What's cooking: Jessup nonprofit hopes to collect community recipes for anniversary cookbook

From left, Jessup 21st Century Associaton Secretary Nancy Wasilchak and Vice President Angela Muchal pose with some of their cookbooks. The two are cho-chairing the association’s anniversary cookbook project.

Appetizers, desserts, dinners and even children’s recipes — the Jessup 21st Century Association wants it all for their 25th anniversary cookbook.

They’re collecting Jessup residents’ favorite recipes, along with an explanation of why the recipe is important to the family and any traditions associated with it for inclusion in the book.

When COVID-19 hit, the association was forced to come up with socially distanced and virtual events to keep the community involved and safe. The community cookbook is their most recent project.

“We always try to do something,” association president Genevieve “Genie” Lupini said.

She contributed her family’s favorite wimpy recipe that’s been a favorite of the family for many years.

“It’s very simple and it goes a long way to please a lot of people,” Lupini says.

Angela Muchal, vice president of the club and event co-chair, is equally as excited about the cookbook. So much so, she’s not even sure which recipe to submit yet.

She’s deciding among a few holiday recipes that her mother used to make, including stuffed calamari and honey and nut macaroni. Since she loves to cook, it’s hard for her to decide which one she will go with.

“I love to make cheesecake, but I’ll tackle anything, really,” Muchal said.

Muchal had a hard time learning from her mother’s cooking, which often consisted of using a handful of this or a pinch of that instead of written out measurements and ingredients. Instead, Muchal turned to cookbooks, though she says she finds inspiration from her mother’s terrific cooking.

In fact, Muchal didn’t teach her daughter to cook, either. Instead, Muchal’s mother, Mary, and daughter, Maria, spent a lot of time in the kitchen together, where Muchal often heard, “Grandma, let me measure your handful,” so Maria could learn the recipes, too.

Since Muchal knows firsthand that everyone cooks in their own way with their own recipes, she believes that the diversity and different backgrounds of the community members will make the cookbook a hit.

“I’m hoping it will reflect Jessup and all the people in it,” Muchal said.

While the book had a bit of a slow start, the group is happy to report they have received about 30-plus recipes now, including recipes for soup, polenta and different sauces. Muchal says they will have plenty more coming in as well.

“We’ll solicit the members and make sure everyone submits recipes, including their families,” Muchal joked.

Their goal is to reach 100 recipes in the book but will settle for at least 70. Group leaders noted that the more pages you add to a book, the more costly it will be to print.

“We want to be able to make it affordable for everyone,” Muchal said.

Muchal and her co-chair, Nancy Wasilchak, plan to publish the cookbook through Morris Press Cookbooks. Muchal has familiarity publishing cookbooks with this company, as she helped in the making of the cookbook “Feeding the Flock” through the Queen of Angels Parish in Jessup years ago.

“We wanted it to be published and done around now or the time of our 5th of July celebration, where we have fireworks and entertainment, but we pushed it back to around Christmas time,” Muchal said.

While Muchal has been a part of the association since its earlier years, she became an active member about 13 years ago. The group has roughly 60 to 70 members, about 20 or 30 of whom are active members.

Lupini has also been a long-standing member of the group since its debut in 1995 and took on the role of president just five years later. While Lupini has been president on and off for the last 25 years, she makes an important notation about the role.

“It doesn’t matter who the president is because we all work together. In a way, we are all the president here,” Lupini said.

Interested in submitting a recipe? Contact the group through Facebook or via mail at PO Box 21 Jessup, PA 18434.