Photo by Dani Wilson
Stephanie Munson and Bernadette Duvernoy pose with the Hayner Library community cookbook, “Read ‘Em and Eat.”
Greater Alton seems to have grown a little larger — and everybody’s cooking!
Hayner Public Library staff members have put together a community cookbook called “Read ‘Em and Eat” with recipes from all around the Riverbend, along with contributions from around the country and the world. Funds raised by the project will go to “augment the library’s material collection,” says Bernadette Duvernoy, one of the volunteers on the project.
Duvernoy says the book has more than 900 recipes “with some fun surprises and helpful hints” from the community, patrons of the library, staff and Facebook contributors. Stephanie Munson, who spearheaded the project, adds that the search for recipes spanned much farther. The team reached out to authors and bloggers asking for recipes and ended up getting contributions from various distances — the farthest was New Zealand.
“It was fun getting the recipes and seeing where they came from,” Munson says.
The idea for the cookbook came after years of discussion.
“We’ve all talked about it for a lot of years,” Munson says.
She adds that it was talked about for multiple reasons — as a staff-only project, a simple community book and other ideas. But the staff was excited to help make the cookbook a reality.
“There’s something about community cookbooks,” Munson says.
Contributors, too, according to Munson, were enthusiastic about the project.
“People got excited to give their recipes,” she says.
Although the book has not been out very long, Munson says she has received great reviews from those who have tried the recipes.
Munson says the process was time-consuming but rewarding.
“It was exciting, but a lot of work,” she says. “Proofreading was the hardest part. Timewise, it was stressful.”
She credits her fellow volunteers on the project with making it much easier. Duvernoy adds this is Stephanie’s biggest project before her retirement on Thursday after working at the library for 30 years.
“It’s a good way to go out,” Munson says.
The cookbook has many options for everybody, ranging from appetizers to desserts. Munson notes there are many recipes that have short preparation time and few ingredients “that taste great.” Duvernoy adds there also are recipes made with organic and natural ingredients.
“It’s a really quality book,” Duvernoy says. “It really is a taste of our community.”
Community is the driving force behind the cookbook, and the reason Munson and Duvernoy find it so special.
“It offers a sense of community,” Duvernoy says. “It’s a great way to reconnect with your roots and connect with friends and neighbors.”
Munson says this made the project worthwhile for her.
“Community means everything to me; it’s all about the people and the relationships,” she says. “We all get so busy that we forget some of that. I think this helped bring it all together.”
“Read ‘Em and Eat” can be purchased at either of the Hayner Public Library locations for $20, along with various other local shops. For information, contact the library at (618) 462-0677.