For those still looking for a gift to give this Christmas, a cookbook may just fit the bill, and you could cross off another name on your list with "A Taste of Heaven," from the parish of in Noroton.
The cookbook got started as part of the "Alpha" program of nondenominational Christian lectures and discussions that the church has supported. The meetings are accompanied by meals, and organizers of the cooking came up with a number of recipes that proved popular, said Susan Liguori, one of the organizers in the cookbook project.
The idea came up that the recipes meant for many people would be useful at other parish events, she said. Then another idea came up: Ask the whole parish to participate in creating a cookbook by sharing recipes that meant a lot to individual parishioners.
Parishioners were not only asked for recipes, Liguori said. Contributors were also asked "to tell a quick story about where the recipe came from and who it came from, and why it was important."
So "A Taste of Heaven" is more than just a cookbook, but a kind of community album where the recipes, like photos of old events, are sentimental ties that contributors share with the reader.
"So it became an opportunity to really come together around food and story, which, of course, from a faith perspective is exactly what our community of faith does," Liguori said.
It's a kind of parallel to the Eucharistic meal of Communion, she said, "so it just made sense."
Not only are main dishes and side dishes in the cookbook, she said. It also includes deserts and even beverages. Two of the chief organizers in the "very collaborative group" that organized the recipes included Anita Rycenga and Jennifer Keating, Liguori said.
The cookbook is also a fundraising vehicle to improve the playground behind the parish hall, where St. John Preschool kids and others go to play, Liguori said. "So it was this wonderful way of getting the parish to know one another, further build a community and build a playground.
Launched this spring, the cookbook has already raised funds for the playground, and was popular enough that it is now in its second printing.
The cookbook is available for $20 both at the parish office at 1986 Post Rd. East, and at in the Noroton Heights Shopping Center, 314 Heights Rd.