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Cookbook Club Steaming Ahead

Serving up recommendations for the holidays

Going strong in its second year, the Kittanning Library Cookbook Club can be found meeting & eating on the first Wednesday of each month at the library. Meetings include choosing a cookbook from which members prepare an individually selected recipe to share at the next meeting.

By Beth Milanak

Since its beginnings in April 2017, Cookbook Club themes have varied from Jewish holiday fare to Ina Garten or Pioneer Woman favorites to recipes based on the titles selected by the library's book discussion group.

The club has a lot of fun and is open to anyone who enjoys cooking and getting together with friends. So, if you're interested in sharing your culinary skills and making new friends, check it out.

Family recipes

Some of my favorite recipes come from old cookbooks that I’ve had for years, many of them handed down through generations of my family.

I make a great tomato soup, spicy hot pepper rings (they've even won an award), crispy bread and butter pickles, and a special spaghetti sauce that doesn’t give me heartburn!

These were all recipes that I had from my grandmother, who probably made them with her mother. Often, I make a big batch when ingredients are in season and preserve their freshness for a surprising treat in the off-season.

All of my canning recipes have been in our family forever!

Food Blogs

One of my favorite blogs is The Kitchen Whisperer. The author, Lori, is both a chef and an engineer. Follow her on Facebook or her web page where she offers weekly menus and daily recipes, most of which use ingredients that you have at home or can easily find in your local store.

You might want to check out the Half Baked Harvest with a complete menu for Thanksgiving, most of which can be make- or prep-ahead. Or, how about Budget Bytes and learn how to upgrade those 30 cent ramen noodle packs to a more flavorful meal.

I highly recommend the Turkey and Veggie Smashballs. They are delicious! I leave out the turkey and make them as a vegetarian dish, using white beans.

Traditional Holiday Food

Speaking of turkey, I asked the club for their favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Most of their answers leaned toward the traditional holiday dishes: Pumpkin pie; sweet potatoes; turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes; cranberry salad; noodles; stuffing balls with gravy; chocolate pie; and Grandma’s buns.

What is your favorite? Do you have any non-traditional recipes for Thanksgiving? Share your treasured holiday food choices in the comments.

Looking for a great cookbook

Here’s just a sampling of what we have here at the Library.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Foods from My Frontier by Ree Drummond - Crash Hot Potatoes is a very easy side dish with few ingredients and low prep time. Check it out at Kittanning Public Library

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day - In the mood for something sweet and pumpkin related? Try the Pumpkin Crunch Bars!

America's Best BBQ by Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk - Do you like to barbeque or use a smoker? Here's a collection of recipes from some of the best BBQ places around the U.S. Check it out at Kittanning Public Library

Rachael Ray 365: NO REPEATS by Rachael Ray - Here you'll find a different recipe for every day of the year. Check it out at Kittanning Public Library

Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen by Kay Robertson with Chrys Howard - From the Duck Dynasty crew. You either love them or you don’t, but there are some great recipes in here. Try Jep’s Meatloaf Choice, it’s delicious! Check it out at Kittanning Public Library

Southern Fried by James Villas - Chicken fried steak one of your favorites? Try the Country-Fried Steak with Onion Gravy. Check it out at Kittanning Public Library

Baking with Kids by Leah Brooks - Try the Apple Pie Scones. These recipes are so easy for little ones to make. Check it out at Kittanning Public Library


A Picnic in December

Next month, instead of Christmas in July, the Cookbook Club is celebrating Independence Day in December.

On Dec. 4, bring your favorite picnic food to the library.

There will be no cookbook theme this month, but there is a sign-up list at the library to let everyone know what's on the menu.

Guests can bring a cookbook with a recipe to share or link to a web page with their favorite recipe.

Although we'll be celebrating the Fourth, we won't be having fireworks. Sorry!

Call the library for details, 724-543-1383.


Beth Milanak is the head librarian at Kittanning Public Library, where she's been the executive director for seven years. After 13 years in library services, Beth still enjoys a good book. Her favorite authors include Stephen King and Lee Child. When she's not reading, Beth

loves cooking, baking, and spending time with her family.

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Anita Bowser
Anita Bowser
Nov 21, 2019

My favorite cooking advice comes from Alton Brown. He explains everything in a digestible way (yeah, I went there). And, he's so darn silly! Check him out on YouTube.


Beth Milanak
Beth Milanak
Nov 21, 2019

Anyone else have a favorite food blog to share? Or a favorite cookbook?

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