The Hippo


Jun 18, 2019








Get cooking

Check out one of these four libraries’ cookbook groups
Cookbook Group
Where: Derry Public Library, 64 E. Broadway, Derry
When: Friday, Feb. 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (first Friday of the month)
Cookbook Explorers!
Where: Pelham Public Library, 24 Village Green, Pelham
When: Generally held the third Wednesday of the month at 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. 
Check Out What’s Cookin’ Book Club
Where: Goffstown Public Library, 2 High St., Goffstown
When: Upcoming meetings Saturday, March 12, and Saturday, May 14
Open to Goffstown Public Library cardholders
Cook and Share Book Group
Where: Chester Public Library, 3 Chester St., Chester
When: See calendar for upcoming meetings
Book group and potluck dinner

Sweeter than fiction
Cookbook groups at local libraries

By Allie Ginwala

 Two local libraries are encouraging book lovers to flex their culinary muscles: last month the Pelham Public Library launched Cookbook Explorers!, and Derry Public Library’s Cookbook Group is gearing up for its fourth meeting on Friday, Feb. 5. 

“We were looking for new ideas for programming … and we wanted to reach out to a new crowd … to try to draw out people and encourage learning in all aspects of life,” Rebecca Crockett, Pelham Public Library’s adult services librarian, said in a phone interview. “There has been a lot of emphasis on makerspace … we were kind of trying to do what we could in that direction, but also push it a bit.”
The Pelham Public Library has held one-time cooking sessions before (like making the perfect pie crust and how to make pasta), but never one that met regularly. At its inaugural meeting on Jan. 20, Cookbook Explorers! began with a discussion of the different diets and eating habits of those in the room before they brainstormed what they’d like to explore in the future. 
“And from there it was national tea month, so we had a little tea party,” Crockett said.
Since the library doesn’t have a full kitchen, the group stuck to recipes that didn’t require cooking, like cucumber sandwiches and watercress sandwiches. For future meetings, folks are encouraged to bring a dish for a potluck and recipe discussion.
“[There aren’t] a lot of home economics classes anymore. ... These are just life skills people pick up along the way, and there are definitely gaps,” Crockett said. “[I] hope this is going to fill that and at least expose people to things. It’s not the rigid lesson they might get somewhere else.”
Jessica Drouin, materials/technical specialist at Derry Public Library, said their goal is to meet the community’s needs.
“We thought, we have a very high circulation for our cookbooks, so we know people love cooking in this community,” she said.
The way it works in Derry is that a cookbook is set as the focus for the upcoming meeting, and group members can pick up the book, take it home and try out some recipes to decide which one to make and bring to the meeting. 
“We get together in the group and talk about the recipes we chose and why and the modifications we made and whether or not they work,” she said.
At the last two meetings two people have made the same dish but with different modifications, allowing everyone the chance to compare and contrast. Since a number of the group attendees have been cooking for a long time, they’ve had the chance to divert into ingredient-specific tangents, like using almond paste.
“The library is so much more than just books,” Drouin said. “We’ve had a teen cooking group, so we don’t limit ourselves to just literary elements.”
The next course
Valentine’s Day will be at the crux of next month’s dishes for both groups. Derry’s Cookbook Group will feature Nick Malgieri’s Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers. In Pelham, the group that meets in the evening decided to keep it open with a “chocolate” theme, while the morning group chose to make something with a red ingredient in it.
“We want to be really open and flexible,” Crockett said. “We might get some baked goods or chili peppers. I hope people will be creative.” 

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