Neatly Nested Decor is kicking off blogger Kate Bowler’s book tour as she debuts her first-ever cookbook, New England Invite: Fresh Feasts to Savor the Seasons. On 10/11 from 6 to 8 pm, Neatly Nested is offering 10% storewide and the chance to win a $100 gift card with a purchase of New England Invite as well as drinks from 90+ Cellars and snacks.
We sat down with Bowler to get a sneak peek of her book and learn how entertaining people doesn’t have to be scary—no, really.
The book’s recipes come from Bowler’s personal experience hosting family and friends while also running after her toddler, so she gives practical tips on how to use leftovers, make things ahead, embrace a buffet, and whip something together quickly with (blasphemy!) paper napkins. She’s like the anti-Martha Stewart, in the best way possible.
“A lot of the cookbooks I own and love are very aspirational—beautiful year-round California weather, over the top decorated spaces. It’s not realistic for how I live my life, or for how a lot of people live their lives here,” she says.
That’s what provided the inspiration for her to write New England Invite. The photos may be Pinterest-worthy, but the recipes and instructions are all about the practical. She’s trying to take the intimidating out of entertaining, she says, to reel it back in from a scary, impossible feat to something joyous. After all, it’s hard to see photos of a gorgeous, pristine spread and imagine your family having fun in that space.
“Ultimately, I wrote the book for the person who thinks he or she can’t entertain, to convince you that you can do it,” she says. The book officially launched on October 1, and she’s already had positive feedback. “I hear from moms who are so intimidated by what they see on Instagram and Pinterest. My goal is to encourage people to let go of perfection—all you need is the book, and a willingness to get your hands dirty.”
She’s deliberately provided a variety of dishes for different lives and skill sets: singletons trying to whip up a grilled pizza dinner in a one-bedroom apartment all the way up to the dreaded big-family, cooking-for-20, don’t-screw-this-up-or-you’ll-ruin-the-holiday Thanksgiving feast.
“It’s a balance of creating something delicious and not using 10,000 dishes or cooking for hours on end,” she says. That’s why she’s launching at Neatly Nested, she says—it’s the same balance of practical and beautiful.
She’s deliberately catering to her local audience. In keeping with the title, the distinct characteristics of New England run through her cookbook, which is organized by season. From the most Northeast activity ever (a.k.a. apple-picking) to the best dish to beat those Snowpocalypse blues, the location is a character in itself.
“We live differently here—and it’s often dictated by the seasons,” she says. “But there’s so much discovery and creativity in that. It doesn’t have to be a beautiful sunny day to have everyone over.”
One of her favorite recipes from the cookbook is the traditional family lobster bake—getting everyone around that big lobster pot in a communal cooking experience. Another chapter centers around making dishes from whatever you find the farmer’s market, which has been a favorite activity of hers for years.
“Each recipe is a memoir,” Bowler says. She’s been blogging at Domestikated Life for a decade, and her recipes have a homey, lived-in feel. Her toddler helps with the meatballs. Her husband experiments with the smoker. And the family chows down together.
“We live in a Pinterest world, so let’s make the scene real again,” she says. “Just have fun.”
Click here for the full book tour and a list of locations where New England Invite is available.