September 23, 2014

Elyria
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Ritter library shares its best

VERMILION — Tasting never-had-before cuisine from a cookbook chock full of hand-me-down recipes may not sound like your idea of a fun night.

After all, how many people can say they know Lois Hubler or her baked sweet and sour kielbasa made with chili sauce and crushed pineapple?  Will the dish be good, or will it be something tossed aside like yesterday’s tuna surprise?

STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE
Janet Wilder (left), of Elyria, serves Ann Beursken (right), of Vermilion, pina colada punch at a tasting hosted by recipe submitters.

The Friends of Ritter Public Library knew questions like that would come when they decided to put together the group’s first published cookbook, “Sharing Our Best,” a collection of recipes submitted by local residents. 

“When you’re a working mom, you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen for hours when you can just pull out a cookbook,” said Genie Tedford, project coordinator.

That’s why Thursday night, all the guesswork was taken out as the group turned the Ritter Public Library Annex into a culinary carnival.

But instead of kissing booths and dunk tanks, partygoers — isn’t it a party when there’s a room full of food for $2? — were greeted by eight tables formed in a U-shape covered with more than two dozen dishes.

Marilyn Hubbard’s olive and cheese puffs were as unique and yummy as they sound — like little drops baked golden to perfection heaven.

Of course, a sampling of Hubler’s sweet and sour sausage was there, too. Not for long, though, as the meat dish was a crowd favorite. Two words sum it up: tasty and delicious.

But the speed with which the kielbasa was consumed was OK because 75-year-old Juanita Hockenberry, of Lorain, was there to pick up the slack with her delicious hot chicken salad.

“It’s different and it’s good,” she said while watching hordes of hungry people help themselves. “Who doesn’t love chicken salad? The only thing that is different is that you heat it.”

There are a lot of quick and easy recipes in the cookbook, which sells for $8 at the library. The idea is to offer seasoned cooks as well as inexperienced ones a cookbook.

“Trust me, this food is really good,” quipped Diane Schmidt of Elyria when asked if she liked it enough to want to buy the cookbook. “I’ve eaten my way from Minnesota to Ohio and every place in between because I’ve lived in so many places. And I have a ton of cookbooks to prove it. Have you had the sweet and sour kielbasa? I think it’s on page 47.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. 

A RECIPE FOR OUR READERS 

If you want them all, you will have to buy the cookbook. This one’s on us.

Baked Sweet and Sour Kielbasa

INGREDIENTS: • 2 or 3 pound kielbasa • 1 12-ounce bottle of chili sauce • 1 whole onion, diced • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained • ¼ cup of brown sugar

DIRECTIONS: Parboil kielbasa 10 or 15 minutes. Drain and slice. Combine other ingredients and then add sliced kielbasa. Pour into three-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.