Mt. Lebanon Relay for Life cookbook ready for holidays

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Mt. Lebanon Relay for Life is six months away, but organizers have published a cookbook just in time for holiday shopping. Proceeds from the book, "Food to Celebrate, Recipes to Remember, Friends to Fight Back," go to the event that raises money for the American Cancer Society.

"We wanted to make it a community book to support the relay. We were trying to find unique fundraisers. Not many [nonprofits] in town had a cookbook," said Sandy Marek, co-chair of fundraising for Mt. Lebanon's Relay for Life.

The relay will be held June 15-16 in the high school stadium.

To kickoff book sales, organizers held a tasting party Wednesday night at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library and served featured recipes, including zucchini bread, eggnog cake, raspberry salad and sparkling peach tea.

With 230 family recipes, the book includes how to make appetizers, desserts and entrees and veggies in between. It also offers nutritional information, heart healthy recommendations, low sodium seasoning suggestions and fat facts, Ms. Marek said.

The book was published by Cookbook Publishers, Inc. Contributors were able to log onto a designated website and enter their recipes themselves, Ms. Marek said.

Several tips and techniques were submitted in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of a loved one who has lost their battle with the disease.

Heather Knuth, a breast cancer survivor and co-organizer of Mt. Lebanon's first Relay in 2010, contributed her Wild Rice Chicken Salad recipe.

"For me, [the book] is a little bit of a yearbook. It's the opportunity for people to have a memory of folks they meet there, the chance to honor a survivor or it reminds them of someone they may have lost," Ms. Knuth said.

Ms. Knuth and her sister-in-law and Mellon Middle School teacher, Sue Wilcher, were approached in 2009 by the American Cancer Society to hold a mini-relay that involves just the local schools. Their enthusiasm overwhelmed society officials.

"By the end of the meeting we were having a full-blown relay," Ms. Knuth said. "I've been inspired to recognize that you need to do something as a survivor to tell your story to help others. It's therapeutic to give back."

With an initial goal of raising $25,000, that first event raised $159,000. Last year's relay raised $213,574 and had 1,044 participants, Ms. Marek said.

Mt. Lebanon's relay leads in fundraising among the 22 Greater Pittsburgh Relay for Life events with more than a half-million dollars raised since its inception. Funds provide for cancer awareness, educations and support for patients, such as free transportation to treatments, information about ground breaking clinical trials, access to 24-hour live help with cancer issues and more.

"Our community demonstrates how special Mt. Lebanon is in terms of how they embraced relay and put their whole hearts into it," Ms. Marek said.

The book is $10 and available at Gifted, 1600 Cochran Road in Mt. Lebanon, or by emailing

Wild Rice Chicken Salad

• 2 6.2-ounce packages of long grain and wild rice mix

• 2 6-ounce jars of marinated artichokes, undrained

• 4 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts

• 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

• 5 green onions, chopped

• 1 can sliced black olives, drained

• 1 cup mayonnaise

• 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

Cook rice according to package. Drain artichokes, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Stir together rice, artichokes, chicken and next 3 ingredients.

Dressing: Mix artichoke liquid, mayonnaise and curry powder. Toss with rice-chicken mixture. Cover and chill for 8 hours before serving. Serves 8.

-- Submitted by Heather Knuth


Laurie Bailey, freelance writer:


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