BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Area residents battled a cool, dreary, and oftentimes, wet Saturday morning to scurry down the sidewalks of downtown Fort Madison looking for holiday deals and Christmas spirit.
Popular destinations included the vendor fair at Velocity Dance and Tumbling, Megan’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream, Dollhouse Dreams, the Fort Madison Area Arts Association, and Elliott Test Kitchen.
Test Kitchen founder Kumar Wickramasingha had a buffet full of culinary treats created by students as part of the 2nd edition of the Test Kitchen Cookbook.
Students lined tables and signed pages featuring their recipes for shoppers who stopped in to purchase the books.
Wickramasingha and the Test Kitchen students put out a similar cookbook in 2018, but this year, he wanted to include more information about the Test Kitchen program, which almost doubled the size of the book.
“Last year we just did the cook book.. just the recipes. This year we wanted to highlight on what’s really happening here and how we incorporate the food into the program,” he said.
“The book has so many chapters looking at heritage, the community, learning-from-the-best, and celebrations, so we kind of categorized each chapter for an event.”
He said that pushed this year’s volume to about double the pages from last year. Not only does the book look at the programming aspect of the Test Kitchen, but has more than 30 recipes featuring 40 students.
“Every single recipe those kids have eaten and made here and then everything was photographed by me.”
The kids then script out the recipes on the pages, which become part of the art of the book, Wickramasingha said 500 copies of the book were printed and run $20 each.
He said the fundraiser helps offset costs for December and January.
He said the programming is really growing faster than he can change the mind of the community for growing support.
“Look at these kids in here. This is one of the few chances they get to really shine. Otherwise this kind of attention comes from sports-related activity.”
He said he wanted to get the book out for Black Friday, but it will remain on sale at the Test Kitchen during program hours and at Under the Sun during business hours.
Chelsea Patton, 9, a 4th-grader at Fort Madison Middle School, said she made her recipe “Caprese Skewers” a couple of times and it was her favorite in the book.
Residents also stopped in for toy demonstrations, ice cream, and even lunch at Dollhouse Dreams and Megan’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream where owner Brenda Derr and employee Chelsey Smith were busy keeping customers’ hands full with ice cream and paninis.
Fort Madison Area Arts Association was offering free popcorn and, once again, carriage rides pulled shoppers around the downtown district.