Some scholars believe that the first use of the term Pot-luck appears in the work of an Elizabethan poet named Thomas Nashe. While that might be true, given that his fame was largely driven by his erotic poetry, I hesitate to consider what Pot-luck may have meant to Nashe. Instead, I favor the Irish and the sense of a communal meal where friends and neighbors brought whatever ingredients they had to place into the one pot – hence, the food they enjoyed was literally the luck of the pot.

I have many memories of pot-lucks as a child. They typically revolved around church and each was complete with the horrors of waldorf salad, cold macaroni and the lime green jello mold that was disguising shredded carrots. Yet there are other things that I always hoped someone would bring – like deviled eggs. I think pot-lucks have evolved.

Each year my youngest son’s school has a Thanksgiving potluck. It’s a fabulous event held after the children perform a special program with every family (approximately 125) bringing a dish to share. There is no menu, no list, no this part of the alphabet bringing that. The food is left to chance and chances are that one will leave with their fill of flavorful dishes regardless of one’s diet or food preferences. Whether one is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, or omnivore, there is plenty to eat.

When I asked my son what he’d like to take for potluck, his response puzzled me. “Stuffed peppers,” he replied. Really? Stuffed peppers? I didn’t recall him loving the peppers and he quickly assured me that this was indeed true. It’s not the pepper, mom. It’s the stuffing. I love the stuffing part. I instantly felt badly for asking as our pepper supply was diminished and my root bin is overflowing in yams. How would you feel about roasted yams? “That’s fine.” Once again, I am a lucky mom.

This post contains so many of those things that I am truly thankful for at this holiday. I am grateful for our seasonal food, for Farmer Kelly who grows it, for family food traditions, for the opportunity to travel to loved ones and share a meal, for the wonderful school that my youngest son attends and for his flexibility in choosing the pot-luck menu. I’ve definitely received the luck of the pot this year! Happy Thanksgiving!

Honey Roasted Yams
Adapted from Ellie Krieger at the Food Network


  • 2 pounds red-skinnedย sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshย lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2 – 3/4 inch dice and put in a 9 by 13ย baking dish. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender. Serve as an easy pot-luck dish at Thanksgiving!

Leave a comment


  1. Rachel

     /  November 22, 2011

    Love your blog and that picture!!!

  2. Kathy McNamara

     /  November 22, 2011

    Thank you for the yummy recipe. Can’t wait to try it. I too remember church potluck. Deviled eggs also a favorite. But my favorite was Mrs. Davis’s rolls.

  3. I also have good memories of many pot-lucks. Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. so wonderful to be so blessed ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Tammy, this sounds great . . .and easy enough that I could do it! ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a confession to make. I’ve never had sweet potatoes. I should, shouldn’t I? Soon! ha! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I loved your son’s flexibility. He’s blessed to have a mom who’s a good cook and loves him so much.

  6. Sally Mom

     /  November 23, 2011

    Tammy, yea! What a great event and wonderful food. Super delish sweet potatoes and child. Thank you for sharing. Happy happy Thanksgiving!

  7. What a lovely well written post, dear Tammy! ๐Ÿ™‚
    The food, aka this recipe sounds so amazing & tasty too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a great & Happy thanks Giving with your lovely family!

  8. a very lucky mom!

    and what a great idea for a pot luck — “bring it! we’ll eat it!”

    for my thanksgiving pot luck, when people offer to bring food to share and ask ‘what can i bring?’, i answer — bring the thing you love to prepare the most! whatever it is, we’ll eat it!

    • That works too and I find that what I love to prepare differs depending on what’s in season and what I am feeling at the moment.

  9. Happy Thanksgiving, Tammy! I have fond memories of the potlucks at my girls’ Montessori school. The food was always made from scratch, and because we had a very international community, the variety was amazing.
    And thank you for the bit about Thomas Nashe. I will have to research the original meaning of “pot-luck” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes, I’m so impressed with the school as their potlucks are healthy and so many vegetarian choices. Happy Thanksgiving to you too Mary.

  10. When everybody’s into it, potlucks are great. I love the chance nature of it all and the opportunity to taste things that I’d never dream of cooking. Maybe it’s the people I’m hanging out with, but it seems to me like potlucks are getting better and better! …one more thing to be grateful for!

  11. Awww . . . Mom . . . for Thanksgiving, make him a big pot of the stuffing sans peppers! ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. Pot luck: is that a buffet lunch, Tammy? I’ve never heard of it before. The roasted yams sound perfect….have you published the stuffed pepper recipe anywhere?

    • How funny and I thought it was so British! Yes, it’s a buffet where everyone brings a dish. And no, I haven’t published the pepper recipe but I’ll hunt it down and email it to you.

  13. Charlene

     /  November 23, 2011

    That is the same yam recipe I use – It is a winner every time!!

  14. Bonnie

     /  November 23, 2011

    Loved the picture Tammy. Pot lucks are the best especially the ones that are left to chance. Thanks for sharing your ideas. You are such a gift to the world and I am thankful to call you my friend.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  15. I loved yams when I was growing up in New Zealand but I can’t remember ever seeing them here in australia

  16. May be we will try this tomorrow… er, today, it’s already today! Surprised that it takes 1 hour of baking for the sweet potatoes to get tender! Happy Thanksgiving. I give thanks for knowing you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Pot-luck is definitely one of the many ways to foster camaraderie. Nice picture and nice write too. Happy Thanksgiving. God bless.

  18. One of the things I’ve always found incredibly amusing about America is those bizarre savoury jelly salads. Makes my mind pop! I’d much rather have these roasted yams, thanks all the same ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. I love yams and I’ll have to try this.

    We do one pot-luck event every year and yes I love it. We have no menus to adhere to as well. Anything that fits in a pot is welcome.

    Happy Thanksgiving Tammy. Hope you had a great time ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Gorgeous post and delicious looking picture & recipe, Tammy! Belated Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and delighted to hear that you had a lovely time ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Hi Tammy–Love the potluck post! (and thanks for All your posts.) If you lived nearby, you would enjoy being a part of our Third-Thursday Community Potluck–a monthly dinner hosted by me and a friend, started 2 1/2 years ago. it’s a potluck like no other–unstructured–anywhere from 25-40 people bring their best efforts, always with delicious results.


    • Sounds awesome. When my life slows a bit from it’s current pace, I’m hopeful that I can start some of these traditions that you are suggesting.

  22. I have to give this yams recipe a try, though I’m not entirely sure I’ll find any here (haven’t seen them around). We’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Great post!

    That’s my kind of Pot-Luck ๐Ÿ˜‰
    The Yam recipe sounds great.

  24. This reminds me of every family get together I have ever had. Weddings, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even funerals are all good reasons to throw down a big meal. Because of the meal and the closeness of family and friends, they are all good memories, even the funerals.


  25. Love the Irish version of pot-luck. On top of a delicious and fun food, great company and memorable gatherings are usually created whenever friends and family bring in the best of what they can offer. It’s also an exciting way to discover new food dishes and recipes. Thank you for sharing and for the last comment. Best wishes to you and your family.

  26. Hi Tammy
    A lovely post as always. What a sweet son you have! And the yam dish sounds wonderful too.

  27. Pot-lucks rule! Very tasty post!

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