SURREY — Linda Woods’ club at Fleetwood Library is really cooking.
It’s a cookbook club, an idea Woods brought to the library with a goal of having people make and share themed dishes pulled from recommended cookbooks.
Woods, a foodie, potter and former pastry chef, hosts club meetings every second month, and the group has been active for the past two years.
“I have a large collection of cookbooks, a room full of them, so it really started with that,” said Woods, a part-time library tech at the Fleetwood branch.
On a recent Monday afternoon, some of the club’s 19 members gathered there with plates of bread they’d made from recipes pulled from either books or the internet, including cheese-filled pastries, braided bread with fruit, sourdough with orange butter, beer bread served with mushroom soup, focaccia and more.
“We start with the cookbooks but quite often we all end up on a website somewhere, too – recipes from books on websites,” Woods explained with a smile. “I pick a theme every (meeting), and it could be a country or maybe a type of cooking, and then I bring in all the books I have about the subject.”
Club members then take the books home and study them for the next couple of months.
“These people are pretty keen so they’ll usually try more than one recipe and then bring in a couple of dishes for everyone to try,” Woods added. “They’re quite high-level cooks, too. I usually learn something from them.”
The next cookbook club meeting, on June 12, will explore Moroccan cooking.
To date, themes have included Julia Child, Thai food, Persian and Indian cooking, barbecue and picnic side dishes.
“We ate unfamiliar foods, old favourites, tried new cooking methods and we learned from others and made new friends in the process,” Woods reported.
The club is so popular, it has a waiting list.
“This isn’t a new idea, because people hold events like this in their homes, but having it in a library is a bit different,” Woods elaborated. “In homes, people get together, they share their cookbooks and then get together for a potluck, just like we do.”
Some libraries have a kitchen where people can cook, she said.
“I’m told we could be getting a kitchen at the new Clayton library, so that’s exciting,” Woods added. “It’s in the planning stages, so it’s still a couple years away. Having something like that would be a good thing, a kitchen in a library, because it brings people together. It can be used for things like ESL instruction and helping to bridge cultures. It’s really just a way of bringing people together to talk about food, sometimes with people who are from different cultures. It’s a learning experience.”
• Also at Fleetwood Library is a Punjabi Book Club, which is approaching its fifth anniversary this summer.
“The book club was started by librarian Harjinder Thind in July 2012, in response to local interest from regular Punjabi patrons,” club facilitator Satinder Kahlon, a library staffer, told the Now-Leader.
Surrey Libraries now has more than 20 popular Punjabi book club titles to choose from.
“Most of these have been recommended and selected by club members. Surrey Libraries is the only library system in Lower Mainland to offer a book club that celebrates the richness of Punjabi literature.”
For details, contact Kahlon at 604-598-7357 or SSKahlon@surrey.ca.