Cookbook club is a tasty addition to library activities

Shawn Hardy
Alice Elia, right, organizer of the cookbook club at Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library in Greencastle talks about ‘Smitten Kitchen,’ while participants sample some of the selections. For video, visit

They’ve cooked up a new activity at the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library and the results are delicious.

The second meeting of the library’s cookbook was held Feb. 22. Every month, participants prepare recipes from a selected cookbook — the first meeting in January featured the classic “Joy of Cooking,” while February went in a different direction with “Smitten Kitchen” by Deb Perelman.

“I enjoy cooking and getting people together to eat and talk about food,” said Alice Elia of Chambersburg, the library employee who started the club. It has attracted “a mix of seasoned cooks and self-proclaimed noncooks.”

Perelman is a blogger and has a small kitchen “so she doesn’t rely on a lot of accoutrements,” Elia explained, adding she also liked all the photos in the book.

About a dozen people loaded a table with food prepared from the book then shared a meal and talked about their cooking experiences.

Shirley Foreman of Greencastle enjoys cooking. She made a cole slaw and cucumber salad without mayonnaise that she termed “completely different. This is the first time I’ve seen this book … I think I have every other one.”

“I cook all the time so I thought maybe I’d try it,” said Susie Angle of Greencastle, who made cheese buns, grilled cheese with onion and lemon bars.

“It’s like a 5-star restaurant here,” said Sharon Zaretskie of Waynesboro, a library employee.

Like several other people in the club Zaretskie gave the recipe she selected from the book a trial run and found the taste lacking.

“I liked it a little better after I made it my way,” Zaretskie said, explaining she doctored up the meatballs with fennel and oregano.

Elizabeth Cayton of Greencastle brought loaded potato flats with cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives. She, too, had tried a batch earlier and thought it was better, the potatoes were a little thinner and got crispier because she used more butter.

Yvonne Pfoutz of Shady Grove did a mushroom bourguignon and her husband, Bill, rolled out a mushroom tart.

“There will be no mushrooms left in central Pennsylvania for a few days,” Elia observed.

“We must be hobbits,” joked Yvonne Pfoutz, in a literary reference to a favorite food of the J.R.R. Tolkien characters.

Anyone who makes the mushroom bourguignon should plan on extra time, because the recipe calls for 2 pounds of sautéed mushrooms, which “won’t fit in the pan at one time,” Yvonne Pfoutz said.

Her husband found it a bit of a challenge not to use his favorite Betty Crocker cookbook, but was drawn to the pie shell for the mushroom tart. One ingredient is yellow cornmeal so it was “kind of a stiff dough, you had to let it relax and go easy with it.”

Suzette Grazette of Greencastle was unable to find the fingerling potatoes for roasted fingerling potatoes with carrots, ViAnn Johnson, the friend she invited from Hagerstown assured her the dish was just fine with the potatoes she did use.

“My friend invited me because she knows I am a consumer of good food,” said Johnson, who make leek patties with sour cream topping.

“I had such a phenomenal time the last time I had to spread the word. It’s so relaxing. It’s an hour I have no demands on me and I make new friends,” according to Grazette. Her husband, Francisco was off work so she brought him along, too.

“Everything is really good, everyone,” said Cindy Defibaugh of Mercersburg, who also works at the library.

She made an unusual broccoli slaw with cranberry and almonds. She plans to make it again and said it would be nice for Christmas with its red and green. According to the recipe, “It will feed several people or two pregnant ladies.”

The specific cookbook has not yet been selected by Mexican will be the theme of the next cookbook club meeting at noon on Wednesday, March 22. The title will be posted soon on the library’s website,

Registration is required. Call the library at 717-597-7920 for more information or to register.