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

June 2016

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.


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