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May 11, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Weekend food picks: Cookbook swap, school lunch contest

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If your shelves and file cabinets are as stuffed with cookbooks as mine are, you’ll want to head out to the Cookbook Swap and Recipe Exchange from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday (May 13) at the Burke Museum. Organizers are hoping you’ll come trade your old cookbooks for treasures from other shelves, talk about food, and maybe even take in the Burke’s “Hungry Planet: What The World Eats” exhibit.

“It all started when Cathy (my wife and a fine cook of some renown) and Jackie Williams (historian and author of a couple of books on cooking in the Northwest in the 1800’s) got together at Jackie’s house and she brought out a couple of boxes of cookbooks she was getting rid of,” wrote Carl Sander, the Burke’s public programs manager.

“Cathy was delighted, they had fun, and an idea was born. While not planning it as a Mother’s Day event, Mother’s Day turned out to be one of the last remaining times we could host an event before the exhibit closed (on June 10).” (Moms, they’ll have gifts for you if you vote for recipes over — or after — breakfast in bed.)

Sander expects at least 100 people to participate, and says the swap basket already includes desirables like “Skagit Valley Fare” by Lavone Newell, “Classic Indian Cooking” by Julie Sahni, “Feasting and Fasting with Lewis and Clark,” 40 editions of “Food History News” and a collection of magazines from the East Coast on cooking in Colonial times. A Burke volunteer is also planning on bringing in old and novelty cookbooks to page through, through they’re not part of the swap.

Want to play? You can set the terms of your trades; the only rule is that the books are to swap, not to sell. Any books left at the end of the day will be donated to the Friends of the Seattle Public Library.

Or, for a serious food challenge, head out a day earlier, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Seattle Center Armory, to watch Seattle students and high-profile chefs wrestle with the TV-worthy challenge that’s daily reality for the school district — making a nutritious lunch that kids will eat that meets federal requirements. Oh, and the whole meal can’t cost more than $1.25.

Seattle has been hard at work on improving its food, working with some grant dollars from King County and some serious volunteer help developing and taste-testing recipes from Tom Douglas Restaurants. The chef judges include Lisa Dupar, Jerry Traunfeld, Leslie Mackie, and a bunch more. Eating a school lunch would not normally be one of my top weekend choices, but I’d be curious to try the new curry-couscous entree developed by TDR that’ll be taste-tested at the event.

Photo: One corner of one of Rebekah Denn’s crowded cookbook shelves

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