For the past two years, the Cook Book Club has met each Monday for lunch. Since that time, we have tested over 150 recipes. The recipes were everything from family favorites to experiments with new flavors and unusual ingredients, and some of the recipes were trial and error. A few were trials of things found on the Internet. Regardless, this was the most fun I have had in several years.
I thought Cook Book Club would be an easy project. It was not. You would think eating good food would be a simple thing. The problem comes from trying to pick the best recipe which contains the newest flavors, and using exotic ingredients. After all, we don’t want the same cookbook that everyone else has published.
One of our most exotic and versatile finds turns out to be a Mexican turnip called Jicama (pronounced hee-kum-muh). Jicama looks like a dirty potato, and its skin is yellow and papery. The inside is creamy white with a crisp texture like a raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, kind of like apples or raw green beans, and it is usually eaten raw. It can be cut into thin wedges and dipped in salsa, or added to salads, fresh fruit combinations, soups, and other cooked dishes. It was a tasty addition to our offerings.
One of the best recipes I tasted at Cook Book Club was Shrimp with Vanilla Chili Sauce. It was a unique blend of sweet and spicy that made for great flavor. I would never think to add vanilla bean to chili sauce, because I am a little old fashioned and use a traditional mix of carrots, onions, and garlic to season my recipes. According to the cooking shows, this mix of chopped vegetables is called mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah).
The Cook Book Club also experimented with other combinations. We tasted a pork recipe flavored with marjoram, a leafy, aromatic spice. In addition, we tasted a chocolate cake using zucchini. It was deliciously rich and moist. We used egg roll wrappers to make appetizers as well as main dishes, and we used wonton wrappers to do the same. My favorite was pastrami and cheese with spicy mustard in egg roll wrappers, followed by the Pierogie (potato) wontons.
There are so many wonderful recipes in the finished product, and we are relieved as well as excited to head to the printers next week. If you would like a copy, you can get one at the Fiddlers’ Convention in October. Look for us in the Arts and Crafts tents. We will be selling cookbooks and tickets to the Song Writers’ Showcase. The Showcase will highlight Phillip White, Brice Long, and Clint Daniels. All of these fellows are country music songwriters and have written for several country stars. You can find out more about the songwriters on our website – www.athens.edu/cll.
Our fall catalog will be out on August 8th. If you don’t get one in the mail, stop by the Center for Lifelong Learning at 121 South Marion Street to pick up one. We are all about growing professionally, learning in your leisure time, and traveling to learn.
Come join us!
By: Wanda Campbell
Center for Lifelong Learning – 121 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611 – 256-233-8262