It's inevitable! Whenever friends and neighbors get together for home cooking, there's a recipe exchange. You know and like those dogeared, chocolate splattered and well-used recipes from friends better than any of cookbook variety. But the best of both worlds - the recipes from friends and cookbooks - happens when the friends get recipes organized and printed in a collection.

It happens in neighborhoods, in civic groups, at church or in families.The idea of using community cookbooks for fun and profit is one the Junior League has long been familiar with. The international organization of Junior Leagues started fund raising with cookbooks in 1941, in Montgomery, Ala. The project spread rapidly in the South, then expanded nationally until more than 125 cities had produced community cookbooks in connection with Junior League groups.

Capitalizing on the success of community cookbooks nationwide, "The Four Star American Community Cookbook" has compiled the best recipes of 162 local groups. The majority of the selections are from Junior League cookbooks across the country.

Billed as the best of what America cooks, the book is a "wide cross-section of regional American eating styles." The cookbook is divided into geographic sections, featuring favorite recipes from six different sections of the country. It includes recipe selections from Salt Lake's own Junior League compilation, "A Pinch of Salt Lake", as well as recipes from Tucson's prize-winning, "Purple Sage and Other Pleasures."

The Salt Lake Junior League is well into marketing its second cookbook, an updated collection of recipes coordinated with health-oriented lifestyles; the Salt Lake volume also represents a cultural cross-section of the city.

"Purple Sage and Other Pleasures," now in its second printing, is a recipe collection that captures the subtle ambience of the West, revealing the flavor and lifestyles of Tucson, yet appealing to good cooks everywhere.

"Purple Sage" is divided into 10 sections: Appetizers to Desserts, but with a special "Southwest Pleasures" section. The collection includes recipes for novice to gourmet cooks in each section.

The cover and section dividers were designed in pastel chalk by Tucson artist Angela Simon. The richly colored renderings make the recipe book almost a "coffee table collector's piece."

The book may be available locally or from the Tucson Junior League, 2099 East River Road, Tucson, Ariz 85718. It costs $18.95 with $2.25 handling for one book and $4 for 2-6 books.

Whatever the motivation of the Junior Leagues in preparing their consistent recipe collections or virtually any other community collection of recipes, one thing is certain: a purchaser will be amply repaid with a diverse selection of dependable, time-worn and neighborhood tested recipes.