DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Sep 6 2016

Taking Good Care

by Dea Anne M

I find myself thinking this week of the many hotels in which I’ve stayed and it might come as no surprise that a few have been notable for reasons that would give pause to any but the grittiest and most optimistic of publicity teams. I’m remembering especially a place I stayed in Chicago years ago. We’ll call it the Bismarck Hotel since, basically, that was its name. My friend and I were there for the weekend, for a swanky formal wedding which was taking place in the hotel on Saturday night. The Art Deco splendor of the lobby and the banquet hall was rivaled only by the utter weirdness of the guest rooms. You might remember Twin Peaks from when  it premiered on television in 1990, or you may be one of the people who discovered the series after the DVD’s appeared on the market in 2007. For those of you who don’t know the show, Twin Peaks was auteur director David Lynch’s serial drama which, along with its quirky dialogue and incredibly convoluted plot, remains notable chiefly for its unrelenting, almost sledge-hammer-like,  hallucinatory quality. Our room at the Bismarck was like that. Like that show. Each corner of the room seemed to exist inside its own dimension of time and space. Looking at each of the four walls gave you the unsettling sensation that you could walk toward it and never reach it. It didn’t help that each wall was covered with a different wallpaper and that the wall closest to the bathroom boasted a painted portrait of a Holstein cow in profile. When people who have stayed in my guest room declare, as they have on occasion, that the experience is “Just like staying in a hotel!” all I can think is “Not like the Bismarck, I hope.”

The actual reason that I’ve been thinking about hotels and hospitality is that I will have houseguests this week. I actually quite enjoy having people come to stay with me, although perhaps not on the same scale as that known to hosts during the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian eras when guests often stayed for a fortnight (i.e. 14 days) or longer and needed to be provided with meals and entertainment and private rooms until their departure. While I don’t possess a billiards room and I can’t promise guests a fox hunt, I certainly do what I can. Some of the entertaining advice one encounters on lifestyle websites and in magazines are a bit over the top in my opinion (“Have the maid put fresh flowers in each guest’s room along with a tiny silver bell to summon the butler!” “Tie up guest towels with twill ribbons to make a pretty package but first make sure that you’ve had each towel custom monogrammed with your guest’s initials!”) while some guidelines for guests are… basic (“Don’t stay too long.” “Don’t steal.”) For me, the rules for hosting remain fairly simple – make sure the guest’s room is clean and comfortable, find out ahead of time about any food allergies or strong food preferences, participate willingly in conversation and other group activities. Most of all, I want my guests to feel comfortable and cared for – just as they would in a good hotel except maybe even more so.

If you feel like you could use some help with your own entertaining, or if you simply find the topic as fascinating as I do, let me recommend the following resources from DCPL.

Letitia Baldrige’s New Manners for Modern Times by Letitia Baldrigebasic

The New Basic Black: home training for modern times by Karen Grigsby Bates and Karen Elyse Hudson

Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin

Emily Post’s Etiquette (17th edition) by Peggy Post

What about you? What do you like to do with and for your guests? As a guest, how do you like to be treated?

 

 

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Aug 26 2016

Don’t Know Much About Cars

by Camille B

Woman-strandedTo say I know nothing about cars is a huge understatement.

On a scale of 1-10, I would probably score a miserable 3, and that’s only because I remember to put gas in the tank.

It’s not that I’m trying to be clueless, but if there were such a thing as a car gene, I didn’t get it.

I guess I feel the same way about cars that men feel about shoes and handbags; start saying words like Coach and Jimmy Choo and they begin looking flustered and confused.

Mention thermostats and fuel pumps, and I won’t even pretend to be listening. All I need to know is, when should I come back for the vehicle?

The thing is though, at the end of the day not knowing some of the basics about maintaining my car has probably done me more harm than good, as was the case recently when the mechanic opened up my coolant reservoir and almost blew a gasket –no pun intended, when he realized it was close to empty.

The shock on his face would have been priceless had the situation not been so dire. If there were a DFACS equivalent for car owners, my vehicle would have been taken away immediately, such was his level of frustration.

Instead, I was seriously reprimanded as he poured in almost an entire gallon of coolant, explaining to me all the complications my negligence could have caused. Mechanics, I’ve come to realize, are almost as ticked off with their customers for not taking care of their vehicles as dentists are with their patients for not flossing and taking care of their teeth.

In all seriousness, I know I need to do a much better job of taking care of my car. Sadly, I am not the only one. According to a report in Auto Blog done in 2014, women still lag behind men in car maintenance knowledge.

Only about half of the women they surveyed said they had ever changed a tire and a third said they wouldn’t know how if they had to. Car Photo 1

Also in a recent study done by PEMCO Insurance, 74 percent of men had completed oil changes themselves  as compared to only 30 percent of women.

Says Jon Osterberg, a PEMCO spokesperson, “Gender shouldn’t be a barrier to maintaining the car you drive, even if you prefer to hire roadside assistance for breakdowns, all drivers should know how to remedy basic disruptions like flat tires or dead batteries, so that you’re not stranded in unsafe circumstances.”

And I agree. If I do get stranded, I would like to have some basic idea of what’s going on so that firstly, I won’t panic unnecessarily, and secondly, I would be able to convey that information to whoever’s on their way to help me so they’re prepared (it may not always be AAA).

So we may never have to change a timing belt or fuel pump but there are some basics that we can do to help in the care and upkeep of our vehicles, saving on costly and unnecessary repairs in the long run.

I think that recording the dates and times on a calendar of the last time we did what, would be helpful, since most times it’s forgetting that leads to the negligence in the first place. We have good intentions, but those can easily go awry with the busyness of our daily schedules. Here are some others lessons I have learned:

  • Pay heed to warning lights on the dashboard (ignoring them won’t make them go away. I’ve learned this the hard way.)
  • Check your oil at least once a month. Change every 3000 miles.
  • Change your air filter with your oil change.
  • Check for worn brake pads.
  • Know how to jumpstart your engine and keep jumper cables in your car.
  • Check the pressure on your tires on a regular basis.
  • Check your coolant level regularly.

These are merely a few but a good place to start. Nothing you haven’t heard a dozen times before, but putting them into practice would and should take some conscious effort.

The DCPL Library  System carries many of the Chilton’s auto repair manuals as well as two very helpful reference databases on their website, Auto Repair Reference Center and Small Engine Reference Center, dedicated to vehicular repair and maintenance.Auto Repair Book

You can also check-out these titles:

Clueless about cars: an easy guide to car maintenance and repair– Lisa Christensen

Auto upkeep: basic car care, maintenance and repair– Michael E Gray and Linda E Gray

Dare to repair your car– Julie Sussman & Stephanie Glakas-Tenet

Popular mechanics complete car care manual– Leonello Calvetti

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 19 2016

It’s Time to DIGG In!

by Dea Anne M

DIGGlogo_colorAugust 29th marks the advent of an exciting new offering at DCPL. Join us at the Decatur Library for the official launch of DCPL’s DIGG Seed Library. Master Gardner Sarah Brodd will discuss planting and growing your fall vegetable garden – plus, there will be a giveaway featuring a gift card from Pike’s Nurseries. This special event also serves as an introduction to DCPL’s new collection of free heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. The seeds will be available for all DeKalb Library card holders to check out and will be housed on the first floor of the Decatur Library.

DIGG stands for DeKalb Invests In Growing Gardens and this seed library is the first one ever in the Metropolitan Atlanta area. A significant part of the educational mission behind this project lies in promoting a wider awareness of food deserts in our communities as well the provision of healthy, sustainable food to a larger population. Please join us on Monday, 29th from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Decatur Library as we launch the DIGG Seed Library.

Also, be sure to check out the DeKalb Mobile Farmers Market, a new program funded by the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative and by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The program seeks to bring fresh, affordable food to residents of DeKalb County. You can visit the market at the Scott Candler library today, August 19th, or on September 16th at the Clarkston library. Check out the market website for more times and information.

If you’re interested in learning about food sustainability or seeds check out these resources from DCPL:normal

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin. Salatin, who was profiled in Michael Pollan’s groundbreaking book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, is a Virginia farmer who redefines the term “locally sourced” armed with a passionate sense of mission which he leavens with an off-beat sense of humor.

For a completely different take on agriculture and the ways in which technology changes, and might deliciouspossibly benefit, our food supply, check out Jayson Lusk’s Unaturally Delicious: how technology and science are serving up super foods to save the world. Provocative and written in a lively voice, Lusk’s book will cause you to rethink what the word “natural” really means, especially when it comes to food.

If the names of some venerable fruit and vegetable varieties – like Moon and Stars melon and Green heirloomZebra tomato –  enchant you as much as they do me, then you’ll find a lot to like about Heirloom Plants: a compendium of heritage vegetables, fruits, herbs & flowers by Thomas Etty and Lorraine Harrison.  Inside, you’ll find truly fascinating histories of plants like Miss Willmott sweet peas and the book design is charmingly reminiscent of the type of seed catalogs common in the earliest part of the 2oth century. There’s lots of solid information here too about cultivating these very special varieties so that you can watch them thrive and enjoy a bit of history in your own garden.

 

 

 

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Aug 8 2016

The Great Indoors

by Dea Anne M

Despite my abiding love of gardening and the ocean, I’ve never been what you’d call an “outdoorsy” sort of person. While I was growing up, my decided preference for indoor activities never presented much of an issue except when it came to my yearly summer visit with my maternal grandmother. Every summer, my brother and I spent several weeks away from our parents and with grandparents and a wide assortment of aunts, uncles and cousins. Mostly this was a wonderful time and something to which  I greatly looked forward – the only hitch in the unalloyed pleasure for me being the fact that Grandma was of a generation who resolutely believed that all children (along with other animals), belonged outdoors. This was fine with my brother and cousins who spent the days happily outdoors coming inside only for lunch.

I, on the other hand, preferred reading and drawing to almost any activity available outside. Anytime of day presented its problems – afternoon (sun!), dusk (mosquitoes!), nighttime (slugs!) and unless it was early morning, or we were at a pool, I opted for the indoors every time. This presented a dilemma for Grandma who truly needed for there to be no children “underfoot” in order to do her daily housework but who also had a genuine desire to help her eldest grandchild (me) enjoy the summer. So, I wound up inside tucked away with my book or drawing pad in an unobstrusive corner. Grandma eventually even stopped commenting on how odd it was any child would rather be inside rather than out in “the sunshine and fresh air.”Actually, I think Grandma wound up enjoying my company, especially when it came to watching her “stories” each afternoon. Usually unenthusiastic about most contemporary culture, Grandma sure enjoyed her daily soap operas although she often reminded me that the shows were better “back before aliens or the FBI started showing up in every episode.”

Well, I don’t keep up with the soaps anymore, but these days I still venture outside as little as possible, at least between June and sometime in late September. As a gardener, I have to devote daily time to my plants but this happens in the early hours of the day. Other than that, you’ll find me inside and happily so.  Maybe you feel the same way but need some suggestions for new and different ways to “nest” when it’s ridiculously hot outside. Well, allow this list give you a few ideas – along with suggestions for resources available from DCPL.

1. Practice preservation.

Canning has changed, a lot, from the stress-filled and steam-weary marathon sessions of decades ago. Small batch canning is entirely possible now – and even more desirable for many of us who don’t possess the large living spaces and their attendent storage options that people once had access to. Say you return from a local farmers marketpreserve with an extra pound or two of peaches or a gardening friend planted a little more okra than she could use herself and gifted you with some of it. With a large pot, a few ingredients and some sealable jars you can turn that surplus into jam or pickles in quantities that won’t have you renting a storage locker for the overflow. I recommend America’s Test Kitchen’s excellent Foolproof Preserving: a guide to small batch jams, jellies, pickles, condiments and more to provide you with all the tips and recipes you’ll need to keep your own pantry stocked with just the right amount of luscious and useful treats.

2. Organize something!

Most of us have a closet, a shelf or a drawer somewhere inside of our living space that could use some rethinking and persona blazing hot day might be the perfect time to pour a cold glass of lemonade and tackle the job. And don’t think that you need to purchase a lot of tools and supplies in order to get organized. According to Marie Kondo in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you already have all the space, tools and containers that you need to organize perfectly. After applying Kondo’s method to my own clothes closets and all of my bookshelves, I have to say that I think that she’s right. Kondo’s method has worked well for me, but some of you may find it a little more off-beat or time-consuming than feels comfortable. Check out The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds or Stacy Platt’s What’s A Disorganized Person To Do? for practical tips and bite-sized projects that anyone can tackle, and feel good about, in record time.

3 Rediscover the power of cool.

Remember going to the refrigerator for a glass of ice water that hot July afternoon when you were nine years old andpops finding the chocolate wafer cream cake resting on the middle shelf atop Grandma’s special cut glass platter like a treasure hunt prize? “Don’t you touch that cake!” Grandma (who seemed to have eyes everywhere) yelled from upstairs. “It’s for after supper!” Remember playing with your cousins out in the backyard when someone would hear the distant lilt of the ice cream truck playing its music from a couple of streets away? Remember running to meet it with everyone clutching their change and jostling to be first in line? Recreate those days with Icebox Cakes: recipes for the coolest cakes in town by Jean Sagendorph and Jessie Sheehan or Cesar and Nadia Roden’s Ice Pops!: 50 delicious, fresh and fabulous icy treats.

4. Stretch your boundaries.

Awhile back, one of my co-workers told me that she sets herself a challenge every summer to read at least one book countthat falls outside the scope of her usual preferred genres. I have yet to try this myself, but I think that it’s such a great idea. Say you read almost exclusively books about science or military history – why not try a western or a contemporary romance? Do you only read young novels? Try a collection of political essays or a work of popular history such as How to Be a Tudor: a dawn to dusk guide to Tudor life by Ruth Goodman. And remember, summer is a great time to dip into a classic such as David Copperfield by Charles Dickens or Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Christo.  Or you could try a few titles from a well-regarded list such as Books All Georgians Should Read or the American Library Associations list of Banned and Challenged Books.

I don’t know about you, but I believe the height of summer seems like the true inclement season here in the Southeast, and I plan to stay inside. What about you? What’s your favorite way/plan to while away the hot weather days?

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 3 2016

2016 Rio Olympic Games

by Joseph M

brazilThe 2016 Summer Olympics begin this Friday, August 5, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although Rio is the primary locale for the games, venues will also be located in other Brazilian cities such as Sao Paolo and Brasilia.

This will be first Olympic Games held on the continent of South America, as well as the first games to be held in a primarily Portuguese-speaking country. Here is another interesting bit of trivia: because of its location in the Southern Hemisphere, the 2016 Summer games will be taking place during what is the winter season in most of Brazil.

To learn more about the Olympics, check out our selection of related materials on the topic. You can also learn more about the host country, Brazil, by browsing this list in our catalog.

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Aug 1 2016

An App For That

by Camille B

CARTOON-SNOW-SHOVEL-BOY-122710

I began writing this blog post after coming across the adjacent  cartoon.

Even as I was laughing I was thinking to myself, Just you wait grandpa. For doesn’t it seem like there is an app for just about everything else that you can think of?

Today, there are literally thousands of apps from which to choose. Someone is probably creating a new one as I’m writing this post.

There are apps for social media, business, travel, weather, entertainment, games, fitness and so much more. There are apps to help us eat, drink, exercise, date, break up and even come up with clever ways to get out of work, like the INap@ work app I discovered while writing this post. This app makes sounds like you’re working when you’re actually asleep at your desk.

According to this survey done by Search CNET, social media apps ranked way above the rest as the most used and popular apps, with Facebook in the  lead by a wide margin (no surprise there). Google Chrome, Camera, and Google Maps followed as the next most used apps. CommBank, LinkedIn and Calendar ranked at the bottom of the list.

Opinions vary as to whether or not these apps do more to help or hinder us in our every day lives. Do apps make us lazier, allow us to be more productive, or does it all depend on the App itself? Apps

I think that the pendulum swings both ways. Like with everything else, it’s what we do with it. A great many of these apps can truly enhance our lives and make some everyday tasks a whole lot easier, saving us time and energy.

There are great banking, news and weather apps. There are also helpful work apps like Slack, Wunderlist,  Shyp and Doodle that can actually help boost office productivity.

On the other hand there are others that make us oh, just a little bit slothful. Here is a link to 10 iphone apps for the pathetically lazy. Some of these apps actually scared me a bit as I scrolled through them. I sincerely hoped that the people using them were in the low percentile; like that Chipotle’s mobile ordering app, really? How much faster do you need your burrito?

Next we have our games and funnies. Who needs to be blue when you can download 9GAG, BUZZFEED and TALKING TOM to cheer you up and put a smile on your face again? And you can also while away countless hours that you’ll never get back with Candy Crush, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run 2 and hundreds of other games to get your adrenaline pumping.

Then there are the apps that we thought were so cool we just had to have them, but we used them just that one time. According to an article by Android Authority, “77 percent of users never use an app again 72 hours after installing it. After a month, 90 percent of users eventually stop using the app, and by the 90-day mark, only 5 percent of users continue using a given app.” So you were really excited about that GymPact app but now, umm not so much.

As far as apps go, this was just scratching the surface, a drop in the proverbial bucket if you will, and grandpa’s comment may stand the test of time yet in it’s accuracy. Although there is no app for shoveling snow, for just about everything else, I say the sky’s the limit.

What are some of the most helpful apps you’ve come across lately? And what are some of the strangest?

Stop by your local DCPL library branch to check out some of these helpful books on Apps:

iPhone

 

Incredible iPhone apps for dummies/ Bob LeVitus

Building apps/ Laura La Bella

Apps: from concept to consumer/ Josh Gregory

 

 

 

 

 

Below are some of  the DCPL’s Apps that you can find on our homepage.

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JulieI have the book for you!  The book is Juliet by Anne Fortier, and is available to check out as a physical book.  It is also available in  downloadable audio in Overdrive.   The author Anne Fortier explores the real story behind Romeo and Juliet.   I have always said there is a little truth in all fiction.  This book also includes the genres of Fiction, Romance, Mystery, and Historical.

Julie and Janice Jacobs are coming home for the funeral of their recently deceased Aunt Rose.  Each women hopes to gain something from her estate.  Julie just wants a little money to cover her expenses and a place to live.  Janice just wants money.  Instead Janice is left with the house and all of its possessions.  Julie receives a mysterious key.  This key is linked to her past.  She is sent to Italy in hopes of finding treasure.  The first people she meets initially are Anna Maria Salenbini and her god son Lisandro on her way to Siena.   The first task is to go to the bank where her mother’s safety deposit box is located.   It includes the real story of Romeo and Juliet and the explanation of a curse on her family the Tolemaes and the Salenbinis.  Julie takes up the role of the modern Juliet.  Her given name from birth is Guiletta Tolemae.  But where is Romeo?  Why does Janice then make an appearance as well in Italy?  Is there really a treasure?

I loved this book!  Cassandra Campbell narrates the tale alternating between English and Italian accents.  She does an excellent job!  The story has many plot twists that will keep the reader guessing till the very end.   It had a slow start but became more interesting as the story evolved.  The reader will be left with a desire to meet their Romeo!

Please visit Overdrive for downloadable audiobook or the Catalog.  For  those of you who would like to read about the real story of  Romeo and Juliet read Understanding Romeo and Juliet by Thomas Thrasher.  See Romeo and Juliet a Duke Classic.

 

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Jul 8 2016

Life at the Library

by Dea Anne M

DECA 2015 008I have friends who, knowing that I work for DCPL, will say things like “I grew up at the Decatur library,” or “When I was working on my Masters, I lived at the library.” We all know that these folks are using figures of speech in order to convey the depth of their attachment to the library as a particular place that was important to them at a certain time in life. But what if it were true? What if you really did live at the library? What if you actually did grow up there?

Perhaps it’s my general interest in off-beat living spaces such as tiny houses, tree houses and Airstream trailers but I admit to being absolutely fascinated with this recent article from 6sqft, a website devoted to the architecture and building design or New York City as well as interesting aspects of the city’s real estate. The story profiles the living arrangements of the building superintendents of two of New York’s better known libraries. There was a time when these people actually lived inside the libraries themselves. For example Patrick Thornberry, superintendent of the grand New York Society Library, lived there with his family from 1943 until his retirement in 1967. Along with a lovely apartment, the family enjoyed access to a penthouse garden as well the library stacks and reference rooms after hours. Even today, the building possesses great charm and distinction. In fact, Thornberry’s daughter, Rose Mary, chose to have her wedding there in 1965. This library is, by the way, one of the oldest in the country – if not the oldest  – and is one of the few remaining libraries in the United States that functions on a subscription basis, that is, members pay a fee for access to the collections and services.

Also included in the 6sqft story is a brief account of John Fedeler, live-in superintendent at the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library, otherwise known as The Schwarzman Building. This is the home of the immense marble lions known as Patience and Fortitude who flank the entrance and brand the building as one of the most recognizable in the world. The classic Beaux-Arts building is spectacular in every way and the Fedeler family inhabited a lovely four bedroom apartment on the Mezzanine floor. Fedeler’s son (also named John) reported years later that singing and stomping around the apartment were strictly forbidden until library staff had left for the day. Strictures such as this one apparently didn’t deter the Fedeler children from such occasional antics as using outsize reference volumes as bases for indoor softball games.

As far as I know, library building supervisors no longer, as a rule,  live in the buildings that they oversee but some people still live in buildings that were once libraries. Here, for example, is the story of an Atlanta couple who renovated the old Kirkwood library and turned it into a private home. Another couple in Rockport, Massachusetts converted an historic Carnegie library building into a private residence complete with a gorgeous tiled rotunda. Here‘s an image into what is now the kitchen.

As a child of decidedly bookwormish tendencies,  living in the library would have been a dream come true. How about you? Did you ever want to live at the library?

 

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Jul 5 2016

Pick Your Own

by Camille B

Basket of strawberries 1

Summer vacation is well underway, and for some, it’s already  proving to be a test of endurance as you struggle to come up with fun and inventive ways to keep the kids happy and occupied. I imagine if you have to hear the words “I’m bored,” one more time, you’ll just pull your hair out.

So here’s one more thing that you can add to your list of summer fun that’s exciting, educational and reasonably priced- a trip to one of the local U-pick farms in Georgia.

I had the pleasure of taking my nieces and nephews to one of these farms a few weeks ago, and we had so much fun I was sorry we hadn’t done it sooner.

Not only was I able to dispel the myth that strawberries grew on trees, but I also enjoyed watching them race each other down the lanes trying to see who would fill their buckets first, all while enjoying the delicious fruit.

We didn’t have to make a reservation since it was a fairly small group. Gallon buckets were provided to us at the cost of $1 per bucket, which we were able to keep for our next visit. In addition to fruit picking, there were also farm animals like goats, cows and chickens which were an additional treat for the kids.

So take a day when the weather’s really nice and it’s not too hot out, to go visit one of these farms, giving the kids an experience they won’t soon forget. The strawberry picking season is almost at a close for the summer (the window’s a very small one, beginning in April to the end of June), but don’t be disheartened because blueberries, blackberries and peaches are still plentiful and open for picking at many of the local farms throughout Georgia.Peach Picking 1

And guess what? Your day isn’t over yet. When you return home, should you want to stretch your fruit picking fun a little further, engage the help of the older kids (the younger ones too if you have the heart) to make jams, jellies and maybe even peach cobbler or ice cream.

To locate a U-pick farm that’s nearest you, check out helpful websites like pickyourown.org, which tells you, not only what’s available for picking throughout the year, by country and state or province, but also  gives you weather forecasts, tells you where you can find markets and roadside stands and even provides helpful recipes and fruit canning instructions.

And should you decide to go, I hope you have as much fun as we did.

To help pickle, jam or preserve your pickings, check out these DCPL offerings:

Foolproof Preserving from the editor’s at America’s Test Kitchen

Jar of Jam

Farm Fresh Georgia

Farm Fresh Georgia byJodi Helmer

Jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon

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Jun 10 2016

Your Favorite Flavor

by Dea Anne M

icecream2There was almost always ice cream in the refrigerator while I was growing up and it was always a welcome treat. All of us liked it…on that we could agree. What my brother and I could not agree on was what flavor of ice cream was the best. My brother championed chocolate. For me, it was strawberry all the way. I realize that this difference of opinion is about as important as who gets which side of the back seat of the car (and that ongoing discussion was a whole story in itself) but be assured that the two of argued about it often enough that my poor mother sought a respite by buying something called Neapolitan ice cream. If you’re unfamiliar with this “flavor” of ice cream, it’s chocolate, vanilla and strawberry layered side by side. My father would sometimes volunteer the opinion that Neapolitan was ice cream “that can’t make up its mind.” He also ventured to suggest that the whole point of such a thing was that one could have a sampling of all three flavors in one bowl or even in one spoon. Of course my brother and I knew the truth. The genius of the side-by-side format of Neapolitan lay in its ability to provide each person with her or his favorite. The physical evidence of our mutual conviction was starkly revealed when, on more than one occasion, an adult attached to the household would open the carton only to find a ridge of vanilla rising up from the bottom like a desolate mountain peak abandoned by time and humanity.

Okay. I’ll admit that I’ve already written about ice cream – as have other DCPL bloggers such as in this worthy entry and this one. I can’t help it though. When the weather gets hot, my culinary yearning turns (as in really sharp uey) toward the smooth, the sweet, the cold and I know that I’m not alone. One of my favorite websites, The Kitchn (and yes, I’m spelling that correctly) has been running a feature called “My Favorite Pint”  wherein they ask a variety of people about his or her favored ice cream. The results are, as you might imagine, all over the place. Blogger Joy Wilson, otherwise known as Joy the Baker, likes Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Author Rainbow Rowell is partial to Talenti’s Mediterranean Mint Gelato. (Talenti gelato pints come, by the way, in brown-lidded, clear plastic canisters that make, once empty and clean, surprisingly elegant containers for spools of thread and other small crafting supplies).  J. J. Johnson, chef at acclaimed Harlem restaurant The Cecil, likes plain vanilla Hagen-Dazs but he likes to add potato chips for, as he puts it, “some extra salty crunch.” And lest we veer too  close toward the readily available, pastry chef Dominique Ansel, inventor of that delicious hybrid the Cronut, loves the olive oil gelato from Otto in New York City. The pint costs $13 and you can only buy it from the restaurant but hey, when it comes to ice cream, one’s true love can never be denied.

I’m fortunate enough to own a small electric ice-cream maker and to sometimes have the time to make my own custom treats. However, I buy plenty of ice cream too and I most often find myself purchasing…vanilla! Like your never-fail wardrobe basic, vanilla just seems goes with everything from fresh strawberries to chocolate cake. When I make my own, I’ll either use seasonal fruit or search the internet or books for new ideas. Speaking of ice cream resources, here’s a few from DCPL.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream is a lovely volume from Laura O’Neill, Ben Van Leeuwen and Pete Van Leeuwen. The trio are the founders of the popular Brooklyn ice creamery whose empire includes a fleet of yellow ice cream trucks  in New York and Los Angeles. There are recipes here for vegan ice cream and granitas as well as dairy treats such Ceylon Cinnamon and Blueberry. Or try Lindsay Clendaniel’s Scoop Adventures: the best ice cream of the 50 states for intriguing sounding recipes such as Balsamic Fig and Popcorn as well as a peek inside ice cream parlors across the nation. Finally, check out Recipe of the Week: Ice Cream by Sally Sampson for delicious recipes which really will keep you supplied with a different frozen treat for each week of the year.

If you could invent your own ice cream flavor, what would it be? What’s your current favorite? Just for fun, here’s a quiz, again from The Kitchn, that reveals what your favorite flavor says about you. It is, as the writers admit, “strictly scientific.”

 

 

 

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