Amy Watterman is flexing her baking skills as she tries the 200 recipes in “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.”
As the manager of the Abilene Public Library’s Mockingbird Lane branch, she is hoping others might like such a food journey while sampling and socializing at the new Cookbook Club.
Food is “a great way to bring people together, and especially people who enjoy cooking or baking, especially if you live alone, or if you’re just cooking for one or two people,” Watterman said.
Participants at each monthly meeting are to bring a dish centered on a theme. Appetizers is the subject for the inaugural club gathering at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 10 at the library branch, 1326 N. Mockingbird Lane.
Preregistration is required. Participants must be 18 or older, and their dish must be based on a recipe from a library cookbook.
“The library has lots and lots of cookbooks,” Watterman said.
Why cookbooks still rule
Public libraries across the country have cookbook clubs to promote their large collections of cooking tomes, Watterman said.
Because she has enjoyed her trek through Martha Stewart’s2005 cookbook, Watterman hopes others will likewise benefit from an organized cooking adventure.
While an avid baker, Watterman believes the club will help her in other areas of cooking.
“I’m trying to be a better cook, and so this is partly for me to improve my cooking skills,” she said.
Watterman acknowledges that recipes are readily available on the internet with a search of cooking blogs and websites. But that digital resource may not be available readily for those with limited online access, she said.
And, a search for recipes with a few electronic keystrokes can boil over quickly into an onslaught of results, such as 1,001 recipes for fried chicken, Watterman said.
“I know when you’re wanting to make a new recipe, sometimes it’s overwhelming on which one to pick,” Watterman said. “This group kind of gives people a focus because each month there will be a theme, and so it’s really to kind of help narrow your focus.”
And, using cookbooks from the library means all participants have access to the publication, she said.
In addition, depending on the publisher, cookbook recipes are vetted and tested to ensure accuracy.
“This gives each person a way to sample something from different cookbooks and just be able to talk with like-minded people who enjoy cooking and baking,” Watterman said.
A self-described planner, Watterman has mapped the themes for the next 12 months.
September’s is European food, followed by comfort food in October.
“So it would be whatever that person considers comfort foods for them. Something they grew up with,” she suggested.
Other monthly confabs will center around an ingredient, such as chocolate, ginger or cardamom. One month, a specific cookbook will be selected for the club attendees to make recipes.
“That gives people a really good look at the recipes in the cookbook when you’re having 15-20 different recipes,” Watterman said.
About 10 people have reserved spots to attend the club, and they range in age from 18 to in their 60s, Watterman said.
“With this group, I’m telling people you can make it as easy or challenging as you want,” Watterman said. “… If you want to make it easy or if this is like your monthly, ‘I’m going to pick a challenging recipes to improve my skill,’ that’s awesome.”
Laura Gutschke is a general assignment reporter and food columnist and manages online content for the Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
If You Go
What: Monthly Cookbook Club
Where: Abilene Public Library’s Mockingbird Branch, 1326 N. Mockingbird Lane
When: Inaugural meeting 6:30 p.m. Aug. 10
Who: Anyone 18 and older. Preregistration required. Participants must bring a dish based on a recipe from a library cookbook. August theme is appetizers.