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Brassicas and the Wednesday Farmer’s Market

by rcarlson on June 17th, 2015

BrassicasI ♥ the Wednesday Farmer’s Market. There are fewer vendors and fewer shoppers so you can take your time and talk to the farmers. Or if you’re in a hurry, you can get in find what you need and get out all in a few minutes. Wednesday trips to the Farmer’s Market are super convenient for me because I am able to pick up my CSA box and deliver the produce that is donated from the Library Children’s Garden to Table to Table.

This time of year you can get a lot of lovely leafy veggies like kale and collards at the market. These kinds of vegetables are called brassicas and they are NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSES. Not a fan? Give ‘em another try with fun recipes and cooking techniques featured in Laura B. Russell’s new book, Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables: Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and More. This book will show you how to bring out the flavors of these brassicas without the usual boiling or burial under a blanket of cheese.

My new favorite go-to recipe for kale (or collards) is called Brazilian Kale. It’s simple: take a pile of kale or collards, de-stem the leaves and roll them up like a cigar. Next slice the rolls into thin strips. Mince a couple garlic cloves, then heat olive oil or coconut oil in a frying pan. Once it’s at a medium heat add the garlic for a few minutes (don’t burn it!), then add the sliced up kale. Stir-fry everything for a few minutes, then add a pinch of salt. So delish and so healthy! What’s your favorite brassica recipe?

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

by Katherine Habley on June 14th, 2015
A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear Cover Image

Jaqueline Winspear’s latest Maisie Dobbs novel is an intriguing mystery sure to engage readers even if not familiar with the popular series.  The title comes from a quote by Albert Einstein, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”  Set in 1937 at the precipice of World War II, the psychologist/private investigator’s life has been turned upside down with the untimely death of her husband and subsequent miscarriage four years earlier.  After a trip to India to find solace, Maisie is still grieving and just not ready to return to London and her concerned father and stepmother.  She disembarks in Gibraltar where the Spanish civil war is happening just across the border.  There she comes across the body of a man, Sebastian Babayoff, while out walking one night.  He was a photographer and Sephardic Jew, and the circumstances surrounding his murder cause Maisie to want to find out the truth about his death. Having something meaningful to sink her teeth into helps lift Maisie out of her depression and suicidal thoughts. She begins her investigation in the British garrison town full of refugees trying to piece together the bits of information she gathers from Babayoff’s family and the Jewish community.  Complications arise when she herself comes under scrutiny and she finds herself being investigated by the British Secret Service.  The period detail is descriptive and accurate about life and times on “the Rock.” This novel will be appealing to readers of historical fiction and followers of the intrepid protagonist.

 

Happy National Iced Tea Day!

by Maeve Clark on June 10th, 2015

copy-of-iced-teasIt’s hot, it’s humid, it’s time for an iced tea. According to an  NPR story on the history of iced tea, the Tea Association of the U.S.A states that 85 percent of all tea consumed in the United States today is sipped cold.  Iced tea’s history is a fascinating one.  It was often the base of a punch, a punch with a punch, so to speak.  Recipes for tea punch date back to Colonial times, although the icing of tea was a thing in the Northern United States it wasn’t possible in the South until the turn of the 19th century when New Englanders began shipping ice.

The Iowa City Cook Book, 1898 published by the Ladies of the Christian Church, has a recipe for tea punch, (without the alcoholic punch, they were church ladies, after all).  It’s looks delicious and one could, if one so wanted, add a little extra kick.  The Iowa City Public Library also has a number of books on tea; how to make it, how to grow it and how to have a party with tea.

tea punch

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.




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