As other book clubs meet to dish about new titles, one new book club, based at the Springvale Public Library, focuses on what members are eating.

The concept for the Cook the Book Club is simple: Members select and prepare recipes from a featured cookbook each month, then gather to review the book and sample the finished products – sharing about the recipes, the cookbooks and perhaps a bit about themselves.

Library assistant director Dawn Brown oversees the exchange, adapted from similar offerings across the country.

Members take home photocopies of the recipes they select and sticky notes are placed on the corresponding cookbook page to indicate their choices. On the meeting date, those sticky notes are transferred to the dishes on a buffet table to identify them for taste testing.

“Members are asked to follow the recipe exactly as it is printed,” said Brown. “After we sample it, we discuss the book, what we liked about it and things we’d change. Then we select a new cookbook to work from for the next month.”

For the library’s first session, 14 members chose recipes from “Dinner Solved!” by Katie Workman.

“We had a wide variety of foods to sample from, including appetizers, main dishes and desserts,” said Brown. “It’s supposed to be just a sampling of each recipe, but we had so much food that people were coming back for seconds.”

Club members are not obligated to attend every meeting.

“We are a small library with a small staff and a small budget,” said Brown. “Our members are responsible for bringing their own plates, cups, eating utensils, serving spoons and placemats. We provide the meeting space, tables, coffee and water.”

Club member Mary Ann Ratteree, 56, of Springvale selected a chicken enchilada recipe to share for the group’s first gathering.

“I was a little out of my comfort zone. I’d never made enchiladas before,” said Ratteree, who made a test batch of the recipe before making another one to share with the group. “Everyone loved it. I got lots of positive feedback.”

This also was Ratteree’s first time as a member of a book club.

“It had always been on my bucket list of things to do, but the timing was never right,” said Ratteree, who rarely has time to read all the books she’d prefer.

Ratteree, a reflexologist, says she doesn’t cook a lot, and the Cook the Book Club gives her a reason to get creative in the kitchen as well as social interaction.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to get out and meet new people and expand my ciricle of friends, especially during winter months,” said Ratteree. “I don’t think we do enough of that in this world.”

Brown said the new club also serves as an example of the library’s new role in modern times.

“People now look to their library for things other than books,” said Brown. “Each program we offer brings different groups of people to the library to learn something new.”

And since the library is amply supplied with more than 1,000 cookbook titles, these members should have plenty to share for years to come.

The group meets from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at 443 Main St., Springvale. There also is a potential for offering another group during daytime hours.

For more details, call the library at 324-4624 or go to


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