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

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.



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?



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


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.”





Jun 9 2016

Firefly Season

by Joseph M

firefliesOne of my favorite things about this time of year is seeing the twinkling of fireflies in the evenings. I’ve been fascinated by these bioluminescent insects ever since childhood and never tire of watching them while out walking on balmy summer nights.

In addition to enjoying their brilliant displays, I’ve long found it interesting that they are known as both fireflies and lightning bugs. I mostly call them fireflies but occasionally say lightning bugs as well, and apparently I’m in good company. This article from 2013 discusses a study wherein over 10,000 Americans were polled about their preferred term. 39.8% of respondents use both names interchangeably, while 30.4% use just firefly and 29.1% use just lightning bug. There is even a map included so you can see how the results vary by region.

Whatever you call them, you can read more about these intriguing creatures by perusing DCPL’s books on the topic.

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Jun 6 2016

And The Survey Says…

by Camille B

Scoreborad 1The Family Feud has always been one of my favorite game shows, and I assume it has been for millions of other viewers as well.

But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been curious about the research they did for the questions they asked.  Exactly who are these hundred nameless, faceless people that they interview to come up with those top answers?

We all know the catch phrases well: We surveyed one hundred people; top answers are on the board or We asked one hundred men what was the worst gift they ever gave their wife…

Who are these hundred people and where do they find them?

A simple question I know, the answer won’t change my life in any significant way, nor anyone else’s for that matter, but I’m curious all the same.

What I do know is this, I have never been one of those hundred people myself, have you? I have never been randomly approached by someone on the street and asked to name a reason why a baby might be cranky; or have someone come up to me at the mall and ask me to give a woman’s name beginning with “J.” So if not me or you, who are they asking?

When I began doing a little research of my own, I soon discovered that there was surprisingly, very little information on the topic; most people who were as curious as I was, found their answers in the same place I did, an article in the WSJ’s back in 2008.

According to this research, the way the poll is taken today has changed as compared to earlier years when the show first started, where the surveys were taken among viewers themselves who had volunteered to be on the show’s mailing list.

Today it’s done through a hired polling firm who conducts the surveys by telephone. The surveyors don’t disclose that it’s Family Feud (I guess the answers might be more outrageous if they did) and the respondents are asked 30 to 40 questions submitted by writers and consultants for the show. How do they get them to stay on the phone for that long? I have no idea.

Apart from game shows there are many different types of surveys conducted everyday for, well just about everything; from things that can actually be quite helpful to someone in the long run, to the compiling of senseless data that at the end of the day turns out to be quite useless.

We have business or marketing polls, phone surveys, internet polls, magazine surveys, and employee surveys. You can even get paid by companies to take their surveys online. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can go to one of those user friendly websites like Survey Monkey and Survey Gizmo and create a survey of your own.

Are these surveys always accurate and efficient? According to an article in This Nation.com, they can be when conducted properly. “To be accurate, the questions on a survey must be asked of a group of people–what pollsters call a sample–that is representative of the larger population. The questions themselves must also be good indicators of the opinions or attitudes the pollster is trying to measure and the questions must also be asked consistently from one person to the next.”

So maybe the next time the phone rings, and you’re hastily trying to get rid of the person on the other end- who you’re certain is a telemarketer or bill collector- pause for a moment and think, they just might have 30 or 40 interesting questions to ask you.

Polls & Surveys: undertsanding what they tell us– Norman M. Bradburn/ Seymour Sudman

The Super Pollsters: how they measure and manipulate public opinion in America- David W Moore







May 27 2016

Consider the Lawn

by Dea Anne M

I spent a number of what you might call my “formative years” in Orlando, Florida and most of those in a vast (or what seems vast in memory) housing development called Conway Estates. All of the houses were single family, most followed the sprawling ranch-type silhouette and all were surrounded with lush, velvety lawns. My father, who wasn’t the most enthusiastic person in the world regarding yard work, did his part to keep our lawn up to the neighborhood standards, but he certainly didn’t do more than that. I don’t know that there was actually some sort of covenant regarding lawn upkeep in the neighborhood, but I do know that we were surrounded everywhere by identical swaths of emerald – weedless, wide open carpeting ideal for croquet or just impromptu gymnastics. As a kid, I thought it was pretty perfect. Of course, I wasn’t the one taking care of it. These days lets just say that I have a lawn and maybe leave it at that.

According to Ted Steinberg in American Green: the obsessive quest for the perfect lawn, there’s an estimatedgreen twenty-five to forty million acres of turf in the United States (this was in 2006) on which is spent about $40 billion a year. Of course, some of this grass is being used for golf courses or athletic fields but it still seems safe to say that a lot of Americans just love their lawns. Indeed, for many of my father’s generation and before a beautiful lawn has often been a badge of success…of having “made it” and for good reason. This thing that we call a “lawn”  seems to have begun appearing on the estates of British aristocrats and quite naturally required more than a fair amount of hired labor to maintain. It’s easy to imagine that this verdant symbol of wealth and ease of living eventually migrated to this country as a highly desirable goal, especially once the suburban lifestyle became thoroughly entrenched and, supposedly, erased once and for all differences of class and ethnic origin. Ironically, the vast majority of the grass species that we cultivate as lawns in this country originated elsewhere – as did most of the people who live here now.

Now you may be solidly pro-lawn or very much against them or have no real opinion either way. While I firmly believe in the personal freedom of the individual and that we must each decide for ourselves what goals are worth pursuing, I do know that when my family finally moved to the country the summer I entered high school – and into a house surrounded by woods left emphatically unlandscaped – my father declared that “I never want to mow another lawn!” and as far as I know he never did.

These days though I still admire a beautifully manicured lawn, I tend to appreciate a clever or aesthetically pleasing combination of varied elements more than I do a large, well-regulated stretch of grass. In fact, most of my schemes for my own yard currently seem to currently involve having less of the grass and more of everything else. And a large part of that “everything else” includes fruits and vegetables. That’s one reason that I found this recent story from the NPR website about the Fleet Farming project  so interesting and, given the number and content of the comments, I’m not the only one. I know that not everyone will agree with me, but I just love the idea of giving over some of the yard to edibles. Of course, the fact that a team of volunteers puts in and maintains these gardens no doubt makes it much easier for these homeowners to participate in the project since vegetable gardening can represent a significant expense of money and time. Of course, I think what most amuses me about the article is that this successful project originated, and is expanding, in Orlando, Florida which will forever remain in my memory as “The Land of the Lawn.”

As readers of this blog may know, I’ve maintained my own vegetable garden for several years, but more and more I’m trying to think of ways to incorporate edible plants into the existing landscape in a pleasing way. If you think you’d like to do the same, allow me to recommend these excellent resources from DCPL.

foodscapingWith its beautiful photographs and lush, poetic descriptions, Ivette Soler’s Edible Front Yard: the mow-less, grow-more plan for a beautiful, bountiful garden is definitely a great source for inspiration. No less inspirational but perhaps a bit more focused on the practical aspects of edible gardening is Foodscaping: practical and innovative ways to create an edible landscape by Charlie Nardozzi. For a more nuts and bolts approach, try Barbara Pleasant’s Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 no-fail plans for small organic gardens. While most of these terrific plans focus on the classic backyard vegetable garden, Pleasant includes plans for a Bountiful Border and a Front Yard Food Supply garden either of which look as though it would fit in beautifully to the more publicly visible areas of your yard. I especially appreciate that many of Pleasant’s plans are broken down to be installed over the course of three or four years so that you don’t feel as though you have to accomplish everything all at once.

Maybe you like your lawn just as it is or you don’t have one. If you have more limited space to grow, say a balcony, walldeck or windowsill – or you just appreciate (as do I) the look of containers check out Edward C. Smith’s The Vegetable Container Gardener’s Bible: how to grow a bounty of food in pots, tubs and other containers. And if the only space for your gardening is…well…up then I would urge you to take a look at the gorgeous and practical book Grow a Living Wall: create vertical gardens with a purpose by Shawna Coronado.

What’s your opinion on lawns? Would you choose a lawn over a garden or do you want both?



May 25 2016

Are You a Die Hard Fan Like Me?

by Jencey G

How many of you were excited last December when the new Star StarWars 1Wars film The Force Awakens opened in theaters?  Are you feeling the blues now waiting for the next Star Wars film to be released?  Did you know that we have much to offer at DCPL with Star Wars movies, books, and more?

Star Wars Allegiance by Timothy Zahn

Star Wars Art: Visions by George Lucas and JW Rinzler

Star Wars, Attack of the Clones: Incredible Cross Sections by Curtis Saxton

Star Wars, Attack of the Clones: Visual Dictionary by David West Reynolds

Star Wars, Blast Off A Doring Kindersley Reader

Star Wars, Cloak of Deception by James Luceno

Star Wars, Complete Cross Sections by David West Reynolds

StarWarsAftermathThese books cover information about all of the movies except The Force Awakens.  With these titles, you have a chance to explore other possibilities and go on further adventures with your favorite characters.  I remember after seeing the The Force Awakens feeling withdrawal because I wanted to see more and learn more about these characters.  I, like everyone else, will be marking my calendar until the next film is released.

I first learned about Star Wars when I was a little kid and my father took me to see the original movies.  For me, they were like fairy tales with a handsome prince or scoundrel, if you like Han Solo.  The princess of course is Leia.  Then you have the Queen Amidala who is rescued by the Jedi warrior Anakin Skywalker.

So happy reading! And may the Force be with you!


May 16 2016

1,000 Books and Mrs. Kimbrall

by Hope L

1000books_1DeKalb County Public Library and the DeKalb Library Foundation have launched the wonderful  1000 Books Before Kindergarten program and it has made me think that  I’d like to focus on reading more myself.

I wonder if I could launch my own campaign, say, A 1000 Books Before I Retire, or A 1000 Books I Really Should Have Read While in School, or even A 1000 Books I Shall Read Before I Go to the Big Library Upstairs.

When I think of the earliest books I enjoyed, I think of the Dick and Jane and Spot books, and of course, Dr. Seuss and Curious George. These books bring back memories of the smell of paste and working with construction paper, painting pictures and all the fun stuff we did in kindergarten.  Prior to that I don’t remember much except for digging a deep hole outside by my dollhouse with a spoon from the kitchen drawer while Mom would hang up the laundry.

I don’t believe anything too highbrow came through our household at that time, probably the lone classics being my brothers’ copy of  “The Last of the Mohicans,” or “Treasure Island,” which of course were way above my level of reading.  My parents used to read their paperback novels in bed while we kids watched TV.

And so it was with a pinch of luck later on that I was allowed to select a title  from my fifth grade teacher’s collection of paperbacks, which she invited us all to do as she was leaving after that year.

Mrs. Clarissa Kimbrall was retiring.

Grand Canyon School’s elementary students’ greatest fear was the mere presence of Mrs. Kimbrall.  At some 5’5″ tall, with her stern wardrobe of a floral dress, light pastel sweater, hose and military-cum-old lady shoes, her intimidating stature struck terror in even the wildest or toughest juvenile delinquent or goody-two-shoes alike.  Everyone in our elementary school got a knot in the pit of their stomachs when they thought about Mrs. Kimbrall waiting for them when they, too, finally reached the fifth grade.

We were so … um … fortunate to be blessed to be the final class to have Mrs. Clarissa Kimbrall at Grand Canyon School, in Grand Canyon, Arizona.

But along with everybody else, I stayed awake nights dreading the next day with Mrs. Kimbrall.  It was when worry was formally born in my psyche.  But we all lived to tell the story.

When somebody would have a birthday Mrs. Kimbrall would break out her infamous raisin cupcakes with pink frosting that were tough as a cheap steak. But we politely ate and smiled, for to leave that ‘treat’ (read: rock)  uneaten – that which the old woman would bake once a year (it might’ve been years before!) and would store in her freezer to bring every birthday – would be to face the wrath of Clarissa Kimbrall.

One never knew what the day would bring:  would Rusty Kemper fall asleep during reading?  Would Mrs. Kimbrall herself nod off whilst reading aloud to us from “The Hardy Boys’ Mysteries,” her pinky finger gently resting at the side of her nostril just so?  Would the class giggle and act up and awaken Mrs. Kimbrall, who would then unleash her wrath upon everyone?

But besides the gifts of respect, awe and terror, Mrs. Kimbrall gave me my first book.  Sure, I had books that were hand-me-downs from my three older brothers, and I read their “Boys’ Life” magazines, but this book that I selected from Mrs. Kimbrall’s large collection was my own personal book, my first.

And the book I chose was … “The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek,” by Evelyn Sibley Lampman.  I shall never forget it … or Mrs. Kimbrall and her raisin cupcakes.


These days, I seem to prefer pursuits that continue to teach me something over the course of time and gardening has certainly been one of those. I’ve been a serious vegetable gardener for close to ten years now, and I think that I’ve learned something significant and new during each growing season. Of course, gardeners used to learn primarily by living in families and  communities where other people had gardened as well and were able to share the deep knowledge that comes from long experience with a particular land and climate. I haven’t had that in my life, so I’ve had to seek out my own gardening community through books and the internet.

A problem I have found in reading about gardening is regional bias. For whatever reason, many American gardening experts have historically focused on the Northeastern part of the country and, to a latter degree, the Pacific Northwest. On the surface, it’s easy to see why this should be so. There is, I think, a popular perception that the mild winters and ample year-round sunlight we enjoy in the Southeast render gardening completely problem-free. You’ve only to try your hand at growing English peas or cauliflower to understand that this is hardly the case. Advice, useful to many but not to me, abounds. “Wait to plant until the soil can be worked easily.” Well, around here the soil can be worked all year round, so when do I plant?

Some statements just flat-out don’t apply to this part of the country at all. “In August, an absolute bumper crop of tomatoes will start rolling in. You’ll barely be able to keep up with the abundant harvest. Talk about seeing red!” While I’m sure that’s true in many places, in my zip code the heat in August can be almost unbearable and mytimber tomatoes tend to shut down and wait it out. In August, my primary tomato concern is keeping the plants from dropping too many blossoms so that they’ll start producing again when the weather finally cools down.

Growing lettuce in July? Forget it! I am an inveterate lover of salads as well as all things tomato, so you can imagine my elation when I discovered The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast by Ira Wallace. If you too are a Southern vegetable gardener, I cannot recommend this book enough. The book addresses general gardening concerns such as soil quality and watering methods (and quite completely too, I might add) then moves on to provide an extraordinarily useful guide to what you should be doing, planting and harvesting every month of the year. It turns out that even lettuce can be grown through the summer with some thoughtful techniques (refrigerating seeds, cooling the soil with cardboard and planting in the shade of larger plants are some of these). The final section of the book addresses individual vegetables and makes recommendations about which tastevarieties do particularly well here. Plus, rather than lumping “the South” into one homogeneous mass, Wallace makes distinctions between the Upper South and the Lower South. This is a good thing because the growing conditions in a place like Cucumber, West Virginia are bound to be very different from those experienced in Bayou Cane, Louisiana. Ira Wallace is a Master Gardener in Virginia and helps to run the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. She is well known in the seed saving community and her book includes useful guidance on how to save your own vegetable seeds.

Seed saving in itself is a fascinating subject which carries a great deal of history. Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste: heirloom seed savers in Appalachia by Bill Best is  an absorbing history of Southern Appalachian heirloom varieties of beans, corn and tomatoes and of the people who have cherished and preserved them through time. I find the the names alone – Greasy Pod Pole Bean, Bloody Butcher Dent Corn, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato – enchanting.

Of course, if your vegetable gardening goes well (or your vegetable shopping for that matter), you’ll have a lot of produce to cook up. Here are a few resources available from DCPL that can help you do just that.fork

Local (ish) chef, Hugh Acheson is known for his award-winning restaurants in Athens, Atlanta and Savannah as well as his cookbooks.  His latest offering,  The Broad Fork: recipes for the wide world of vegetables and fruits is full of seasonally appropriate ideas for using garden bounty any time of year. Not only will you find recipes incorporating the South’s beloved tomatoes and peaches, you’ll also find some great ideas for using veggies that may be less familiar such as kohlrabi and ramps.

Steven Satterfield is chef at Atlanta’s celebrated Miller Union and has been called a “vegetable shaman” by no less an authority than The New York TimesRoot to Leaf: a southern chef cooks through the seasons is Satterfield’s homage to the vegetables that he clearly loves. The excellent text works beautifully with the stunning photographs and the recipes appear to be delicious without being overly fussy. Check out this Miller Union vegetable plate as featured in a Southern Living magazine a few summers back.

masteringMastering the Art of Southern Vegetables by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart deals with vegetables and only vegetables and the southern spin here is undeniable. Dupree and Graubart, James Beard Award winners and long time collaborators,  have organized their book by vegetable rather than season – a plus on those days in the kitchen when you’re faced with an acorn squash or a dozen zucchini. In any case, you have to figure that any cookbook featuring lady peas (my personal favorite) along with nine recipes for okra and four for sweet potatoes must mean serious Southern cooking business.

How about you? Do you have a favorite southern vegetable? Are you thinking about a garden of your own?