Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Now that you're nearly finished digesting your luscious Thanksgiving meal, it's time to start thinking about the next round of holidays that are juat around the corner. (Though I'm sure some of you have been thinking about such things, willingly or otherwise, since at least Halloween.) Whether you're shopping your way through your family's holiday gift lists or lining up the menu for your perfect holiday meal, MCPL can help. Visit our Consumer LibGuide for reviews, tips to save money, and more. Use your library card to connect to our MasterFILE Premier database which contains (among other things), full text articles fro mseveral years worth of Consumer Reports. Of course, if you're still somewhat technologically challenged, you can still read the print version of CR at many of our branches. This LibGuide also contains links to an array of online consumer reviews from both professional reviewers, like Good Housekeeping, and the general public (like Amazon and Epinions). You can also check out Enoch Pratt Free Library's recession busting tips.
For those with holiday baking and cooking on their minds, MCPL has plenty to offer you as well. If you're looking for something different with perhaps a more international flair, check out the wide range of recipes in the the Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. This is just one of many resources contained in the Gale Virtual Reference Library. Of course, you can visit our our online periodical databases, MasterFILE Premier and General OneFile to search our extensive collections of online magazines and newspapers to find the perfect recipes for your holiday meal. Of course, don't forget to stop in and browse through the 641s for recipes for everything from apple pie to zucchini bread. Yum!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
This was an excellent summer for tomatoes on the farm. This year, I scaled back on the variety of items in the garden and just put in tomatoes, peppers and cutting flowers. It’s very exciting when the first little greenies begin to swell and ripen, but later I found myself inundated with many, many ripe red globes begging to be put to some use.
We ate a lot of fresh tomatoes and made gallons of fresh salsa using the jalapenos and the green peppers. The flowers came inside to brighten up spots all around the house. Although I planned to can tomato sauce, or marinated peppers, I just never got around to it. There's always next year, and here are some great resources for the home canner.
Canning and preserving home grown fruits and vegetables is becoming more and more popular as the locavore movement spreads. People may have small plots in their yards or even on their patio or deck. Here a few resources to help you realize a greater return from your gardening investment.
"Well Preserved" by Eugenia Bone is a collection of 30 small batch preserving recipes and 90 recipes in which to use the foods. In addition to canning, the book shows how to use methods like oil preserving and curing.
"Complete Book of Home Preserving" by Judi Kingry comes from Ball Home Canning Products, and is considered the canning bible for both beginners and experts. Over 400 recipes will give you just about everything you need to know to make full use of your homegrown fruits and veggies.
If you are more of a visual learner, the library also offers a DVD called "The Art of Canning.", which covers equipment needed, storage and cleaning everything as well as the basics of canning jam, pickles, vegetables, even eggs!
There are a couple of farm/ranch life blogs that I dip into on a regular basis - one is The Pioneer Woman, which is blogged by Ree Drummond. Drummond spun her very entertaining blog into a cookbook, and now a Food Network show. She has a section on canning that is just right for beginners, with a strawberry jam project. Strawberry jam is where I got my canning start - it's a good way to learn the basics.
Chickens in the Road is the site of a West Virginia blogger, Suzanne Mcminn. Suzanne moved to a small farm in rural West Virigina several years ago, and write about her adventures with goats, cows, the weather, her garden, and small town life. She has a great online community of like-minded people who share their advice and recipes, and a couple posts give the basics of canning, with lots of pictures and step by step instructions.
A tried and true friend to both farmers and suburban farm types is the local extension service. The UMD Extension Service offers advice on all kinds of topics, and held some classes earlier this year on various aspects of canning and preserving foods. They seem to be planning more classes later in the fall, but I'm not able to find specific dates - check back on their website. In the meantime, they have a nice powerpoint presentation called "Grow it, Eat It, Preserve It", which walks the viewer through the steps of both water bath and pressure canning.
No excuses for next year now!!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Can a small child thrive on a meal of two peas and a cupcake? I've been spending many mealtimes with my little grandsons lately and I can report the answer is yes. They are both healthy and thriving despite being picky eaters. I'm surprised they turned out this way because both parents are gourmet cooks and have always placed an interesting variety of healthy, real foods in front of them. Their likes and dislikes change constantly. Peas were a favorite one day and the next good only for use as projectiles across the table. That was a fun mealtime with grandma in charge! I was raised in the stern post-war "clean your plate and remember the starving children" style so I have difficulty resisting becoming the stereotypical nagging, bargaining grandmother: "just one more pea, and then you can have a cupcake."
The modern approach to forming healthy eating habits is to provide children with a variety of nutritious foods and then don't fuss over what and how much they eat. Pediatricians advise that the worst thing you can do is make mealtimes a battleground and power struggle. The children will win, perhaps with dire consequences in the future: eating disorders or obesity. I was once at a family dinner where a pediatrician with three children served lasagna, salad, and bread. One child ate only lasagna, one only salad, and one only bread. When they finished they could leave the table. It was a very calm, stress-free meal. The pediatrician explained that they ate what their bodies must need that day. Hungry children will eat anything. Ergo: if they don’t eat they aren’t hungry. I've started reciting the mantra "Oliver Twist, Oliver Twist" whenever I feel the temptation to urge my grandsons to eat up or else.
Many parents and grandparents find this a stressful issue, especially when busy schedules leave little time for cooking from scratch. And when news stories about childhood obesity foment anxiety. Fortunately the library has many books with ideas, advice, and easy recipes. One I found particularly helpful is Real food for Healthy Kids: 200+ easy, wholesome recipes by Tracy Seaman. Hungry Monkey: a food-loving father's quest to raise an adventurous eater by Matthew Amster-Burton, a food critic turned full-time Dad, is entertaining as well as informative. The Sneaky Chef: simple strategies for hiding healthy foods in kids' favorite meals by Missy Chase Lapine is indispensable. Just add shredded carrots and zucchini to that cupcake and it becomes a health food!
First Lady Michelle Obama was inspired to take the lead on educating parents and children about healthy eating and exercise after alarming statistics on the incidence of childhood obesity in the U.S. received widespread publicity. Her Let’s Move website has a wealth of information and resources for parents and links to the new dietary guidelines from the USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov
I raised my own children on some of the traditional English dishes like Toad-in-the-Hole. One day my daughter's friend stayed for dinner. When she went home her mother asked her what we had to eat. That mother wasted no time in getting on the phone and asking me in an alarmed tone "What did you give my child for dinner?" I hastened to assure her that toad was not actually involved in the recipe, just good old English bangers! I am waiting for my daughter to invite me to cook this treat for my grandsons. Then we'll find out just how fussy they are! Bon appetit.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
A BOOK of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
Sounds like an invitation to a picnic to me!
What do we need for a picnic? Food, an outdoor place in which to eat, and good company! Amusements, activities and ants are extra.
Originally, a picnic was a communal meal to which everyone contributed... what we today would call a potluck. Try The Garden Entertaining Cookbook for inspiration and whip up a batch of Basmati Rice Salad with Fresh Peas, Corn and Chives (page 100) to go with anyone else's main dish.
Where shall we eat? Especially with children, a short trip to a new a different (but not too different) place is fun and exciting. There are lots of free picnic locations in local parks and many of them have sports or other amusements for the family.
Why don't you read Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack to the youngest children before you go? You can make a game of finding things from the book at your picnic destination. And if the neighborhood is devoid of blankets, ducks, eggs, goats and hens, you can always make your own alphabetical list of facinating objects sighted.
But what about that book of verse? Omar Khayyam is classic, but he doesn't suit every occasion. Choose Books and Authors from our Reading & Literature resources and you can zero in on just the kind of rhyme (or free verse) that touches you.
And if Omar is your cup of tea, you can always download the "Rubaiyat" to your e-reader from Project Gutenberg.
What's left? Ants, of course! The kids will be facinated by Pestworld's take on ants.
Or, if it rains, pop in the classic movie "Picnic" or, for the kids, try this one!
Have a great summer!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
My own little plot of earth looks like a miniature prairie. Only the fittest and the strongest survive! I forage for wild arugula, dandelion leaves, Chinese leeks, bamboo shoots, gobo, fuki and...where is that tasty green we had last year? My child once asked, “Mommy, is this really safe to eat?” “But of course, dear, we use no pesticide or fertilizer.” I suppose I could add rabbit meat and venison on our dinner table, too, for the nourishment they seem to get from my prairie, but that will be another topic for this column.
Most of us won’t or can’t be organic farmers. But thanks to the library, at least we can read, listen and watch about others who took the leap.
In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Barbara Kingsolver described her own year-long experiment to grow what her family ate after moving from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia. She wrote, "Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we'd know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be ourselves as we learned to produce what we needed, starting with dirt, seeds, and enough knowledge to muddle through."
Before Kingsolver, there was The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and other books and documentary DVDs by Michael Pollan . If you are interested in reading more on the subject, Library Thing lists other titles under the subject locavore.
Or, we could just watch a documentary on a not-so-easy life of John Petersen on DVD, The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Here's a glimpse of the farmer on YouTube. Rotten Tomatoes gives 4 tomatoes (7.4 points out of 10)
EXTRA!! The University of Maryland Extension has information on local farms and their CSAs -- Community Supported Agriculture.
You might also want to check out organic gardening information for your own little plot (or pot?) of earth.
Montgomery County Public Libraries