By SUE SUCHYTA
WYANDOTTE – While searching for a book club idea appealing to all ages, the staff at Bacon Memorial District Library decided to follow other libraries’ recipe for success by initiating a bimonthly Cookbook Club.
At its first meeting Feb. 23, participants shared dishes based on recipes by Ree Drummond of “The Pioneer Woman” Food Network show.
They plan to meet bimonthly on the fourth Tuesday in the multipurpose room to share food and fellowship.
At the next meeting, at 7 p.m. April 26, they will share dishes from Emeril Lagasse recipes. June 28 and Aug. 23 meetings are also planned.
For more information, call the library at 734-246-8357 or contact librarian Kelly Ray by email at [email protected].
Ray said the cookbook collection is one of the library’s most popular sections, with people checking out cookbooks for paleolithic (stone age) diets, gluten-free cooking, and celebrity cooking show compilations.
“Cooking is for all ages,” Ray said. “Libraries in Oakland County have done (cookbook clubs), and it’s been very successful.”
The youngest participant, Keller Brunnelson, 8, of Wyandotte, attended with his mother, Kate. He said food tastes better when you make it from scratch at home because you get to add your own ingredients.
He said he is starting to help in the kitchen, a pursuit not without its perils.
“I like cracking the eggs,” he said, “but one time when I cracked an egg it exploded all over my face.”
Kate Brunnelson said she thinks it is important for her children to take part in family food preparation.
She said in the past she always bought her own cookbooks, some of which went unused, and likes the idea of checking out cookbooks at the library to discover which ones appeal to her.
Brunnelson brought Drummond’s black bean burgers to share with people.
“The appeal for us was to try something meatless and to try and incorporate it into our diet,” Brunnelson said. “I don’t normally care for beans, so I like to try to make a way to like them.”
Kirsten Gilstorf of Southgate thought the club would be a good chance to try out a recipe on someone other than her boyfriend.
“It gives me the opportunity to cook something a little different, try something on a crop of volunteers that self-selected themselves,” she said.
Gilstorf also likes the camaraderie of fellow cooks, swapping stories, tips and tricks, as well as swapping recipes to try, especially new ones not yet published in cookbooks.
She said she finds cooking to be fun.
“In the long run, it is more cost-efficient to cook than to go out to eat all the time,” Gilstorf said, “but I think it’s relaxing, actually, after working all day.”
Karen Wolak of Wyandotte made baklava to share with the group, and said while she doesn’t own many cookbooks, it never occurred to her to look for them at the library.
She said she likes to cook, which her friends and neighbor appreciate.
“It’s very primal,” she said. “It’s a necessity and I’m good at it.”
Wolak said people who like to cook are a unique breed.
“I think we don’t really cook solely for ourselves,” she said. “We cook to nourish our friends and our families. It’s a reflection of our love. We do it for the joy I think.”
Jenica Allman of Wyandotte, who brought a spicy cauliflower stir-fry to share, said she derives a lot of joy from cooking for her family, and she believes shared meals bring people together.
“I think that human beings are meant to share food as a community,” she said. “That is something that has kind of been lacking from my life, so it’s nice to enjoy food with friends.”
Allman said throughout the ages, meals have always brought people together.
“They shared food and what went on that day,” she said. “It’s nice to get back to something like that.”
Edith Klein of Wyandotte, who said she loves to cook, shared chicken parmesan with the group.
She said she passes down recipes to her son when he calls and asks her how a family favorite is made.
“I enjoy it, it’s relaxing,” Klein said, “and I love to see when people enjoy the food that I made. It’s just a wonderful feeling.”
Cheryl Beattie of Wyandotte, who came to meet people and get out of the house, said she really doesn’t like to cook, but does so out of necessity.
She said she hopes to go home with recipes for some of the food she sampled and enjoyed.
Monica Lenihan of Wyandotte said she loves to cook, but gets nervous while waiting to see if people like what she cooked.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself,” she said, “but I always feel really happy when people try things and they like it.”
Cathy Farrell of Wyandotte, who brought brie-stuffed mushrooms to share, said she attends other library activities, including the Bacon Book Club, and she went downstairs from the Sew Club to attend the inaugural Cookbook Club meeting.
She said the camaraderie of the group appealed to her more than the acquisition of new recipes.
“Lord knows I have enough recipes that I have been meaning to try for years and haven’t gotten to,” Farrell said. “But this is also a motivator to actually try some of the types of things that I sit there and go ‘I should make that one day’ and never do.”
“Come check it out,” Gilstorf said. “It’s a good time. Maybe pick up a few tricks, especially if you are afraid to cook. It’s probably a good way to start yourself into cooking.”