The Little Library Cookbook

You know that a book is a wonder when you stomp around the house muttering ‘I should have written this’. The wonderful new cookbook by Kate Young The little library cookbook really is one such SATHM (stomp around the house muttering) book.

Fiction and food are one of life’s irresistible combinations, and ‘literary’ cookbooks have always been a weakness of mine. I’m thinking of Cherry cake and ginger beer, The unofficial Harry Potter cookbook, and Dinner With Mr Darcy, the list goes on. However, there is something particularly appealing about Kate Young’s contribution to this unique foodie genre. Not only are the recipes seriously good- (if a cookbook contains a bread recipe that enables me to produce a loaf of crusty goodness rather than a forlorn looking dough worthy of papier mache, then I know that the cook knows their stuff), but also, the narrative is simply gorgeous. Young takes us on not only a culinary and literary journey, but also an engagingly personal one that had me wanting to reminisce, cook and read simultaneously.

Young includes the essential recipes that any respectable ‘library cookbook’ should have (I am of course thinking of Proust’s madeleine in particular here), but she also includes recipes from books that are simply dear to her heart. These include crab and avocado salad from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, chicken casserole from Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women, and gin martini and chicken sandwich from JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

Young is not limited in her literary taste either, with ‘hunny’ and rosemary cakes’ worthy of Winnie the Pooh getting a deserved mention, and even vanilla layer cake as Anne of Green Gables originally intended getting its full due.

This was perhaps what I loved best about this gorgeous book — the lovely surprises when I turned page after page to also see one of my own beloved authors getting their recipe out there, such as mince pies from Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum, curried chicken from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Homes, and eclairs from Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love. Young’s taste in both food and literature is so close to my own; I was busy lapping up every word and nodding profusely in agreement.

Observations really do make Young’s narrative a joy, see du Maurier’s Rebecca:

the sinister Mrs, Danvers, surely one of the most insidious and manipulative villains in literature, turns a story that could be romantic into one where even the crumpets seem to be a threat.

and E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View:

the thing is, I think meringues and coffee get a raw deal here. They’re meant to be emblematic of the comfortable, predictable life that Lucy lives as a young woman, but I think they deserve better… And so I am here to advocate for meringues and coffee.

I very much enjoyed her bookish reminiscences along the way, such as her passage on first reading The book thief:

I have a vivid memory of being reduced to tears by the ending, trapped in a window seat on a flight to Italy. Perhaps inevitably for a story narrated by death and set in Germany during the second world war, it’s devastating.

I also enjoyed the stories of family and friends along the way, in fact, as the youngest of three sisters, her dedication of Shirley Jackson’s ‘spice cookies’ to her own sister bought a bit of a lump to my throat (also, as my sisters would heartily concur, greater love hath no sister than this that she should lay down her cookie recipe…).

There is nothing not to love about this gorgeous book — engaging, beautifully presented, and full of scrumptious recipes, this really is a must read for all book loving foodies.

The Little Library Cookbook
by Kate Young
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9781784977672

See also: Moata’s booklist  Pop culture will eat itself for themed cookbooks for movies, TV shows, literature and art.

Cookie serendipity

9781452109626I just love it when the library gods smile at me by sending me the right book just at the right time! I have been lamenting to myself for a while about the arduousness of baking for midweek work meetings. I love to bake—and more importantly, I love to eat good home baking—but sadly, I am not Wonder Woman, and often the thought of whipping up a batch of cookies or a cake in the evening after work is just too much.

I was pondering this as I wandered through the cooking section the other day, looking for something to put on our Staff Picks shelf, when Slice and Bake Cookies: Fast recipes from your refrigerator or freezer leapt right off the shelf and into my hands.

Here it was, the answer to all my baking dilemmas! What could be easier than making several batches of cookies at once in the weekend, and then pulling them out of the freezer to bake when needed? Sounds as easy as falling off a log, and a whole lot more delicious! I couldn’t wait to try the recipes! The first one I tried was Sugar and Spice Snickerdoodles, and they went down so well at work that everyone is clamouring for the recipe!

Next up, I tried the Ginger, Ginger Cookies. The photo looked just like the yummy Gingersnaps that my family loves, but I hardly ever make, because rolling all those little balls of cookie dough takes soooo darned long!  As I mixed, I was sure I had a complete failure on my hands. Could this sticky, squishy mess possibly be rolled into a sausage and sliced up?? But amazingly, they worked!  The cookie sausages where certainly floppier than I expected, but because they were sliced up when still partially frozen, they worked just fine. The Beecrafty family were very disappointed when I said they were for work—but then I left the cake-tin on the bench when I left, and they got to eat them after all! (My team mates were not as happy as my family were!)

Last weekend, I decided to try the Double-Spiral Cinnamon Crisps that Miss Missy had been begging me to make for our Movie Night treat. I don’t have a cake mixer, which all the recipes claim to need, but so far my hand mixer and a wooden spoon had worked pretty well.  Of course, a hand mixer is not a good tool for cutting butter into flour. If you try this, you are likely to send clouds of flour all over the place. A food processor is a much better option. I already knew that, of course, but it didn’t stop me giving it a go with the beater anyway. Yeah. It doesn’t work. But luckily I do have a food processor, and that worked a treat on these delicious treats! Next time I make them, I think I’ll do a double batch, they were so good!

I think I’ll try the Squared-Off Lemon Shortbread next. Or maybe the Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Or Vanilla Cookies with Fudge Filling. Or…

They all look so good, I can’t choose!  Whatever I make next, one thing’s for sure: I’m adding this book to my Favourite Cook Books list!

Find out more

 

Cool stuff from the selectors: Children’s books

Nadiya’s Bake me a story by Nadiya Hussain
Winner of the 2015 Great British Bake Off combines traditional tales and recipes for all the family. She also has a new Christmas title Bake me a Festive Story arriving in October.

CoverCoverCover

Fish girl by Donna Jo Napoli
Napoli teams with Caldecott winner David Wiesner in this Graphic Novel about a young mermaid who is the main attraction in an aquarium. She can’t talk and she can’t walk but she can make friends with a girl named Livia. Can she find a new life on land?  Like all David Wiesner’s books the pictures in this book are outstanding.

Celebration of Beatrix Potter : art and letters by more than 30 of today’s book illustrators
Wonderful re-imaginations of some of Beatrix Potter’s famous tales by artists like Jon Agee, Tommie dePaola, Brian Pinkney and Rosemary Wells, the fabulous David Wiesner makes another appearance here also.  Each illustration is accompanied by text from the artist explaining what that character means to them, making this a true celebration of Beatrix Potter.

Christchurch – Our Underground  Story by Phil Wilkins
If you have a child who has been fascinated by all the trucks, bulldozers, diggers and construction going on around Christchurch then this rather quirky book could be a hit.  Designed as a large board book with lift the flaps it contains everything you did (or perhaps didn’t want to know) about what has been going on under our feet.
Read our post on Christchurch – Our underground story

A look inside Christchurch: Our underground story by Phil Wilkins and Martin Coates

Cool stuff from the Selectors: from the 1960s to pink cakes and beyond…

9780473382797Caves : exploring New Zealand’s subterranean wilderness by Marcus Thomas

The idea of venturing into a cave leaves me with clammy hands, thankfully I can now enjoy the beauty and danger of caving without having to get my feet wet.

This book takes readers on a journey into New Zealand’s longest and deepest caves, through one of the world’s most dangerous cave dives, and prospecting for a totally new kind of cave on a South Island glacier

I’m just here for the dessert9781743368824 by Caroline Khoo

If you love pink and love food then you will love this book!  Any food that is not naturally pink — i.e. chocolate — is bound to be decorated with a pink flower, at the very least.

Australian Caroline Khoo, of Nectar and Stone, has a large Instagram following. She recently posted a photo after coming home to a birthday cake made for her by her husband (only his 2nd cake ever) using this cookbook.

Charm of goldfinches 9781785033889by Matt Sewell

A Lounge of Lizards, a Parliament of Owls, A Gaze of Raccoons…we may well have heard of these collective nouns before but Matt Sewell’s beautifully rendered drawings bring the animals and their nouns alive.  The author is an avid ornithologist and best-selling author so his words add a richness to the pictures. This is a book that would also work well with animal loving children.

Summer of Love: Art, Fashion and Rock and Roll 9780520294820by Jill D’Alessandro

The book that chronicles an exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco that in turn chronicles the 1960s counterculture. Summer of Love covers all aspects of this heady time in a beautifully exuberant book, full of colour, fashion, politics, music and psychedelia. Not just for children of the 60s, this will appeal to a wide range of ages and interests.

The Photo Ark: One man’s quest to document the world’s animals9781426217777 by Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore had worked for 25 years as a photographer for National Geographic, leaving home for months at a time and becoming increasingly aware of the plight of species around the world. When his wife became ill he knew he had to stay closer to home, yet his desire to photograph and somehow make a difference to these endangered animals compelled him to seek out animals in captivity, starting at his local zoo.

His goal is to document every one of the world’s 12,000 plus captive species.  All the animals have been photographed in front of a black or white background.  The images are beautiful, uncluttered and affecting. The story behind the project and the people involved is fascinating and I look forward to hearing more from this author.

Culinary delights from 1917

Everything old is new again. Or so it would seem with lots of things getting a 21st century revival including sustainability, reducing food-waste, hand-made, and foraging wild foods (not that any of these things had ever really gone away).

So maybe now is the time to grab your aprons and revisit some recipes from the past.

Early last century The Press published a column with the delightful title Women’s Corner – where all matters for insertion were to be sent to the Lady Editor for consideration. While other pages of the newspaper were filled with stories of the War this column provided readers with news of weddings, who’s wearing what, who is visiting whom in the district, some news and anecdotes from overseas, and sometimes a recipe of the day.

And what recipes they are, a seemingly never ending array of pies, puddings, fritters and rissoles! Light on instruction – I think everyone just knew how to make pastry – the recipes offered us such delights as Orange Roly-Poly, Banana Pie, Rice and Meat Rissoles, and Russian Pie.

On the cooking radar around this time of year in 1917 were Baked cheese and potato cake, apple fritters, cheese pudding, Rabbit and Macaroni pie, date pudding and this recipe.

WOMEN'S CORNER. Press, 29 June 1917
WOMEN’S CORNER., Press, Volume LIII, Issue 15940, 29 June 1917 , CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ

I’m not sure how easy it will be to source the ‘pollard’ – a byproduct of flour milling – or what else I could use it for since the only other pollard based recipe I came across was ‘Phosphorized Pollard for Poisoning Rabbits’ from the Bay of Plenty Times.

If you don’t find any of these 1917 recipes tempting you can find other culinary delights from New Zealand in our catalogue including Ladies, a plate.

Or borrow one of our many food related magazines.

Taste   Dish   Recipes + New Zealand   Delicious

And check out our New Zealand Cuisine Booklist for more titles. Bon appétit !

Follow our tweets from @100chch to discover life and events 100 years ago in Christchurch and Canterbury.

Cool stuff from the selectors. What more could you ask for? Food, Cats and Storytelling

CoverDavid Wiesner And The Art Of Wordless Storytelling
This is definitely a book for someone who has an interest in children’s illustration as it contains well-researched and far-reaching essays on the history and development of book illustration as an art form.

David Wiesner is of course the focus, and I enjoyed revisiting his wonderful illustrations. I remember sharing these books with my children, all of us having varying viewpoints about what was happening, delving deeper into each illustration with each reading. This is a beautifully produced book.

CoverFrom the sublime to the ridiculous! Crafting with Cat Hair is the sort of book you just have to have a look at because it is so unlikely. Taking itself completely seriously, this book gives you in-depth instructions on how to use your moggie’s fluff for felting crafting pleasure.  Perhaps if you are so inclined, it could be a way to immortalise your feline friend.

CoverFood Fights and Culture Wars
Chomping away on my couple of pieces of dark chocolate, it was interesting to read about the violent past of chocolate. The chocolate we eat today is barely recognisable as the cacao that was produced by the early Mayan people.

Cadbury (whose Dunedin factory is set to close next year) was founded by Quakers. Their desire to fend off slavery underpinned the chocolate trade. Filled with beautifully reproduced pictures from the British Library, this is a fascinating romp through history and food.

My kind of food by Valli Little

I was super excited to get the chance to review Valli Little’s latest cookbook My Kind of Food.

As an avid eater (but a rather basic cook who loves to experiment) it sounded right up my alley. My hopeful assumption was that the title would mean there would be no En vessie or Tiger lily buds involved?

Cover of My Kind of Food

Thank goodness I was right.

One of the first thing’s that grabbed me when I read the introduction was Valli’s ‘flick test’,

Basically, I flick from the back of the cookbook to the front and if there aren’t at least ten recipes I immediately want to go home and cook, then the book does back on the shelf.

What a great idea.

So I employed Valle’s ‘flick test’ and nearly all of the recipes passed and I wanted to immediately run home to my kitchen.  It certainly helps have unbelievably drool-worthy photographs of every single recipe.

I seriously could have eaten some of those photos – pg. 51/53 Cheat’s lemon cheesecake (this is divine, and is now one of my go-to recipes), pg. 54/55 Salted caramel mousse with toffee popcorn, pg. 66/67 Spring pea risotto, and so many more.

What I love about this cookbook is that the recipes are all Valli’s family favourites, so they have been cooked again and again with all the tweaks made along the way. Each recipe is accompanied by a headnote, explaining where the recipe came from, and how it has become a family favourite.

All of the recipes are easy to follow with good descriptions; there is nothing too outrageous in the ingredient or technique department, but you still feel like you are producing something special.

It is organised by occasion like “Sunday Best”.  The index also offers the option of looking up an ingredient, then listing all of the appropriate recipes.

The recipes are all mostly classics with a modern twist added; like Scandi mac & cheese, a basic recipe of macaroni with cream, grated cheese, salmon and a few other easy ingredients; or Lamb shank cottage pie, yummy lamb shanks with winter vegetables and an easy assortment of sauces/pastes to add flavour that you can even make it two days ahead; and Store-cupboard trifle, perfect for when you just want to use easy ingredients, it uses tinned peaches and store bought sponge, right on.

I would definitely recommend adding trying My Kind of Food if you enjoy classic food with a modern twist that the family will love.

Tania Cook,
Outreach & Learning team

My Kind of Food
by Valli Little
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9780733335273

Find more titles by Valli Little in our collection

Who ate all the pies? OverDrive Big Library Read – 16 to 30 March

Perhaps the question should be who made pie? Art of the Pie by pie-guru Kate McDermott is this month’s Big Library Read (March 16-30) on OverDrive, and quite frankly who doesn’t like pie? We can all take this Pie together right now – the Big Library Read means library customers around the world can simultaneously borrow an eBook.

I personally love a good pie and also appreciate Kate’s rules of pie making and life:

  1. Keep everything chilled especially yourself
  2. Keep your Boundaries
  3. Vent.

CoverThis book is American so we are talking sweet – apple pie, pumpkin pie and pecan pie and many more. We have pastry options including gluten free, vegan and no-bake and even tips for high altitude pie making.

What, no steak and cheese? Never fear there is a section on Meat Pies where you pick your own seasoning. Other international classics such as shepherd’s pie and English pork pie get a mention too.

Kate McDermott has taught the time-honoured craft of pie-making to thousands of people. Her pies have been featured in USA Today, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Real Simple, Oprah.com, NPR and more. In the Art of the Pie she shares her secrets to great crusts, fabulous fillings, and to living a good life. Kate provides dozens of recipes for all the pie combinations you can dream up with hints and tricks helpful to even the most experienced pie baker.

Check out Art of the Pie and remember always blow on the pie!

Find Art of the Pie in our collection.

More about the Big Library Read

Big Library Read is an international reading program that connects millions of readers around the world simultaneously with an eBook, using Overdrive one of our eBook platforms. Discussions about the cookbook, recipes and more can be found on BigLibraryRead.com. The free program runs for two weeks from March 16 to 30 2017 and to get started reading, all that is needed is a Christchurch City Libraries card and PIN/password

Off the shelf: January 2017

As followers of our blog will know, voracious reader Robyn has been sharing with us on a regular basis the titles that she has been adding to her For Later shelf. Here are some more titles that have recently graduated to her Completed shelf.

Frieze A –  Z of Contemporary ArtCover for Frieze A - Z of Contemporary Art

Not so much a flick through as a pick through – each letter of the alphabet has an article from Frieze magazine. So you can pick and choose what you are interested in; the Factory accent as heard in Andy Warhol’s inner circle, the frosty gaze of fashion, Sophie Calle and the stuffed giraffe that reminds her of her mother.

Appetites by Anthony Bourdain

He calls this a recipe book for home cooks who are willing to put time into it. And he’s not kidding. Three days of preparing for Thanksgiving, featuring a stunt turkey and a business turkey. But those of us who have three days to spare just before Christmas and enough money to have two turkeys might like to give it a go. Despite it all being a bit of an impossible dream I like this book. It’s beautifully produced and it has great photos. Unless you’re a vegan, or even a vegetarian.

Cover for HoldingHolding by Graham Norton

I don’t normally approve of novels by celebrities, but it’s entirely possible that Graham wrote this himself and he didn’t make a bad job. It’s gentle, funny, the story is quite engrossing (at least I wanted to know what happened) and it’s got a lovely sense of Ireland.

Cool stuff from the Selectors: Thinking about trends

When selecting stock for the library it is always important to think about trends and what might be the next ‘big thing’, and one area that always garners interest is health and wellbeing – that elusive food/exercise/natural remedy/mindset that will provide the magic elixir of anti aging/weight loss/fitness and a long life.
9781906417611978024129652397814892146219781849497749

Is Algae the new Kale?  Turmeric latte anyone? I was unfortunate enough to read that some are suggesting beetroot, charcoal or mushroom becoming your coffee substitute! Forget nose to tail eating, now it’s about root to stem.

If you have been struggling with Mindfulness then you can now rest easy with Mindset – the belief that basic abilities can be developed through hard work, a love and learning, and dare I say it – ‘resilience’. Breathing is also big – not surprising given we all need to do it, but are we doing in the right way? And last but not least, Neuroslimming, giving  you a “mind plan, not a meal plan”.

Tiny houses are still wildly popular, at least the pictures of them in the books are, but I do wonder how many people actually bite the bullet and live in the small but perfectly formed shed in the back yard? Travel stories are still very popular and I have it on good authority that Iceland is the next big thing (and I just happen to be going there in the middle of the year!)

I expect we will see a few more books on Donald Trump this year along with his good mate Putin.  There may be a few books on Fidel Castro and Cuba could become a more popular travel destination?

9783037682029978157687780797817437929959781610397391

The craft area is dominated by a love of anything Nordic and the knitting, quilting and embroidery books are still as popular as ever.  Cooking is still raw, which is ironic considering it’s cooking.

Need some cheering up, then these two titles might help the optimism quotent.