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Dinner at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market

by Kara Logsden on June 9th, 2015
Dinner at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market Cover Image
Dinner at the Market

Dinner at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market

Wednesday nights are Farmer’s Market nights and that often means dinner at The Market for our family. Whether it’s food trucks or food from vendors, there’s a lot yummy decisions to make. The good news is, when there are so many choices, everyone is happy. When there’s Market Music it’s a great night to sit back, relax, people watch and enjoy the great food.

Recently I was pondering some of the delicious braided bread I purchased and wondering if I could make this bread at home. My son loved pulling the bread apart and eating it in chunks. He said it tasted like a pretzel without the salt. The part of the loaf that did make it home was delicious toasted and topped with butter and cinnamon sugar. The savory loaf I purchased was also delicious. When I cut it diagonally it was tasty as a sandwich.

But I digress … When I was in graduate school I used to make bread regularly. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking in the kitchen and the taste of fresh bread slathered with butter. The call number for cookbooks related to making bread is 641.815. There are many wonderful books there to help with bread baking. I found one in particular that I’m interested in: The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. There’s a recipe for Pretzel Buns. Looks yummy!

See you at The Market!

 

 

Go for a run!

by Candice Smith on June 3rd, 2015
Go for a run! Cover Image

June 3rd is National Running Day!

Why on Earth, you might ask? Why celebrate an activity that, among other things:

  • is insanely hard for many (I’ve run for years, and it’s still really hard most of the time. People tell you it gets easier. People lie.);
  • can make you feel uncoordinated and inferior to others (I’m really slow…my pace doesn’t qualify me as a ‘real’ runner in certain circles;
  • doesn’t always seem to bring positive benefits or change (running makes he hungry, I eat more, I don’t lose weight. And, after all that running I always end up…back home, where I started);
  • makes you look pretty awful during and after (I not only have a shorts tan line, but also a lovely one from my headband. Nice.);
  • hurts. During, it can hard to breathe, my right knee sometimes aches, I roll my left ankle, and I get chafed. After, my muscles are sore and sometimes swollen, my hips are unyielding, and if you’re really good, you might lose some toenails).

But don’t get me wrong. Running can be a fantastic activity–it must be, if I continue to do it, right?. It relieves stress, helps increase bone density and strengthen muscles, improves your cardiovascular system, causes the release of endorphins, gives you the opportunity to meet people in your community (other runners, race organizers and spectators, EMTs), and gets you outside and on the trails, on the sidewalks, into nature. You get to set goals and achieve them on your own schedule, for your own reasons. Running can make you stronger, healthier, and happier. Honest.

So go on, give it a try. If you’ve ever driven past a runner and wondered briefly ‘hmmm…would I like that?’, today is your day to find out! Get out for a quick jog, do a run-walk, run some sprints, or go long. Run down to the Library and grab a book about running that will help you get started, train for a race or improve your form, or give you some insight into runners and why they do it.

 

A basket full of memories

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 2nd, 2015

There’s a woven basket in my living room that it a catch-all for all the things that don’t have a set destination: magazines, mail, papers I’ll get to eventually. basket

The basket was purchased at The City Market in Kansas City nearly 15 years ago. When we bought it, it was to hold our son’s building blocks (though we still tripped over them more often than not). Over the years, its uses have ranged from toy storage to cat bed to the-kitchen-table-is-covered-with-stuff-so-use-the-basket.

I love this basket. It has survived four moves, three cats and two toddlers. There’s not a lot of furniture in my house that can make that claim.

Farmers markets are great places to find items like baskets, benches and trunks that you didn’t know you needed until you see it. I love that such finds are crafted by local artisans because no matter how many craft books I check out from the Library, the only things I can make without throwing a minor temper tantrum is a bookmark.

(This is not an exaggeration. I took a knitting class almost two years ago and the scarf I started it still on the needles because I ran out of yarn and didn’t know what to do next.)

What’s your favorite non-food farmers market find?

 

Interior Decorating @ICPL

by Melody Dworak on May 27th, 2015
Interior Decorating @ICPL Cover Image

One of the things I like about being both a book buyer and a cataloger (the person who says where to put the books in the stacks) is that I get to see all the new nonfiction books come in—especially those books that are in demand. This means that I see a ton of cookbooks that make my mouth water before lunchtime, as well as other new books that tempt me to click that “Place a Hold” button in the catalog.

Today, cataloging Terence Conran’s new books Conran on Color made me remember what an awesome interior design collection we have. When it is not checked out, it will be living with the other interior decorating books about color with the 747.94s on the second floor. Our general interior decorating section starts with the 747s.

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few recommendations from the shelves: Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes It’s Good to be Bad

by Mimi Blankenship Coupland on May 26th, 2015

Underneath my mild-mannered librarian persona, I must be a covert criminal.  Not only do I revel in action movies where lots of things get blown up, I also read a fair amount of fiction from the “Dark Side” point of view.  Therefore, contrary to our Summer Reading Program‘s superhero theme, these books offer a fun way to be a felon vicariously.

Good Thief's Guide.phpWhen a title begins with “A Good Thief’s Guide to. . .”, a certain plot is expected:  something will be stolen and complications will occur.  After all Charlie Howard, whose day job is writing novels about a burglar, is only a good thief, not an excellent one.  What is unexpected is the wry humor that Chris Ewan uses to navigate the various circumstances in each specific location.

Heist Society.phpThe Heist Society series by Ally Carter also mixes humor and action with criminality.  After 15 years of a larcenous lifestyle with her family, Kat Bishop uses her skills to escape to an elite boarding school where she believes she can have a normal life.  Very shortly thereafter, her best friend Hale arrives with the news that her father has been framed for a theft, allegedly one only he has the skills to commit.  Can Kat and her crew make things right and save the day?  Most likely.  But it’s the daring escapades used to accomplish this that will keep the pages turning and make you wish you could join the team.

Artemis Fowl.phpAt age 12, Artemis Fowl II is already a master villain, definitively overshadowing his father’s modest criminal enterprises and earning millions in the process.  He uses his ill-gotten gains to fund his obsession with fairies.  When he tries to and succeeds in kidnapping one in order to prove their existence, mayhem ensues.  Artemis must use his formidable intellect to outwit the magical realm and gain his heart’s desire.  This initial book in the eponymous series by Eoin Colfer caused me to check out the next one immediately for more shenanigans.  The first four are also available as graphic novels.

Fast and Furious.phpLastly, this blog would not be complete without a mention of the Fast and Furious movie franchise.  The story begins with Paul Walker as an undercover police officer tasked with locating a gang of high-speed thieves.  After acquiring a tricked-out car, he successfully infiltrates the street racing scene and “the family”.  The action accelerates from there and into each subsequent film.  Fueled by fast cars filled with pretty people, this series is a joyride.

Check these out to see how the other “evil” half lives!

Trying New Ingredients

by Anne Mangano on May 26th, 2015
Trying New Ingredients Cover Image

I always found spring the hardest season for cooking. Fall has an abundance of squash and sweet potatoes. You can do so much with summer tomatoes and eggplant. But spring, there are lots and lots of greens. And asparagus. You eventually grow tired of both. However, one of my favorite things about the Farmers Market is exploring new ingredients, which matches nicely with one of my favorite things about the library’s cookbook collection: finding new recipes. And through both of these Iowa City institutions, I’ve learned that I am wrong about spring. There are many ingredients available and dishes to make with them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hampton Sides

by Tom Jordan on May 18th, 2015

A friend recommended Blood and Thunder: an epic of the American West to me awhile back, but I was reluctant to read it.  It had been some time since I had read a history and had unreservedly enjoyed it.  Take Charles Mann’s 1491 and 1493, for example.  They’re both great.  You will be enlightened, and you will learn all sorts of fascinating things if you read them.  I’ll go ahead and say that you will be a better person.  But I’d guess that you’ll also find the level of detail tedious at times.blood_and_thunder

My experience with Hampton Sides has been different.  He is a master storyteller.

In Blood and Thunder, Sides focuses on the American Southwest from the 1840s to the 1860s and on the life of Kit Carson in particular. Carson participated in the conquest of the West and gave his loyalty to the American military and government. He also married two Indian women and spoke many Indian languages. Popular westerns of the time – blood and thunders they were called – portrayed Carson as a swashbuckling hero protecting settlers from marauding Indians. More contemporary histories have tended to the reverse these roles. Sides is more interested in telling stories about human beings whose actions and motivations are complex and develop over time. The story of the Navajo people and their land is particularly interesting.hellhound

Hellhound on his Trail is both history and true crime, and it’s riveting. Martin Luther King, Jr’s last days are chronicled and details of his assassin’s life and flight from justice are doled out at a measured pace. The manhunt for King’s killer, who had been living under an alias or two, was massive, and it eventually reached overseas. Please note that Sides gives no credence to the government conspiracy theory of the assassination, so you’ll have to look elsewhere (one-star Amazon reviews) if you’re inclined that way.

kingdom_of_iceI’ll give his latest, In the Kingdom of Ice, another thumbs up. I’m about a third of the way into it, and I’ve never looked forward more to hearing about shivering, miserable sailors in the Arctic. The mission was operating on the notion that there might very well be an open polar sea. There was a current in the Pacific Ocean, it was thought, similar to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, and that current was flowing through the Bering Strait and warming the Arctic Ocean at the Pole. They imagined the wonders.

Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life

by Katherine Habley on May 16th, 2015
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life Cover Image

Many of you know that I am a huge Beatrix Potter fan and as a children’s librarian, have been charmed by her 23 small books about Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny and her other animal friends for many years.  I have collected Beatrix Potter books and related merchandise my entire career and have displayed my collection at the Iowa City Public Library and the Coralville Public Library.  So when I accidentally came across Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life:  The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales, needless to say, I was thrilled.  Oh, and did I tell you that I am a flower gardener?  Author Marta McDowell from the New York Botanical Garden gives an account of the famous children’s writer and illustrator’s life.  Included in the book are old photographs, quotes from Potter’s books, letters, book illustrations, journal entrees, and her beautiful watercolor sketches of flowers and book characters. The second part of the book is a seasonal overview of what is blooming in Potter’s gardens at Hill Top Farm and her other properties in the Lake District of England.  The book culminates in a traveler’s guide with information about visiting Potter’s home and gardens today.  Readers may not have known that Beatrix Potter left her privileged life in London to farm, raise sheep, write, garden, and conserve the beautiful landscapes in the north of England.  Most impressive are all the thousands of acres of land she left to the National Trust upon her death.  I’ve read several biographies about Beatrix Potter so I didn’t learn anything new about her life; however, her passion for gardening and the expert information by the author, a consulting horticulturalist, was most informative and a pleasure to read.  Someday I hope to travel to the Lake District and visit Hill Top Farm and before I do, I’ll re-read this fascinating book.

Smoke & Spice Updated

by Kara Logsden on May 16th, 2015
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We have a new smoker/grill at our house, just in time for summer. Our challenge now is to learn how to use it. Have no fear, the Library is here! We’ve had some delicious meals including Slaw Burgers (a family favorite of smoked pork on a bun with traditional cole slaw), marinated smoked vegetables and some great salmon. Now we’re ready to try some new meals.

A quick search of the Library’s catalog shows there are many books to help learn how to use a smoker. Subject headings of “Barbequing” and “Smoked Foods” were most helpful. I found a new book, Smoke and Spice 3rd Edition, that had some great recipes. Two recipes looked especially good – Peabody-Style Stuffed Onions and Deep-Dish Smoked Mozzarella Pizza. Yummy!

If you are ready to relax and enjoy some great summer food, but need some culinary inspiration, give us a call or stop by. The call numbers 641.5784 and 641.61 are a great place to start.

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

by Katherine Habley on May 15th, 2015
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver Cover Image

Librarian Ashley Weaver’s debut novel is the kind of cozy mystery I really enjoy.  Set in 1930′s England, wealthy Amory and Milo Ames have been married five years and Amory’s charming playboy husband is still acting like he’s a bachelor.  He’s just returned from the French Riviera when her old fiance, Gil Trent, looks Amory up and asks her to join him at a seaside resort to hopefully dissuade his sister, Emmeline, from marrying a cad, Rupert Howe.  On the second day at the posh Brightwell Hotel, Emory finds Howe’s body, apparently pushed over a railing onto a terrace below.  Lots of friends and acquaintances staying for the week are possible suspects, but Gil is the primary target of the investigation.  Then Milo appears on the scene and things get complicated as Amory wants to clear Gil’s name and figure out if her marriage to Milo is worth saving.  Another murder takes place and the group of secondary characters each have their own secrets and reasons not to be trusted. Red herrings abound and Milo’s reluctant assistance in helping Amory find the killer keeps the readers’ interest.  The sarcastic repartee between Amory and Milo is amusing and the the reader will keep wondering who Amory will end up with, Milo or Gil.  The clues start adding up for the detective, but will the mystery be solved before another murder is committed? The romance aspect of the story adds to a fun light read set in a lavish location and time period.  I recommend this engaging mystery to fans of Agatha Christie’s books.  This first novel would make a great series with Amory Ames as the amateur sleuth.




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