Good reads, regional culture and plenty to eat at the Delmar Library

Barbara Elliott, Rachel Florentino, Susan Uphole, Diana Young 
and Sandy Scott enjoyed a lunch with one another from a book 
about Delmarva Cooking as part of the Delmar Library’s 
“Escape the Ordinary” adult program. 
Libraries increasingly are becoming community centers and not just for towns that don’t have them. As long as people have wanted to pass learning down in a community, libraries have acted as both the conduit and receptacle of community knowledge. The digital age has reinforced that even as the role of the library has evolved to accommodate new ways of dealing with that information. 
The Delmar Pubic Library already is in transition, maintaining the books in the temporary building on Route 13 while continuing to use the former building on Bi State Blvd. to transmit knowledge and practice across generations. In the coming year, it is hoped that the new Delmar Library addition will be under construction, but for now, they’re making due, as libraries are wont.
Bringing people together to accept and transmit knowledge isn’t just something the library does for children and teens, although area libraries have a mind-boggling diversity of services for both. Adult programs also are popular and important ways to remind people of the library’s depth of services while helping lifelong learners in the community find sate their thirsts.
For the second month in a row, the Delmar Library sponsored the Cookbook Club as part of its “Escape the Ordinary” adult program series. The notion is simple, a cookbook is made available at the library’s front desk. Patrons choose from and sign up for different dishes and once per month, the group gets together to eat them. 
Last week was the second event and the cookbook in question was “Call It Delmarvalous” by Virginia Tanzer.  Library Director Susan Upole chose the book from a number of local and church cookbooks the library has as a sort of primer.
“It’s just an opportunity to get together and to use resources that are available in the library,” Upole said. 
Patrons who participated also are encouraged to bring along their favorite cookbooks for consideration and discussion at the event.
“Call it Delmarvalous” was researched and written by an author who wasn’t a local, which presented a whole host of questions and opportunities that double the predictable problems with what might be called church cookbooks--cookbooks compiled for fundraisers in support of a church, little league, fraternal organization, etc.
These cookbooks tend to be put together rather quickly. If you’ve never participated in one of these cook book compilations, the way they work is the cook is asked to share a recipe. People often dash them down from memory and sometimes forget a step or two.
Diana Young talks about the different things she learned from 
the recipe she prepared for the Cookbook Book Club as Sandy
Scott and library director Susan Uphole listen.
Diana Young, who made “Baked Tomato Casserole” suggested that this “forgetting” could just as easily be an attempt to preserve a secret ingredient or process. 
“A lot of recipes have changed over the years, too,” she said.
Whatever the case, sometimes the recipes need a little something extra, but you don’t know that until after you’ve tasted it.  At last Friday’s event discussion around the table often turned to that. People followed the recipes to the letter and lived for better or worse with the consequences, although, to be fair, there weren’t “worse” consequences. Just things people would have done differently.
For example Sandy Scott, who made sponge cake, was skeptical about the final product. Before it was eaten, even before it was unveiled, she had the impression it wasn’t much different or better than a mix. Adding to her concern was that there was no call for icing, therefore she didn’t add any (this correspondent did not try and therefore cannot comment upon the sponge cake as it relates to the store-bought variety).
For her part, Upole made Herring Creek Crab Imperial which called for, among other things, hard boiled eggs. The whites were mixed with the crab meat and the yellows used to bolster the sauce. It came out of the oven green. After the casserole finished setting, the green color was gone and the dish, according to the assembled, was perfectly fine.
There were lots of stories like that. The “Delmarva Meal in a Bowl,” made by Barbara Eliott, was essentially a succotash with potatoes. She said she has made it with noodles for a wintertime meal, but the recipe called for tubers and that’s what she used.
Elliott also chose it after looking at the list of what people already had committed to, to see what aspects of the meal were missing and made “Church Builder ‘Chicken’ Salad for Large Groups” to make certain there was a little more protein in the meal.
She also chose something for her granddaughter, Rachel Florentino, to make: “Easy and Delicious Blueberry Pie.” It was a good decision because Florentino has a trick for rinsing the berries that never had occurred to her grandmother, so Eliott came away that much the wiser.
There were several observations about variants in the recipes that didn’t necessarily jibe with the participants’ understanding of the recipes, but that was kind of the point. Making something new and sharing it with the group, along with insights into what could be done differently in the future is one of the project’s strengths. Another is increasing a repertoire. 

Young choses recipes that she thinks might work for when she’s entertaining or attending potlucks. “I look for a vegetable I could make when I had company that wasn’t the same-old-same-old,” she said.

This story originally appeared in the August 20 edition of the Laurel Star.

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