Cooking With Friends

A cookbook doesn’t have to be written by Jamie Oliver or Julia Child to become a favourite in someone’s kitchen. Often the recipes that get used again and again come from a friend or family member.

The newly created Whitehorse Community Cookbook takes that “collecting from friends” approach to a broader level by gathering more than 200 recipes in a spiral-bound book. It has a simple white cover and a simple goal: to raise money for the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.

Annie Griffin, a member of the Humane Society Yukon (HSY) Board, had the idea about three years ago to make a cookbook.

“I was standing in a bookstore and saw a handful of community cookbooks, and I thought, what a great idea for fundraising,” she recalls.

And a unique benefit of a recipe collection for an animal shelter is that animal lovers would probably be willing to share ideas for healthy pet food, too.

The task of putting together a publication of that size isn’t a one-person job, however. The HSY thought a vegetarian cookbook would be best, and Griffin thought the number of vegetarian recipes might be too small, and might not sit well with northern hunters.

The idea sat on the back burner for a few years and then another HSY Board member (at the time), Deborah Bastien, had the energy to take it on with Griffin.

Friends and friends-of-friends were contacted for recipe ideas, and soon the delicious emails began to arrive. Many were from the Yukon, some from former Yukoners.

Griffin and Bastien soon found natural groupings within the piles of flavours they collected. Some are predictable – Main Dishes, Soups & Salads, Desserts. Some look particularly tasty – a whole collection of smoothies and holiday beverages (chocolate eggnog!) appear in the Drinks section.

And some are unique to the cause. Healthy pet food recipes for both dogs and cats are in the Pets section, with many instructions naming the furry beast that inspired the food formulas.

The pet food section is also where “names in lights” appear, if you’re looking closely. Deb Gatien, of Camp K9 Pet Day Care, submitted “Deb’s Recipe for Dog Food.” And Greta and Janet Podleski – the chefs and Food Canada Network hosts known for their Eat, Shrink and be Merry television show and related cookbooks – sent in “Funny Bones Dog Treats.”

The Podleski sisters also gave a recipe for gingersnap cookies, so the humans don’t need to feel left out.

Another detail that adds animal-love to the cookbook is the photos that start each chapter. Each cat or dog is a former shelter pet who is now adopted into a permanent home.

And any cook, animal-loving or even just animal-liking, can benefit from the general information pages that lead each chapter.

For example, the Baking chapter starts with a conversion table for swapping between metric and imperial measurements (what is the size of a 9-inch square cake pan when you’re shopping in a metric store?); Soups & Salads starts with a chart to help expand a regular recipe into one that can serve 50 people (summer season camps come to mind here).

To make the production process for the cookbook as simple as possible, Bastien and Griffin – with the blessing of the HSY Board – decided to organize the project on their own, on behalf of the Humane Society, rather than through it.

Celtic Harp Counselling donated about half the funds needed to print the book, and Griffin and Bastien were able to raise the rest of the funds from other community members. This leaves the project clear for all the proceeds, one hundred percent of them, to go toward the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.

The Whitehorse Community Cookbook is a labour of love that may raise as much as $7,000 for the shelter. Prices are one for $15, and three for $40. They can be found at the shelter, at the Royal and TD Banks, and at the Feed Store/Pet Junction; new locations will likely be added as Griffin and Bastien spread the word about the book.

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