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A sequel worth reading.

Byline: Craig S. Semon

STURBRIDGE - Man cannot live by bread alone, and that is why a small contingent of women from the Sturbridge Federated Church put together "From Sturbridge Kitchens II."

If you believe that variety is the spice of life, then your head will spin when you crack open the cookbook, which features 400 recipes - more than 20 from professional chefs and restaurants, including the Publick House, Old Sturbridge Village, Salem Cross Inn, Stillwater Cafe, Copper Stallion and Rovezzi's.

"From Sturbridge Kitchens II" is one of those rare instances in which the sequel is as good, if not better, than the original, which was published in 1957 and sold 123,000 copies.

Cookbook committee member Susan W. Schwartz said the cookbook is multi-perspective with a wide range of recipes, from quick and simple to more detailed and challenging. In addition, the book features two prefaces, one on the history of Sturbridge (written by committee member Sharon Kneeland), as well as a history of the original cookbook (written by Ms. Schwartz).

"It's not just limited to the Sturbridge area or church members of the Tri-Community," Ms. Schwartz said. "We really have people throughout New England, but certainly throughout Central Massachusetts - Dudley, Webster, Charlton, Brimfield, Wales ...

and we also have some very highly regarded recipes from the original Sturbridge cookbook."

Linda Simpson - who along with Jane DiGeronimo is co-director of the cookbook - said a lot of "divine guidance" from above and "a lot of love" here on earth was put into every page of the cookbook. She said her favorite recipe is an onion casserole that has been a family tradition for years.

"It's wonderful," Ms. Simpson said. "We couldn't possibly have a holiday without it. I hope people try it. Even if they don't like onions, they might like this."

Cookbook committee member Nicole Markey said her favorite recipe is her 9-year-old son's recipe called "Sam's Swirling Smoothie."

"It's a fruit smoothie with berries and bananas and yogurt and all kinds of things thrown in the blender," Ms. Markey explained. "When the cookbook came, we thought we'd better measure some of this stuff so we can get it right for the book, rather than just winging it like he used to do in the kitchen."

Ms. Markey, who has a recipe of her own in the book ("Warm Dijon Potato Salad.") said "From Sturbridge Kitchens II" is especially useful in trying economic times.

"Truly, with the economy the way it is, it is much more affordable to stay home and cook than go out to restaurants all the time," Ms. Markey said. "You can have the luxury of all kinds of fantastic, delicious meals that you can make at home and feel like you're going to a restaurant for a lot less money... and not only is it more affordable for the one who is making it, they are making it with love."

Cookbook committee member Lisa Tomas contributed two recipes which she lovingly swiped from her mother-in-law. These include a teriyaki marinade that goes with everything and a crab dip. "It's the most amazing crab dip I ever had in my life," she insisted. "Everywhere I bring it, people always say, `Oh, I need the recipe.' So now, I'm going to say, if you want the recipe, give me $12, and I'll get for you, along with 400 other recipes."

And what would a Sturbridge-themed cookbook be without "the cookie lady"? Thankfully, Pat Jeffries (also known as "the cookie lady") is not only a cookbook committee member, she is a frequent contributor. Ms. Jeffries had so many recipes that she wanted to put in the book that she put them under her daughter's, granddaughter's and sister's name, as well as her own, to get more in. While her specialty is

Christmas cookies and she makes "hundreds to thousands of cookies a year," Ms. Jeffries has also submitted recipes for baked macaroni, a couple of casseroles, sweet potato and pies. But don't worry, Ms. Jeffries also has contributed cookie recipes.

"When I do Christmas cookies, I give people lots of variety, and I make them all very small, because nothing aggravates me more than walking up to a tray of cookies and find where somebody broke off a piece to taste it," Ms. Jeffries explained. "So I make them small, so you don't have to break off a piece. You can eat a whole cookie without getting 900 calories."

"From Sturbridge Kitchens II" can be purchased from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays at the church office at Sturbridge Federated Church, which is adjacent to the Town Library, or by mail order to Sturbridge Federated Church, attention Linda Simpson, or Carol Smeltzer, 8 Maple St., Sturbridge, MA 01566.

The cost is $12 per book, plus shipping and handling of $5 per book. For mail orders, checks should be made payable to Sturbridge Federated Church Cookbook. Proceeds will support a variety of church and community activities, including outreach and missions, building repair and maintenance, and continuing church projects.

ART: PHOTOS

PHOTOG: T&G Staff/JIM COLLINS

CUTLINE: (1) "From Sturbridge Kitchens II" is being published by the Sturbridge Federated Church. (2) Pat Jeffries, known as "The Cookie Lady" poses with some of her more than 2,000 cookie cutters. (3) Nicole Markey and her 8-year-old Sam whip up a recipe in the church kitchen.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 26, 2009
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