Cooking Up A Commitment To Service

Volunteers are critical partners in our community who dedicate valuable time making a difference in someone’s day-to-day life. Lending a hand to those less fortunate and striving to help improve the betterment of society is the foundation in which Junior League of Louisville (JLL) was built on 92 years ago.

On the heels of the release of their fourth cookbook this spring, “Bluegrass Gatherings,” I took a moment to sit down with JLL president Alice Baron to discuss what it takes to become a member, the importance of volunteerism and how you can secure a copy of “Bluegrass Gatherings.” You won’t want to miss the opportunity to purchase this Kentucky-inspired cookbook with easy-to-follow recipes.

Alice Baron.

Alice Baron.

LORI KOMMOR: Junior League of Louisville has been an integral part of our community for 92 years; the core foundation was built on teaching others the importance of volunteer service. Share with us some of the organizations that have benefited from JLL.
ALICE BARON: What started with 10 women in 1921 has grown to more than 500 women today as the League celebrates its 92nd year! Our time, talent and treasure have been given to many organizations in the community over the years, including:

Playscape – the first play area on the waterfront;

Open Doors with the Louisville Visual Arts Association – an umbrella program of classes and art enrichment experiences designed to give a voice to under-served populations including the at-risk youth, refugees and immigrants, senior citizens, victims of domestic abuse and more;

Gilda’s Club – NoogieLand play area and annual Noogiefest Halloween party;

Safe Place – created to meet the immediate needs of teens who were living on the street;

CASA – The Junior League helped bring CASA to the River Region;

Stage One – In 1946, two JL members formed the Louisville Children’s Theatre (later named Stage One);

Ronald McDonald House;

Metro United Way (Volunteers Bureau) – The purpose of the Bureau was to “recruit, train and refer volunteers to community service” as well as (educating) the community on social service programs. After three years the JL turned this project over to the Council of Social Agencies, now known as Metro United Way; and

KIDSPACE – The JL renewed the commitment to this project in 1993 and funded as well as staffed volunteers to help with this renovation. This space re-opened as KIDZONE in 1998.

It is important to note that one of our biggest contributions to the community is that our members will go on to join other boards, start additional non-profits and promote voluntarism.

KOMMOR: I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of “Bluegrass Gatherings” and know there must have been a tremendous amount of work that went into such an endeavor. What was the process in making the cookbook and how were the recipes selected?
BARON: “Bluegrass Gatherings” was a project that spanned the better part of three years. It’s a seasonal, menu-based cookbook featuring fresh, local ingredients from the region. We couldn’t make a cookbook without featuring Oaks and Derby menus, but also look for a menu to plan your March Madness party and the Bastille Day menu that highlights the city’s French influence.

We appealed to our members for most of the recipes, so there are a lot of great family recipes in the book. We also tried to do various spins on traditional Kentucky favorites – we feature outstanding recipes for a Mint Julep cake, Benedictine salad dressing and Hot Brown Tart. We were also fortunate to get the cooperation of some of Louisville’s best chefs to give us a few of the city’s most coveted recipes.

Both Louisville First Lady Dr. Alexandra Gerassimides and Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear contributed recipes as well. You’ll also find lots of recipes utilizing country ham and pecans, because it just wouldn’t be a Kentucky cookbook without those!

When we were designing the book, we wanted to create something that would be perfect to take from coffee table to kitchen table – while it’s a cookbook at heart, it’s also a beautiful reflection of Louisville’s landmarks and history.

KOMMOR: What do you do with the cookbook’s proceeds, and where can someone purchase a copy?
BARON: The Junior League of Louisville is a non-profit women’s organization with a mission to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women and improve the community through trained and effective volunteers. One hundred percent of the proceeds from “Bluegrass Gatherings” will go to support the Junior League’s mission through a hands-on and formal training program, community projects such as Gilda’s Club, Family Scholar House, Urban Gardens, Keep In Touch, Bloom Boutique and Done-In-A-Days.

Starting in March, the book will be available at many stores throughout the city, including Bittner’s, Taste of Kentucky, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Regalo at the Galt House and Cooking at the Cottage. In addition, anyone interested in buying a copy can do so by visiting our website.

KOMMOR: If someone is interested in becoming a member of JLL, where can they find more information?
BARON: The JLL is open to any woman age 22 and older in the community with a desire to fulfill our mission. We hold new member programs in the fall and spring. Applications will be taken for the Fall 2013 program starting in June, with the class starting in August. More information can be found on our website under the “Join Now” button.