Library specialist enjoys baking sweets
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Sep 10, 2013 | 1003 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When a position at the Jacksonville Public Library came open eight years ago, Stephanie Surrett was delighted. She couldn’t wait to apply for it and she kept her fingers crossed that she would get it.

It must have helped, because she received a telephone call telling her she had been hired.

Stephanie’s title is library specialist. It’s a job that makes her feel right at home.

“I read a lot anyway,” she said. “That was one of the things that led me to this job when it became available. I love reading books and always have. In fact, I won a contest in the fifth grade. The teacher wanted to see who could read the most books during the year, and I ended up winning. I believe I read over 100 books.”

Stephanie said that there is something different about her job every day.

“I love our patrons,” she said. “You can get to know them. I love it when you suggest a series or particular author or book and they come up and tell you they loved it.”

She especially likes Richard Paul Evans who wrote the “Walk” series. She also likes Amish Christian Fiction written by her favorite authors Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter. She arranged to have Brunstetter to Skype in a library program to discuss her books and the Amish way of life.

In addition to reading, Stephanie’s hobbies are photography, water aerobics and zumba.

Stephanie was born in Anniston and she graduated from Saks High School. She has a bachelor’s in marketing and a master’s in elementary education from Jacksonville State University. After working at SouthTrust Bank in Anniston and teaching for a short time, she realized she wanted to work in a public library.

“My particular job is cataloging all the books,” she said. “I also work at the circulation desk, order all supplies and help out with programs.

Stephanie said summer is the library’s busiest season because of the summer reading program. This year 566 children, 88 teens, and 169 adults participated in the program. The children’s theme this year was “Dig Into Reading”.

Throughout the year, each month, themed programs are planned for children. For example, in January the library presents a Manga program for teenagers who enjoy Japanese comic books. In February, the library furnishes materials for the community to come in and make Valentine cards for our senior citizens. The library enlists the help of Boy and Girl Scouts who deliver them to nursing homes and assisted living.

Probably the most popular is the American Girl program in March. Many of these large programs involve refreshments or an actual meal (as in the American Girl program), and Stephanie is usually asked to make the food. She’s become known to the library’s employees as well as its patrons for the food she makes.

Everything she prepares goes with the theme of each program.

“For the American Girl program we focus on a particular historical character,” she said. “This program is then based on a set of books about that character and the corresponding doll that many of the girls have in their doll collections.”

The theme this year was the Depression Era and the character Kit. Stephanie made fried Spam, macaroni and cheese from a box and Nestle Toll House cookies.

“A lot of Spam was eaten during that period,” she said “And we also discovered that boxed macaroni and cheese and Nestle Toll house cookies were invented during this time. It was fun to meet with the staff and discuss possible dishes to make for this program”.

Stephanie began baking cakes when she was 6. Her mother didn’t bake much, so baking sweets became Stephanie’s food to make when the family gathered to eat. It didn’t take long for her to become the baker in the family.

Stephanie lives in Anniston with her cats, Tiger, Thumper and Moxie. She is the daughter of Jimmy Surrett, Sr. of Alexandria and the late Betty Surrett. Her sister, Mandy Abernathy, lives in Alexandria, and her brother, Jimmy Surrett, Jr. lives in DeArmanville.

Stephanie likes to make two of her mother’s dishes, Chicken Pot Pie, which makes its own crust, and Baked Beans. Her late grandfather, Bill Surrett, enjoyed her Chocolate Cream-filled Cake. She made it for his birthday each year. She makes Easy Peach Cobbler for various events.

Contact Margaret at


Chicken Pot Pie

(Makes its own crust)

3-4 cooked chicken breasts or whole leg sections taken off the bone
2-3 small potatoes, cut up
1-2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1-2 carrots, grated
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth

Cook vegetables until tender. Drain Layer the chicken on bottom of oblong cooking dish. Pour cooked vegetables over chicken. In small saucepan mix soup and broth together and heat well. Pour over vegetables.


1 stick butter, melted
1 c. self-rising flour
1 c. buttermilk
½ t. black pepper

Mix all above ingredients well and pour over pie Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

Baked Beans

3 cans pork & beans
¼ c. molasses
¼ c. brown sugar
¼ heaping t. dry mustard
1 t. chili powder
¼ c. bell pepper, chopped
½ small onion, chopped
Squirt of ketchup
3-4 slices uncooked bacon

Mix all ingredients together and put bacon on top of beans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Chocolate Cream-Filled Cake


1 box devil’s food cake mix

Make using package directions and pour into two 9 inch cake pans. Cool and slice layers in half. Spread with cream filling.

Cream Filling

4 T. flour
1 stick butter
1 c. milk
1 c. sugar
½ c. shortening
3 t. vanilla

Blend flour and milk. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Let cool. Cream sugar, butter and vanilla. Add flour mixture. Beat until fluffy. Spread between layers. Frost with chocolate frosting.


1 stick butter
1 box powdered sugar, sifted
½ c. cocoa
1/3 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and cocoa alternately with milk. Add vanilla Mix until well blended.

Easy Peach Cobbler

1 stick butter
1 c. self-rising flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. milk
2 cans sliced peaches in syrup.

Melt butter and put in 9x13 baking dish. Mix flour and sugar together. Whisk milk in gradually. Pour mixture over the butter. Spoon peaches on top of mixture and pour remaining syrup out of one can in mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown.
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Library specialist enjoys baking sweets by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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