Monthly Archives: November 2009

A Taste of India

On Saturday, December 12, from 2:00-3:15 PM, the Library will “Celebrate India” with a program featuring information and entertainment about the food and culture of this diverse country. In preparation for this event, library staff from various departments have been preparing booklists (and video and music lists) to showcase Indian materials owned by the library. What follows is one of those lists, Indian cookbook recommendations prepared for the occasion.

The Bollywood CookbookThe Bollywood Cookbook by Bulbul Mankani
The hottest stars from the Bollywood scene share their favorites dishes. Each chapter includes a short biographical sketch of the actor. An essentials section covers recipes for basic ingredients such as ginger paste, ghee, roti, and garam masala.
The Calcutta KitchenThe Calcutta Kitchen by Simon Parkes
This exquisite book covers the subject of Bengali cuisine, which is rarely found unless you are invited to dine at a private home. Chapters cover cosmopolitan Calcutta, sweets, vegetarian dishes, as well as rituals and celebrations.
Complete Book of Indian CookingComplete Book of Indian Cooking: 350 Recipes from the Regions of India by Suneeta Vaswani
If you are looking to truly understand and cook Indian cuisine, this book will prove to be indispensible.  It begins with common ingredients, spices & herbs (including spice blends), basic techniques, hints and tips. Each chapter covers one area of food—appetizers, fish, salads, meats, and sweets—and then is further broken down into regions—north, south, east, and west.
India's Vegetarian CookeryIndia’s Vegetarian Cookery by Monisha Bharadwaj
Vegetarianism is a way of life for most of those who live in India.  The variety and depth of vegetarian cuisine in each region of India is covered in this comprehensive book which shows that eating without meat is healthy, interesting, and exciting.

Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian CookingMadhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey
You can’t have a booklist on Indian food without including Madhur Jaffrey. For many, she was the first to introduce the home cook to the idea of making Indian fare. This is one of her latest and includes over 70 recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less.  This book also contains a suggested list for a well-stocked pantry as well as menus for both family meals and entertaining.
Meena Pathak Celebrates Indian CookingMeena Pathak Celebrates Indian Cooking by Meena Pathak
No long, drawn out, hard to prepare recipes in this book. Ms. Pathak covers traditional Indian recipes along with more innovative fusion dishes to introduce readers to the wonders of her native cuisine.

My Bombay KitchenMy Bombay Kitchen: Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking by Niloufer Ichaporia King
Part recipes and part memoir, this cookbook is as much fun to read as it is to use for food preparation and contains over 165 recipes. Also the first book on Parsi cooking published in the United States written by a Parsi.


Six SpicesSix Spices: A Simple Concept of Indian Cooking by Neeta Saluja
One of the most daunting aspects of making Indian food for the first time is working with the spices and other unfamiliar ingredients that form the basics of the cuisine.  This book attempts to break through that barrier by presenting several of these techniques and devoting a chapter to each, such as cooking with powdered spices, seasoning with ghee, and cooking with curry paste. Each chapter includes at least a dozen recipes so you can try out and hone your newfound skills.

Please check the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh web site in the next week or so for more information about this upcoming celebration of India.


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Post-Thanksgiving Workout

Like me, you may have eaten to excess yesterday. Here’s a few resources that might help you burn some of those extra calories off in time to once again over-indulge for the December holidays!

First, a couple of DVDs:

Shaping Up With Weights For Dummies [DVD] / a Dragonfly production ; executive producers, Sandra Weisenauer, Michelle Rygiel ; producer/director, Andrea Ambandos

Bellydance fitness fusion. Yoga [DVD] : with Suhaila

Now how about a few books:

The Diet Detective’s Count Down : 7,500 Of Your Favorite Food Counts With Their Exercise Equivalents For Walking, Running, Biking, Swimming, Yoga, And Dance / Charles Stuart Platkin.

I Can Make You Thin : The Revolutionary System Used By More Than 3 Million People / Paul McKenna ; edited by Michael Neill

Move A Little, Lose A Lot : New NEAT Science Reveals How To Be Thinner, Happier, And Smarter / James A. Levine and Selene Yeager

101 Ways To Work Out With Weights : Effective Exercises To Sculpt Your Body And Burn Fat! / Cindy Whitmarsh

Resistance Training : The Total Approach / Lewis Bowling

All of these resources are great, but keep in mind that the best weight-loss equipment you own are your legs! Check out this Mayo Clinic article for more!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Fine Dining

As you may have noticed from our many posts that mention cooking or baking, many of us on the Eleventh Stack team love to cook.  But eating out has its own charm.  There are fewer dishes to clean up, less ingredients to buy, and the novelty of trying something new is always fun.  CLP has lots of resources for home cooks, but we also carry resources for those of us who enjoy eating out. 

Of course, dining out can pose its own challenges, particularly when you’re trying to eat a healthy meal.  Books like Eating Out: Your Guide to Healthy Dining, with information from the Mayo Clinic, can help you make sure you’re eating something nutritious.  The popular Eat This Not That! Restaurant Survival Guide is another book you can turn to in order to make healthy decisions at a restaurant.  And books like The Guide to Healthy Restaurant Eating, a publication of the American Diabetes Association, or Living Full and Gluten Free: A Restaurant Guide With a Full Menu help those on special diets discover which restaurant foods they can eat.

If you’re searching for a new place to eat locally, our Pennsylvania Department has some dining guides to the Pittsburgh area.  Where the Locals Eat: Pittsburgh is a guide to 100 of the best restaurants in town.  The book Where We Like to Eat N’At: Celebrating Pittsburgh’s Neighborhoods focuses on 57 places that are uniquely Pittsburgh, with recommendations from Pittsburgh residents on where to find the best pierogies, kielbasa, pizza, and more.  If you’re still stuck for a suggestion after looking at those guides, our web site offers reviews and links to many local restaurants. 


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The Origin of Species

Today is a very big day in the history of science: it’s the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s monumental work, The Origin of Species. Its beautifully simple hypothesis–that life evolves through the natural selection of adaptive traits–was supported with multitudinous data that Darwin collected on his world travels and in his studies at home.

Though today’s evolutionary theory has altered some of Darwin’s original hypotheses–for example, we now understand the role genes play in natural selection, something that had not yet emerged in Darwin’s time–Origin’s central thesis remains highly relevant to our lives, even if we don’t always realize it. Our understanding of mutating viruses and how to combat them, for instance, would not be possible without Darwin’s insight.

Our reference department has done a great job of pulling together a list of resources related to Darwin’s life and his most influential work, and I encourage you to check it out. Beyond those resources, I recommend reading Jonathan Weiner’s The Beak of the Finch, a remarkable book about two scientists’ observations of evolution-in-action amongst the finches of the Galapagos Islands.

And if you thought you could avoid talk of brain-eating in a blog post about evolution, think again. Very interesting research about ritualistic brain-eating and what it tells us about recent human evolution was published recently, and it’s quite an addition to the ever-expanding story of our species.

Thanks again, Mr. Darwin, for providing the framework to that story.


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Pittsburgh is the City of Organ Recitals

One hundred years ago in November 1909, the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland presented its 1000th free organ recital.  Yes, that’s the correct number of zeroes.  Starting in 1895, when the library and the music hall were built, a series of organ recitals was begun.  By 1909, they had reached one thousand.

From November 6, 1895 to June 30, 1901, Frederic Archer (1838-1901) gave a whopping 451 organ recitals or lectures.  His successor Edwin Lemare gave 170, from March 1, 1902 to January 24, 1905.  Then, starting on October 5, 1907, Charles Heinroth gave 164, including the 1000th on November 13, 1909.  The rest of the thousand were presented by guest organists.

It sounds like some sort of stunt for the record books, but really it was and still is just part of Pittsburgh’s musical life.

For instance, on February 11, 1890, a series of organ recitals was begun in the city of Allegheny (now Pittsburgh’s North Side) at their Carnegie Music Hall.  They reached their 1000th recital on February 8, 1914, their 2000th on January 1st, 1939, and their 3000th on May 14, 1967.

Andrew Carnegie built libraries with music halls.  Then he gave them organs.  According to a May 1967 article in American Organist, the organ in the North Side Carnegie Music Hall was one of  “more than 7,000 organs given by Andrew Carnegie (in whole or in part) to a variety of religious, educational and civic institutions all over the world.”

Frederic Archer posing sometime between 1895 and 1901 with the Carnegie Music Hall (Oakland) organ built to his specifications.

Today, even though there are no longer functioning organs in the Oakland or North Side Carnegie music halls, Pittsburgh has plenty of renowned church organs being played by top-notch organists.  You can find them through the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and their Organ Artists Series.

Next year, the eyes of the organ world will be on Pittsburgh as the Organ Historical Society National Convention will be here from June 21-26, 2010.

And, always, the library has lots of organ resources, both historical and current, for your research, exploration or performances.

— Tim


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Did you want fries with that?

What to make of a food product no one knows how to spell, and whose every pronunciation sounds like a sneeze? Ketchup! Catsup! Catchup! Kitchup!

Bless You!

Seemingly as American as hot dogs or apple pie, the slow, sweet, red sauce we grew up on reveals origins murky as mud.

British explorers first encountered ketchup in Southeast Asia in the seventeenth century. It is surmised that ketchup style sauces were similar to fermented fish sauces. Both ketchup and fish sauce contained salt and vinegar, which acted as preservatives, and disguised the flavor of less than fresh meat.

The first known English language recipe for “Katchop,” published in 1727, included anchovies, shallots, vinegar, white wine, and spices–mace, ginger, clove, pepper, nutmeg, lemon peel, and horseradish–but not a mention of tomatoes. Other eighteenth century British recipes contained various combinations of kidney beans, mushrooms, walnuts, and anchovies. Still no tomatoes.

Nineteenth century cooks experimented with ketchup’s primary ingredients. Lemons, cucumbers, oysters, cockles, or mussels all took center stage. Eventually the spotlight landed on tomatoes. Tomato ketchup’s popularity grew throughout the nineteenth century, but never replaced walnut and mushroom based sauces, which remained household staples. All ketchups played similar roles at the table, primarily adding color and zest to fish and meat.

Locally, H.J. Heinz began selling bottled products in 1869. Horseradish, Heinz’s first offering, was concocted according to his mom’s recipe. Pickles, sauerkraut, and vinegar followed. In 1876 Heinz tomato ketchup took its first bow, eventually joined by his non-tomato ketchups–walnut, curry, grape, and something called “tomato mustard.” By the 1890s, published recipes for ketchup peaked, signaling the rise of commercially produced sauces.

Among Del Monte, Heinz, and Hunt, the three major tomato ketchup manufacturers in the U.S., Heinz has led production since 1900. Ketchup remains the most famous Heinz product. The secret recipe has remained almost unchanged for one hundred years. Though the commercial formula is guarded, visitors to Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center may examine an 1883 recipe for “Tomato Catsup” written in H.J. Heinz’s florid script.

For further reading:

pureketchupPure Ketchup: A History of America’s National Condiment, with Recipes by Andrew F. Smith.







0f3ef793e48f80d5932733452774141414c3441The Good Provider: H. J. Heinz and His 57 Varieties by Robert C. Alberts





heinzH.J. Heinz Company by Debbie Foster and Jack Kennedy for the H.J. Heinz Company, “Images of America” series



ketchupcookbookThe Heinz Tomato Ketchup Cookbook by Paul Hartley





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Nicholson Baker: What Makes a Great Poet?


What attracted me to The Anthologist was the reviews.  If you’ve never read a Nicholson Baker novel, and I hadn’t, not much really happens.  In great detail.  Minuscule detail.   Microscopic detail.

Not to make to fine a point of it, but, really, there you go.  Next to nothing at all happens.

The plot, or what little there is of one, centers around the poet and academic, Paul Chowder (since names are often significant in “literary” fiction, what’s up with Chowder?) , who has assembled an anthology of formal verse and needs to write a 40 page introduction so it can go to press.  Unfortunately for him, he encounters a case of writer’s block so severe not only does he not get the job done, but he loses his girlfriend in the process.

That’s some writer’s block.

Beyond those two plot lines, not writing the introduction and losing his girlfriend, really nothing else actually happens.   And now we come to the interesting part or, more precisely, the part that interested me.

In between his various ruminations on these two events, Paul Chowder thinks about poetry, all aspects of poetry: particular poets (W. S. Merwin, Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Louise Bogan, Mary Oliver, Emily Dickinson and many more are referenced and considered), particular styles of poetry, and the essence and importance of poetry to the human condition.  For me, this was the meat of the matter, rather like all those digressive chapters in Moby-Dick, the ones about whaling and sailing and philosophy and ships and scrimshaw and tattooing and on and on and on.

If you are still with me here, I rather think you’d like Nicholson Baker, even if you don’t like poetry.  I was fascinated by what this fictional character thought about all these real life poets and poetry conundrums.  It was quite like sitting and talking (well, more like sitting and listening) to a very knowledgable friend tell it like it is.  And Mr. Chowder, despite his less than gracious sounding name, is no elitist – he lets you know what he thinks is wrong with poets and/or poetry and he does it in an edifying, alluring manner.

What, you might ask, does a practicing poet and anthologist think makes a great poet?  Glad you asked.

What does it mean to be a great poet?  It means that you wrote one or two great poems.  Or great parts of poems.  That’s all it means.

What?  What?    A handful of poems makes a good poet?  Could that be?  Well, secretly, this is something I’ve believed all my life.  Let’s listen some more:

Don’t try to picture the waste or it will alarm you.  Even in a big life like Louise Bogan’s or Theodore Roethke’s. … Or Howard Moss’s life, or Swinburne’s life, or Tennyson’s life-any poet’s life.  Out of the hundreds of poems two or three are really good.  Maybe four or five.  Six tops. All the middling poems they write are necessary to form a raised mulch bed or nest for the great poems and to prove to the world that they labored diligently and in good faith for some years at their calling.

And as I read this I kept thinking, “Yes, yes, that’s it, he’s got it exactly right – I’ve been thinking this forever.  Baker, or more precisely Chowder, continues:

In other words, they can’t just dash off one or two great poems and then stop.  That won’t work. Nobody will give them the “great poet” label if they write just two great poems and nothing else.

There you have it.

Does Chowder ever finish his introduction to the anthology?  Does he get back together with girlfriend?  Is there a discernable denouement?  Well, the answer to at least one of these questions is yes but I won’t give away which one (or ones).    Rather than ruin the ending of a book wherein not much happens anyway, let’s listen to what Mr. Baker himself cares to say about what he was about and what he wanted to accomplish, courtesy of his publisher, Simon and Schuster:



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Don’t just take my word for it.

In case you hadn’t noticed yet, one of the many things we do here at the library is suggest good books to read.  It is laws two and three of the 5 laws of library science (okay, you probably knew that we suggest good books, but did you know we have laws?):  Every book its reader and every reader his book. 

So I want to share with you today some of our secret methods (they’re not really secret, it just sounds more mysterious that way) of finding good book recommendations.  I am really excited about this because I just practiced them on myself and they really worked! 

I had in mind Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and how much I loved it.  At the moment, though, I was in the mood for not-too-heavy fiction perhaps with an Eastern spiritual bent.  Here is what I did:

Method #1:  LibraryThing
LibraryThing is a website where you can keep track of your books, but you don’t have to do that in order to use it for great book suggestions!  You can use their search page to find particular titles or authors, so I looked for Eat, Pray, Love.  On that page, I found tags that I could go back and search, such as spirituality and travel.  I also found both ‘LibraryThing recommendations,’ which are based on other books with the same tags, and ‘member recommendations,’ which individual members can create in their libraries.  I got some good ideas from both lists, including Water for Elephants, by Sarah Gruen, The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, and Enlightenment for Idiots, by Anne Cushman. 

I knew I was on the right track, since I had read and loved those books, but nothing was jumping out at me yet.  So I moved on to:

Method #2:  Goodreads

Yet another web site where you can keep track of your books, and where, like LibraryThing, you can voyeuristically explore people’s libraries.  This time, when I looked up Eat, Pray, Love, I got fascinated with the huge number of reviews of the book.  Member reviews are available on LibraryThing, too, but on Goodreads, you can see how many people liked each review, and even read comments by other members on the individual reviews.  Another plus for Goodreads is that you can immediately click on the Worldcat link to see what libraries own the book!

Somehow, I still wasn’t quite finding what I wanted, until I decided to search for the more obscure title I’ve been reading lately, The Splendor of Recognition, by Swami Shantananda and Peggy Bendet.  The number of people with this in their “bookshelves” was much more manageable, and perhaps because of the picture (I really have no good reason), I clicked on Dana, who had given the book 5 stars.  As I scrolled through Dana’s bookshelf, I again found many good books, but what jumped out at me was Breakfast with Buddha, by Roland Merullo, about a suburban, middle-aged guy who drives his sister’s maroon-robed, smiling guru across the country.  Exactly what I was in the mood to read.

Speaking of mood, I want to share one more method with you before I close.  (I do have more, but we have to keep some secrets, don’t we?) 

Method #3:  Whichbook

Whichbook is very different than LibraryThing and Goodreads in that it is really entirely based on what you feel like reading.  Using your mouse you place a marker on a spectrum between happy and sad; funny and serious; safe and disturbing; expected and unpredictable; larger than life and down to earth; beautiful and disgusting; or six more categories, and then click “go!”  A whole list of recommendations comes up!  Even if you don’t end up with something to read, you can have fun thinking of whether you want to read something conventional or unusual or optimistic or bleak.

So now give it a try!  It worked for me, see if it works for you!

– Kaarin


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Love Belongs to Those Who Do the Feeling

Love Belongs to Those Who Do the Feeling: : new & selected=Judy Grahn herself selected the poems for her collection Love Belongs to Those Who Do the Feeling: New & Selected Poems (1966-2006), making for a personalized retrospective of her career so far.  She introduces each section with personal, philosophical, and historical context, which informs the reading experience. 

Grahn, who wrote much of her work while involved with political movements in the 1960s to 1980s, writes her poetry with the intention of reading it aloud, and employs rhythm, repetition and sound to enrich that presentation. 

The poems are deeply reflective and deal with subject matter that ranges from themes of feminism, lesbianism, and working class experience to mythic interpretations of Helen of Troy and love.  Many are informed by Grahn’s considerable research on mythology, and employ imagery from those sources as well as the natural and industrial world.  Her poems question, rally, rage, inform, inspire and entertain. 

Whatever the subject matter and tone, each poem rings with its own vivid voice that engages the reader with its emotion, wit and heart.


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The Quest

Today, I will embark on a road trip to visit seven friends in seven days.  (Doesn’t that sound like the name of a boring memoir? Seven Friends in road3677296594_59af8b8f2eSeven Days: How I Saw Some Buddies and Discovered a Life Worth Living.)  I will pass through 7 states and cover roughly 1,547 miles.  Will I discover myself on this road trip?  Will I get into fist fights with locals at rural drinking establishments?  Will I kill a man, like Thelma and Louise did?  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I find myself anxiously wondering which audio books I should listen to.  Should I listen to the latest bestseller?  No, kind readers, because you have all of them out right now.  Should I listen to a classic mystery?  An epic fantasy adventure? A self-help book about dating, finances, or my immortal soul?  It probably wouldn’t hurt–unless it’s boring and I take a little snooze and crash my car–then it would hurt.

I am very particular about my audio books: the prose can’t be too flowery or my mind wanders.  The narrator has to emphasize just the right words or the message won’t come across.  The plot can’t be too confusing, because I don’t have the luxury of flipping back a few pages to see if it was so and so that did such and such in the parlor.

I have compiled a list of  some of my favorites, along with some suggestions by other audio book aficionados:

I’ll let you know if I had any run-ins with the law when I get back.  Until then, what audio books have you loved?



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