Leigh Pirkle is in her kitchen when her mother-in-law, Valasta, arrives. She has come to show Leigh and a friend how to make her “famous” cream cheese rolls—a recipe that has been in their family for a long time. Valasta almost immediately notices the GVEC recipe calendars on the counter. “Oh, are those the new GVEC calendars,” she excitedly asks. Luckily, Leigh has an extra one for Valasta, and the two discuss how they have been looking forward to these, as they do every year.
Why? What makes the GVEC recipe calendars such a hot commodity this time of year, and why are members and customers so eager to get their hands them?
Family, Fellowship and Food
When we think of our favorite meals, many things other than food often come to mind—family and friends, heritage and history, holidays and celebrations. By many societies’ standards, in fact, sharing a meal represents fellowship and community.
For many of the occasions we gather to share a meal, foods from familiar recipes are included. In fact, the recipes themselves have become as much of tradition as the events celebrated.
It’s in this way, featuring familiar recipes from local people and organizations, that the GVEC recipe calendar has become a tradition for many in our service territory, as well.
Origins of the GVEC Recipe Calendar
GVEC has been producing recipe calendars since the 1980s. Recipes began being chosen from those which members had already been sending in for the monthly GVEC Review newsletter. The calendars were a hit, and they’ve grown in popularity ever since.
Tammy Thompson, Senior Executive Manager of Business and Brand Development, says since the beginning, the GVEC recipe Calendar has always been produced in-house, with recipes from local members, customers and organizations.
Thompson has participated in this production since she came to work at GVEC. Her favorite part of the process has been meeting and talking to some of the contributors. “Learning the stories behind some of these treasured recipes has always been a really unique aspect of doing the calendar,” Thompson said. “It’s special that we can be personally engaged and have this connection with our members.”
You may be surprised to know the GVEC recipe calendar hasn’t always featured a theme. Thompson says the decision to theme them was a creative way of encouraging more participation, as well as being able to highlight some or our area’s nonprofit groups and organizations in the community.
GVEC Marketing and Communications Manager Jordan Kuwik says the theme is chosen each year by brainstorming about community organizations and groups that could be fun to spotlight for the year. Things like sports booster clubs, teachers, volunteer fire departments or even GVEC’s employee base are some examples.
“It’s important to us that we are able to represent people from across our service territory when we choose a theme, and we like to tell their story along with the recipes to create a personal connection through the calendar.” Kuwik said.
When asked what her favorite part of the calendar production is, Kuwik shared that sorting and selecting the recipes to feature is the most challenging, but also the most fun part for her. “These recipes are often very near and dear to those submitting them, and getting to see their notes and stories about what makes them special to the submitter is a blast. The challenge comes in when we have to narrow the selection down. There are so many great recipes that we don’t get to include in the final calendar—but we then publish those in our monthly The GVEC Review issues, so we still get to share them with our membership, which is great!”
Calendar Complements and Favorite Features
Thompson feels complimented by how well-loved the GVEC recipe Calendars have become over the years. People have let her know that they enjoy sharing the calendar as gifts to others or even as stocking stuffers at Christmas because they think so highly of them.
One person told Thompson she enjoys the pictures so much, she tears the pages out and frames them to hang as décor on her kitchen walls. Then, if she wants to make one of those recipes, she just takes the frame down and places it on her cookbook stand.
Our customer service representatives are often on the receiving end of calendar compliments. They’ve heard plenty of echoes of how much people enjoy the pictures, as well. Other praises they’ve heard have included appreciation of how visible and easy to read the print is, how the squares are large enough to easily jot notes and appointments on, and, of course, how they enjoy trying out the recipes at home.
The Pirkles shared some additional favorite features about the GVEC recipe calendars, too. Both ladies agree, like so many others, the pictures are beautiful and fun to look at. Valasta also points out that, along with trying new recipes, she likes that submissions are local and is happy to see names of organizations or individuals she recognizes. Leigh enjoys the changing themes each year and the collectible recipe cards in the back of the calendar.
A True Community Calendar
Because the GVEC recipe calendar features submissions from across the service territory, from local people and organizations, members are able to have a sense of familiarity with each other—whether they are on the western end, southern edge or somewhere in between.
In the same way sharing a meal brings people together, sharing these recipes brings the communities we serve together.