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Author Archive for Melody Dworak

Baking with Biscoff–the cookie spread that won’t quit!

by Melody Dworak on April 22nd, 2015
Baking with Biscoff–the cookie spread that won’t quit! Cover Image

Last month I wrote about my efforts to cook in big batches to make weeknight dinner decisions easier. Turns out, you can make breakfast for a week, too. This is not what I had set out to do when I picked up the Biscoff cookie and spread Cookbook, but it was a delightful fringe benefit.

What is Biscoff spread, you ask? In short: creamed cookies. The spread is as decadent as it sounds. In normal cookies, you have regular things like *air* taking up space, wasting precious room where sugar and fat could go. Biscoff spread wastes not a molecule, packing in sweetness at a 90 calories per tablespoon. Some people know the cookies as the ones they give out on airline flights. For me, the red, white, and tan jar of creamed goodness stared at me from the gifty section at the Bread Garden, and I had to try it.

The Biscoff Cookie and Spread Cookbook includes photos of desserts that look mouthwatering. You can see a few recipes on the Biscoff website, but these photos are nowhere near as scrumptious looking as the ones in the book.

Biscoff coffee cake

Biscoff coffee cake

The recipe I baked was the Biscoff coffee cake. The crumble topping itself contains two sticks of butter and lots of sugar. The cake part under the crumble held enough moisture that it did feel like it melted in my mouth.

I’m looking forward to future Biscoff baking Sundays!


Veggie Recipes for Big Batch Cooking

by Melody Dworak on March 31st, 2015
Veggie Recipes for Big Batch Cooking Cover Image

If it takes 90 days to create a new habit, then by-golly I may have just succeeded at one of my New Year’s Resolutions. This resolution was inspired by that 5 o’clock HANGRY feeling.

You get off work, drained from the day, and you have no energy or patience to deal with making cooking decisions. Eating–a core function of sustaining your existence–takes the backseat to meal prep, or arguing about meal prep, or whining about why you can’t ever eat the salad greens before they turn to slime.

The solution? Big batch cooking on the weekend, or whatever days off you might have. I’m happy to say this has worked for me for 13 weeks in a row. I use recipes from library cookbooks to shake up the flavors, only repeating my favorites. And I’ve started collecting these recipes by scanning the pages with Evernote’s Scannable app (Apple) and saving them to the Evernote Food app (Andoid, Apple).

Here are a few of the books and recipes that have allowed me to conquer the 5 o’clock HANGRY.  Read the rest of this entry »

Halp! I started a business in 2014. Where can I find tax info?

by Melody Dworak on March 13th, 2015
Calculator close-up

Photo by Phillip on Flickr.

Those new to filing taxes as a sole-proprietorship business owner or as someone who is self-employed have a few forms and resources they need to become familiar with.

If you are starting from the very beginning, you can visit the Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center, an information resource provided by the IRS. The information in this blog post comes from there.

This web page links to the primary forms and publications needed. Pay attention to the following:  Read the rest of this entry »


by Melody Dworak on February 26th, 2015
Trapped Cover Image

Here are four new memoirs that will make the able-bodied glad we’re only trapped by crappy winter weather.

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

A bizarre illness rendered Martin Pistorius immobile and incommunicado for 12 years. His family was told the teenager was going to die, but he survived in a vegetative state with no way to communicate. His family didn’t know he was cognizant for more than a decade. How do you cope when you are trapped inside your body? What do you do when the staff at the care center leave Barney reruns on for hours? This memoir shares his intense story. eBook available on OverdriveRead the rest of this entry »

Like Roz Chast? Consider these two books.

by Melody Dworak on January 27th, 2015
Like Roz Chast? Consider these two books. Cover Image

Roz Chast’s graphic memoir of taking care of her ailing parents has captured a lot of hearts in 2014. Can’t We Talking About Something More Pleasant? spent 20 weeks on the NPR Hardcover Nonfiction Bestseller list, and made Maureen Corrigan’s Favorite Books of 2014. Here at  the library, we could barely keep the book on the shelf and saw a surge in interest just after the New Year.


If you itching for more Chast, I have two books for you. 101 Two-Letter Words is a collaboration she did with Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields fame. Her expressive illustrations accompany the poems Merritt wrote to honor the 101 two-letter words allowed in Scrabble. With Chast’s illustrations and Merritt’s clever songwriting abilities, the book is sure to bring a ton of smiles. Read the rest of this entry »

How do I find out what channel the game’s on?

by Melody Dworak on December 12th, 2014

If you want to know *right now* what’s on television, click here.

If you want to know *in general* how to get TV listings online for Iowa City, an easy-peasy way is to go to the Iowa City Press Citizen website. Next click on the “Go Iowa City” tab at the top of the web page, and find “TV Channel Guide” on the left-hand side under “Quick Links”.

Happy channel-surfing!

Press Citizen Go Iowa City

How do I get a map of Iowa City?

by Melody Dworak on November 24th, 2014

Maps IowaFew places carry paper maps anymore. If you are looking for a map of Iowa City, you can turn to the Iowa Department of Transportation. They have a place on their website where you can look for maps of Iowa cities and counties. From this webpage, click the “City and county maps” link, and then find Johnson County. Clicking on the Johnson County shape takes you to where you can choose between Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty. Clicking on the name of the city will bring up a PDF that you can then see all of the roads in one view.

If you really wanted to see the whole thing on paper, you can print it on 25 different pages (Print –>Page Size/Handling–>Poster). Of if you are in the neighborhood of the Johnson County Administration Building during business hours, you can try to stop in to see if they have what you’re looking for. The Assessor’s Office should have a small map at the very least.


New digital magazines available

by Melody Dworak on October 31st, 2014
You can now check out the New Yorker from ICPL to read on your tablet. Instagram courtesy of Flickr user Steve Rhodes (ari).

You can now check out the New Yorker from ICPL to read on your tablet. Instagram courtesy of Flickr user Steve Rhodes (ari).

The Iowa City Public Library has added more than 30 new digital magazines this month. I am particularly excited that we were able to add great magazines by well-established publishers like Conde Naste and the Meredith Corporation, whose own headquarters are in Des Moines, Iowa.

Never used our digital magazines before? Get started with these instructions on how to use ICPL’s Zinio collection.

Read the rest of this entry »

Not that Kind of Book

by Melody Dworak on September 26th, 2014
Not that Kind of Book Cover Image

Lena Dunham’s book, Not That Kind of Girl, was just published, and the Library is getting ready to put it on the shelves. If you are a fan of the HBO show Girls or have a ticket to her event at the Englert on October 7 but can’t wait till then to start reading it, place a hold on a copy today.

I have had the chance to flip through parts of the essays while cataloging it, and it’s been quite a treat. She’s like the even-more-feminist David Sedaris.

How do I get the local TV channels without having cable?

by Melody Dworak on September 9th, 2014

TV antennaThis question came in on Saturday, and it was a ton of fun sleuthing it out.

Iowa City currently has 5 local television channels (4, 5, 10, 18, 21). These broadcast from Iowa City itself and are government or community channels like the City Channel, Library Channel, and PATV (public access).

The affiliate stations like CBS, ABC, FOX, and NBC broadcast from farther away, and that’s why they don’t come in as well without the right kind of antenna. PBS/IPTV is a little farther away as well, but word is it comes in a little better than the others. Read the rest of this entry »