Voni Muller’s recipes cook up funds for St Vincent de Paul Society

HUGE RESPONSE: Legendary local cook Voni Muller and her daughter Cathy Rodden present $10,000 from the sales of My Favourite Recipes to Jim da Silva Farm team leader Eloise Andon and St Vincent de Paul Society Shoalhaven retail manager Rod Douglass.

HUGE RESPONSE: Legendary local cook Voni Muller and her daughter Cathy Rodden present $10,000 from the sales of My Favourite Recipes to Jim da Silva Farm team leader Eloise Andon and St Vincent de Paul Society Shoalhaven retail manager Rod Douglass.

AT almost 93 Voni Muller never dreamed of being a sought after author.

But that has been the case with the legendary Shoalhaven cook’s book, My Favourite Recipes now onto to its third print run.

More than 2700 copies of the popular cookbook have been printed with all money raised from the sale of the book being donated to the St Vincent de Paul Society.

On Wednesday Mrs Muller proudly donated $10,000 to the society, taking her total to a whopping $12,000.

The funds will be used at the Jim da Silva Farm at Mundamia, a joint venture of the St Vincent de Paul Society and the NSW Department of Housing providing medium term accommodation for men experiencing homelessness, who are dealing with ongoing drug and alcohol issues, mental illness, emotional disturbances and/or mild developmental delay.

“I never dreamed the book would be so popular,” Mrs Muller said.

“They are just my recipes.”

But such was the demand for those much sought after award winning recipes, an initial print run of 700 copies of the book were quickly snapped up, leading to a second print run of 1000.

When they also sold out a further 1000 copies were reordered.

At its height, so popular were the books, preorders were being taken at St Vincent de Paul stores in Nowra and Culburra Beach.

“We never expected it to be so popular,” said Mrs Muller, who paid credit to her daughter Cathy and granddaughter Alicia for producing the finished product.

“I had some recipes written in an exercise book,” she said.

“My family have been at me for years to put the recipes together, so I sat down and penned them all ”

That also posed a few problems - Mrs Muller being an old fashioned cook who would use a “pinch of this” and “a dash of that”.

It meant the recipes had to be standardised with measurements.

“Cathy and Alicia went through and cooked all the recipes to make sure they were ok and then photographed them for the book,” she said.

“It just grew from there. I thought we might be able to donate a couple of thousand dollars to the society after we covered costs.

“I never dreamed of raising this much.”

She said she has been surprised by the popularity, especially as she is well-known for sharing her many award winning recipes.

“I never had any secrets,” she said “if someone wanted help or a recipe I would give it to them. I never held anything back.

“I would even get phone calls from people I didn't even know asking about recipes.”

The National Library in Canberra even requested a copy and the book is also available at the Nowra Library.

The Jim da Silva Farm was established in November 1999.

The five-acre property caters for men over the age of 25, experiencing homelessness, disadvantage and mental health issues, offering medium term accommodation for up to two years.

As well as housing support the operation provides case management, living skills development, referral and advocacy.

The farm also has a Vietnam Veterans and community men’s shed which meets each Tuesday and Thursday,  a large community garden which many of the residents work in, producing an array of vegetables. Chickens are also bred at the farm and eggs sold. There is also a large aquaponics set up, partnering with TAFE Illawarra Certificate 3 horticulture students.

The property can cater for up to 13 men at a time and currently has seven residents.

The farm is having its annual Open Market Day on Saturday, November 25 from 10am to 3pm, with market stalls and live entertainment. Expressions of interest are now being sought for stall holders – email Matthew.Goodwin@vinnies.org.au for an information pack.

Everyone is welcome to come along and, of course, copies of Voni’s book will be on sale on the day.

Copies of My Favourite Recipes are also still available at the Nowra St Vincent de Paul store for $20.

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