GRAND MEADOW — Grand Meadow resident Colleen Gilbert picked up her love of cooking by hanging out in her grandma's kitchen.
Now, thanks to the an online cooking site called Just A Pinch Recipe Club , she swaps and trades recipes with thousands of cooks nationwide.
Recently a savory recipe called Tiramisu Trifle , a traditional Italian dessert, won her a blue ribbon award on the club's website. It was the second time she was honored by the club since she joined in January.
Gilbert, 44, calls herself a "freak" over cookbooks and finds few activities more satisfying that being able to pour over a cookbook's recipes.
"My perfect vacation would be going to Italy, searching out the little old ladies that live in the country and spend a day cooking with them," Gilbert said.
The online club she belongs to doesn't put her in contact with the little old ladies in Italy, but it does connect her with scores of other cooks. The club allows her to search for "new and interesting" recipes, as well as those quick concoctions that are essential in this day and age.
Billed as "America's Greatest Recipe Swap," the site includes recipes in several different categories. It also allows people to post comments under other people's recipes.
Gilbert also receives e-mails alerting her when a new recipe has been entered or when someone has commented on one of her recipes.
Gilbert figures she checks out the site two or three times a week.
After posting her Tiramisu Trifle, Gilbert said she received a lot of input from others about what makes an authentic Tiramisu. Some said rum. Others said Kahlua. Gilbert didn't put alcohol in hers.
"Everybody says theirs is the authentic one," she said. "I'm not so sure."
Gilbert's trifle, along with thousands of other recipes, can be viewed and shared through the online club. They can also save recipes to a personal online recipe box, create grocery lists, plan meals and print hundreds of grocery coupons.
In addition, members can create or join groups based on preferences for diabetic meals, crock pot cooking and budget meals.
Like many cooks, Gilbert said she loves the act of creating in the kitchen, but dislikes the aftermath.
"I love to cook," she said. "I hate to clean up."