Green Thumbs in the Kitchen?

Green Thumbs in the Kitchen?

With publication of their first cookbook, Reston Garden Club members prepare for annual fund-rasier.

With publication of their first cookbook, Reston Garden Club members prepare for their annual fund-raiser.

<bt>It’s out of the garden and into the kitchen for a group of Reston women this holiday season. Area shoppers looking for the perfect gift for the chef on their holiday list or those looking to add some spice to their usual festive dinner fare, may want to stop by the North Point Village Shopping Center on Saturday, Dec. 6. Members of the Reston Garden Club will be on hand from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the shopping center along Reston Parkway selling copies of the group’s first-ever cookbook, according to organizers.

Founded in 1970 by Joanna Davis and Diana Shoup, the Reston Garden Club began as a way to promote, among other things, civic beautification, conservation and better horticultural practices. This year, the Reston Garden Club, 80 members strong, is branching out of the garden and into the kitchen. The cookbook, "Sweets, Meats and Garden Treats," will be available at the Dec. 6 fund-raiser, member Barbara Paolucci said. "It's something that we have always wanted to do and it would definitely make a great gift for the holidays," said Paolucci, who contributed several recipes for the book, including her favorite sour cream coffee cake.

With more than 200 recipes for everything from Elfriede Walker’s "Cranberry-glazed Brie" and Woodie Ischer’s "Can-Can Fruit Punch," to Jan Harrington’s "Lamb Curry in a Hurry" to Terry Carter’s ginger-less "Angel Gingerbread," the cookbook is an eclectic mix of styles, tastes and traditions.

The club also reached back into its archives with recipes like "Steaming Hot Holiday Punch" and "Noodles with Asian Pesto Sauce." Many of the recipes come with personalized notes from the cooks. For instance, Nancy Callaghan tries to convince people that despite its name, one of her deserts is actually quite tasty. "I know raisin pie may sound odd to many people, but this is to die for," she wrote.

Manette Lazear, who put the book together, told the story of how she and her husband discovered "Aunt Helen’s Key Lime Pie." On a trip to the Florida Keys, the Lazears embarked on a Key Lime pie tasting tour. "We shared a piece twice each day," she wrote. "No two were alike but we found our favorite when we got to Aunt Helen’s. It’s very non-traditional but easy and yummy."

The book is also full of cooking tips including a way to test the freshness of eggs. Hint: if they float in cold water, do not use them. Club members also made sure to add plenty of helpful hints about the garden, flower arranging, pruning and using the Internet for better gardening techniques. "Whenever we can, we like to share good practical tips about things we have learned over the years," Paolucci said. "It may be a cookbook, but there is still plenty of gardening ideas and information."

In addition to the cookbook, shoppers will be able to choose from a variety of holiday greens. Members will prune fresh greens to create an assortment of different items, Paolucci said. From natural wreaths and traditional holiday centerpieces to swags and topiaries, there promises to be something for everyone at the sale. The event is the garden club’s only fund-raiser each year. "The money goes right back into the community," Paolucci said. "It goes toward things like civic beautification and community outreach projects like our flower arrangement classes at the Reston Community Center. Every year, we also sponsor students who are unable to pay for summer camp."