Written by Susanne Sayles

Among the many ties that hold the R. Stu Crew together is our collective love of summer. We all adore a day by the lake with perfectly chilled rosé in hand; road trips to new places, bound for memorable adventures; and the late summer sun allowing us to spend just a little more time with friends and family. When August comes around, it’s always a bit of a shock to the team.

August means that harvest is fast approaching, and leisurely summer afternoons are limited. You may understand the feeling, as the school year and upcoming shift in season fast approach. Personally, I wonder how I’ll find the time to see friends I haven’t seen yet this summer – and not just in passing with empty quips of, “Let’s get together soon!” As we all sit at this impasse, we are nudged toward creating space for gathering in creative ways which fit in to this busy season. 

If you’re a long time friend of R. Stuart, you know we can’t pass up on a dinner party and you likely feel the same way! However, such a party can be quite an effort for one person in the midst of the dog days of summer. Luckily for us, we have a beautiful method of how to create a dinner party with a fraction of the effort. With our tried and true method, you’ll taste through a wider variety of dishes than you’d be able to make on your own, and with far less stress.
Behold: The Cookbook Book Group.

The Cookbook Book Group is an effort in intentionality, gathering, creating, and sharing. Our beloved Maria and a gaggle of her dearest friends engaged, almost religiously, in their book group. They were, and are, all lovers of good food and conversation living in harmony. Each month, a single cookbook would be selected as inspiration for their upcoming meal. They would spend time poring over the recipes, determining which ones would create a balanced and undeniably delicious spread. Upon gathering, there was a feast fit for queens where conversations flowed as readily as the wine. 

Pictured with Maria, on the far right, is the group of “Ladies Who Cook,” circa 2015.

Many aspects of the book group beautifully reflect Maria’s, and R. Stuart’s, philosophies:

  • Respect of one’s available time during busy seasons
  • Intention and excitement in making time for friends and family
  • Continual collaboration and a hope to lighten the load for each other
  • It’s not solely about taking something off of someone’s plate – it’s about adding to it

As an observer to the book group, I loved hearing Maria talk about the next time they would all get together. The day after their gatherings, she would speak with a full heart, saying things like, “Patty made the most incredible dish,” “Every time I see these women, I’m revived,” or “I already have an idea of what cookbook to suggest next month.” She was enamored with the community of people who were committed to savoring the best moments and morsels in life. And even in the busiest of seasons when it felt like time was running out, the “Ladies Who Cook” always found a way to get together.

So as the summer days dwindle and you catch yourself asking, “how will I have the time,” we encourage you to stop, call your best friends, pick a cookbook, and add to each other’s plates. We have no doubt that you’ll savor those memories in the seasons to come.

You can read Maria’s blog about the The Cookbook Book Group here.