in law makes the best and it is alway requested when we are visiting. She also does a mean broccoli salad…I have adapted it to my tastes, though. I make my own mayo, use apple wood smoked bacon, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, shallots, celery, sugar and Riesling vinegar. yummy.

  13. sunbeamtn

    I think you could make a cross-country jaunt to all our homes….thank you for the great recipes, teh wonderful photography and the humanity of it all.

  14. I love all these suggestions, especially the portable desserts.

    I just posted a recipe for pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw. It was my first time making slaw and I loved it. I’m sure there will be many more to come.

  15. Tracy

    Would it be considered in poor guest form to take the Creamy Baked Mac n Cheese out of the oven, inhale it, and skip the BBQ altogether?

    Love the post and the recipe!

  16. Kim

    They all look so good how do I choose! Nothing like coming to a barbecue with a great dish. Thanks for the time it took to gather all those suggestions with the great photos.

  17. inkberry

    How have I missed this blog? It’s lucious! The photos are amazing. I was just looking for a decent cookie recipe for ice cream sandwiches, and here you are! Who knew?

  18. Erin

    My best friend directed me to your site, and I am so glad she did! I made the Margarita cookies for Memorial Day and they were amazing! They were a little smaller than pictured, but I was told that only meant we were able to eat more. Thanks! And my oven really did smell like a warm margarita :-)

  19. If you come to one of our BBQs (because, of course, there’d be no problem about flying all the way to LA for a BBQ), we promise to send you home with as many Meyer lemons as you can stuff in your suitcase. (You know how some people get with zucchini? They grow so much their neighbors run when they see them coming? We’re a bit like that with lemons. Thank goodness it’s a very small tree.)

  20. Sue

    I made the cherry cornmeal upside cake for Memorial Day. OMG!! It was delicious. Unfortunately, I kept eating the cherries out of the pan before putting the batter in. I love this site. I could throw all my cookbooks away and just use your site.
    Thank you so much.

  21. Linette

    ok, if you EVER happen to come to the Portland, OR area, you MUST stop by my house. Not like we have a big yard (only tiny patio – for now) but your blog is an inspiration (I am going to start culinary school for baking & pastry next winter!!) and I want to meet you!!!

  22. I have been really enjoying your blog. Today I fixed a recipe for a refreshing summer salad, and was astonished is NOT YET included in your many favorite salads. My father was raised in Brooklyn, and is originally from Russian/Polish ancestry, so this may account for the recipe. It is great on a hot summer evening anywhere. No idea if there’s a special name for it–do you know?

    1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced, 1 cucumber, peeled, sliced in quarters lengthwise, and sliced about 1/4″ thick, 1 scallion thinly sliced, 1 – 1 1/4 cups sour cream. Salt & pepper to taste (I like lots, with sour cream.) Even better with bread and butter on the side.

    Keep up the great work, humor, marvelous photography, and inspiration!

  23. Okay, Deb. We’ve all figured out that you’re trying to kill us, either with these pictures- die of longing- or the actual recipes, in which case we’ll collapse due either to joy or having overfed ourselves. But I can deal with all that, as long as it’s only one recipe per page. But THIS? Thirty pictures and corresponding recipes all together?? This is well and truly a massacre that mercilessly appeals to all my senses!

  24. Lawrence

    Hello! Just wanted to let you know I read the article posted on, and I hope you don’t mind, but you are one gorgeous lady! I will definitely be following your blog. Take care!