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

November 2013

Nov 29 2013

The feast…and its aftermath

by Dea Anne M

By the time you read this post, Thanksgiving will have come and gone but it’s never too early to start thinking about next year.  Whether you host a big gathering for which you do all the cooking or you enjoy a potluck with friends, DCPL has resources to help you prepare the best holiday meal ever.

Let’s say you want to do a traditional Thanksgiving but it’s the first time you’ve siftonprepared it. Or maybe you’ve been asked to bring a dish and haven’t a clue as to how to make it. An excellent resource is Thanksgiving: how to cook it well by Sam Sifton. This is a calm, authoritative guide to everything Thanksgiving and could be the only Thanksgiving cookbook that you will ever need. Also well worth considering is How To Cook a Turkey: and all the other trimmings from the editors of  Fine Cooking magazine. A fine guide for beginners as well as experienced cooks, this book provides detailed instructions for all the well known holiday dishes.

Of course, not everyone wants to serve and eat a turkey. Maybe you are vegan bittmanor vegetarian or you just want to take the focus off of meat. For a really impressive compendium of vegetarian cooking, check out Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: simple meatless recipes for great food. This book has recipes for every vegetarian and vegan dish that you can imagine as well as excellent suggested menus. You’re sure to find plenty here to prepare the most festive of holiday feasts. And keep in mind The Heart of the Plate: vegetarian recipes for a new generation by Mollie Katzen. Katzen is the author of the well-regarded cookbooks The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and Still Life With Menu and this most recent volume is just as charming and visually appealing as the two older books with less of an emphasis on dairy products and eggs.

Of course, Thanksgiving usually means leftovers…lots and lots of bubblyleftovers…and for many of us that’s the best part of the holiday. When I was growing up my family would usually just make up plates of whatever each person liked best and reheat but you might want to transform your leftovers into something that doesn’t so much resemble the holiday meal. Many think that casseroles are the right and classic home for leftovers. If you agree, check out the pleasures contained within the pages of Bake Until Bubbly: the ultimate casserole cookbook by Clifford A. Wright and James Villas’ Crazy for Casseroles: 275 all-American hot-dish classics.

sandwichesMaybe you believe that soup is the proper vehicle for your leftover turkey (including homemade turkey stock!). Soup fans should check out The Best Recipe: soups and stews from the editors at Cook’s Illustrated magazine and Sunday Soup: a year’s worth of mouth-watering, easy to make recipes by Betty Rosbottom. Maybe you’re a member of the club that considers turkey sandwiches the absolute ultimate. If so, let me suggest Susan Russo’s The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches: recipes, history, and trivia for everything between sliced bread or Beautiful Breads and Fabulous Fillings: the best sandwiches in America by Margaux Sky.

What will I do with leftover turkey this year? Nothing! This week, I’m heading to my mom’s house and she has already announced that the menu is to be everybody’s favorite…lasagna.

How do you like your Thanksgiving leftovers?

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inside the tor binderyHave you ever wondered how books are made? Irene Gallo, Art Director for science fiction and fantasy publisher Tor Books, recently blogged about her visit to the Tor bindery, where huge, “door-stopper” books such as A Memory of Light are printed and assembled. Supplemented by copious photographs, Gallo takes us through the fascinating process by which pristine rolls of paper are turned into a finished book.

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Nov 25 2013

Time For Hand Turkeys!

by Joseph M

hand turkeyTurkeys have long been associated with Thanksgiving, and so it’s no surprise that one of the most popular Thanksgiving crafts for kids (and young-at-heart adults) is the hand turkey. To create a hand turkey, you start by placing a hand (palm down and fingers splayed) on a piece of paper. Next, you trace the outline of your hand, then embellish the outline so that it resembles a turkey, like this:

As you can see from my attempt on the right, you don’t need much in the way of artistic skill, just a vague idea of what a turkey looks like. There are many possible variations on this basic concept. This article showcases a myriad of impressive hand turkeys created in 2012.

It’s hard to say when the hand turkey first made its appearance, but this webpage offers an amusing fictional “history” of the hand turkey that you might enjoy perusing. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Nov 20 2013

National Bake Cookies Day

by Glenda

Christmas Cookies by Lisa ZwirnDecember 18th is National Bake Cookies Day. This comes at a wonderful time, because winter holiday celebrations are in progress. This gives everyone an opportunity to bake cookies. Cookies can be made from ready-made dough or from scratch. When deciding to bake cookies from scratch you may be at a loss for ideas. I suggest you visit your local library and pick up a few books on baking cookies. The joy of cookies by Sharon Tyler Herbst, The Christmas cookie book by Judy Knipe and Barbara Marks, Christmas cookies: 50 recipes to treasure for the holiday season by Lisa B. Zwirn, or Southern living best loved cookies: 50 melt-in-your-mouth Southern morsels are all wonderful books with excellent recipes for baking cookies. If you are more of a visual learner then check out Martha’s favorite cookies DVD, the DVD features thirty-three of Martha’s best cookie recipes. These are just a few of the wonderful items that are available to help make National Bake Cookies Day a success. Other ideas for National Bake Cookies Day are to have a Cookie Swap Party, make cookies for your local school, fire station or police station. I just can’t wait for December 18th. I can smell the cookies already, can’t you? My favorite cookie is the classic chocolate chip cookie, but I also like ginger snaps, lemon bars and oatmeal cookies without the raisins. Tell me your favorite cookie and/or post your favorite recipe.

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commandEric Schlosser’s new book keeps me up at night.

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser, that is.   He scared the willies out of me with Fast Food Nation and now this.   I do appreciate the way nuclear fission is explained fairly clearly for laypeople like me.  The book gives a brief history of the Manhattan Project and the events leading up to the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it relates frightening  tales of what has occurred since.

Here is Publisher’s Weekly‘s summary:

“In 1980 in rural Damascus, Ark., two young Air Force technicians (one was 21 years old, the other 19) began a routine maintenance procedure on a 103-foot-tall Titan II nuclear warhead-armed intercontinental ballistic missile. All was going according to plan until one of the men dropped a wrench, which fell 70 feet before hitting the rocket and setting off a chain reaction with alarming consequences. After that nail-biting opening, investigative reporter Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) goes on to tell the thrilling story of the heroism, ingenuity, mistakes, and destruction that followed. At intervals, he steps back to deliver an equally captivating history of the development and maintenance of America’s nuclear arsenal from WWII to the present. Though the Cold War has ended and concerns over nuclear warfare have mostly been eclipsed by the recent preoccupation with terrorist threats, Schlosser makes it abundantly clear that nukes don’t need to be launched to still be mind-bogglingly dangerous. Mixing expert commentary with hair-raising details of a variety of mishaps, the author makes the convincing case that our best control systems are no match for human error, bad luck, and ever-increasing technological complexity. “Mutually assured destruction” is a terrifying prospect, but Schlosser points out that there may be an even more frightening possibility: self-assured destruction.”

Mind-boggingly dangerous, indeed!  What is suprising to me is that we have been so lucky thus far.

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Nov 15 2013

The Employee Expo…check it out!

by Dea Anne M

Have you ever wondered what sort of interests and hobbies DCPL employees pursue in their spare time? Well, many of us enjoy making art and creating crafts of all sorts. You can see stellar examples of these at DCPL’s annual Employee Art Expo, now in its third year. Pieces on exhibit include photograpy. drawings, and needle work of all kinds. The display is up through November and many of the pieces are for sale. Proceeds from items sold will go to the DeKalb Library Foundation.

I will be participating in the Expo this year with a few knitted and crocheted pieces. I love both forms of needle work and regularly try to carve out some time to devote to one or the other.  Are you interested in learning to knit or crochet? Do you already know how but want to expand your needlecraft horizons? If so, DCPL can help.

crochetopediaIf you’re a beginner at crochet, consider Simple Crocheting: a complete how-to-crochet workshop with 20 projects by Erika Knight. Each project will teach you a particular stitch or technique. Projects range from simple hats to laptop cases and lace. For a more exhaustive reference full of instruction and fun projects ranging from easy to complicated, try Crochet-opedia: the only crochet reference you’ll ever need by Julia Oparka.

principlesBrand new knitters and knitting veterans alike will find an invaluable reference in The Principles of Knitting: methods and techniques of hand knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. This book has long been considered the authoritative manual on knitting technique. It has also been long out-of-print up until last year’s newly revised release. If you are interested (as I am) in color theory and how it applies to knitting, don’t miss The Alchemy of Color Knitting: the art and technique of mastering exquisite palettes by Gina Wilde.

Finally, for an excellent guide to needle work of all kinds, take a look at Michael’s Book of Needlecrafts: knitting, crochet & embroidery edited by Dawn Cusick and Megan Kirby. I have owned a copy of this for a number of years now, and I use it often.

Some branches of DCPL also offer free needle craft classes. At Decatur,  Crochet Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month. All skill levels are welcome. Every second Saturday, you can join the Creative Expressions Crocheting Group at Covington between the hours of 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Bring your current project to Clarkston on November 16th from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm for a meeting of the Knit and Crochet Club. The meeting is open to the first 15 participants but you must contact the branch to register.

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Nov 8 2013

Taking School Home

by Rebekah B

At the library, I often encounter homeschooling families.  In fact, a mom recently asked how she could make a donation to the library as a gesture of thanks for all of the great resources we have available  in our catalog or through our online reference data bases which help her teach her kids at home.  I had been searching the catalog prior to her visit, looking for items specially designed for homeschoolers.  I found a series of kits created by FLIP, the Family Literacy Involvement Program, made available to our library system through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  These kits are designed to support early learning and literacy through home and family-centered activities.  The kits contain books, activity guides, art and school supplies and other materials and are available to all patrons for checkout.  There is even a homeschooling page on the DCPL website containing books, reference databases, web links to outside resources, book club kits for kids (Book Buddies Take Out).  Another website I found called Homeschool World has a lot of resources for homeschool families including contact information for groups locally and around the world, events, teaching materials, contests, and articles.  Another fun site I found is an online art gallery for homeschooled budding artists.  Many museums, including the High Museum of Art,  have programs for homeschoolers.

web page

Homeschooling or un-schooling, as some people call it, is an increasingly popular trend in education.  For some, the desire to remove children from public or private collective establishments might be for religious or spiritual reasons, for others the choice might be motivated by social or philosophical reasons.  Some children have special needs to which a larger institution might not be able to effectively cater.  Families might wish to preserve a native language or languages by promoting multilingual skills.  Homeschooling allows parents as educators a great deal of flexibility in scheduling,  curriculum, dietary choices, and in the style and content of material presented.  It seems to me that creativity, freedom of expression, and flexibility are great advantages of this type of educational focus.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Judy_Garland_in_The_Wizard_of_Oz_trailer_2“Come out, come out, wherever you are and meet the young lady who fell from a star …”

When I found out that The Wizard of Oz would be coming out in 3-D to celebrate its 75th anniversary and that it would be shown in IMAX  theaters for only 1 week, I went ballistic.  I mean, I was frantic to get tickets.  It was Friday already, which meant it was opening day and probably the only day that I would be able to attend.

But would I be able to score tickets? I was certain it would be sold out if I waited and just showed up without tickets.  Surely there would be throngs  of other Oz afficionados waiting in line. Why, they would probably even be dressed up as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, or the Wicked Witch.  They might even bring their own Munchkins along with them, explaining how when  growing up they had to watch this  yearly tradition on a little black and white television.

“She fell from the sky, she fell very far …and Kansas, she says, is the name of the star …”

Alas, my companion and I were able to get in without a hitch:  there were only two other people in attendance! And this was at 4:30 on opening day. I was so disappointed. If there were any wild fans out and about, they were only there to see Vin Diesel in Riddick.

But the classic movie itself did not disappoint.  As soon as Leo the MGM Lion announced himself, I knew I was back and that this year the trip to Oz  would be spectacular.

Having  recently read the book Judy, by Gerold Frank, I was able to revisit some of the things I had heard and read over the years about the child actress Judy Garland and the making of the film that would make her a star.

Some interesting tidbits:  according to Judy, her ever-present companion in the film, Toto the terrier,  had horrible breath. All I could think about when I saw the film in IMAX 3-D was what a wonderful little actor Toto was and how he never seemed to miss any of his marks! I’d like to see a cat manage those stunts—don’t get me wrong, I’m a cat lover with three of my own—but there’s just no way.

Many  people have heard about the fact that Shirley Temple was the first pick  for the role of Dorothy. According to Hollywood’s First Choices by Jeff  Burkhart & Bruce Stuart,  not only was Judy Garland not the first choice for Dorothy, the Tin Man was originally played by Buddy Ebsen.  Unfortunately, though,  he had an extreme allergic reaction to the makeup and landed in the hospital. Jack Haley ended up with the role. W.C. Fields was first pick  for the Wizard, but he turned it down and it eventually went to the delightful Frank Morgan.

Now, about the urban legend that a munchkin can be seen hanging in the background of a scene:  I never heard about this until the age of the VCR and people’s ability to stop, rewind, play and slow-mo through movies. True, when I checked it out and researched it online, the scene did appear to have a silhouette of a person hanging in the far background. I can see where the rumor started!

But, according to snopes.com, the legend is not true—no desperate munchkin took their own life on the set of  the film!  The shadow was actually that of one of the many birds loaned to the film by the L.A. Zoo, most probably a crane spreading its wings.  But I do believe the rumor is a testament to how scared  some of us tots were with parts of this film!  The Wicked Witch had me and the Tin Man and plenty of children all over the world just shivering and clattering.

“Kansas, she said, was the name of  the star …”

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Nov 1 2013

Marcella says…

by Dea Anne M

On September 29th, one of the great culinary lights passed away. Marcella Hazan was 89 years old, and since the late 1970’s has been considered by many (very many) to be the absolute authority on authentic Italian cooking.  While some people found her difficult, Hazan did not suffer fools gladly and was notably impatient. Her precision and genius level palate made her a revered figure in the culinary world.
essentials

Marcella Hazan (nee Polini) was born in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and trained as a scientist, graduating with a doctorate in biology and natural sciences. Up until her marriage in 1955 to Victor Hazan, she had never done any cooking. She did, however, grow up in a family of talented and enthusiastic cooks and her taste memories served her well once she and her husband moved to New York City shortly after their marriage. Hazan found that she could easily reproduce the dishes that she had grown up with in Italy. Eventually, she began giving cooking lessons in her apartment and in 1969 she opened The School of Classic Italian Cooking. Soon, she came to the attention of Craig Claiborne, then the food editor of the New York Times, who did a story about her. A book contract soon followed and in 1973 The Classic Italian Cook Book appeared. More Classic Italian Cooking came out in 1978. Combined into one book, the two volumes became Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking which came out in 1992 and remains the authoritative resource for Italian cuisine. Hazan retired in 1998 and moved with Victor to Longboat Key, Florida but even then another cookbook was to follow (from which I have gratefully borrowed this post’s title). Marcella Says…Italian cooking wisdom from the legendary teacher’s master classes is the book that Hazan
decided to write when she could no longer find the type of authentic ingredients that came so easily to her in New York City.

marcellaIn a time when cooking shows are all the rage and people like Lidia, Mario, and Giada enjoy celebrity status, it might be difficult to comprehend the enormous impact that Hazan’s Essentials… had on the American culinary scene. Polenta, risotto, braised squid, and sauteed swiss chard were a revelation to palates long accustomed to the type of Italian-American cooking associated with spaghetti and meatballs and pizza. Along with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Hazan’s books revolutionized the way in which Americans ate and cooked. Though some of Hazan’s recipes are complicated, many more are incredibly simple. Take her recipe for Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter. It consists of a 28 ounce can of tomatoes, an onion peeled and cut in half, butter, and salt. That’s all…no garlic, no crushed red pepper, no grated carrot or zucchini. You gently simmer for 45 minutes, put the sauce on cooked pasta, eat it, and (as someone who has made this sauce many times) become very, very happy. Hazan’s classic recipe for pork loin braised in milk is another favorite of mine for dinner parties. It looks and tastes complex but is actually as easy as can be (and absolutely delicious!).

cucinaAlso available at DCPL are Marcella’s Italian Kitchen  and Marcella Cucina, which won both a James Beard Award and a Julia Child Award in 1997.

For a moving tribute to Marcella Hazan and her influence, check out this piece written by David Sipress for the New Yorker.

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