As one of eight children, I feel deep kinship with others who come from big families. Bunk beds, hand-me-down clothes, abject chaos at dinnertime — these are the staples of big-family life.

Tieghan Gerard, the author of the food blog and cookbook series Half Baked Harvest, is one such kindred spirit. She comes from a family of ten, and began cooking as a tween to help with frenzied mealtimes. She soon started creating her own recipes for a food blog, which became three bestselling cookbooks and a four-million-follower Instagram. Her big-family backstory blends with her wholesome,...

As one of eight children, I feel deep kinship with others who come from big families. Bunk beds, hand-me-down clothes, abject chaos at dinnertime — these are the staples of big-family life.

Tieghan Gerard, the author of the food blog and cookbook series Half Baked Harvest, is one such kindred spirit. She comes from a family of ten, and began cooking as a tween to help with frenzied mealtimes. She soon started creating her own recipes for a food blog, which became three bestselling cookbooks and a four-million-follower Instagram. Her big-family backstory blends with her wholesome, rustic aesthetic: feeding a crowd, after all, involves creativity, resourcefulness and well-loved tools.

I hoped I’d recognize some high-volume cooking tricks in Half Baked Harvest: Super Simple. Think: casseroles, pasta bakes, an extra freezer. Big-family cooking can rarely be accomplished in the trendy “one pot/pan” model, simply because a skillet or sheet pan won’t fit enough food. But I noticed that almost all the HBH recipes, despite Gerard’s background, feed just four to six people. Nearly half are the “one pot” variety, meaning they can’t be easily scaled up. The Breaded Lemon Chicken with Burst Cherry Tomatoes skillet is one of my favorite meals for a romantic dinner with my fiancé, but it won’t feed a crowd. Besides, as my mother puts it: “If I only have to feed four people, we’re getting Jimmy John’s.”

The night I chose to make a Half Baked Harvest feast for a collection of my family was typically chaotic. Mom and I were hand-rolling Prosciutto-Wrapped Zucchini Bites with Goat Cheese when Dad came home from a baseball game, my brother rang the doorbell with his three children, and my sister ran down the stairs in scrubs, looking for a bite before her night shift. While Quick Filipino Adobo braised on the stove, we adults enjoyed the tangy, salty zucchini rolls over a quick catch-up, until calls of “Daaaad! I pooped!” interrupted our party, as they so often do.

Cooking for a crowd requires economy, meaning substitutions. In the case of my Quick Filipino Adobo, which calls for fresh pineapple chunks, I threw in frozen mango instead — to the dish’s great detriment. The coconut rice and plenty of lime juice added sweetness and acidity to an entree that was otherwise overwhelmingly salty.

But dessert more than made up for it: Easiest Cinnamon Apple Tarts involve pantry staples and frozen puff pastry, and can be prepped in fifteen minutes. They’re easy to serve, they look special and the kids love them — perfect for the holidays, now just around the corner.

Therein lies Gerard’s real insight into big family life. Daily cooking for ten people can be a slog. But the joy of coming from families like ours, especially as an adult, is getting together on special occasions. Gerard’s big-family background shines through on her sides, apps, and desserts — perfect for a holiday potluck.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s November 2022 World edition.