Long before online pinboards existed, people shared their culinary prowess through cookbooks.
At first, they were just a catalogue of recipes used as fundraisers, political pamphlets, or historical accounts of communities.
Following this traditional concept of strengthening community, St. Albert’s Amplify Youth Advisory Committee was inspired to create a more modern genre of culinary literature. The committee assembled Comfort Cookbook, a 137-page view of special family recipes contributed by youth. In addition to individual practical how-to recipes, each one is accompanied by a complementary illustration, drawing, or poem. The artwork serves as a story behind each recipe.
To celebrate the project’s completion, the 14-member advisory committee hosts a cookbook launch party on Thursday, May 26 at the Lions Park picnic shelter. Public attendance is free, and copies of the cookbook are being sold for $30.
The launch is an opportunity to gift each contributor a copy. In addition, several committee members are whipping up mini-samples of dishes available for public taste-testing. Food samplers include fruit pizza, creamsicle cookies, perogies, lemon tarts, and chocolate chip cookies.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate the artists who took part. But it’s also a celebration of bringing the community together after so long. We look forward to giving the artists their books. It was a fun project with lots of twists and turns and I’m excited to wrap it up,” said Kathleen Bell, advisory committee liaison for the City of St. Albert.
The cookbook came to fruition in 2021 as the advisory committee sat down over Zoom to discuss how Amplify could celebrate art during COVID without fear of transmitting the virus. Amplify is largely arts oriented, however in past years the culinary arts were largely downplayed in favour of the performing, visual, and literary arts.
Dana Koroluk, a former member of Amplify Youth Advisory Committee and an upcoming medical student, suggested pooling recipes to create a cookbook.
“Food was still something we shared with each other during COVID — dropping off or leaving food on someone’s doorstep. We thought this was a way to combine culinary art with traditional forms of art in a way that would not pass on COVID,” Bell said.
In total, youth submitted 60 recipes. They were broken down into categories ranging from breakfast and brunch, soups and salads, to mains, snacks, and desserts.
“What is so neat about this is that there are a lot of family recipes and a lot of artwork that illustrates how we care for each other. It shows how food is at the centre of family celebrations. And it ended up being more culturally diverse with some dishes I’d never even heard about,” said Koroluk.
Cultural diversity is showcased in vaniljbullar, a sweet Swedish vanilla bun, and kransekake, a Norwegian wreath cake. There’s also Mama Leung’s Shanghai Noodle recipe and Baba Chicoli’s Ukrainian Pedaheh.
“The cookbook is really a fun mix of culture and personal traditions. It was an exciting challenge that brought this about,” said Koroluk.
The Amplify Youth Advisory Committee hopes to raise $500 through cookbook sales. Funds are destined for future programming. For now, the committee has ordered one print run. However, if demand spikes, a second print run will be commissioned.
The launch party runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 26.