The summer breeze carries memories: maybe it’s your mom’s rhubarb pie or your grandma’s knack for hosting garden parties; or maybe it’s your neighbor’s secret-recipe barbecue rub, which has been in the family for generations. Minnetonka resident Cindi Sutter, creator of the food and lifestyle blog The Spirited Table, helps readers take memories and traditions and transform them into new celebrations. “The Spirited Table makes it easy to put your mark on old traditions,” Sutter explains. The blog houses thousands of posts and recipes, organized into four sections: Food & Drink, Celebrations, Delicious Style, and Inspiration.
“My original love for food came from my mother and grandmother. They did simple things, and then they did crazy Christmases for 50 people,” Sutter remembers. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Sutter experienced what she calls a “big cultural food change” when she moved to Minnesota in 1986. Integrating herself, and her family’s recipes, into her new home in Minnesota, Sutter began an annual dessert party tradition, making her mother’s and grandmother’s favorite Southern dessert recipes for her guests.
To ensure a diverse range of contributing voices on the blog, Sutter created a network of what she calls the “tastemakers in residence,” a community of contributing food and lifestyle writers, from all over the country. “Our goal is cultural nourishment,” Sutter says. “We are about food, but the ‘table’ is a metaphor for the experiences.”
With summer activities in full swing, and people grilling on every patio, Sutter and her team of tastemakers have put together their favorite summer entertaining tips for our readers.
Tips from the tastemakers
-Picnic anywhere. “My favorite summer table growing up in Corpus Christi could be the hood of the car with a tablecloth on it, as long as I was sharing it with friends and family.” –Cindi Sutter
-Get the kiddos involved. “Take the kids to the farmers market and have them pick a vegetable. Make a dish based upon what they find. On Friday afternoons, I have the kids make cookies or brownies and then deliver a plate to our neighbors.” –Heather Durenberger, Excelsior resident
Be resourceful with décor. “If you have a rowboat or canoe, fill it with bags of ice for stashing the beer and bottled beverages.” –Sue Zelickson, James Beard Award-winning chef
-Go green. “Bring the outdoors inside with fresh-cut flowers mixed with aromatic herbs, and by keeping the windows open to freshen up the atmosphere.” –Neal Kielar, founder and owner of MidModMen home furnishings in St. Paul
-Improve your barbecue skills. “Use a charcoal chimney to get the charcoal going. Lump hardwood charcoal is the purest: It lights faster, burns hotter and leaves very little ash.” –Ross Bowen, owner of Two Little Pigs BBQ
There is a spot at Cindi Sutter’s spirited table for everyone. “We are the storytellers of traditions with a rich tapestry of voices, practicing hospitality one table at a time,” Sutter says. “Food is the vehicle, but cultural traditions are what really define us.”