As I sit on the porch of my little lake house on this late summer day, awaiting the arrival of my weekend guests, I can’t help but contemplate how the world has changed, to the detriment of gracious living. What happened, I wonder, to the days of a handwritten invitation where the invitee would actually write back? It was a polite world, not too long ago.
The weekend party I am planning is small, but fun. We’ll start with drinks outside. I’m all set with the makings of martinis, which of course means gin. (Rule one: Vodka is not in a martini unless it is called a vodka martini, which really is not a martini at all. And don’t even think that a French martini is French or a martini. It is simply a vodka drink.) We’ll move on to some snacks, cheese, crackers, olives (I’ve got those anyway for the above drink).
And yes, indeedy, the entire weekend will be a party! After cocktails, I’ll light the grill, for I have a fun lobster bake planned. I’ll have the finger bowls ready, and the food all set to pop on the grill, so that I can join my guests almost the entire time I am cooking. I’ve picked out three great wines to serve, and the table is already set with shellfish forks and nut crackers.
For the morning, I have a great eye opener of a breakfast planned, involving plenty of pork products and eggs. Key, along with Clamato bloodies (an appropriate use for vodka), which I’ll make from the mix that is already hiding in the back of the fridge. After an afternoon of outdoor activities (including a rousing game of croquet and a canoe trip on the lake), we’ll cool down with some cocktails and grill a great porterhouse steak with a few terrific sides. A casual brunch with the neighbors will round out the weekend.
With this party, I’m reviving the good old days of preppy living at its best, and I invite you to join me along the way. The book you hold in your hand offers up the finest way to entertain, live, and eat, with a gin and tonic in hand and decked out in outrageous Lilly Pulitzer prints!
The kitchen is the soul of the preppy household. Wheat Thins, port wine cheese, leftovers, and mixers are always on hand. And the preppy cook has an arsenal of great recipes for all occasions, from dropping a covered dish to a neighbor to throwing a black-tie party. And, of course, we entertain and dine consistently using proper manners (remember, always pick up your asparagus; never use a fork unless it is smothered in your perfect hollandaise sauce). Just like our style, the food we prepare goes from the most understated to the most outlandish, without ever being gaudy. And just as we keep a sweater for twenty years (being frugal means more money to spend on the sailboat), we try hard not to waste not, want not. Preppies cook just as well as we play tennis, golf, and open Champagne—perhaps even better.
The iconic book of the early eighties, The Official Preppy Handbook, let the world know, in no uncertain terms, that one does not have to be white Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) to be a prep. And, for a little while there, people listened.
The Preppy Cookbook will guide you, step by step, in creating a kitchen, and a world, that personifies the lifestyle we all have a right to live.
From the cure for a Sunday morning hangover to an elegant bridal shower, from casserole to standing rib roast, tailgating, summering, and more, you can rest assured that no matter what the social situation, you will be prepared—and admired for your good taste.
—Christine E. Nunn