Filling minds and bellies

Library cookbook club brings teens together to create a meal with side of camaraderie

In decades past, young women typically were taught to cook by their mother or grandmother.

“I learned to cook while living at home,” said Sarah Amazing, teen services supervisor at Warren-Trumbull County Public Library in Warren.

Today, with both parents working, it is often up to their teens to prep or cook dinner for the family.

Where can kids — and adults — learn to cook? The local library. Among monthly cooking classes available are Culinary Curiosities at the Warren library and Cookbook Club at Kinsman Free Public Library.

In Warren, teen Noah Delong said he had a passion for food before he started attending Culinary Curiosities. He is studying restaurant services at the Trumbull Career and Technical Center in Champion. He said he likes Amazing’s group because she is willing to try new things to prepare and eat.

Dishes have ranged from Alfredo Sauce with Homemade Noodles, Vegan Tomato Basil Soup, Three-Bean Chili and Two-Ingredient Ice Cream.

The Warren teens approved.

“I like to learn how to make stuff to eat,” Culinary Curiosities attendee Kyri Glenn said.

“I like to make stuff that I have never made before,” Cory Wade said.

“I enjoy experimenting and learning new ways to make food,” Phillip Minett said.

Daniel Gillner said he eventually will need to know how to cook for himself, which is why attends Culinary Curiosities.

Amazing said, “A lot of teens in the area don’t have access to a grocery store outside of Dollar General. I wanted to show them that they could still cook good food and not rely on convenience and processed food, which can be expensive and not nutritious.”

Amazing realized that part of the way that teens acquire cooking skills is through socializing.

“It is fun to come to this and I have friends and my sister also attends,” Raylen Glenn said.

Since the group began meeting in April 2018, Amazing has seen it evolve and the teens take more responsibility with the monthly gatherings.

“I make sure everyone washes their hands before we start and I take suggestions at the end of the gathering for the next meeting’s dish.”

Ultimately, she hopes that the teens at Culinary Curiosities will realize that cooking isn’t a scary thing or hard to do.

Kinsman Free Public Library’s Cookbook Club was created after a successful teen program held there in the summer of 2018.

“Last year, I held a culinary picnic for teens to end our summer reading program,” Cheryl Slater, young adult and media librarian, said. “We had a station set up to make sandwiches and another to make desserts. The teens who attended had so much fun and they enjoyed the food so much that they wanted to feed every patron in the library.”

Slater decided to start Cookbook Club Jan. 16, 2018.

“I realized that I could take teens’ love for food a step further and try to develop a program that would allow them the chance to not only eat, but to cook the food they were eating. This is where the Cookbook program was born,” Slater said.

Some of the culinary creations that they made this year were Taco Salad, Pizza Toasted Cheese and Everything But the Kitchen Sink No-Bake Cookie.

Typically, the teens create a main dish and a dessert. At the March meeting, attendees made Sausage Gravy With Homemade Biscuits and Irish Dirt Dessert.

The library provides recipe cards for each attendee to use to create their meal during the meeting and to re-create at home.

The club outgrew the library and moved to the kitchen facilities at Kinsman United Methodist Church. Because interest has grown for the club, the attendees’ age range has also expanded.

“Though Cookbook Club was initially designed as a teen program, we are happy to allow anyone interested in joining us attend,” Slater said. “We are particularly fond of opportunities to bring people from different age groups, ethnicities and backgrounds together in our programming. As the program developed, we started seeing that it piqued the interest of teens, pre-teens, adults and even some of our senior patrons.”

Cheyenne McLewis of Kinsman said, “My husband and I are expecting our first child and I want to learn how to cook.”

After making the sausage gravy, Anita Carr of Kinsman said she thought it would be a good meal for her farmer husband and son when they came in for lunch.

“Now that I’m retired, my husband thinks that I should learn to make some new things. He said that I keep making the same things over and over again,” Carr said.

Mother and son Kelly and Deagan Sutcliffe look at Cookbook Club as something that they can do together.

“We both cook and Deagan really likes to watch cooking shows, and I can always learn to make something new,” Kelly Sutcliffe said.

“The best way to determine the success is to look to those who attend,” said Kim Garret, director of the Kinsman library. “The smiles on the faces of the people who participate, the laughter as they cook together and watching people of all ages and backgrounds work together and enjoy a meal together, that’s the real way to see just how successful this program really is.

“If you feed them, they will come,” Slater said.