Potluck FAQ

What should I expect at a potluck?

Some of our potlucks are primarily social, and some have a program, such as a lecture, food preparation demonstration, or panel discussion. But all potlucks feature food that we eat together as a shared meal.

What should I bring?

Please bring a fully plant-based (no meat, chicken, fish, broth, gelatin, marshmallows, dairy, egg, or honey products) vegan food item to share. We don't have any guidelines as to how much to bring, but think of 10-15 or 20 small sampler side dish size servings as a point of departure. Please remember to label your ingredients! This helps people who want to avoid certain foods, perhaps because they have allergies.

Anything else?

Yes, please bring any utensils necessary to serve your dish. Also, please bring your own place setting that you can then take back with you and reuse. A dinner plate, fork (and maybe spoon), and glass or cup would be a good assemblage.

Oh no, I am not fond of cooking! Can I come without bringing a dish?

Please come as we want your company most of all. If you are in a rush before the potluck or just don't enjoy cooking, never fear. You could stop by a store and pick up a jug of apple cider or good quality juice, perhaps. How about seasonal fruits that you bring home, rinse, and maybe chop and serve with a little bit of lime juice and raisins? Another good idea may be to pick up hummus and a whole grained bread. How about a quart or two of a good non-dairy "ice cream" (there are many such products available, typically made with soy or rice "milk")?

I do like to cook. What are some typical dishes that people bring?

It varies widely. Try making a stir fried vegetable dish. Or show off a dessert or appetizer you made with filo dough. How about a grain dish? If you like working with dough, make pizza dough and roll it (or buy prepared - just watch out for eggs or dairy in some prepared crusts), slice some thin roma tomatoes atop, sprinkle a little salt and dried oregano, and bake in a 350degF oven for 8-10mins, then top with fresh basil for a fresh and simple pizza. How about making fresh guacamole with a half dozen avacados and bringing a good quality tortilla chip? Some like to make comfort foods that they make all the time, and others like to use the opportunity to try a new or unusual recipe.

Are there any ingredients that I should be aware of?

It's great if your dish is vegan as most everybody should be able to eat what you've made. Please remember that the vast majority of marshmallows are made with animal bone derived gelatin. Some breads have egg or dairy (the best breads are fresh baked and have just a few ingredients, like wheat, starter like sourdough or yeast, water, and salt). If you use soy cheese, realize that most will have caseine, a milk protein, but there are a variety of vegan "cheese"s available. Instead of butter, try a non-hydrogenated spread - several vegan varieties are readily available - or extra virgin olive oil. Sugar? Some white sugars are bleached in animal bone; if you must use sugar, it's best to use a less processed turbinado sugar, or other sweetener like brown rice syrup, corn syrup, or black strap molasses. Honey is not considered vegan.

Should I list "ingredients of ingredients"? If I use pre-made peanut butter, say, should I include the list of ingredients in it?

Good question. Use your judgement here. Generally, the more information, the better. If you want a shortcut to listing all of the sub-ingredients, consider bringing the label of the product and/or listing its brand name.

What is the dress code?

So far except for our annual holiday potluck and gift exchange in December (where even then there isn't a "dress code", but people do tend to dress nicer than perhaps usual), we haven't had any suggested dress code. If a special occasion dictates it, the event description will include that point. Our potlucks are often at people's homes or places like a Quaker meeting house, and you can dress as you normally would.

How many people come to potlucks?

It varies. Our holiday party can have 30-40 or more people, and special event lectures can as well. Most social potlucks tend to have 12-20 or so people.

Do I have to call to let people know I'm coming?

Generally, no, but once in a while we ask for an RSVP.

How frequently are potlucks held?

At least once a month, every month.

Can I host a potluck?

If you're a member of TVS, sure! We typically schedule events 6-12 months in advance, so just let Dilip know of your interest. If you feel you live in a small home, you can always host an outdoor potluck and make arrangements at an area park. Or maybe you can make arrangements at a community center, clubhouse, or other space. Our potlucks are typically on Saturdays at 7 pm, but we can design a potluck to meet your needs - perhaps a Sunday brunch at 1 pm, an optional hike or canoe trip in the afternoon followed by a 7 pm potluck, etc., a Friday at 6 pm potluck followed by film night, etc.

What do I have to do if I am hosting a potluck?

Not much - just expect fun and interesting people to show up almost magically at your door carrying a variety of delicious food, and enjoy the party! We ask people to bring their own place settings, but inevitably some may forget, so it's a good idea to have a few plates, utensils, and glasses available, as well as some serving utensils. Also, some may forget to label their dish ingredients, so having paper and writing instruments handy is a good idea. You decide if you want to make a dish or provide drinks - almost all hosts do, but it is reasonable to also take your hosting as your contribution and just enjoy the treats that others have brought.

I'm not (yet) a member - can I come?

We would love to meet you! Feel free to come to a few events, but please consider joining the group.

Are there other events that TVS holds?

Sure. Our biggest event of the year is our Thanksgiving, which attracts hundreds of people. We have catered dinners, occasional film nights, and other special events, including lectures/demos by nutritionists, food preparers, and others. Check out our events.

What exactly is a "potluck"?

A potluck is a meal organized by a family, set of friends, community organization, or other group, where attendees bring food to share. Some potlucks (but almost never ours) have a structure where people sign up to bring particular dishes; some have a theme (dessert, particular ethnicity, etc.). The first known use of the word is from a citation in 1592 in England, "That pure sanguine complexion of yours may never be famisht with pot lucke". The 1913 edition of Webster's dictionary defines potluck to be "whatever may chance to be in the pot, or may be provided for a meal".