Book Review: Handmade Gatherings by Ashley English

Handmade Gatherings: Recipes & Crafts for Seasonal Celebrations & Potluck Parties

by Ashley English; photographs by Jen Altman

reviewed by Mannie Dalton Crone

handmade gatherings

This inventive cookbook/craft book/guidebook on entertaining is filled with personal stories and intimate photographs of friends gathering to celebrate the bounty of the season at hand through food and craft-making. The book is sumptuous, yet down-to-earth; detailed, yet simple. Organized and inspired by the seasons, author Ashley English offers four party ideas complete with recipes, décor suggestions, and craft activities for each of the four seasons.  There’s a summer gathering inspired by stone fruits dubbed “Like a Rolling Stone (Fruit)”; an autumn gathering centered on the season’s emblem for many, the pumpkin, called “The Great Pumpkin.” No matter the gathering or the season, each celebration showcases how the joy of gathering with dear friends can be amplified when attention to what is imbibed and consumed has been made considerately and when there are meaningful (and fun!) activities to be shared.

English is a regional author, who homesteads in Candler, N.C. with her family. Her writing style is such that you come to feel that she is a friend. Reading this book and viewing its images, you feel like you’ve participated in a way in the gatherings, and wish that only that were true. While I have a great appreciation of good food, I am by no means a cook. However, I’ve bookmarked several recipes I hope to try, and plan on hosting a cookie exchange as recommended in this book this holiday season!

Mannie Dalton Crone is Assistant Director of the Haywood County Public Library. When formerly serving as the Branch Manager of the Canton Library, she had the great pleasure of hosting Ashley English for events on making homemade beauty products and chicken-keeping.