All Hands On Deck Cookbook: After Sandy, residents feel a hunger to help

January 28, 2013 Helen Klein
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In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, many Red Hook businesses were shut down. To help them re-build and re-open, a local couple came up with an idea – create an on-line cookbook that highlights the neighborhood’s culinary treasures while raising money to help its small businesses, recover.

Thus, “All Hands on Deck” was born. Recalled Catherine Overman, one of the compilation’s editors, she and her husband had come up with the idea of creating the cookbook  when they returned to Red Hook from Paris, where they had been honeymooning when the storm hit.

“A lot of the basic cleanup had been done, so there was not a lot we could do to pitch in,” she stressed. “So, we started to think what we could do to raise money. I’m an editor and my husband is a graphic designer (as well as a bartender at Fort Defiance, one of the Red Hook restaurants that contributed recipes), so we said, we’ll put together a cookbook.”

Baked's Cowboy Cookies are one of the many recipes featured.

They then approached local restaurants and bars, and asked if they could contribute recipes. The couple also reached out to friends, neighbors and colleagues for assistance in the effort. “Six weeks later, we had a cookbook.,” she said.

A compilation of 25 signature recipes from 20 of the neighborhood’s food purveyors — ranging from a food truck to brick and mortar establishments to a private supper club — the cookbook (which costs $15) met its initial goal of $5,000 within three days of its December 21 launch. The full purchase price from each sale is donated to ReStore Red Hook, a group specifically put together to assist local businesses in their Sandy recovery.

Fundraising is now up to $8,000, and the new goal is $10,000, said Overman. “We certainly would like to keep bringing in money for them as long as there’s a need,” she added.

Those who buy the book not only aid in the recovery of the devastated neighborhood, they have the chance to try favorite recipes from the pioneer restaurants and other food-oriented businesses that have found a niche there.

These include two popular recipes from Baked – Cowboy Cookies and Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting – as well as Chicken Pupusas from one of the Coffey Park food trucks, El Olomega, and Pork and Chive Dumplings from Red Hook stalwart, The Good Fork.

For those who don’t live in Red Hook, Overman urged two things: One, come into the neighborhood and try out its eateries, many of which have reopened, but which are hurting since the community’s biggest draw for outsiders, Fairway, is still closed. “They all need business. They need people coming in and dining. The regulars are still there, but bringing people in from outside the neighborhood, they need help with that,” Overman said.

And, two, Overman said, “Buy a copy of the cookbook. It’s a great thing to have. It will give you a little window onto the neighborhood and a taste not only of great food but also a flavor of what this neighborhood is all about.”

The e-book of “All Hands on Deck” is available for download at Updates on the project can be found on Twitter (@AllHandsRedHook) and on Facebook.

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