Tasty twist on library book club

Messenger photos by Linda Dillman
Barb Lawrenz enjoys a piece of chocolate cake prepared by Shane Hoffman, coordinator of the Plain City Library Cookbook Club.

(Posted April 14, 2017)

By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

Two libraries in Madison County are putting a twist on the traditional book club by offering cookbook selections and food in lieu of fiction novels and non-fiction publications.

At London Public Library, Adult Services Coordinator Tara Hutson and a dozen or more participants gather monthly to discuss their selections and share dishes prepared from recipes found in cookbooks.

“We eat and then talk about the cookbook we picked,” said Hutson, “such as what we liked, what we didn’t like and the ingredients we used.”

In February, club members decided on a May to December monthly list of cookbook authors and themes, including Sara Moulton, Paula Dean, Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay and Taste of Home.

For the latter part of the year, club members are planning a chili cook-off in October, slow cooker titles in November, and a cookie exchange in December.

“The Complete America’s Test Kitchen, The Pioneer Woman and Ina Garten were huge hits,” Hutson said about previous selections. “Good & Cheap was not good and equated to a lot of bland food.

“At our most recent meeting, we did Ina Garten books, and patron Dustin Zink made jalapeno cheddar corn bread. We all loved it. Everybody makes their own selection and everybody brings a dish to share, along with copies of the recipe.”

Things run a little differently at Plain City Public Library where Technology Services Manager Shane Hoffman spearheads the cookbook club, which started in November. March was the first month that club members were invited to prepare food—the theme was dessert.

“Until this month, I supplied all the dishes,” said Hoffman.

For the March 28 meeting, Hoffman made one boxed chocolate cake mix according to instructions and another with modifications. Another club member brought a pair of cookie recipes to share.

“We usually have eight to 12 people and I give them a theme for the following month. We don’t use a specific cookbook,” Hoffman said.

In April, club members are focusing on recipes “just like mom used to make. A nutritionist from Madison Health will talk about nutrition and setting up a dinner plate that addresses good health.

Despite his technology title, Hoffman said he has always had an interest in cooking. He spent a couple of months taking classes at Columbus State’s culinary school and wanted to see if other people in the community were interested in a cookbook club.

Marysville resident Barb Lawrenz and her daughter, Gretchen Williams, are two club members who love to cook.

“The library is not that far from home,” said Lawrenz, “and I like to get new hints and ideas. Shane gives good hints and it is fun meeting new people.”

Carla Rhodes joined the group looking for recipes her kids would appreciate.

“We’re a busy household,” said Rhodes, known for her crockpot mac and cheese.

The London Public Library Cookbook Club meets the third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the library’s meeting room, 20 E. First St., London. For more information, call (740) 852-9543.

The Plain City Public Library Cookbook Club meets the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the library’s meeting room, 305 W. Main St., Plain City. For more information, call (614) 873-4912.

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