Thanksgiving 101

It’s approaching. The holiday where we have to cook for large groups of people. People moreover, to whom we are related. Talk about nerve-racking! (At least it’s nerve-racking to a non-cooking introvert like myself!)

So all you other non-cooking introverts, take a moment and give thanks for the library, which has all the recipes, tips, tricks and  expertise to get us all through the Big Dinner.


thanksgiving-101Thanksgiving 101 : celebrate America’s Favorite Holiday with America’s Thanksgiving Expert / Rick Rodgers.
This book asks the important question: When was the last time most of us made dinner for such a big crowd?  Exactly! But whether you’re looking for new ways to cook turkey; traditional trimmings, chutneys, or chowders; a vegetarian entrée; or fresh ideas for regional classics, including Cajun-or Italian-inspired tastes, Thanksgiving 101 serves up a delicious education for novice and experienced cooks alike.


The holidays are a time for family and friends.  Thanksgiving can also be a time of stress, anxiety, and slaving over a hot stove.  No kidding! The editors of Fine Cooking magazine know all about the problems and pitfalls of preparing a full-course holiday meal…and they are here to help! This cooking survival guide presents all the reader needs to know to make things go smoothly, look great, and taste delicious. Phew!


jacket-aspxThanksgiving : How to Cook it Well / Sam Sifton
From the planning of the meal to the washing of the last plate, Sam Sifton says Thanksgiving poses more—and more vexing—problems for the home cook than any other holiday. (Let’s hear it for truth in cookbooks!) In this smartly written, beautifully illustrated, recipe-filled book, Sam Sifton, the New York Times’s former restaurant critic and resident Thanksgiving expert, delivers a message of great comfort and solace: There is no need for fear. You can cook a great meal on Thanksgiving. You can have a great time.


jacket-aspx2Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving / Michael McLaughlin
Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving offers easy-to-follow recipes, making it a fave on my list. In these pages, you’ll find inspiring first courses and a tempting variety of side dishes and desserts as well as some new ideas for the main course. This vividly photographed, full-color recipe collection will become an essential addition to your kitchen bookshelf.


jacket-aspxThanksgiving : Recipes for a Holiday Meal / Lou Seibert Pappas
This  book offers dozens of favorite traditional and contemporary holiday dishes including a variety of vegetarian options, organizing entries by course while sharing tips for staying organized, carving a turkey, and using leftovers. Any cookbook that tackles leftovers is a winner!


pioneerThe Pioneer Woman Cooks : A Year of Holidays : 140 step-by-step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations / Ree Drummond
Ree’s recipes are accompanied by fun instructions and hundreds of her signature step-by-step photos. Filled with creative and flavorful ideas for intimate dinners, group gatherings, and family meals this cookbook includes dozens of mouthwatering dishes (with nineteen recipes for Thanksgiving alone!)


chewThe Chew, a Year of Celebrations : Festive and Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion / edited by Ashley Archer and Jessica Dorfman Jones
This cookbook will guide you through the planning, cooking of the year’s most celebrated events. With a complete spread for each celebration, including drinks, appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts, the guesswork is taken out of menu creation; all that’s left to do is prepare and enjoy the fantastic food. And Carla Hall’s Pumpkin Pecan Pie will finally eliminate the toughest Thanksgiving decision: classic pumpkin or classic pecan?


bettyBetty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook : All You Need to Cook a Foolproof Dinner
Kudos to Betty Crocker who admits, “Thanksgiving can be the most challenging meal to prepare-even for the most experienced cooks.” Truth! However, whether you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time or have hosted this celebration for years, Betty comes to the rescue with this complete do-it-yourself guide to making Thanksgiving delicious. Here are the treasured recipes with all the trimmings that you grew up with, plus plenty of great new twists on the traditional.

Cookbooks that Caught My Eye, But I Know I Will Never Try

Sometimes when we catalog or check in or out library materials a book catches our eye and requires some serious perusal. More often than not this means setting it aside to check out and bring home.

Cookbooks with insanely creative or intricate recipes and decorating ideas regularly catch me. I love to bake and cook but do not have the time or energy to necessarily get fancy. I tend to worry first about taste and if I can get my family to eat it.

However, looking at the wonderful ideas and execution in these books sometimes inspires me to get more creative, and cookingsometimes just makes me wonder how anyone can eat something that obviously took some serious time and effort to make look so good. Here are some of the more recent cookbooks that have made me stop and look at their deliciously beautiful covers.

Cake My Day by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson

The New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein

What’s New, Cupcake?: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion by Karen Tack

The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and the Bakers of Hot Bread Kitchen with Julia Turshen

Cupcakes, Cookies, and Pie, Oh, My! by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson

Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food by Jessica Merchant

Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi

The Confetti Cakes Cookbook: Cookies, Cakes, and Cupcakes from New York City’s Famed Bakery by Elisa Strauss with Christie Matheson

For some of us more realistic, or pessimistic, chefs I offer:
The Can’t Cook Book : 100+ Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified! by Jessica Seinfeld

What is this Paleo stuff, anyway?

paleo diet

You’ve probably heard of the Paleo Diet by now. Like all new and popular diets, it is controversial, but it differs from other low-carb diets in its emphasis on natural foods and exercise.

The Paleo Diet is based on the idea that modern humans should go back to eating whole unprocessed foods to achieve optimal health. It is also sometimes called The Caveman Diet, but don’t let the name deter you. The Caveman is just a mascot, and the Paleo Diet is not about historical reenactment. It’s simply a framework for improving health through food and lifestyle.

The idea is simple:

  • Eat more nutrient-rich whole foods, like fresh vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts, and fruit.
  • Avoid processed foods with added sugar, chemically processed and refined vegetables oils (corn oil, soybean, sunflower, corn), and anything with ingredients you can’t easily identify.
  • Avoid processed and refined carbs. This includes most breads. Carbs are acceptable in lower quantities, but they should not be the bulk of your diet.
  • Eat healthy fats, like avocados, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil.
  • Dairy is OK in small amounts. Aim for organic, grass-fed, full fat or fermented (yogurt, kefir, cheese). Skim milk is high in sugar!
  • Get some exercise every day, preferably outside and at a relaxed and steady pace. Avoid stressful cardio.

If you want to embark on your own Paleo journey, the Cheshire Public Library has over 50 books on the Paleo Diet! Here’s a small sample to get you started:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Practical Paleo: a customized approach to health and a whole-foods lifestyle – Diane Sanfilippo

Your personal Paleo code: the 3-step plan to lose weight, reverse disease, and stay fit and healthy for life – Chris Kresser

The Paleo diet: lose weight and get healthy by eating the foods you were designed to eat – Loren Cordain

The Paleo approach: reverse autoimmune disease and heal your body Sarah Ballantyne

The Paleo slow cooker: healthy, gluten-free meals the easy way Arsy Vartanian

The autoimmune Paleo cookbook: an allergen-free approach to managing chronic illness – Mickey Trescott

Paleo lunches and breakfasts on the go: the solution to gluten-free eating all day long with delicious, easy, and portable primal meals – Diana Rodgers

Paleo comfort foods: homestyle cooking for a gluten-free kitchen – Julie & Charles Mayfield

Paleo desserts: 125 delicious everyday favorites, gluten- and grain-free – Jane Barthelemy

Mediterranean Paleo cooking: over 150 fresh coastal recipes for a relaxed, gluten-free lifestyle Caitlin Weeks, Nabil Boumrar, and Diane Sanfilippo

Super Pi Day!

Super Pi day is coming!
Whetpi-pie - Copyher or not you’re a math aficionado, you may remember pi to be the ratio of a circle’s circumference (the length all the way around) to its diameter (the width across the circle). This number is symbolized by the Greek letter . Pi is a unique number in that despite computers dividing it out to millions of places, no number sequence has been found to repeat itself – a number stretching as far to infinity as we can imagine it.

Generally, Pi is abbreviated to 3.14 to make it manageable, and every March 14 social media will be inundated with Pi(e) memes and many pies will be baked in the number’s honor (I admit, I’m guilty of this one, too, even though I avoid higher math at all costs). This year, however, is a Super Pi day – at 9:26:54 a.m., the time will match Pi to ten digits – 3.14159265358, a phenomena that rarely happens.


The first known celebration of Pi day was by Larry Shaw, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium, in 1988. Staff and public alike marched around a circular space and enjoyed eating fruit pies.

Celebrate Pi day by enjoying circles, even if you don’t feel like doing the math. Spin your wheels, have a donut with your coffee, or perhaps just spin your desk chair to enjoy the centrifugal force. Or, go all the way and enjoy some Pi(e), such as this simple blueberry pie (which can be made sugar-free with an artificial sweetener):

Blueberry Pie (because blueberries are circular, too!) :

4 cups blue berrieseasy-blueberry-pie-4
1 9” baked pie crust
¾ cup of sugar
¼ cup of water
3 Tbsp of cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp Gran Marnier liqueur
1 tsp butter
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Bake your pie crust, let it cool.
Spread 2 cups of the berries in the pie crust. Refrigerate until chillled.
Simmer remaining 2 cups of berries, sugar, water, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until thickened, stirring frequently (@ 7 minutes). Remove from heat.
Mix in Gran Marnier and butter. Cool completely.
Pour blueberry sauce over berries in piecrust. Refrigerate until welll chilled.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


indexUnited States of Pie by Adrienne Kane

Make Your Party a Success with Help from the Library

worldpartyRecently, a friend of mine threw her annual summer party. Every year it’s something different and this year’s theme was Around the World.

No, she didn’t mean Around the World in 80 Days, the famous story of Phileas Fogg the most punctual man in the world. She provided a culinary and artistic world tour for her lucky guests. And she told me she could not have done it without the library.

There was tea and sushi in a Japanese garden. A German Biergarten. Shrimp on the barbie ala our mates in Australia. Indian cuisine. Asian. Every continent was represented. She even had a table of cookies with a red and white striped pole nearby labeled North Pole.

And the music! Depending on where you wandered in her house and yard, you could hear everything from Celtic harp to Caribbean steel drums.thai

How was the library involved? All of the recipes she used came from cookbooks she borrowed from the library. Wonderful titles such as My Paris Kitchen, It’s All Greek to Me, and Simple Thai Food stood proudly on each table. Guests could thumb through the books for interesting international recipes.

The music was all from Putumayo, a company devoted to world music. The background music consisted of World Party, Vintage France, Italian Café, Celtic Tides and many, many others.

My friend told me she got the idea for the party from the wide range of international cookbooks she saw on display at the library. When she confided her project to me, I had mentioned that she could also get a variety of world music at the library, too.

It was a memorable, multicultural evening. a world tour that never left town. I can hardly wait to see what next year’s party brings.

And, in case you were wondering, on the table that held the cookies from the North Pole, all the recipes cards simply said Mrs. Claus.

Check out our Putumayo collection and our cookbook collection:

worldgroove                kitchen