Chopping Club

Lunches, cooked and eaten together in the library, have always been an important part of our programme.  Growing from one of our first projects by artists Fairland Collective, these lunches are communally prepared and cooked in one pot, always in the library itself. Everyone chops, so everyone has made lunch for everyone else. One pot has been known to produce three courses, or a feast for 80 people, though we often just make soup.

We are building up a larder of pickles, preserves and cordials for future meals, and a collection of recipes shared by local cooks and artists, which are available to be photocopied from Bootle Library or downloaded below. We serve food in bowls made by library users with Fairland Collective, and always make use of other tableware that has been made in the library: tablecloths, menus, or a table runner embroidered by our Stitch Club.

Food connects us to a each other, and to a network of local growers and producers in Sefton. We try and use local produce where possible, and take occasional foraging trips along the canal. Community gardens share surplus produce for lunch menus, and beehives at Formby and Bootle Libraries provide local honey.

Chopping Club is led by artists Niamh Riordan and Gregory Herbert, and a throng of At the Library volunteers. We often welcome guest artists to cook with us, share recipes or menus, or simply introduce their work to us around the table.

Recipe Collection

An ongoing collection of some of the recipes that we have cooked together over the years.

Chopping Club Events

19th Aug 2022, 12:30pm Bootle Library

FULLY BOOKED! We have no more places left on this workshop, but you can join the waiting list incase someone cancels.

Back by popular demand, join Niamh and Greg to make jam doughnuts!

Firstly, we will forage blackberries along the Leeds- Liverpool canal, before heading to Bootle Library to make a sweet blackberry jam to fill freshly fried, lip-smacking doughnuts.

We will meet at Bootle Library at 12:30pm. To start with, we will walk at a leisurely pace down the canal, stopping to pick blackberries at different locations along the way.

Afterwards we will head back to the library for afternoon tea, where we will make our own dough and shape doughnuts. After the doughnuts have proven and been fried off, you will be able to fill the doughnuts with the wild blackberry jam we have foraged together and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee!

The walk will be approximately 1 mile over mostly flat terrain — so be sure to wear comfortable shoes! 

Booking is essential as places are limited. Book on Eventbrite here.

Please let us know if you have any allergies before the event.

If you have any questions, you can contact a librarian, email, or message/text/WhatsApp: 07751240427. Please contact us to discuss your access needs and how we can make this project meet your needs.

Free Event, Book on Eventbrite

Past Events

Apr 2020

Simple, adaptable store cupboard recipes, including Greg’s favourite one pan eggs

May 2020

Cooking with dandelions, writing about dandelions, hosted by Niamh Riordan and Gregory Herbert, with contributions from guest artist Rachel Pimm.

Watch the slideshow.

Download the PDF

Flower Fritters Recipe

Handful dandelion flowers per person, trimmed
1 egg
250ml/ 1 cup any milk
125g/1 cup any flour
1tsp baking powder
Plenty of oil for frying
(you can re-use this)

Add in suggestions: If sweet: 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon. If savoury : salt, pepper,  spices or herbs of choice

To serve: If sweet: granulated sugar to roll hot fritters in. If savoury: a dipping sauce – eg soy sauce+ sesame oil + pinch sugar…Or mayo!

Pre-heat around 5cm oil in a saucepan or wok. If oil starts smoking turn it down, it’s too hot. You can check that the temperature is right by test- frying a small blob of batter – you want it to sink down about halfway in the oil and then immediately float up to the top. If it sinks to the bottom your oil is too cold. If it rises to the surface straight away – too hot. 

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients except flowers together, including any add ins (see ingredients list)

Dip the flowers in the batter 4-5 at a time

Fry in batches. Fry flower side down, then flip over – it should only take a minute on each side for them to puff up, crispy and golden.

Drain on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel and, if they are sweet, whilst hot, dip in your coating of choice.

Jun 2020

Alison Clare, one half of FoodSketz joins us to share some of her caravan based experiments with countering household waste

Keep a freezer bag of veg scraps to make stock

– Hold onto veg waste – onion skins, carrot tops etc, and put in a bag in a freezer.

– When you have a bit of time, make a veg stock!

Things to consider/avoid

  • Potatoes – these will make the stock really starchy. If you do want to use up some potatoes, roast them first before adding to stock pot.
  • Red veg (ie Beetroot) will turn your stock red. Fine to use if you don’t mind!
  • Strongly flavoured things eg. fennel will obviously change the character of the stock.

– Grab a few handfuls of veg and either fry them in large stock pot until just starting to colour, or roast with a little oil and a good pinch of salt at 180 for around 20 mins.

– In a large pot, add boiling water to your veg and simmer for an hour, lid on. Strain, and you’ll have a delicious stock. Check for seasoning (but if you’re reducing the stock do this at the end as once reduced the saltiness will intensify).

– At this point you can also keep simmering the stock until the liquid is really reduced and concentrated. Leave to cool, then freeze in ice cube trays, to use whenever you need it.

Household Waste – Zine Download

Jul 2020

Download printable recipe

Makes 4 breads

250 g strong bread flour

200 g warm water – NOT hot, just pleasantly lukewarm 

1 level tsp salt (or less to taste, as this makes them fairly salty)

5g fast action yeast – roughly half a packet if you have the sachets or 1 level tsp. 

Mix flour water and yeast and salt in a bowl until shaggy dough forms – it is a really wet dough.  

The moisture in the dough makes a delicious, chewy bread. But it’s very sticky – so when handling it, coat your hands, surface/bowls in oil. It’s also too wet to knead in the normal way so you have 2 options: 

Food processor: The original recipe for this dough uses a food processor to knead it. If you have one – great! Using the dough blade, whizz for about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides and whizz for another 30 secs. Tip into an oiled bowl and leave to prove for 20 mins. Easy! 

By hand: Using a wooden spoon mix vigorously for a couple of minutes. Tip/scrape into a clean oiled bowl. With oiled hands, stretch each side of the dough out and slap it into the middle – this helps build up the gluten. Flip over the ball of dough and leave to rest, covered with a tea towel, for 10 mins. Stretch the dough once more, and leave for a further 10 mins. You can do this once more, or if you’re hungry, get straight to cooking. 

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on the stove – you want it really hot. Turn on your grill to high

Divide dough into four pieces and shape each into a ball. 

On on oiled surface, using oiled hands, flatten a piece of dough, using the palm of your hand. With your fingers tips, poke at the dough, stretching and prodding it into a around a 15-20cm circle.

Transfer to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes until it gets lightly browned on the bottom

Stick the pan under the grill until the bread puffs and browns on top

Repeat with remaining balls of dough. Dough keeps really well in the fridge overnight. 

Aug 2020

There are hundreds of microspecies of bramble in the UK, all of them differing slightly in flavour. Where are Bootle’s best brambles, and do they have their own unique taste?

Download Recipes Here

Sep 2020

Image: I need the onions before it rains, Navi Kaur, 2019

For September’s Chopping Club you are invited to join us for an online talk and discussion with Birmingham based artist and educator Navi Kaur. 

Navi will join us to introduce her work and talk about the work she is making with At the Library, followed by the opportunity to ask questions in an informal, friendly and supportive group. This event will take place on Zoom ( a link will be emailed to attendees). It is free but booking is essential.

Everyone who comes along will also receive a free, limited edition recipe card made by Navi in collaboration with Liverpool based artist Sumuyya Khader. These can be picked up from Bootle or Crosby Libraries,  or posted to you if you are further away. 

Inspired by the lives of her paternal grandparents, Surinder (‘Budimom’) and Karamjit (‘Baba Ji’), Navi’s work intimately and playfully documents themes of domestic, cultural, and spiritual significance. She traces conversations and daily activities through digital photography, film, and installation, demonstrating the abounding resilience of first-generation immigrants, the wonders of the everyday, and the compelling expressions of the Sikh Dharam.  Navi’s artistic process doubles as a method of self-enquiry, a way to investigate the physical and intangible dimensions of her cultural heritage.

To book a spot,  please email or text/whatsapp 07751240427.  Please include your postal address if you would like the recipe card edition posted to you. If you need any assistance with setting up zoom, do let us know and we will support you to get it up and running.

Oct 2020

For October’s Chopping Club, artists Niamh Riordan and Greg Herbert hosted a pickling party over Zoom. Guests were invited to chop along with us to produce a jar or two of pickles for their fridge, or simply come along to watch and have a chat. We provided the pickle recipes in advance, and a jar of ingredients was available for Bootle and Crosby residents to pick up from their local library to make during the event.

You can find the recipes that we made together here, as well some other favourite pickle recipes suggested by party guests

Nov 2020

Niamh and Greg delivered printed pizza boxes full of all the raw ingredients needed to make homemade pizzas to November’s Chopping Club. We gathered on zoom to make dough, discuss favourite toppings and the best ways to cook pizza at home, and to eat the finished product together. Sticky dough caused much hilarity but everyone ended up with delicious if misshapen results.

Dec 2020

A gingerbread house cook-along and Christmas party. Participants made a gingerbread beehive designed by Greg Herbert, and drank hot mulled Sea Buckthorn before a Christmas local history quiz with Laura.

Feb 2021

An online talk and discussion with artist and researcher Luiza Prado de O. Martins. 

Last February, we were lucky enough to welcome Luiza to Bootle library to cook her recipe for Feijoada, a Brazilian black bean stew, for a community lunch in the library. This year, she joined us online to share her recipe, and to delve into the complex histories of this dish, as well as of stews more generally, followed by the opportunity to ask questions in an informal, friendly and supportive group. 

Luiza is a Berlin-based artist whose practice focuses on the power of collectively preparing and sharing a meal. As part of her practice, Luiza invites guests to meals consisting of traditional Brazilian dishes made with plant-based ingredients, seeing the preparation and sharing of a meal as a form of collective performance. The meals act as a center point to open up a conversation about the environment, overpopulation, the climate emergency and imagine the sharing of radical care and future-making together. 

Mar 2021

To mark the launch of Soft Sanctuary Season, we invited guests to a relaxed online film screening, accompanied by some warming ramen.

The Sick Day Banquet is a short film made as a collaboration between our Chopping Club’s Greg Herbert and Niamh Riordan, and artists Kyla Harris and Bella Milroy, as part of the Sick Day Banquet series: a collection of recipes designed by disabled artists, celebrating their ideal sick day foods: comforting, accessible meals which prioritise joy. 

Since the beginning of the year, Bella and Kyla have been recording a conversation over Voice Notes, about sick day foods, cooking, care, and their experiences of hiring and living with Personal Assistants (PAs). Sick Day Banquets weaves together this conversation with footage of a virtual cook along, in which Niamh and Kyla cook Kyla’s recipe for ‘Comfort Ramen’ together over Zoom – Kyla directing Niamh through every detail of the recipe. 

Apr 2021

A cook-a-long and film screening with guest artist Navi Kaur.

We cooked a recipe which comes directly from Navi’s grandmother, Budimom’s Chole, before sitting down to watch Navi’s film Mērā Ghar, which has been co-commissioned with Birmingham-based Grand Union Gallery.

Directly translated into English from Punjabi as ‘my home’, Mērā Ghar, presents intimate footage of family, faith, and food shot during meal times and prayer times affording the viewer an insight into Navi’s grandparents’ selfless and modest lives. The work explores the sacred and interconnected nature of spaces such as the home, the land and the Gurdwara for Sikh communities, revealing daily rituals, and drawing parallels between the care, love, and discipline employed when cooking, gardening, and reciting prayers.

May 2021

For our first in person meeting in a while, Niamh and Greg led a walk along the Leeds- Liverpool canal to discover some of the wild edible plants growing 5 minutes from Crosby. We found wild horseradish, wild carrots, , nettles, burdock, hawthorn blossom amongst many other things. We stopped for a picnic of flatbreads, falafel and pickles.

Map and recipes

Jul 2021 Bootle Library

This month, we’ll be experimenting with making our own soft drinks and fizzy pops — from Dandelion & Burdock to Ginger Beer and Kombucha. We’ll talked a bit about the history of soft drinks: from herbalists’ cordial waters and elixirs to Vimto, Coca Cola and Tizer. Bootle even has its own history of soft drinks production, which we delved into deeper during the session.


Aug 2021 Bootle Library

For August’s Chopping Club we foraged for blackberries along the Leeds-Liverpool canal, before heading back to the library to use the fruits to create a delicious filling for homemade jam doughnuts.

Sep 2021 Bootle Library

In September we made a big batch of sauces and condiments — think homemade ketchups, mustards, chilli oils and relishes — to pep up our library lunches over the next few months. Everyone also took a jar or bottle of something home. You can find the recipes we used here

Oct 2021 Bootle Library

For mid-autumn, we took a seasonal walk and forage with local forager and traditional crafter Wil Goodwin.

Sweet chestnuts, sloes and rose hips — Wil will guided us on a walk to discover some of the wild edibles growing on our doorstep.

Nov 2021 Bootle Library

For November’s Chopping Club our amazing volunteer Vicky treated us to a session making mushroom burgers and a whole range of delicious condiments including her famous sweetcorn relish.

Dec 2021 Bootle Library

Our Chopping Club prepared festive treats including homemade mince pies, mulled apple juice and roasted chestnuts for an outdoor gathering in Bootle Library Garden where we gathered to thank you for all your support, warmth and involvement during 2021. Everyone received a little gift of Chopping Club aubergine pickle and a recipe-Christmas-hat to take home.

All our workshops are free, but for Christmas we asked participants to donate to Sefton Community Pantry. The Community Pantry is currently based in St Matthew’s church hall, Thornton Rd, Bootle and they provide food and hygiene hampers 24/7 to vulnerable families across Sefton. 

Jan 2022 Bootle Library

A special 2 day Chopping Club with guest cook Camila Nelson AKA Bootle Bread, in which we learnt how to make our own sourdough loaves. 

DAY 1: We learnt earn how to make your own sourdough starter to take home and nurture, as well as sourdough pancakes which can be made with the ‘discard’ from your starter – making use of a byproduct of the process. 

DAY 2: We learnt a simple and effective way of making our own sourdough loaves and took our dough home in a proofing basket to bake at home. 

Lunch recipes can be found here – we ate roasted cauliflower soup (with bread of course) and drank mulled apple juice

Feb 2022 Bootle Library

For February’s Chopping Club we created a delicious meal together using some of the first wild greens to appear in spring. We learnt how to make fresh pasta, which we stuffed with nettles and tri-corned leek and cooked s in a spring broth, served with wild garlic pesto. You can find the recipes here.

Apr 2022 Bootle Library

For April’s Chopping Club, you’re invited to join us on a field trip to explore the fascinating history of Formby asparagus, grown only a few miles from us.

We will follow the National Trust’s asparagus trail, looking out for wild asparagus, thinking about how this crop has shaped the Formby landscape, and how certain foods can be at risk of being forgotten. We may even stop into a farm to pick up some bunches to cook at the Bootle Library’s Garden BBQ the next day if the season is underway.

You can see details of the route here.

May 2022 Bootle Library


For this month’s Chopping Club, we’re joined by Sheffield-based fermentation and preservation project, Social Pickle!

They’ll be showing us how to make our own vegan sausages. Join us to test out making and eating your own sausage! Chopping Club will be at Bootle Library from 11:00 pm – 2:00 pm on Friday 27th May.

This event is now fully booked. Please note, if you have booked places are limited so please let us know if you can’t make it so we can offer your place to someone else.

Everyone is welcome, everything is free.

About Social Pickle:

Social Pickle brings people together to share the joys of foraging, pickling and producing. Harnessing the seasons and the surplus of Sheffield, they channel the flavours of the city and share it out in jar sized portions. Social Pickle explores fermentation as a human and non-human collaborative process, seeking to create better access to nutritious food and create less damaging practices to the planet. The process is one of shared learning, and they see it as a space for community members to empower each other through knowledge and build resilience.

Social Pickle’s website.

Jun 2022 Crosby Library

For June’s Chopping Club, we’re moving to Crosby Library for two days of exploring how to flavour and preserve food with smoke, with this month’s guest cook: librarian Lizzie Todd.

Lizzie has been smoking her own food at home for years – her fellow librarians have been lucky enough to try her home-smoked salmon amongst other treats . Now, she and the team at Crosby Library have created a way to share this technique in the library. The team have designed and built a hot smoker and a cold smoker from surplus library furniture, which will allow us to smoke ingredients in the library!

Join us from 10.30am-12pm at Crosby Library for Day One of this two day session to learn about the different processes of hot and cold smoking food. We will prepare ingredients for the smoker, and sample some vegetarian smoked snacks (Lunch is not provided today).

Book your ticket here through Eventbrite or ask a librarian to book for you in your nearest library.

Please note, places are limited.

Everyone is welcome, everything is free.