Tag Archives: cookbooks

It’s Pumpkin Season!

pumpkinsI know, I know. It’s actually been pumpkin season for at least a month now. As soon as Starbucks rolls out their pumpkin spice latte, people go crazy thinking it’s fall. They want to start raking leaves, wearing sweaters and craving other autumnal activities, even if it is still 75 degrees outside.

There is at least one person at my house who goes bonkers for anything pumpkin flavored. It certainly doesn’t hurt that his birthday is on October 31st. So while planning his Pumpkin-Themed Birthday Extravaganza, I began to wonder what kind of pumpkin books we had in the collection. Turns out that we have quite a bit, even besides the expected children’s items. Here are a few that stood out to me…

Carving Pumpkins:
Carving the Perfect Pumpkin [DVD]
Extreme Pumpkin Carving by Vic Hood
Extreme Pumpkins: Diabolical Do-It-Yourself Designs to Amuse Your Friends and Scare Your Neighbors by Tom Nardone
Carving Pumpkins by Dana Meachen Rau
How to Carve Freakishly Cool Pumpkins by Sarah L. Schuette

Cookbooks:
Holiday Pumpkins by Georgeanne Brennan
Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito – (Yes, pumpkin is one of the 10!)
Pumpkins: Over 75 Farm-Fresh Recipes
Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel

Growing the Biggest Pumpkin:
Lords of the Gourd: The Pursuit of Excellence[DVD]
Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Susan Warren

Picture Books for Kids:
Ready for Pumpkins by Kate Duke
The Perfect Pumpkin Hunt by Gail Herman
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor
It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
Night of the Pumpkinheads by Michael J. Rosen; pumpkin carvings by Hugh McMahon

Other Items that I’m Sure Have Nothing to Do with Actual Pumpkins:
Pumpkin Teeth: Stories by Tom Cardamone
The Pumpkin Man by John Everson
The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz
The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer
Pumpkin Scissors: The Complete Series [DVD]

Happy Autumn!
-Melissa M.

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, the Pumpkin-Themed Birthday Extravaganza will begin with pumpkin French toast bake and pumpkin pie smoothies for breakfast. Pumpkin mac-n-cheese will be the lunch special. Then, there will be pumpkin-shrimp bruschetta, pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, arugula and dried cherry salad and pumpkin ravioli with sage browned butter for dinner. We’ll finish up with pumpkin tiramisu and a side of pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies for dessert. I also have recipes for a few pumpkin cocktails! ;)

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Ideal Bookshelves

A thoughtful relative gave me a copy of My Ideal Bookshelf, a collection of essays in which famous people in a variety of fields talk about the books that are most important to them. You’ll find essays from luminaries like Alice Waters and James Franco, as well as from people who are prominent in their fields, but not necessarily “famous.” The gorgeous illustrations that bring each person’s choices to life are colorful and exciting, a wonderful reminder of just how much emotional and psychological resonance physical books still hold for many people. You can learn more about the project, which is the brainchild of Jane Mount and Thessaly LaForce, at the book’s companion website, which also features many other ideal bookshelves on various themes, from Jane Austen to sci-fi, available as prints, paintings and note cards. You can even submit your own ideal bookshelf for custom design!

At first I was overwhelmed by the thought of picking only ten books that were meaningful for me–couldn’t I just have an Ideal Bookcase? But on reflection–and sober contemplation of my savings–I decided that I’d better think about it a little harder. I’ve whittled down the many, many books that have danced through my life over the years to a list of five that have a special meaning. The other ones? Well, you’ll just have to ask me about them next time you visit the library!

ideal

The Snarkout Boys & the Avocado of Death, Daniel Pinkwater.

Walter, our hero, is introduced to the art of snarking out–sneaking out of the house at night to go to the 24-hour movie theater–by his friend Winston. Walter and Winston are bored with the lack of academic challenge at their school and the tedium of their everyday lives, so when a typical night of snarking out turns into an adventure involving a missing scientist and his greatest invention, the boys are definitely up for the challenge.

This novel was the first book I’d ever read that implied there’s a lot of interesting things going on underneath the surface of everyday life. It was also the first book I’d read that criticized teachers who give tons of busywork instead of actually teaching, something to which I could, sadly, relate all too well. For good or ill, I credit Snarkout Boys for making me the contrarian adventurer I am today.

The Heidi Chronicles, Wendy Wasserstein.

Heidi Holland lives through some exciting times, but she isn’t always sure what to make of them as they pass by. Between glimpses of Heidi in her current life as a feminist art historian, the reader is treated to long scenes from various times in Heidi’s life: trying to figure out boys; discovering consciousness-raising, radical politics, and good sex; and navigating the shallow, greedy culture of 80s materialism, to name but a few. Can a determined young woman live life on her terms? Heidi Holland can, and does, but it’s not easy.

Of all the shows my college theater group produced,  Heidi Chronicles was my favorite. I had only one scene, but I went to as many rehearsals as I could so I would understand how this baffling, cultural-reference-riddled play (I had to stop and look something up in just about every line of dialogue) could ever come to life. Between the words on the page and the skillful architecture of the stage, I came to understand a lot more about art history, women’s history, and feminism. Theater really should be seen and heard, as well as read, so try the digital audio version on for size, too.

Cooking for Dummies, Bryan Miller.

Although IDG’s “Dummies” series takes a lot of good-natured ribbing for their approach, this particular title is extremely helpful. Miller’s introduction to kitchen skills covers basic tools and techniques for the beginner kitchen wizard, then moves on to simple foods, like salads and pasta, that are pretty hard to screw up. Once you’ve got those under your belt, you can move on to strategies for shopping, meal planning, and dinner parties. Miller ends the book with lists of books and resources to consult next, ensuring that you can take your cooking up to the next level, if you want. Perfect for new college grads, or anyone else who’s tired of relying on take-out and the microwave.

This book saved me from a lifetime of eating frozen dinners. I was trying to get serious about exercising and losing weight, so I thought it would be a good idea to learn to cook properly, too (go big, or go home). Miller’s book gave me the basic kitchen skills I needed and the confidence to try more advanced dishes, and I plan to give it as a gift to all the kids in my life when they’re ready to strike out on their own. This is also the very first book I ever checked out of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger.

Henry’s rare genetic anomaly randomly sends him back and forth in time; Clare’s life follows a normal, sequential pattern. Their asynchronous love affair is magical, passionate, and exciting, but also fraught with difficulty. After all, it’s exasperating when the person you love can vanish at any moment, and it’s no picnic for the vanisher, either. Is this a love story for the ages or a train wreck waiting to happen? Literary romance fans who haven’t devoured this book should bump it to the top of their lists, at once.

I’m not the sort of person who reads popular books at the same time everyone else is reading them. I made an exception, though, the year I went to library school, and everybody was swooning over this book. A time-traveling librarian? How could we notIt was the first time I’d been on the same page–literally and figuratively–with a group of friends over a book, and the fact that we were all working hard, studying hard, and partying hard together made it even more meaningful and worthwhile.

Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed.

Strayed’s collection of tough-love advice, collated from her tenure as advice columnist “Dear Sugar” on The Rumpus, is tough, tender, hilarious and heartbreaking. Strayed’s overall tone is warm and friendly, making you feel as if you’re sitting in the kitchen–or maybe a coffee shop–with the very best kind of friend: someone warm and sympathetic, but unafraid to call you on your crap, if need be. Letter-writers bare their souls on topics from the loss of a child to professional envy of a friend, and Strayed answers them all the even-tempered wisdom that is hard-won by those who have seen, and survived, many of life’s more unpleasant aspects.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Cheryl Strayed. She’s endured a great deal in her life, but she didn’t let it make her bitter. She writes with both wisdom and humor. She knows when cuss words make a piece of writing work, and when to use gentler language.  And she genuinely cares about the people who write to her, and wants to help them achieve their highest potential. Those aren’t bad things to aspire to, methinks, and I ask myself sometimes, “What would Cheryl say?” when I ponder my own dilemmas. Hopefully keeping this book handy will keep me grounded and sensible–but not too sensible–as I navigate my 40s.

Your turn: what books would be on your ideal bookshelf? Tell us about a book that means a lot to you, or reminds you of a specific time in your life.

–Leigh Anne

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Literary Cookbooks: Wookie Cookies and More!

Dear Reader, if you want to get crazy and mix your two favorite things, food and literature, look no further than the Library.  We actually have a subject heading for that: Literary Cookbooks.  Cook like you are in Bon Temps, Narnia, or Jane Austen’s England.  Below are some highlights from our collections.

Cover Image What would Katniss bake?  Find out in: The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to “Groosling” — more than 150 recipes by Emily Ansara Baines.

Book CoverHere you’ll find a veritable smorgasbord of literary yums, from James Bond to The Great Gatsby.

Book CoverWho could resist Boba Fett-Uccine? The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookiee Cookies, and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.
Cover Image Plan a Pride & Prejudice dinner party!  Check out Cooking with Jane Austen, by Kirstin Olsen.
Book Cover Get campy with your cookery! True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps by Gianna Sobol.

Happy eating and reading!

Holly – CLP Main

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It’s All In The Stars

I would like to say I don’t believe in all that silly horoscope stuff and dream interpretation and signs and omens and whatnot. But my zodiac sign is Pisces and my Chinese zodiac sign is the Snake:

 OF COURSE I BELIEVE IN ALL OF THAT STUFF!

OnlyAstrologyMy all-time favorite astrology book is The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk. I bought my first copy sometime in the early 90s, only to have it stolen by some strumpet my boyfriend was cheating on me with. I’ve long since gotten over him, but I’m still pretty bent about the book. Seriously, you can steal just about anything you want from me, but keep your mitts off of my books!

But I digress.

The Only Astrology Book now comes with an interactive CD that will actually make your birth chart for you. And it is NEATO. Also way less time-consuming than looking up all of the planetary placements yourself.

I’ve outed myself as a Pisces. A lot of people say, “You don’t seem like a typical Pisces,” by which I think they mean I’m not sappy, over-sensitive or super-emotional. I can be, but as a rule, I’m pretty balanced because my Moon in Libra. (Scales!) However, the dark side of the Moon makes me indecisive and frivolous. Like indecisive to the point that deciding what to have for lunch brings me to tears.

Knowing the basics of the zodiac helps with relationships, too.  Now I’m not saying that I knew Cancers responded to sincere compliments when I met my husband, but I sure did like his smile. I know Leos like to have their egos stroked and Scorpios are intense, but generous and loyal (sexy, too.) I should never date a Gemini because all they do is hurt my feelings and I shouldn’t marry a fellow Pisces (despite the physical attraction) because we’re both bad with money and will end up bankrupt. See? Look at all those things you just learned! Learn more with these books!

EverdayAstrologyGary Goldschneider’s Everyday Astrology : How to Make Astrology Work For You by Gary Goldschneider. Also available as an e-book. Gary Goldschneider is also the author of The Secret Language of Birthdays, which is another great astrology resource. Goldschneider is considered one of the experts on personology, the link between astrology as a science and astrology as an art. Everyday Astrology is a fun look at how to use the zodiac in your relationships, career and other facets of your life. Want to ask your Aries boss for a raise? Break up with Scorpio? Survive the holidays with Gemini parents? Then this is the book for you!

SunSignsLinda Goodman’s Sun Signs by Linda Goodman . Since its initial publication in 1968, Sun Signs has sold over 60 million copies. It also has the distinction of being the first astrology book to be a New York Times bestseller. As well it should be. Nearly 45 years later, the astrological insights from Goodman are still astonishing. When I read her description of my own sign, I’m amazed at not only her accuracy, but by the intuition behind her research. Interesting tidbit about Goodman: she would never reveal her own birth year. Only after her death in 1995 did the world find out (1925).

RockYourStarsRock  Your Stars: Your Astrological Guide to Getting it All by Holiday Mathis. Holiday Mathis writes a popular daily horoscope column, and Rock Your Stars is a compilation of her extensive astrological knowledge. Mathis encourages women to use astrology in their everyday life- as a form of meditation almost, like some of us do yoga or pray. What color should you paint your bedroom? Where should you go with your career? Is he the right one for you? Use Rock Your Stars to find your own path.

WhatYoruBirthdayRevelasWhat Your Birthday Reveals About You: 366 Days of Astonishingly Accurate Revelations About Your Future, Your Secrets, and Your Strengths by Phyllis Vega. This book is astonishingly accurate. It’s also a great coffee table book, simply for the conversation it will generate. Vega is the author of several very popular astrology books, including Erotic Astrology, which, sadly, the library does not own. It is fascinating to me that the day you are born predicts so much about your future weaknesses and strengths.

LobsterForLeosLobster for Leos, Cookies for Capricorns : An Astrology Lover’s Cookbook by Sabra Ricci. It makes me stupidly happy that astrology cookbooks exist. In Woolfolk’s book, she writes about what foods are best and worst for each sign (I should stay away from caffeine. REALLY?!?!?!? YOU THINK?!!) This cookbook takes it one step further and has recipes for that will help Aries focus, get a Scorpio talking, and countless aphrodisiacs, as well. If you are in the South Side, feel free to deliver astrologically accurate cookies to me.

Happy Predicting!

suzy
frivolous, yet compassionate, Pisces

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A Homemade Snacks How-To

No, I’m not actually going to tell you how to make some of your favorite store-bought treats, but I am going to give you some ideas for who can and will.

This Saturday, March 9th, we are pleased to have Casey Barber, blogger and author, for a special Saturday session of our Hands-On Workshop Series. She will be demonstrating how to make marshmallow fluff, selling and signing copies of her book, and there will be FREE SAMPLES!! Unlike our other HOW workshops, no pre-registration is required for this event. So, we hope you’ll stop by for what promises to be a fun and tasty presentation.

If you’d like to cure your junk food cravings with something homemade instead of brought home, try one of these books from our extensive cookbook collection:

Fast Food Fix: 75+ Amazing Recipe Makeovers of Your Fast Food Restaurant Favorites by Devin Alexander – You know you want it. Now you can have it, but it will be better for you!

Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Snacks by Casey Barber – This is the one our Saturday presenter wrote (pictured above). Did you ever think of making funyuns or peeps at home? Well, you can!

The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making by Alana Chernila – I’ve talked about this one before, but it’s worth repeating…

Unjunk Your Junk Food: Natural Alternatives to Conventional Snacks by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer – This is an Eat This, Not That for snack foods and drinks only. If you’re going to buy your treats, buy the best and healthiest treats you can.

Vegan Junk Food: 225 Sinful Snacks That Are Good for the Soul: No Meat, No Dairy, Lots of Love! by Lane Gold – For those who are following a vegan diet, lots of snacks foods to satisfy your sweet, and salty, tooth. Vegans need great treats too!

Salty Snacks: Make Your Own Chips, Crisps, Crackers, Pretzels, Dips, and Other Savory Bites by Cynthia Nims – When you make your own treats at home, you can control the ingredients. This means less preservatives and chemicals. They’re healthier and often tastier too!

America’s Most Wanted Recipes: Delicious Recipes from Your Family’s Favorite Restaurants by Ron Douglas – These recipes may not be the most low-calorie, but they’ll be cheaper, and probably better for you, than going out. There’s also More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes and America’s Most Wanted Recipes Just Desserts from the same author.

Remember to stop by the Main Library on Saturday at 11:00am for Casey’s homemade treats presentation. We’ll be in the Quiet Reading Room on the First Floor. I’ll be introducing her and then hanging out in the back row. I hope to see you there!

Happy Snacking!
-Melissa M.

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Nature’s Buried Treasure

Winter is a good time for hunkering down and picking up some new skills or remastering some old ones. I subscribed to my first winter CSA this year, and have since been exploring the fascinating world of root vegetables. I have long been a fan of the potato, the squash, and the occasional beet, but am now discovering the joys of the humble parsnip, rutabaga, black radish, and Jerusalem artichoke (which is nothing like your typical artichoke). I occasionally get stuck in a food rut—cooking the same favorite meals over and over, rather than trying something new—so I’ve welcomed the challenge of making meals from unfamiliar ingredients.

Turns out there are quite a few great cookbooks in the library dedicated to root vegetables and tubers. A few:

 Roots: The Definitive Compendium With More Than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan

 Buried Treasures: Tasty Tubers of the World: How to Grown and Enjoy Root Vegetables, tubers, rhizomes, and corms edited by Beth Hanson

Down to Earth: Great Recipes for Root Vegetables by Georgeanne Brennan

 Roots: A Vegetarian Bounty by Kathleen Mayes & Sandra Gottfried

If you’re not sure how or where to store your root vegetables we also have a few books on that topic:

 The Complete Root Cellar Book: Building Plans, Uses and 100 Recipes by Steve Maxwell & Jennifer MacKenzie

 The Everything Root Cellaring Book: Learn to Store, Cook, and Preserve Fresh Produce All Year Round!

 The Joy of Keeping a Root Cellar: Canning, Freezing, Drying, Smoking, and Preserving the Harvest by Jennifer Megyesi

And if you’re anything like me, and feel like just about anything tastes good on a pizza, I recommend taking a gander at this super easy and tasty pizza-making recipe.

Enjoy getting in touch with (cooking) your roots!

-Tara

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A [kind of] New Woman

I am one of those people who make New Year’s Resolutions. I try to make them realistic, but not too easy. For example, I can say I’m going to give up Indian food, Jim Beam and HBO. With nooooo problem. Because I don’t like the food, drink the booze or have cable. Done and done!

No?

All right…

My 2013 Resolutions

One new vegetable a month*

I almost said one new vegetable a week, but that seemed way too ambitious. I can’t even think of 52 vegetables. Not that I don’t love my steady diet of broccoli, spinach, green beans, peas and asparagus, but it’s time to mix it up. To that end, here are few cook books I’m going to use to help me out.

EatYourVeggiesEat your vegetables, Arthur Potts Dawson

The art of cooking with vegetables, Alain Passard

Cooking with fruits and vegetables, Claire Llewellyn

*I will not, however, be eating any form of mushroom.
They taste like dirt, people.

Stop saying sorry

I apologize for everything. I apologize for stuff that’s not my fault, for events that I have no control over, things that have nothing to do with me. I apologize when someone does something to me! It’s stupid and doesn’t get me anywhere. These people will help me.

Manage my money better

I pay my bills on time and all that jazz. But I really should have way more expendable income than I do. Like way more. Especially since I quit smoking (2011’s resolution) and added an extra $4000 a year to my pocket money. Where is it going???

Also, managing my money better would mean I could donate more to charity, which is always on my resolution list. I’m so fortunate to have the life I have. I should absolutely be helping others in need. For real.

I signed up for  Mint.com, a website that pulls all your financial accounts into one place. You can set a budget, create and track goals and [gulp] see where your money is really going.

BehaviorGapThe behavior gap : simple ways to stop doing  dumb things with money, Carl Richards

The debt-free spending plan : an amazingly simple way to take control of your finances once and for all, JoAnneh Nagler

The only budgeting book you’ll ever need : how to save money and manage your finances with a personal budget plan that works for you, Tere Stouffer.

30 Day Hot Yoga Challenge

I am going to do 30 days of Bikram (hot) yoga, in a row, without a day off. Frankly, I think this will be the hardest resolution to keep. Because of work and chores and things that constantly interrupt my fun, there will be days that I have to go to the 6 a.m. class. In the dead of winter. Probably on my bike. From the South Side to Lawrenceville. To say that I’m not a morning person…well, this could be ugly.

I plan on starting February 1st and going through to March 2nd. Now that it’s out in the universe, I have to do it. If I succeed, I am totally buying a pair of yoga pants with bling on the butt. Because I will have earned them.

Pray for me. Happy 2013!

-suzy

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