Cooking the books: Cookbook clubs take off in Algoma, Kewaunee
It’s a crowd-source idea sprinkled with a little cinnamon and maybe some parmesan cheese.
Both Algoma and Kewaunee public libraries have introduced cookbook clubs in the past nine months and are seeing steady growth.
The concept is simple.
The group is assigned a cookbook or a theme in which to prepare a food dish. They gather to share the cooked recipes and dine on the food. There are no dues nor obligation. It’s a great opportunity to try a new recipe.
And to meet new people.
“Very social. We’ve developed a nice friendship and share a good meal,’’ said member Pat Cichon, who prepared a mini sausage casserole for the Algoma gathering. “The casserole turned out well and I will make it again.’’
The Algoma cookbook club, “Let’s Get Cooking,’’ is under the guidance of adult services director Katie Haasch. The group meets every other month, generally the first Tuesday, at in the kitchen at St. Agnes-by-the-Lake Episcopal Church on Fremont Street in Algoma.
“There’s a sign-up sheet at the library. The first time we met was in August with four people; now there is about 15,’’ Haasch said.
The club selects a cookbook to create recipes for the gathering. The group has selected “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’’ by Deb Perelman for its June 5 meeting. In previous months, there were recipes from selected cookbooks on desserts, and another month was focused on crockpot recipes.
“We enjoy different food and talk about the recipes. What we would do different with the recipe or whether we would make it again,’’ said Haasch, who shared lemon bars. “It was her first time making them. They actually turned out very well. Only three ingredients,’’ she said with a smile.
The chosen recipes are documented and scrapbooked by the group. It is not a book club, not a potluck crowd, but the members prefer to be thought as a food group.
“Katie had a wonderful idea,’’ said club member Joan Golomski, who made watermelon feta appetizers. “Many of us are volunteers at the library.’’
The Kewaunee group debuted in December and named themselves “Taste Testers,’’ It is coordinated by Teen and Adult Services librarian Cambrie Kolka.
The group of about dozen people also documents its recipes, but meets monthly on the second or third Tuesday. The twist is, members choose a predetermined theme as their cooking cornerstone. At the library, they choose from an assortment of recipes from the library’s abundant cookbooks. On April 17, the group chose Asian fare, and Italian cuisine will be the source May 15.
“I compared different cookbook clubs online, switched them up a bit and launched it,’’ said Kolka. “We talk about challenges or how we would change something in the recipe. Some don’t turn out as well as planned, but encourage to bring the food anyway and figure out what went wrong.
"My final rule is to have fun,’’ she said with a laugh.
The club kicked off with a cookie swap. A male member of the group talked about one of the cookies that reminded him of past Christmases.
There were zha jiang noodles, Vietnamese ginger green beans, coconut milk tapioca pudding, and Linda Vogel of Kewaunee shared moo shu pork wrapped in lettuce leaves for the Taste Testers. Carol Petrina also cooked made-to-order omelets with Asian vegetables and farm-fresh eggs on an electric griddle.
“We all love to cook or learning more about cooking. And certainly, we all love to eat,’’ said Kolka.
Andrea Sohrweide of Algoma, a mother of five children, belongs to both groups. She was holding a copy of the "Pioneer Woman Cooks" cookbook that was bookmarked with recipes that she had prepared in the past.
“I have enjoyed (author Ree Drummond's) passion for family and food,’’ she said. “I learned to make muffin tops by using an ice cream scoop for the batter on a cookie sheet rather than a muffin tin.’’ Sohrweide brought orange-blueberry muffins for the Algoma gathering.
“I also like the idea of making stuffed-crust pizza without the crust but using a bread ring," Sohrweide said. "We enjoy cooking and my children are learning to help in the kitchen.’’
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Cooking the books: Cookbook clubs take off in Algoma, Kewaunee