Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley is a wonderful graphic novel about her lifelong relationship with cooking. Lucy grew up in a household where food was always central. Her mother ran a catering business, grew her own food, and operated a farmer’s market stall. Due to this constant exposure, Lucy based many of her memories on food. Huevos rancheros reminds her of her adventures in Mexico with her best friend. Croissants remind her of the time she backpacked through Europe with a close college friend. Sushi takes her back to her travels in Japan. Hot chocolate, burgers, and fries remind her of traveling Italy with her father. Baking sweets became her way of working through stressful times in her life. Accompanied by these recorded memories are delicious recipes that are fun to make. After reading this graphic novel, you will gain a new appreciation for the importance different types of food can have on impacting people’s lives.

Genre: Non-fiction graphic novel

Setting: Modern-day Mexico, Italy, Japan, New York, and Chicago.

Number of pages: 173

Themes: Family, friendship, travel, growing up, and cooking.

Is this good for a book club? This would be good for book clubs that enjoy books about food.

Objectionable content? There are discussions of alcohol, periods, and pornographic magazines.

Can children read this? Teenagers would enjoy the stories.

Who would like this? Anyone who loves food.

Rating: Five stars

Pirates: Books, Movies, and Pirate Language Lessons

September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day.  There are many ways to celebrate. Dress like a pirate, talk like a pirate, watch a pirate movie, and, of course, read about pirates.

What’s your pleasure, matey?

How to Talk Like a Pirate: Take Pirate language lessons from Mango Languages. Available online from the Cheshire Library’s eResources page. Click on the Languages button and login to Mango to learn the proper way to talk on the high seas.

Pirate Movies. We’ve not only got all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but  several other pirate films and TV series, too.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (DVD – Animation)
After years of failed attempts to win the Pirate of the Year Award, Pirate Captain and his oddball crew go on a race to pillage the most booty.

Pirates: Dead Men Tell Their Tales (Downloadable)
Step back in time and discover the magic of the real Pirates of the Caribbean investigating the stories of Blackbeard, Sir Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd,  Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

 Treasure Planet (DVD – Animation)
Young Jim is given a map that charts the course to Treasure Planet, a distant world where hundreds of space pirates have stashed their loot.

Black Sails: The Complete First Season (DVD)
In 1715 New Providence Island is controlled by notorious pirate captains, and the most feared is Captain Flint. As the British Navy returns to exterminate Flint and his crew, Flint allies himself with Eleanor Guthrie, daughter of the local kingpin.

Cutthroat Island (DVD)
Morgan Adams, the female captain of a pirate ship, is on a treasure hunt for millions of pounds of gold buried on Cutthroat Island. She and her uncles each hold sections of the map to the treasure, but her Uncle Dawg would rather kill everyone in his way, including his niece.

Captain Blood (DVD)
A swashbuckling classic. After he treats wounded English rebels, physician Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) is arrested and sentenced to slavery in Jamaica. But Blood leads fellow slaves in an escape and strikes terror into the Jamaicans as the pirate Captain Blood.

Books about pirates.

Pirate by Clive Cussler (Fiction)
Confronted by a determined adversary, husband-and-wife treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo embark on an international quest involving an eight-hundred-year-old relic and a brutal murder. Also available as an eBook.


Pirate King by Laurie R. King (Fiction)
Mary Russell, wife to Sherlock Holmes, is traveling undercover along with a film crew that is ready to shoot a pirate movie. When the crew embarks for their Morocco location, Russell feels a building storm of trouble:  a film crew with secrets, decks awash with romance, and now the the real buccaneers the studio has recruited to provide authenticity are ignoring the movie studio owner and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Also available as an audiobook.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson (Non-fiction)
Pirate Hunters’ is a gripping account of two courageous divers’ quest to uncover the shipwrecked vessel of Joseph Bannister, one of history’s most infamous pirates. Also available as an audiobook.


Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (Young Adult Fiction)
Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map, pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies. Now the only thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. Her power to enchant with song makes her a formidable foe– Alosa is only half-human, the daughter of a pirate king and a siren.

Build a Better Backyard

The concept of Outdoor Rooms isn’t new.  The idea of expanding living space to the exterior of our homes has been around a while but planning and building an outdoor space can be a challenge!

Nowadays there are some pretty lavish outdoor areas: multi-tiered decks, anything-but-square patios, gazebos, pergolas, paths, benches, bowers–you name it! Outdoor kitchens are trending in many backyards as families “add” onto their homes by incorporating the space around their houses into three-season living areas.

Getting outside is good for you. Disconnecting from your devices is healthy and there’s no more relaxing place than your own backyard.

If you need  inspiration, check out some of our newest titles on creating outdoor living spaces:

She sheds : a room of your own / Erika Kotite

Happy home outside : everyday magic for outdoor life / Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau

Backyard building : treehouses, sheds, arbors, gates and other garden projects / Jeanie & David Stiles

Gardens are for living : design inspiration for outdoor spaces / by Judy Kameon

Shed decor : how to decorate & furnish your favorite garden room / Sally Coulthard

Simple & stylish backyard projects / Anna & Anders Jeppsson

Porches & outdoor spaces / CountryLiving

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough is a true children’s story about one of the first children’s librarians. Anne Moore grew up in a time where many libraries were not free, and they were certainly not meant for children. Usually, children were not even allowed inside, especially girls. But Miss Moore thought otherwise.

Anne Carroll Moore was an independent thinker ever since she was a child. While other girls stayed inside and sewed, Anne was outside sledding on the hills. When other girls got married, Anne was working in her father’s office, learning how to be a lawyer. When other women stayed home, Anne moved to New York City, went to college, and got a job in a library.

Anne Moore changed the ways in which libraries viewed children. Under her supervision, libraries no longer demanded silence from patrons, children were allowed to take books home, child-sized furniture was built, more children’s books were published, rooms became more colorful, and people were brought in to do children’s programming. Libraries all around the world followed her example, all because she always looked at things differently.

Genre: Children’s non-fiction

Setting: Maine and New York in the late 1800s-early 1900s

Number of pages: 40

Themes: History of children’s libraries, and independent women

Objectionable content? None.

Can children read this? Yes. This book is appropriate for all ages. There are interesting things for the older kids to read, and the younger kids will enjoy the beautiful pictures.

Who would like this? Anyone who is interested in how children’s libraries developed into their current focus on library users, and anyone who enjoys learning about strong women.

Rating: Five stars

Food Fraud

The unofficial nickname of Connecticut is “The Nutmeg State.”  This stems from a story dating back to the mid-1800’s, whereby a southerner called foul that his order of nutmegs were made of wood – and they do look similar. One thought is that shrewd Yankee traders were cheating by carving wooden nutmegs to pad out a sale and thus increase  profit at the expense of the consumer, but another assumption is that the ignorant southerner didn’t know nutmegs had to be grated, and tried to eat them like a walnut.

Either way, the practice of substituting one food – or non-food – substance for another has probably been around since the dawn of man. Egyptians did it. Romans complained about it. And all the way up until Victorian England, food adulteration could kill you.

That’s the subject in Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, by Bee Wilson. The book was far more interesting than I thought, chronicling the history of food cheats, such as substituting chicory or wood shavings for ground coffee, or adding alum to cheap bread to make it whiter. The medieval guild system helped keep staple foods clean, but England gave up the guilds earlier than Europe, and suffered more malnutrition for it. Poisonings and deaths were common, as bad food was often colored with copper and arsenic to make it prettier. Finally, the microscope helped discern without a doubt what was real and what wasn’t, starting the “pure food” campaign that continues today. It wasn’t until World War II’s shortages that people began to embrace modern chemical foods, and the decline of modern health can be clearly linked to it.

A similar book is Death in the Pot: The Impact of Food Poisoning on History, by Morton Satin. Satin, a retired expert in microbiology and food-borne illness, traces several turning points in history that were likely caused by accidental or deliberate food poisoning, from the Great Plague of Athens to the Salem Witch trials, right through modern day KGB tactics. Satin also reiterates Wilson on discussion of the “Poison Squads” of the early 20th century, human guinea pigs who consumed chemicals to see if they were safe to put into foods.

Perhaps the Granddaddy of the entire subject, dredged up in almost any conversation on food safety and purity, is the novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, the seminal book from 1906 that sent such shock through America that the Pure Food and Drug Act followed just five months later.  Sinclair, a socialist pushing for unions in the horrific meat-packing industry in Chicago, slipped inside the factories to investigate the situations for himself, and what he found was chilling, from rats mixed into the meat to allegedly men themselves that fell into the rendering vats. When President Roosevelt sent men to investigate, they, too, were appalled that it was true.  While he  didn’t bring many converts to socialism, he cleaned up the food supply as well as working conditions in the meat packing plants. As Sinclair said, “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

More modern – and thus frightening – is Eating Dangerously, by Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown, a balanced book which discusses modern food safety in the wake of so many deaths from salmonella, E coli O157, and other bacteria, that kill people, especially children and elderly, every year. Nothing makes you scrub your hands like reading about deadly germs, and, outside of undercooked meat or that dire warning to never eat your raw cookie dough, most of the deadliest food poisoning outbreaks have centered on produce that is eaten raw: lettuce, spinach, sprouts, cantaloupe, and peanuts. The authors acknowledge what farmers and the government already know: producers can’t wash every leaf of spinach adequately, even in the best scenario. Animals walk through fields. Birds poop in flight. Flies are everywhere. WASH YOUR PRODUCE. It grows in dirt. Wash it. The biggest problem with US Food Safety? Continuous cuts to the CDC, inspectors, and FDA, lawmakers afraid of industry lobbyists, and unclear departmental responsibilities. And the huge demand for out of season produce shipped from other countries, where growing practices aren’t as clean as the US.

It’s hard to separate sensationalism from fact when it comes to health. Today’s fact is tomorrow’s proven gimmick. Poisoned food, however, is a reality we live with each day, from undercooking our meat to leaving that mayonnaise sitting out, or the grim fact chickens are BORN positive for salmonella. Wash your food. Wash your counters. Wash your hands. Watch your food temperatures. Know what’s in your food – remember, cellulose can mean wood pulp, too. Still love raw cookie dough? Make it with Eggbeaters, which is pasteurized, and you won’t have to worry.