Washburn Employee Cookbook excites the senses – and it doesn’t assign homework

Meghan Ryan

Leftovers, stale pizza and Ramen noodles are looking less and less appealing as the semester wears on. It’s time to satisfy your taste buds and put more effort into meals than dialing a phone and ordering takeout. The newly-published Washburn University Employee Cookbook makes that a bit easier by supplying the WU community with simple but delectable dishes.

No matter the occasion, a potluck dinner always has some of the best food. The dishes are easy enough to cook, but good enough that a person will be proud to share with neighbors. This is exactly what Celeste Ehrenberg, employee wellness coordinator at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, thought when she decided to compile recipes from the Washburn employees and create Washburn’s first employee cookbook.

Ehrenberg said the cookbook was a great community effort and statement. She began the project by e-mailing employees, asking for recipes and mentioning the cookbook at presentations. From there, the cookbook transformed into a class project.

Member’s of Regina Cassell’s publication layout and design course took on the cookbook as one of four group projects. Nicole Stejskal, Ashley Shepard, Rikki Bruntmeyer and Eric Smith spent hours of time both inside and outside of class working on everything from editing recipes and laying out pages to swapping Ichabod Washburn’s top hat for a chef’s hat and his books for a bowl.

With the student work done, the cookbook in the making was handed off to Dena Anson, director of University Relations, and a dessert-baking hobbyist. With Anson’s background in journalism and freelance cookbook editing, she was no stranger to the hours of time it takes to edit and make everything consistent.

“Editing for me is like Sudoku for others,” said Anson about her methodical routine.

Lynda Carter, a graphic designer in University Mailing and Printing Services, was in charge of tweaking the student’s design to make it ready for printing. UMAPS was then hired to print the recipe book. Three hundred recipe books were printed by UMAPS to be sold exclusively at the Washburn Bookstore. If all the cookbooks are sold, more will be printed.

“It’s just a must-have book,” said Kay Farley, bookstore director. “The recipes are interesting and exciting.”

The bookstore plans to feature the $9.99 cookbook at its holiday open house in December.

So far, everyone involved in the process has been pleased. Ehrenberg was one of the movers and shakers on the project.

“The end result was worth all the work,” she said.

The spiral-bound paper back is brimming with the favorite recipes of the Washburn community. About 100 faculty, staff, adjunct professors and retired employees contributed recipes.

“It’s exciting how may people contributed,” said Farley.

Ehrenberg agreed.

“Great food ideas make a great cookbook,” she said. “So much food, so little time.”

From Sopapilla Cheesecake to Hot German Potato Salad, the diversity of the recipes makes for a wonderful treat for the taste buds. Page after page contains mouth watering desserts, appetizers, dips, salads and drinks.

The creators of the cookbook aimed to approach the project so that a first-time chef would be able to pick up any recipe and finish it successfully. Any student living on campus will be able to think outside of the microwave and get creative – without any special equipment or culinary schooling.

The project went so well, the organizers decided to include the words “Volume One” on the cover.

“We hope for another volume,” said Ehrenberg.

The follow up cookbook will include more personal notes and details about the history of submitted recipes.

Food is a wonderful cultural identifier. It has history and it has personality, which the contributors and their recipes certainly do not lack. The Washburn Employee Cookbook includes excerpts of personal notes on dishes such as the Russian dessert Kisel and the indigenous ingredient based Avocado-gooseberry Pudding with New World Fruit Sauce.

The Washburn Employee Cookbook required the personal efforts of a diverse array of employees who came together to create a book that not only contains delicious ideas for dinners and dessert, but is also a statement about how much the people at Washburn care and identify themselves as a community instead of just an institution.