Block Parties & Poker Nights: Recipes and Ideas for Getting and Staying Connected with Your Neighbors

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9780609807880: Block Parties & Poker Nights: Recipes and Ideas for Getting and Staying Connected with Your Neighbors
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Across the country, folks are rediscovering potluck parties, progressive dinners, and other neighborhood gatherings as a way to forge bonds that endure long after the last dish is cleared away. From small, adults-only get-togethers to neighborhood extravaganzas, Block Parties and Poker Nights has dozens of creative ideas, for fun, fulfilling community events and the tried-and-true dishes that make them so memorable.

* Recipes for soup buffets, salad bars, and backyard barbecues *
* Welcome baskets for new neighbors and homemade treats to share *
* Tips on foods that travel well *
* Ways to support families in times of need with reheatable comfort food *
* Celebrations for all seasons, from Fourth of July bashes to Kentucky Derby parties*
* Suggestions for starting treasured holiday traditions like caroling parties and cookie exchanges *
* And, everything you need to know to throw a blow-out block party with all the trimmings *

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About the Author:

PEGGY ALLEN is a former vice president of Lifetime Television, where she was responsible for all reality programming. Since forming a partnership with another Lifetime alumna, Lisa Nee, Allen/Nee Productions has been responsible for a broad range of television projects. She currently lives with her husband and two children in a suburb of Chicago, where her Kentucky Derby party is a much-anticipated community tradition.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A Welcome Gift

New neighbors have a lot on their minds. If they don't jump out the door to say hello, don't assume that they're stiffs or stuck-up. Families are often swamped just getting settled in a new home. Anything you can do to let a neighbor know you're there and available to help out will be appreciated, trust me.

Two weeks after we had moved into our home in Wilmette, Illinois, I received a call around six o'clock. It was a neighbor saying her son was on his way over with dinner and to keep an eye out for him in the backyard. Minutes later, this young man walked through our back hedge with a roast chicken on a disposable platter with a salad and some brownies. Having spent the day trying to get my daughters registered for classes, I thought this was a gift from heaven. I have always been so grateful for that thoughtful gesture.

Whether you choose to cook something or purchase it, dropping off food, spirits, or a basket of housewarming items is a lovely idea. Consider making the deliveries on a weekend when both you and your new neighbor might have a little more time for a short chat. Don't count on their remembering all your vital statistics. Write your name, address and phone number on whatever you bring by. Avoid including anything that must be returned; disposable or inexpensive giveaway containers are best.

Here are some ideas about what to bring:

* A basket of local produce and a card explaining where it came from
* A kit containing a local map, the "what's where" community resource book, a local phone book
* Take-out menus
* The local paper (It took me three weeks to figure out that everyone relied on one particular local paper for all the community information.)
* An invitation to the next neighborhood gathering, no matter how far off it is
* A simple, family-style dinner, like baked chicken, a stew, or baked pasta dish. Include some hand wipes, paper plates, napkins and forks-along with some cups and a container of iced tea (If you put it in a container you'd like back, tie on a gift tag with your name, address and telephone number. Once the newcomer gets settled, there is a good chance your basket won't come back empty.)

Neighbors are new for a long time. If you don't get something over in the first few days or weeks, it's okay. Getting attention only at the top of the move can be disheartening. If you're the neighbor that calls, stops by, or drops something off a few months after a move, that's great, too. Also don't forget new kids are often really lonely in their brand-new homes. Get your child to make an extra effort to include the new kids in outings and neighborhood games.
Adele's Pecans
Makes 1 pound

Adele Wolfe shared the recipe for this New Orleans favorite. These are very hard to part with.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 pound pecan halves
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter in a shallow baking pan. Stir in the pecans, and coat them well. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the pecans with salt and white pepper and let them cool in the pan; store them in an airtight container.

Pungent Peanuts
Makes 2 pounds

An easy gift from your kitchen, these peanuts keep well.
2 pounds shelled and skinned raw peanuts
Corn or peanut oil for deep-frying (plus 1 1/2 cups)
6 heads fresh garlic, individual cloves peeled and sliced
Hickory-seasoned celery salt

Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a deep, heavy pot or wok until almost smoking. Deep-fry the peanuts in several batches on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let the peanuts burn.

As the nuts begin to brown, turn down the heat and continue to cook until they're light golden brown. Remove the nuts and drain on plates stacked with paper towels. Let the peanuts cool while you fry the remaining batches.

Heat the 1 1/2 cups of oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sliced garlic, stirring constantly to prevent burning. As the garlic browns, reduce the heat and continue to stir, cooking until the garlic is crisp and light golden.

Remove the cooked garlic with a strainer and drain on paper towels, breaking up any clusters. When cool combine the garlic with peanuts and salt to taste. Store this treat in airtight containers.

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