Isabel Teslak is one of 95 contributors to a cookbook celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Senior Citizens Club of Fernie and District. She’s pictured in her Fernie home. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Cooking a lifelong passion for Fernie senior

Fernie seniors club releases 60th anniversary cookbook; sales to raise funds for scholarship

Isabel Teslak has always loved to cook and with six children, she had plenty of practice.

The Fernie woman fondly remembers making perogies with her late husband Andrew’s family, who emigrated to Canada from Ukraine.

Now, other families can enjoy her mother-in-law’s famous perogie casserole with the release of the Senior Citizens Club of Fernie and District’s 60th anniversary cookbook.

“We used to make our own perogies and everything,” said Isabel. “She was a good cook, soups and cooked on a wood stove.”

Isabel is also known for her culinary expertise, working in the kitchen at the Senior Citizens Drop-In Centre for a number of years and serving up dinners at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 36 on Saturday nights.

She has lived in Fernie since 1972 and been a member of the seniors club for about a decade.

“Cooking has always been easy for me. It wasn’t a hard job as far as I was concerned. I guess I just like it, had a big family and had them to feed,” she said.

Apple sauce cookies are another Isabel specialty and included in the cookbook, which is titled Celebrating 60 Years of Success 1959-2019.

While the advent of the Internet means many people go online to search for recipes, Isabel prefers to cook the old-fashioned way.

She hopes the community will see value in the tangible product and supporting the seniors club.

Ninety-five people contributed to the cookbook, which features historical photos and retro recipes, such as prem sandwich and liver soup.

“Prem is a meat that, years ago, was ground up with either onion or dill pickles and mayo was added to it, and they made it into a sandwich spread,” explained cookbook co-organizer Gene Cockburn.

She, along with Courtney Baker and Irene Poirier, had the hard task of making the final selection, also sourcing recipes from a cookbook produced in the 1980s.

The cookbook costs $15 with all proceeds going towards a new scholarship fund. The $500 Seniors Centre Scholarship is open to students graduating from Fernie Secondary School (FSS) and pursuing a career that supports seniors, such as nursing.

Community service and academic achievements will also be considered by the FSS scholarship committee when choosing the student. The cookbook is available at the drop-in centre, 562 3rd Avenue, Fernie.

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The recipe for Isabel Teslak’s famous apple sauce cookies. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

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