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.
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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?

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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.

Improbable places and improbable food

9781781315323Atlas of Improbable Places: A Journey to the World’s Most Unusual Corners hides interesting gems of information behind a unprepossessing cover and layout.  I was somewhat disappointed that the photos were in black and white, but as I explored the book I realised that this just adds to the general sense of abandonment and improbability.

Each place is devoted a couple of pages and includes a map and photos. I was fascinated by Slab City located in California.  It is described as “the last free place in America” and occupies 640 acres of concrete and debris-littered land.  People live rent free in makeshift homes that over the years have attracted the dispossessed, the lost, plus plenty of libertarians and eccentrics.  After the 2008 financial crash some people ended up there out of total necessity as their homes were foreclosed.

Another Californian oddity is Colma, with a small population of only 1,400, the dead on the other hand – close to 2 million – occupy seventeen cemeteries.  Gives a whole new meaning to the “dead centre of town”.

An abandoned tourist resort in Cyprus also piqued my interest.  Once a mecca for the wealthy and famous, it was abandoned after Turkish troops occupied the part of the island where it was located, and tourists and residents alike fled.  For forty years Turkish soldiers were the only ones to benefit from the resorts high-end hotels but it has now been left to Mother Nature.  It remains out-of-bounds but word has it that the ghost resort is still full of once fashionable cars and, more excitingly, 1970s clothes!

Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free With the Magic of Bean Water
Really … have you ever heard of anything more unappetising!? Apparently the name comes from a combination of the Latin root words for water and bean.  Aquafaba mimics the properties of eggs and can even be whipped up into a tasty pavlova, although I have my doubts.

There is a good news story around it however, with the online vegan community getting right behind the idea. A host of people are trying out recipes and ideas to get the ideal Aquafaba experience, and this is replicated in this book.  Certainly the pictures look quite appetising and range from the savoury to sweet, including a rather lovely looking lemon meringue pie.

Someone else give it a go and let me know the verdict!

Festive Food for the Holiday Season

It’s approaching that time of year. After slaving away at the gym all winter long, desperate to shave those extra pounds for summer, the season of overeating is descending upon us.

Christmas Dinner, 1962.
Christmas Dinner, 1962 by KeteScape is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ License

The matter is not helped by the vast assortment of Christmas cooking books flying onto the shelves. Check out some of our latest Christmas entertaining and recipe books, guaranteed to convert the most headstrong Grinch among us:

homemade-christmas jamie-olivers-christmas-cookbook seasont-eatings womens-weekly-christmas hairy-bikers-12-days-of-christmas

Find more Christmas cookery in our catalogue.

Search our databases and eResources for further inspiration and turn your kitchen into a frenzy of festivity this December:

What mouth-watering, diet-shattering Christmas treats will you be dishing up this holiday season?

Basics To Brilliance by Donna Hay

CoverDonna Hay’s latest cookbook is a wonderful reminder of why we continue to collect more and more celebrity cookbooks each year. The photography is stunning (I mean seriously- when did poached eggs start to look like airbrushed Hollywood starlets?), the food makes you want to nibble hopefully at the illustrations, and the writing is almost therapeutic.

Basics to Brilliance reminds me of another wondrous food bible, Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat, only with a better title (I mean, ‘How To Eat?’ – really?- you shove food in your gob and swallow it). Like Nigella Lawson, Donna Hay understands what it is like to be a home cook who doesn’t necessarily have the budget to sprinkle caviar over a salad (and yes, a certain celebrity chef did instruct me to do this), or find out where to track down ingredients so unique that I would have to do my grocery shopping on another continent. The ingredients are basic but the dishes are restaurant quality.

There is also a huge variety of recipes to choose from, from the perfect roast chicken to sticky pork ribs, to heavenly brownies. Donna Hay delivers on the ‘basics’ side by including recipes for food such as poached and soft boiled eggs. You may think this is cheating but for a cook starting out on their intimidating culinary journey, recipes like these are a godsend.

Donna Hay guides you patiently through the toughest times of your cooking life. In one instance she assures you that the ganache you are making will set so don’t be tempted to overwhip it (too late for me though sadly as I had already turned up the beater to its full potential amid much raging and cursing).

Donna Hay is often hailed as being Australia’s most popular home cook and her latest book cements this reputation. This doorstopper of a cookbook will certainly keep you in new recipes for all of next year- though of course you can actually never have enough celebrity cookbooks.

Basics to Brilliance
by Donna Hay
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9781460751428

Helen
Central Library Peterborough

Spooky stuff for Halloween

All Hallow’s Eve is coming up and if you’re in the mood for some ghostly good times, have we got the books, movies and info for you!

For Kids

We’ve got some great Halloween-themed books for kids. You might want to try –

We’ve also got this handy Halloween guide with a little bit of history, Halloween crafts and costumes, and safety tips, like this video from New Zealand Police.

For Adults and Teens

If you prefer things a little darker, we’ve got that covered too.

Movies

  • Frightening Flicks – My choice of the best horror movies from our library catalogue. With gore rating, so you can pick the level of fake blood you’re comfortable with.

Award-winning horror

Maybe try some horrific winners?

  • Cover of A head full of ghostsBram Stoker Awards – Named after the author of Dracula, and run by the Horror Writers Association.
  • Sir Julius Vogel Awards – Named after a former New Zealand Prime Minister/science fiction novelist, the awards “recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents”.

Halloween events in Christchurch

Halloween Party preparation

Cover of The Hummingbird Bakery Halloween and bonfire night bakesOr if you’re planning your own shindig, you’re going to need –

So that’s plenty of Halloween-y stuff to consume, just make sure you return it on time (or we’ll own your immortal soul, as per our library membership conditions*).

Not a library member yet? Join uuuuussssss

*Not really.

The lazy crafter’s guide to Christmas

Sound the klaxons! It is officially two months until Christmas day. Ah-oooh-gah! Panic! Panic stations! PANIC!

But actually, don’t…because unless you’re in charge of the annual Santa parade, two months is plenty of time to get organised for Christmas. Having said that, if you’re on a limited budget and want to bulk out your gifty offerings with some homemade fare, then now is actually a pretty good time to start getting organised in a non-panicky, totally on top of it way. At least that’s the theory.

And that’s how I ended up pulling a bunch of Christmas books off the shelf before Halloween. Because homemade may be cheaper but it also takes longer… What I’m looking for is stylish inspiration, but stuff that’s not too fiddly or requires a lot of expensive ingredients/materials.

Here’s how my festive five lined up:

Cover of Christmas craftsChristmas crafts: 35 projects for the home and for giving – This scores high in the “stylish photography/inspiration” category. If you are the kind of person who likes large paper pom-poms and chandelier drops as tree ornaments you’ll do well with this book. There’s a whole section on place-setting related crafts that I would never do in a million years… however the edible gifts and kids crafts are all cute and achievable. Cookies that can also be tree decorations? I can whip those up in an afternoon, no worries.

Cover of Christmas crafting in no timeChristmas crafting in no time – I picked this book due to the title because I have no time to do anything. Most of the projects within (50 in total) do seem simple to moderately fiddly, but a lot of them feature felt and needlework so if that’s not your aesthetic/strength you might prefer something else. That said, there are some bright, cheery decoration options and pretty idiot proof gift ideas (e.g. flavoured vinegars, vanilla sugar), though typically very northern-hemisphere appropriate (cosy baby boots, hot water bottle covers and so on).

Cover of Christmas joys: Decorating, crafts & recipesChristmas joys: Decorating, crafts and recipes – This book wins in the “who has the best photos of effortless-looking rustic holiday cabins” competition by a Country Living mile. Everything in this book looks beautiful… however most of us cannot pull off hanging beribboned pine branches from our living room doorknobs, or sprigs of artfully placed pine in old jars without it looking mildly ridiculous. The recipes though are mouthwatering, and the gift ideas, very chic – sugar cookies shaped like buttons! Espresso sugar cubes! Bespoke embroidered gloves! Gourmet marshmallows! Rosemary honey! Gifts I’d be happy to receive and only slightly less happy to make.

Cover of Kirstie's Christmas craftsKirstie’s Christmas crafts – I have always enjoyed Kirstie Allsop’s sense of style both in her fashion choices and in her crafty television outings like Kirstie’s vintage home so had high hopes that she would solve all my Christmas gift problems in one fell swoop. Alas, no. This book rates the highest in fussy/fiddly factor. One project involved screenprinting. Making my own silkscreen is several steps too far for this lazy crafter. Saving graces come in the form of a dead easy recipe for summer favourite, limoncello, a rather good looking chutney, and a mulled cider, and a spiced pear martini that I can’t stop thinking about. So mainly the booze and food section.

Cover of Washi tape ChristmasWashi tape Christmas: Easy holiday craft ideas with washi tape – I went washi tape mad a couple of Christmases ago so I am not immune to its easy, removable adhesive charms. Unfortunately the crafts in this book do rather depend on you having acquired vast quantities of washi tape in a variety of Christmas-themed patterns, which I cannot be bothered with, frankly. And the appeal for me is how easy washi tape is to use but somehow they’ve managed to make it all fiddly. I reckon you could make most of the projects with patterned paper and some spray adhesive so if you’ve the time and skill and a fully stocked crafting toolkit, this could be your Christmas crafting inspiration.

Any sure-fire Christmas crafts you want to share or favourite Christmas inspiration type books?