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Aged to Perfection

Office of Aging and Adult Services publishes ‘Cooking with Friends.’

People who know Colby Hatch understand that she hates to cook. But she wasn’t going to let that stand in the way of helping Alexandria’s seniors.

Hatch, who is the supervisor of Aging Services, worked with Companion Coordinator Carol Stilley to put together “Cooking with Friends,” a collection 177 recipes from 30 staff members of the Department of Human Services. Proceeds from the $10 book will benefit the Eleanor Ager Host Fund, which supports the purchasing of food, medicine, clothing and other necessities for needy senior citizens.

“We are always looking for new ways to raise money,” said Hatch. “And we thought this would be fun.”

Hatch came up with the idea about a year ago, then began soliciting her colleagues at her Mount Vernon Avenue office building. She spent a year collecting and sorting recipes into seven chapters — everything from appetizers to deserts. The recipes include a wide variety of food choices: African pea soup, Tex Mex dip, colonial salad, apricot chicken, Mediterranean watermelon salad and many more. Hatch typed the recipes; Stilley edited the manuscript.

“Cooking is not my thing, but we have a lot of great cooks in the agency,” said Hatch, who contributed a recipe for “five-pound fudge” despite her self-professed avoidance of the kitchen.

“I would tell people to buy the book because it’s got great recipes and it goes to a good cause.”

EACH RECIPE HAS ITS own history. Like the one for “light rolls,” which was contributed by Director of Social Services Suzanne Chis. She said that the original recipe was created by her neighbor, who had a very large family. The neighbor shared it with her before moving to Utah, and now Chis has shared it with anyone who buys “Cooking with Friends.”

“Although the recipe says it makes 12, it really makes about 24,” said Chis. “I usually only make it at Christmastime or other occasions when there are large groups of people.”

Linda Dell’s recipe for beef bourguignon employs a classic bit of kitchen trickery. Although it’s a classic French recipe for a gourmet meal, the secret to her recipe is its simplicity. Dell said that the recipe, which she learned several years ago from a good friend, involves two cans of Campbell’s soup and a Lipton soup packet.

“People will think you spent all day in the kitchen,” said Dell. “It’s fabulous!”