Peters library encourages local, organic food
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Peters gardeners will be able to show off the fruits of their labors Aug. 3 at the township library.
The aromas circulating through the building from 6:30 to 9 p.m. that evening should have patrons thinking of restaurants, cafés or home-cooked meals as the library sponsors its third annual potluck dinner. The food fest is a collaboration between the library's Cooking and Go Green clubs, and throws the spotlight on locally grown food.
"We're asking that everyone attending bring in a dish made from food either grown in their own garden or purchased from a local farmers market or grower," said Carrie Weaver, the library's public relations coordinator. "The dinner is an attempt to get people to eat locally, not only for good nutrition but also to help support the local agricultural community."
The dinner is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to preregister by calling 724-941-9430 or signing up at the circulation desk of the library, 616 E. McMurray Road, by Wednesday.
Past potluck dinners have included dishes like zucchini casserole, mulberry muffins, corn on the cob, beet salad with green beans and tomatoes, zucchini pilaf and home-made bread and peach preserves.
"We also had meat dishes [such as meatloaf] made from locally raised livestock," Mrs. Weaver said. "A lot of the produce used at the dinner is purchased at the Main Street Farmers' Market in Washington, which is open from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. So far, we've been very lucky to get a variety of dishes with no one bringing a duplicate."
Each hot or cold culinary creation should feed about 10 people. Because the Go Green Club is involved, food will be served on compostable plates, and diners will use metal rather than plastic utensils and drink from glass Mason jars.
"The food is plentiful enough to constitute dinner," said Mrs. Weaver, who plans to bring in a refreshing "spa water" made with cucumbers, lemon and mint. "Based on past experience, I've never eaten dinner before the event and have always left full and satisfied."
Jennifer Garrett of Peters, president of the Go Green Club, has attended both of the previous potluck dinners. She said the goal is to encourage people to shop at farmers markets or show what can be made with produce grown in the backyard.
"A lot of people come in with some incredibly creative dishes such as an awesome ginger peach jam," said Mrs. Garrett, who made a melange of green and yellow beans and different-colored tomatoes splashed with a tangerine-basil dressing for last year's dinner. "Some of the combinations of unlikely ingredients are simply amazing."
For this year's dinner, she and her husband, Chris Umbell, plan to make a chicken taco salad with produce grown in their garden.
"It should be interesting to see what other people bring in," she said.
The dinner will be held in a library meeting room, adjacent to a small in-house kitchen. The room holds up to 80 people, although attendance at past dinners has averaged between 25 and 30 people.
The first year, dinner organizers screened the film "Fresh" and last year brought in a speaker, Liz Kanche, who talked about eating locally in Pennsylvania. Because the diners said they felt rushed, this year's event will feature dining only.
However, each person contributing a dish is asked to bring the recipe, talk about the dish and where he or she got the ingredients. Copies of the recipes will be given to participants.
Some recipes may be included in the new library cookbook, scheduled for release in October. The cookbook, the library's first ever, will include 150-175 recipes, organized in sections such as salads, main dishes, breads and rolls and desserts.
"We asked members of the library's Go Green, Cooking and Coupon clubs, friends of the library, staff, board members and volunteers to bring in their favorite recipes for inclusion in the cookbook," said Carol Adler of Peters, chairwoman of the cookbook committee. "Because we're a library, we also asked that they include a story with their recipes."
First Published July 26, 2012 5:31 am