The joy of Christmas food

Christmas to me means many things. Food, classical music, family and friends, frantic gift shopping and many consecutive days off work.

Food commands a great deal of consideration on Christmas day. It brings people together and will become a part of your Christmas memories. In years to come you may still be reminiscing over mother’s legendary Christmas turkey come December. Whether a BBQ at the beach, a big family dinner at home or a picnic in the gardens, the nostalgic properties of food are seldom more potent than at Christmastime.

Christmas Dinner 1962. Image from Flickr. File Reference: HWC08-UR-027.

When I was younger Christmas meant scoffing the chocolate from our Christmas stockings by noon. A mid-afternoon smorgasbord of breads, crackers and brie with dips, and finally moving on to whatever fattening banquet my mother had concocted for dinner. Common items included macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, potatoes in various forms, bacon and egg pie, salads piled high with eggs and leafy greens… sparkling grape juice for the children. Everyone was there.

This year, my siblings and I have grown up and we have our own Christmas plans. I’ll spend my first Christmas with my soon to be in-laws. I’ll bring a huge dish of macaroni and cheese and a more grown-up form of sparkling grape juice. They key elements will be there: family, good food and this time, I’ll be helping out in the kitchen. The men can clean up though.

The library has plenty of new and old Christmas Cooking titles to explore:

Cover of Cute Christmas cookiescover of Christmas: The complete collectionCover of Nigella ChristmasCover of Christmas cooking

You can flick through the digital Christmas issue of your favourite magazine through RBDigital Magazines or PressReader. Good ones to look out for include:

Cover of Recipes+Cover of FoodCover of good foodCover of Super food ideas

There are also lots of Christmas events happening this month at libraries around Christchurch.

And finally, I couldn’t help but include some cute photos of Archie in his Christmas best.

Archie the Reindeer
Santa’s Little Helper

What dish do you just have to make every year come Christmas?

Korean Day 한국의 날 – Saturday 2 December

K is for all about Korea

Do you like kimchi? How much do you know about Korea and your Korean neighbours? It’s time to meet and experience Korean culture!

Korean Day 한국의 날
When – Saturday 2 December 2017, 11am to 3pm,
Where – Cathedral Square

The Korean Society in Christchurch will be hosting Korean Day 2017. This event showcases traditional and modern Korean culture. There will be a variety of Korean foods stalls, as well as Korean traditional floor activities going on during performances. The main performers will be coming from Korea – the international Youth Arts Troupe. They will show us not only traditional performance but also the fantastic art of B-boying. There are also going to be plenty of other events offered to fill you up and provide a breathtaking cultural experience.

Enjoy a variety of Korean dishes and floor activities! Bring your family and friends.

Korean Day Gala Show – part of Korean Day
When – Sunday 7pm 3rd December, 2017
Where – North city Church

If you want to know more information please contact the Christchurch Korean Society.

Korean items in our collection

You can find books in Korean at:

Mango Languages – Mango is an online language learning system that can help you learn a variety of selected languages. It also contains instructions on how to learn English if Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian or Spanish is your first language.

OverDrive – Free downloadable eBook and eAudiobook collection.OverDrive includes a number of eBooks in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Tagalog.

PressReader – gives you same-day access to more than 2,000 newspapers and over 500 magazines from around the world. Each newspaper and magazine displays as a full page in traditional format and layout, and includes complete editorial content, graphics and advertising. Over 60 languages are represented.

Information for new settlers in Korean.

New residents brochure in Korean

Review: Recipes From My Mother

When I moved into a flat of my own, one of the first things I did was call Mum to ask how to make carrot coins (aka honey glazed carrots) and call Dad to ask him how to make yellow rice (aka turmeric rice). Those were two of my absolute favourite things to eat when I was a kid, and I love making them to this day. There is nothing quite like the comfort and nostalgia of cooking things “just like Mum used to make.” So when I saw Rachel Allen‘s Recipes From My Mother: Delicious recipes filled with memories I was sure it would be just my kind of cookbook.

Cover of Recipes from my mother

And I was right!

It is a beautiful book, full of family photographs, memories of mouth-watering  meals cooked by loving mums and grandmas, and, of course, a multitude of delicious-sounding recipes that I just couldn’t wait to try.

There are simple ones, like “Scrambled eggs back in the shell,” and “Sweet eggy bread” (which is a souped-up version of french toast). Classic ones, like “Kedgeree” and “Apricot and cardamom bread and butter pudding.” Fancy ones, like “Amma’s icelandic kleiner” a sort of knotted doughnut, and “Lemon meringue pie.”

I find it fascinating that although Rachel Allen grew up in Ireland with her Icelandic mother and Irish father, many of the dishes she remembers loving as a child sound so familiar to me though I grew up here in New Zealand, with my Scottish mother and English father.  The first thing I learned to cook was semolina, back when I was small enough to need a chair to stand at the stove. Mum created a recipe for me that included beautiful pictures for instructions, because I struggled to read till long after I was a dab hand at making semolina. And what do you know, Semolina is the dish Rachel remembers most from when she was very young.

Still now I find a bowlful of this rib-sticking pudding the most comforting food of all.

You and me, both, Rachel! Her recipe includes a instructions for making raspberry jam to dollop on the top. I wasn’t making jam with mine as a little girl, but it does sound lovely!

The “Beetroot and hazelnut slaw” reminds me of the delicious beetroot salad my foster mum used to make; while “Baked creamy vanilla rice pudding” reminds me of the tasty meals I enjoyed while boarding in my first year of University.  Although I’ve never liked cauliflower cheese, Rachel’s description of the memories it invokes makes me wish I did!

For me, cauliflower cheese is serious comfort food. It comes with a shed-load of nostalgia, too, as I think of the round terracotta dish it was always cooked in at home. It would come out the Aga golden and bubbling.

Doesn’t that sound delish?

There are so many recipes in this book, I’m sure that you too will find something that takes you back! Not to mention something delicious!

Recipes from my Mother 
by Rachel Allen
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9780008208172

The Scandinavian way

The interest in all things Scandinavian does not seem to be waning.  There has long been interest in the Scandinavian crafts but one of the more unusual titles:  The gentle art of Swedish death cleaning : how to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter is the last in long line in art of Scandi living to arrive at the library.

Not only do Scandinavians have The happiest kids in the world they also know how to stack wood and whittle. Belly fat is dealt to with The Scandinavian belly fat program : 12 weeks to get healthy, boost your energy and lose weight and if you want to look younger there is The Nordic guide to living 10 years longer : 10 easy tips to live a healthier, happier life.

If you are interested in more aspects of Scandinavian life then check out these lists on our website:

97808575238539781743368909978034941540697818499444039780857052551978192532233097817824904639781849757591

 

Cool stuff from the selectors – from emojis to gardens

9781783963508What’s Your Bias? The surprising science of why we vote the way we do Lee De-Wit
This is a timely book considering some of the surprising election results of recent years.  We may take for granted that people vote the same way as their parents, but it turns out that this is not so much to do with upbringing,  but because of our genetic similarities.  However there is so much more that influences the way we vote – or indeed if we vote! With chapter headings such as “Why do you always think you are right”, “What’s in a face” and “Faking it”, De-Wit offers an easy to read and fascinating look at the psychology behind our political preferences.

9781250129062The Emoji Code: the linguists behind smiley faces and scaredy cats Vyvyan Evans
A positive look at the way our language has evolved rather than a  bemoaning of the imminent loss of the written language.  The author argues that emojis enrich our ability to communicate, they ” allow us to express our emotions and induce empathy – ultimately making us better communicators”.  When we communicate digitally (every day 41.5 billion texts are sent) our non verbal cues are missed, the emoji can express these nuances.  Perhaps after reading this book I will be able to evolve, and move on from  the smiley face.

9780711236332Children’s Garden: Loads of things to make and grow Matthew Appleby
Many of us want our children to get off the computer and enjoy the outdoors.  The beauty of this book is there is no need to travel to the high country, you can introduce your children via your own garden, however big or small.  The book is divided by the seasons and includes craft projects, cooking your produce, games, keeping animals etc.  It shows that a garden can be full of creativity and fun, whatever the season.

9780714874609Vitamin C: Clay  + ceramic in contemporary art
Ceramics have left behind their image of rather nasty shaped pots created in night-school, and have now been accepted into the hallowed folds of “Art”. Each page has full colour plates ranging from the small and delicate to large monstrosities  and installations.  There is colour, detail, a dash of ‘goodness my three year old could have made that’, and plenty to be challenged by.

How not to ‘Halloween’…

Love it or hate it, Halloween is upon us once again. Today it is a vastly different experience than the one that the Celts traditionally celebrated. For them it marked the reaping of the harvest, the end of summer and an opportunity for the dead to cross over to the living world and scare the daylights out of everyone. Sounds like great fun so far!

For us however, Halloween has become an attempt at recreating what is largely a Northern Hemisphere celebration – with Southern Hemisphere seasons, beliefs and inclination. And more often than not, if we try to emulate what we see on TV we are destined for disaster. So here is a cautionary tale of ‘How not to Halloween’. Sadly parts of this aren’t as fictional as I would like them to be.

CB249_PUMPKINS_JCKT_RVSDLet us think for a moment… the pumpkins will have only just been planted and won’t be ready until around Easter next year. So now we will have to attempt to carve something sourced from the local supermarket. We pick out a nice Crown pumpkin and overlook the insipid grey colour and lack of grandeur. Beggars can’t be choosers. All it needs is a scary face carved in it and a candle to highlight your excellent pumpkin cutting skills. You take your sharpest knife and start to cut the top off what is arguably the toughest skin on any vegetable available*.

image_proxy[1]After you get back from the doctor, you decide that it is probably wise to do away with the carved pumpkin as you can’t afford to lose the use of your other hand. You may still be able to salvage it as a Halloween decoration however, as it is now rather realistically covered in blood.

Meanwhile, your kids are dressed up in the scariest costumes you could find at the local Opportunity Shop and are already dreaming about the sheer weight of the lollies that they hope to get. They wonder momentarily if that pillowcase is going to be big enough.

Leaving Hubby home in charge of the lollies; you venture forth into the bright sunlight with a handful of ghosts and witches in tow for the trek around what you thought was a friendly neighbourhood. How wrong you were. You find yourself greeted by grouchy people who can’t even fake being nice for the kids. They love to point out the error of your ways for daring to try and experience what is largely an American custom. Others will wander openly around their living room while your kids knock on a door that will never open. Some will go to the trouble of putting out ‘No trick or treaters’ signs to save you the energy of knocking. I like these people. We each know where the other stands.

Cover of The Halloween encyclopedia

Of course it isn’t all doom and gloom. There is the occasional legend that will gush over the kids costumes and hand over a lolly or two. But after an hour and a half of what amounted to a crushing failure; we head home defeated. I console the kids with the fact that if we’re lucky, their dad won’t have eaten his way through the entire bowl of lollies at home. It has been a rather disappointing experience. The kids don’t understand why their Halloween bears little to no resemblance of the ones that they have seen on TV. Let’s be honest – it’s still won’t be dark for another hour or more.

When we get home we find that the only other people that have come around trick or treating were teenagers who didn’t bother to dress up. And when my daughter finds out that they made off with her plastic skeleton that I’d propped next to the ‘bloody’ pumpkin; she probably won’t forgive me.

Cover of Halloween book of fun

I know that there are houses somewhere that are re-enacting their version of Halloween – I’ve seen the lollies disappearing from the shops. Maybe next year I’ll save myself some time and heartache and just ask them where they live. At least then we can be assured of a guaranteed result!

So if your kids are begging you to join into Halloween this year, you think you can avoid these amateur mistakes and you are looking to earn some easy brownie points; here are some books to help you achieve this.

Cover of Halloween activitiesCover of Halloween crafts Cover of Ghoulish get-ups Cover of Twisted cakes Cover of Trick or treat

Or try our –

And safety first!

*Try softening the pumpkin in the microwave first. I may have learned this the hard way!

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.