Tag Archives: cookbooks

now you’re cooking

We’ve certainly had our share of hot summer days lately, haven’t we?  This is the kind of weather that means two things:  farmer’s markets and farm shares (aka CSAs, Community Supported Agriculture).  And that means it’s time for all kinds of warm-weather food:

Salad as a MealSalad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season, by Patricia Wells:  I have two of this author’s other cookbooks, and she has wonderfully tasty, simple recipes.  …………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………..

Cold SoupsCold Soups, by Linda Ziedrich: If you haven’t tried gazpacho yet, here’s your chance. Plus lots of other refreshing soup ideas! ……………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………….

Garde MangerGarde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen, by Culinary Institute of America Staff: Pronounced “gahrd mahn-ZHAY,” this is a French term for the cold pantry where cold buffet dishes are prepared and other cold foods are stored. But that’s just the tip of the ice sculpture (another item sometimes created in the garde manger). This book starts with salads and cold soups, and includes cured and smoked foods, sausage, terrines and pâtés, cheese, condiments and other hors d’oeuvres.

Recipes from an Italian SummerRecipes from an Italian Summer, by Joel Meyerowitz and Andy Sewell:  Not only does this cookbook have recipes for all kinds of summer food, but it also contains beautiful photographs of the Italian countryside, along with a guide to summer food festivals if you’re ready for a trip.  ………………………………………………….  ……………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The Perfect ScoopThe Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments, by David Lebovitz:  A former pastry chef at Chez Panisse gives us standard and not-so-standard recipes for the most wonderful food on the planet.

………………………………….  ……………………………………………………….  …………………..

Happy eating!

-Kaarin

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Collection Highlight du jour

I’m thinking of a nonfiction category at CLP—Main that contains more than 6000 books. Gardening? A catalog keyword search turns up 1839 titles. World War II? 2234 titles.

Maybe by now you’ve sniffed out my subject area du jour—cookbooks. The 6,303 titles in the stacks on the First Floor don’t even include new cookbooks. Those less than a year old are shelved with other new non-fiction in the main room of the First Floor.

Each month patrons check out between 800 and 1200 of these cookbooks. Individual books borrowed more than 100 times include Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni (1980), Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant (1980), New Chinese Vegetarian Cooking by Kenneth Lo (1986), and The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant by Deborah Madison (1987).

Last week I attended a staff presentation given by our librarians who tend the TXs (that’s Library of Congress classification-speak for home economics books). Joanne and Karen work diligently to select, organize, and promote this grand collection.

Here are highlights of Joanne and Karen’s talk, in no particular order.

Library Journal reported that cookbooks overtook medicine and health for the top spot in nonfiction circulation in public libraries last year. I’m not surprised that cookbooks circulate so frequently. Cookbooks provide welcome inspiration for breaking out of the dinner doldrums. And if your home library has a TX shelf, you know that cookbooks are expensive. Borrowing a cookbook to try a recipe before investing in the volume is smart.

—Julie

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Lists, Lists, and More Lists!

Did you know that librarians like to make lists?  I’m not talking about grocery lists or to-do lists. (Although I am fond of both of those.) I’m referring to booklists.

Part of our job, and one we find quite enjoyable, is developing lists of books our readers might find interesting. We make lists of new books. We make lists of fiction and non-fiction titles. We compile lists of mystery, science fiction, and romance books. There are lists of cookbooks, no matter what your eating or drinking preferences. We make lists of books we liked and some we may not have, but that other people might. There are lists of books for people who want to travel far away and for those who stay closer to home. We make lists that recommend other authors based on who you already like. And there are lists to tide you over until that book you’ve been waiting for actually arrives.

Given all of these lists and the fact that we add new lists every month, we have great book recommendations available 24/7, only a few mouse clicks away.

Do you have any ideas for booklists you would like to see ?  We do take suggestions . . .

-Melissa M.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

an alternative to writer’s block . . . snacking

As has happened to the best of us (at least that’s what I tell myself), I have a full-blown case of writer’s block.  Now I could give you a list of books with writing advice, but my colleague, Renée, has done that already.  What I would suggest, and what I always do myself, is head to the fridge, or if you’re in an office environment like mine, to the snack table.  Really, just looking at food can be inspiring, and certainly seeing my current array of options – Oreos, jelly beans, and caramel corn – sent me quickly back to the computer to write.  After a handful of the caramel corn, of course. 

As usual, the library can help you, even in the snacking endeavor.  We can help you understand the nutrition label on the snacks you buy at the store, and we have a selection of books with recipes for making your own, including:

Midnight SnacksMidnight Snacks: 150 Easy and Enticing Alternatives to Standing by the Freezer Eating Ice Cream from the Carton, by Michael J. Rosen and Sharon Reiss.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————Italian Snacks 

Simple Italian Snacks: More Recipes from America’s Favorite Panini Bar, by Jason Denton and Kathryn Kellinger.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook: More than 100 Healthy Recipes for Everyday Snacking, by Laura Trice.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Now sometimes snack food just has to be junk food, and we even have a cookbook for that:

Top Secret Recipes Top Secret Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones of America’s Favorite Brand-Name Foods, by Todd Wilbur.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

And sometimes one’s snack has to be a particular food, or else.  We can offer:

Popcorn!: 60 Irresistible Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Snack, by Frances Towner Giedt.

Potatoes Potatoes: From Pancakes to Pommes Frites, by Annie Nichols.  (In case you’re thinking “huh?”, this book includes a recipe for potato chips.)



The Complete Jerky Book The Complete Jerky Book: How to Dry, Cure, and Preserve Everything from Venison to Turkey, by Monte Burch.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

So there you have it, a cure for writer’s block and a whole lot of snacks for all occasions. 

-Kaarin

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How to Chop an Onion

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Junior high school: Home Ec."

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“After a long day of routine work many people find the creative act of cooking a relaxing change of pace that restores their energy. It’s a gift to be able to cook for others—and it’s wonderful to be cooked for.” —Deborah Madison in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

I recently asked an old friend for some poetry recommendations. Being a literal minded and pragmatic sort of person, I have always avoided poetry, my most oft cited reason being, “Why do they have to talk around everything? Why can’t they just get to the point?” After being moved by a poem at the end of last year, I realized that, as is often the case, I was wrong. I have since set about rectifying the situation, and my friend gave me some sound advice: “Do yourself a favor and don’t think of yourself as a novice poetry reader. Everyone’s a novice at reading good, surprising poetry, you know?”

Now, this blog post isn’t really about poetry (I’m just not ready for that yet), but about something near and dear to my heart: cooking. I am not an authority on the subject of cooking; I am simply someone who likes to cook at home and has realized (as I’ve started getting older and am attempting to grow up) that I really enjoy cooking and preparing food. So I’m saddened when people say they “can’t cook,” as if it’s a skill they are not capable of learning with time and practice, like any other skill. To the stubborn naysayers and non-cookers among us I say: if I can pick up a book of poetry, then you can surely pick up a frying pan. Cooking is for everyone, and I think my friend’s advice about poetry translates well to the art of preparing food—don’t think of yourself as a novice cook; everyone’s a novice when it comes to creating simple, carefully and lovingly prepared food.

Luckily the library holds an impressive cookbook collection. One place you might want to start is with Harold McGee’s new book Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes. This book does not contain recipes, but definitions of different foods and how to cook them. It is all about the science of cooking, which is not as scary as it sounds. For example, let’s say you want to make a cheese sauce (because seriously, who doesn’t want to make a cheese sauce?), and the last time you made one with cheddar cheese, it turned out all lumpy and oily. This does not mean you can’t cook—it simply means you had not realized that you needed to check this book out from the library. According to Mr. McGee, cheese sauces are a cinch:

Cheese sauces are made by melting and dispersing solid cheese into hot liquid. The cheese adds both flavor and body thanks to its concentrated proteins and fats, but these can also cause stringiness, lumping, and greasiness…to prevent cheese in sauces from turning lumpy and greasy, grate the cheese finely. Add the cheese to hot but not boiling liquid. Stir as little as possible to avoid forming protein strings. Include some flour or starch to prevent protein clumping and fat puddling.

Mr. McGee is not a poet (unless you consider discussions of “fat puddling” poetic), but he is a very well-respected food scientist, and Keys is a well-organized reference tool for cooks both new and old. If you’ve ever wondered about all the various ways you can cook an egg, or what the difference between frying, sauteing, sweating, glazing and wilting vegetables is, then this is the book for you.

Of course, food science tips are hard to put into practice without having some recipes to work with. A co-worker recently recommened Deborah Madison’s weighty tome Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone to me, and I can already tell that it’s going to become one of my favorite cookbooks. True to its title, this is not simply a cookbook for vegetarians—I think everyone can find something tasty and appealing in this book. Many of the recipes are straightforward and simple, and in addition to including a primer on cooking methods, utensils and seasoning, there is a section of recipes ordered by vegetable and a short background on what to look for when selecting particular vegetables, how to store them, and, most importantly, how to use them.

And if you’re in need of still more food inspiration, there is always this fine little book.

Of course, as in poetry and writing, sometimes it’s easier to begin from a prompt. I am embarassed to admit this, but I only recently discovered the proper way to chop an onion. If you’re afraid of cooking, and are not sure where to begin, this is as good a place to start as any:

-Tara

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Revisiting Books for Groundhog Day…

Even though I live in Pennsylvania where we consider Groundhog Day to be a real holiday complete with loud celebrations, drinking and furry mascots, as this day approaches I find myself thinking more about the theme of that movie with the same name.  I have come to see Groundhog Day as a time to reflect and look back on people, places, and even books that I’d like to revisit.  Here’s my book re-visitation list for this year:

Book Cover for Midnight in the Garden of Good and EvilMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – I love the descriptions, of the quirky people, of the stately houses, and of the town. This book made me want to live in Savannah. Yes, I know it is also a true crime novel, and that shouldn’t make me want to move there. But honestly, there’s crime everywhere and this one was more interesting than your run-of-the-mill murder-for-drugs sort . . .

Book Cover for And Then There Were NoneAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – If you’ve never read Agatha Christie, here is where you should begin. This is the quintessential whodunit. You will be amazed and enthralled. You will probably not figure out the ending. This is one of the books that even convinced the mystery hating librarian, Will Manley, that not all mysteries are bad.

Book cover for A Prayer for Owen MeanyA Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving – To this day, I still have no idea why this book moved me so much. But it did. And I’m not alone. Everyone I know who has read it has immediately fallen under its spell. First you read it, then you love it, and then you have to talk to others about it. It’s almost addictive and that’s how reading a good book should be.

Book cover for The House at Pooh CornerThe House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne – I love the Pooh books. I didn’t love them as a child. But as a college student I used to read them aloud to the guy I was dating at the time, whose name happened to be Christopher. I still remember laughing out loud with him while reading the last chapter, when Eeyore and the rest of the gang play poohsticks. Ah, college life . . .

Book cover for Joy of CookingJoy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer – I should use this book more than I do when referencing a recipe to cook. Maybe it’s because I have one of the newer editions and I really prefer my mother’s older version from the ’60s. I used to read and re-read the opening chapter on entertaining like it was a novel. Hmmm. Maybe I should see if she’s willing to make a trade . . .

And a movie or two . . .

Movie case for The Princess BrideThe Princess Bride – ”Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” “Aaaaaaaaas Youuuuuuuuu Wiiiiiiiiiiiiish!” “Inconceivable!” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” “Love IS pain, Highness!” “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife.” “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday.” Do I need to go on? I didn’t think so.

Movie case for My Fair LadyMy Fair Lady – This is one of the most visually stunning movies I have ever seen. I love the uncovering of the flowers in the opening scene. The sets are very detailed. All of Eliza Doolittle’s outfits are fabulous!  (And everyone else’s too.) I think I’m going to have to watch it on the BIG television this time.  Warning: I will sing along!

What books and movies are on your revisitation list?

–Melissa M.

Leave a comment on today’s post for a chance at today’s prize in the 29 Gifts giveaway.  Daily winners will be contacted by e-mail.

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Chocolate. It even feels good to say it. Chocolate.

In the throes of winter, I think there is nothing better than a delicious cup of hot cocoa.  Of course, I like hot chocolate in the fall, too, and spring, and I’ve been known to drink it in the summer, as well.  Of course, hot cocoa isn’t always available when you need it (need being the operative word).  Sometimes ice cream is your only option, or cupcakes, or cookies, or truffles.  And sometimes you just have to break out the unsweetened stuff and bake a cake with it.  I have heard that you can use chocolate in savory dishes, as well, although I’m not sure I see the point.  Nonetheless, it’s good to have so many ways to enjoy this year-round treat!

If you love chocolate as much as I do, you may want to check out one of these:

The Healing Powers of Chocolate The Healing Powers of Chocolate, by Cal Orey.  It’s a health food.  Really.    

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The Chocolate Wars Chocolate Wars: The 150-year Rivalry Between the World’s Greatest Chocolate Makers, by Deborah Cadbury.  Chocolate and intrigue, what more could you want?  

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Bitter Chocolate Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet, by Carol Off.  Where does your chocolate come from? 

 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Milton S. Hershey Milton S. Hershey: The Chocolate King.  A home-state chocolate story.  

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Seven Sins of Chocolate Seven Sins of Chocolate, by Laurent Schott. Okay, so is it healthy or sinful?

 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

As always with chocolate, I could keep going much longer than appropriate… 

-Kaarin

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Don’t Go Out, Stay In!

Crockpot Photo

Your Mealtime Savior. Photo by Carol Browne.

Has it hit you yet? Have you reached that point in the season where it’s just so d@#n cold that you don’t want to leave the house? Have you seen enough people and done enough holiday partying that you just want to curl up on the couch, be left alone and eat real meals instead of dips, chips, and hors’d’oeuvres? Then it’s time to haul out that slow cooker (aka Crock-Pot)!  I know you have one.  It’s hidden in that hard-to-reach cabinet above your refrigerator or under the stairs. It’s right next to your fondue pot, waffle iron and that punch bowl you inherited from your great aunt.

There is nothing better than throwing a few (or several) things into a big pot, turning it on and then going about your business. You forget you’re even cooking until that smell starts wafting through the house. You stop for a minute and say to yourself, “What IS that?” Then you remember and you smile, knowing a good meal is on its way and you haven’t really done anything. And don’t forget about the cleanup; one pot cooking equals one pot cleaning. Seriously, does it get better than that?

For the Beginner:
The Complete Slow Cooker: Packed with Recipes, Techniques and Tips
by Sara Lewis

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Slow Cooker Cooking
by Ellen Brown

If You Want to See Massive Amounts of Choices for Dishes:
Betty Crocker the Big Book of Slow Cooker, Casseroles & More
by Betty Crocker

1,001 Best Slow-Cooker Recipes: The Only Slow-Cooker Cookbook You’ll Ever Need
by Sue Spitler with Linda R. Yoakam

Fix-it and Forget-it Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes!
by Phyllis Pellman Good

Slow Cooking Is Ethnic:
The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes
by Anupy Singla

The Italian Slow Cooker
by Michele Scicolone

Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes: 120 Holiday and Everyday Dishes Made Easy
by Laura Frankel

Slow Cooking from Around the Mediterranean
by Carolyn Humphries

It Can Be Healthy Too!:
Healthy Slow Cooking: More Flavor, Fewer Calories
by Editors of Woman’s Day

150 Slow Cooker Vegetarian Recipes: Delicious One-pot, No-fuss Recipes for Soups, Appetizers, Main Courses, Side Dishes, Desserts, Cakes, Preserves and Drinks
by Catherine Atkinson & Jenni Fleetwood

The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook
by Rachel Rappaport with B.E. Horton

It’s So Easy:
Pillsbury Fast Slow Cooker Cookbook: 15 Minute Prep and Your Slow Cooker Does the Rest!
by Pillsbury Editors

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes
Edited by Carrie E. Holcomb

And Inexpensive!:
The $7 a Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook: 301 Inexpensive Meals the Whole Family Will Love!
by Linda Larsen

Slow Cooker: 365 Appetizing & Affordable Meals Your Family Will Love
by Margaret Kaeter

Cook Once Eat Twice: Slow Cooker Recipes : Meal 1 Tonight, Meal 2 Tomorrow
Edited by Carrie E. Holcomb

Slow Cooking Is Not Just for Winter:
Slow Cooking Through the Seasons
by Carolyn Humphries

365 Easy Slow Cooker Recipes: A Recipe for Every Day of the Year
by Nicole Phillips

And It Can Be Gourmet:
Art of the Slow Cooker: 80 Exciting New Recipes
by Andrew Schloss

The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World
by Lynn Alley

So get out there…er, um…Stay in and cook!

-Melissa M

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Grab Your Babuska and Go Visit Your Babcia!

 

Pierogi

Yum!

 

It’s National Pierogi Day! (Or pierogy or piroghi or pyrogy or however you want to spell it.)  National Pierogi Day falls on the anniversary of the very first day that pierogi were stocked on a grocery store’s shelf.  This happened in Shenandoah, PA in 1952.

Just in case you’re not from around these parts, pierogi are dumplings made from unleavened dough and filled with either a savory or sweet filling.  Just about every world cuisine has a filled dumpling in their repertoire, but pierogi are specifically Eastern European.  Which explains their popularity in what’s known in the industry as the ‘Pierogi Pocket’ that stretches from lower New England to Chicago.  Just as with all nationalities, immigrants from Eastern Europe brought their culinary delights with them and introduced them to America.  The ‘Pierogi Pocket’ happened to have the highest number of immigrants from that part of the world.

We here in Pittsburgh LOVE our pierogi.  We have the highest annual pierogi sales of any city. There are the Pierogi Races at every Pittsburgh Pirates home game. (At least you know a local favorite will win something at a Pirates game, even if it’s not usually the baseball team!)
And I don’t think we can even count the number of local church pierogi sales with their handmade-by-little-old-Polish-ladies creations.

My memories of pierogi are a little closer to my heart.  My mother’s second husband was Polish.  His mother, referred to as Grammy, made her pierogi from scratch.  She typically filled them with  mashed potato and cheese, but would also make prune ones on occasion.  She spent the better part of the days before Christmas Eve making enough pierogi to feed the extended family for that holiday dinner.  In Catholic nations, the Christmas Eve dinner is supposed to be meat-free.  So our Polish family tradition was to serve these pierogi and homemade beet soup, or borscht.

Now for the first several years, being an uninformed, stubborn teenager of Irish-Italian descent, I refused to eat these delicious offerings.  Instead my lovely, and extremely patient, Grammy heated a Swanson Fried Chicken TV dinner especially for me each year.  I would like to tell you that I had a great epiphany about pierogi, but honestly I cannot remember exactly what changed my mind or when.  I do know that I am grateful for what her hands made and that she was able to pass along her recipe to my step-brother before Alzheimer’s invaded her beautiful brain.  The tradition lives on with the next generation, which is as it should be.

But now I LOVE pierogi, as any self-respecting Pittsburgh girl should.  My current favorites are a specialty, homemade by friends of mine.  (If you know me personally, ask and maybe I can score you the hook-up too.)  These pierogi contain the usual potato and cheese mixture, but with jalapeno added!  I love that spicy zing with some sour cream to cool it down.  There are several ways to cook your pierogi and serve them.  I prefer to boil mine first to heat them through and then fry them in a skillet with butter and onions to crisp them a bit.

If you are looking for some pierogi recipes to try making them yourself, any of these should put you on the right track…

The Eastern and Central European Kitchen: Contemporary & Classic Recipes by Silvena Rowe

The New Polish Cuisine by Michael J. Baruch

The Polish Country Kitchen Cookbook by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab

A World of Dumplings: Filled Dumplings, Pockets, and Little Pies from Around the Globe by Brian Yarvin

So today go out and celebrate your heritage, or at least you Pittsburgher-ness.  Eat your pierogi!

-Melissa M

P.S.  Babcia means grandmother in Polish.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Smell of Fall

This past weekend I noticed a new yet familiar and comforting smell on the wind, one that occurs every year.  It’s the smell of leaves and crisp air, and it can only mean one thing:  fall is just around the corner.

The beginning of fall constitutes a few things.  For one, football season begins, and many of us spend Sunday rooting for our favorite team (go Steelers!).  We slowly exchange our short-sleeved shirts and sundresses for warmer attire.  We begin to think about pumpkins and butternut squash.  We wait for shorter days and longer nights.  For many of us, the fall season marks a transition between summer and winter.

As we anticipate (or dread) this transition, we can celebrate the season.  Here are some books and websites for fun fall thoughts.

Websites

The Miracle of Fall

A project of the University of Illinois Extension, this site aggregates fall festivals, fall foliage webcams, and much more.

The Foliage Network

Twice a week, from September through November, you can visit the network and get updated information on leaf color changes nationwide.

Cookbooks

Fall is an excellent time to work on cooking skills!  Here are some cookbooks that incoroporate seasonal foods.

Autumn: From the Heart of the Home, Susan Branch.

Fall, Family and Friends, Gooseberry Patch.

Fall Notebook, Carolyne Roehm.

In Celebration of Autumn, Helen Thompson.

Adult Fiction

If fiction is your thing, here are some novels set in autumn that deal with life issues, love, and family.

Autumn Leaves, Victor McGlothin.

Cloud Nine, Luanne Rice.

Grace in Autumn, Lori Copeland.

The Lay of the Land, Richard Ford.

Speak of the Devil, Richard Hawke.

Children’s Books

Who doesn’t love children’s books?  Here are some items useful for teaching children all about the season.

Are You Ready For Fall?, Sheila Anderson.

By the Light of the Harvest Moon, Harriet Ziefert.

Leaf Trouble, Jonathan Emmett.

Now It’s Fall!, Jeanie Lee.

For fall fun outside the library, don’t forget about Fort Ligonier Days, The Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, The Three Rivers Film Festival, and RADical Days. These are just some of the many events that occur during the special three months known as fall.

–Melissa H.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized