The Norman Public Library held its 6th annual Cookbook Swap and Shop on July 9, 2011 and I was there on behalf of PrettyFood as the featured speaker to do a demo and talk about making food that is healthy, good-tasting, and good-looking.
It was a wonderful crowd of cooks and cookbook lovers. Give me a few hours with a cookbook (particularly one with lots of pictures) and I am perfectly content to sit in a comfy chair and imagine what each recipe would taste like. I suspect many of those present felt the same way.
The stacks of cookbooks for sale represented every type of cuisine — from exotic international treats (I took home two Thai cookbooks and one book of Caribbean recipes) to neighborhood and club cookbooks.
It is interesting to see how cooking styles and tastes have changed over the years. Buy a cookbook that is 50 years old and you won’t find many items that are in your weekly repertoire.
One of my favorite purchases is the 1987 Watonga Cheese Festival cookbook. While there are some recipes in it that I would make in a heartbeat, there are others that sound hideous. For example, can you imagine making Rice Krispies treats with cheese? Me neither.
I demonstrated Cucumber Tortilla Sandwiches, Grand Old Flag Strawberries, Fun Bites, fruit skewers (without mozzarella balls!). I showed off some pudding parfaits and other layered desserts. I created a giant vegetable platter with garnishes and a hollowed out cabbage and hollowed out yellow pepper to use as holders for dip.
I raided the garden in the early morning hours before heading to Norman, cutting random flowers and a good selection of herbs to demonstrate how quick and easy it is to garnish a plate. I also made baked tortilla cracker garnishes in shapes like butterflies, the state of Oklahoma, and flowers.
One thing that was a big hit was the demonstration of how to use sheer fabric overlays to dress up a table. Many people told me afterwards they would be heading to the fabric store and trying it out themselves.
It was my first demonstration. I’m anxious to do another one so I could use all the lessons I learned from doing this one. Many thanks to the library staff and volunteers who were a huge help with last minute prep.
It was so much fun to talk to people and hear what they are up to in their own kitchens!
Even my sister and her friend (who were visiting from Illinois) headed straight to the International Pantry after my demo was done to look for some of the gadgets I used. Those that generated the most interest were the strawberry huller and the whipped cream dispenser.
Thank you, Phil Clark, for suggesting this program, and thanks to Judy Day for making it a reality!