Cookbook club celebrates with holiday appetizers, cookies

The mood around the tables in the Stettler Public Library's learning annex was cheery as members of the Library's Cookbook Club...

The mood around the tables in the Stettler Public Library’s learning annex was cheery as members of the Library’s Cookbook Club celebrated their last potluck get-together of 2016 this past Monday, Dec. 12.

December’s theme was appetizers and Christmas cookies.

Formed earlier this year by then-library manager Mary Zazelenchuk, the club has been taken up by Elaine Hoekstra.

About 10 of the core members of the club attended, though the number has fluctuated all season.

“I really think it’s affected by the season,” Hoekstra said, explaining that weather, Christmas events and family obligations have resulted in lower numbers through November and December.

As the club was Zazelenchuk’s project, there was some initial concern how the club would function after her departure, but the monthly potlucks have continued seamlessly under Hoekstra.

The club normally meets at the library – which is closed to regular patrons during the potluck – on the third Monday of the month, but with that falling exceptionally close to Christmas, the club moved it to Dec. 12.

February’s potluck will also be on the second Monday of the month, due to family day. Otherwise, the club will stick with its third-Monday approach, Hoekstra said.

Other than Matt Barabash, the new library manager, the only man in attendance at the event was Steve Davies. He brought with him lobster fritters.

“They were good,” Davies said. “I’m not sure if they were worth the price for the lobster, though. I could have accomplished the same with shrimp, I think.”

He also made a spicy sauce to go with the pan-fried lobster fritters that earned rave reviews from his fellow club members.

The appetizers and cookies came from recipes all over the world. Anna Tripp made a type of German cookie called Pfeffernusse, a type of spiced cookie.

The cookies were easy for her to make, Tripp said, and a quick bake as she made them in between getting home from work on Monday and the get-together in the evening. Some of the spices in the cookies included pepper, cardamom, anise, cloves, and cinnamon.

Everyone’s favourites had to be the cookies by Deanna Rowles, who brought pumpkin-cinnamon cookies.

The cookies were displayed on a holiday plate held by a Santa Claus in apron and chef’s hat, easily winning the “most holiday-themed dish” kudos from several of the members.

The cinnamon chips used in the cookies were a hard find, and Rowles shared with the gathering the trials and tribulations of acquiring them.

“I found them years ago and loved them, but haven’t been able to find them since,” she said.

Then, one day while at Bulk Barn, she found the chips in stock and bought as much as she could afford.

“I ran out of money, so I sent my husband back to buy more,” she said with a laugh.

Some of the other treats made at the event included devilled eggs, apple-cheddar-onion turnovers, mini tacos, homemade salsa, and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon.

The January theme is Ukrainian Christmas and Chinese New Year, and a recipe book list will be available at the library at the start of the month.