In 2008, new to St Louis, I (Bonnie) invited my new neighbors over for a dinner with a twist – help me buy the ingredients and cook the meal, while I provide the kitchen and drinks. “Deal,” they said, and a tradition was born.

We are a group of friends who discovered that cooking is a lot more fun when you can tackle challenging recipes, split up shopping lists, share the grunt work, and enjoy the results together. Good laughs, great conversation, delicious food, warm memories….what is better than that?

Over the course of the next year, we hosted these dinners in each of our homes almost every week. These evenings quickly became the highlight of the week: the night we looked forward to for great home cooked food and swapping juicy stories about work, love, families, and whatever else was on our minds. New neighbors joined and others moved on as time passed, but the tradition lived on (if less frequently) for the next four years.

Now dispersed from coast to coast, these neighbors have decided to share our experiences with others, encouraging cooking in community as a way to get to know those around you, develop some skills, and discover new tastes along the way. The recipes are written to be easily followed by a group of multiple cooks. Ingredients’ lists are presented as easily delegated shopping lists, divided by meat, produce, oils/spices, dairy, and/or other categories. The idea is that each neighbor will choose the ingredients they already have, or can pick up, and together the meal will be prepared over drinks, laughs and chit chat. Eating was often done around the table, though we sometimes found a movie to go with the meal – Babette’s Feast and Australia were two of our favorites.

So – enjoy, share your own ideas, and happy cooking!