Category Archives: Book Reviews

Apicius

What do you do if a bunch of Ancient Romans fall through a hole in time, and end up in your neighborhood? Invite them to dinner, of course! It’s important to be prepared to host time travelers.

If you’re planning a banquet at an insane house party for Ancient Romans, Apicius has you covered – extant books include various main courses, veggie dishes, fish, and fowl, and food preservation. Fortunately, the library has an English translation of this Probably-Fifth-Century cookbook.

Cover of Apicius: cookery and dining in Imperial Rome.

Get your English translation right here. You’re welcome!

Although there are free downloads of an old translation – good enough in a culinary emergency – the newer translation is definitely better. Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, there’s the original Latin. Here’s some recipes I’ve adapted from the Latin and the old translation, to give you an idea of the range of dishes in the book. Let’s start with a fairly familiar one:

 

Leeks n’ Beans

A closeup of a giant pile of green beans.

Fresh. Green. Beans.

Aliter porros: in aqua elixiati erunt, fabae nondum conditae plurimum admisce conditurae, in que eos manducaturus es.

Other leeks: in water that cooked the leeks, boil green beans that haven’t been cooked. Mix leeks and beans, and serve.

That’s not too hard. Get leeks and green beans. Cut the bottoms and the dark green parts off the leeks, chop up and swish around in a bowl of water to get any grit out of the leeks. Boil the leek chunks in water, and reserve the water, keeping the leeks aside in a serving bowl. String the beans, if necessary, and boil the beans in the water you just took the leeks out of. When the beans are tender, fish them out, and toss them with the leeks in the serving bowl.

A nice hot salad. So far so good!

 

Sardine Loaf

A pile of sardines.

Sardines.

Patine de apua fricta: apuam lavas, ova confringes et cum apua commisces. Adicies liquamen, vinum, oleum, facies ut ferveat, et cum ferbuerit, mittes apuam. Cum duxerit, subtiliter versas. Facies ut coloret, oenogarum simplex perfundes piper asparges et inferes.

Whipped sardine loaf: clean sardines, mix eggs with sardines. Add liquamen [a Roman fermented fish sauce], wine, oil, and stock, and let it heat [in the mold, presumably]. With care, turn over [the mold so the loaf is free]. To help it color, let it cook long enough to brown. Drizzle with oenogarum [a different fish sauce with wine in it], sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Okaaaaaaay. It’s still doable, but I’m going to have to get… creative… and you’d better like your fish extra jiggly, and your eggs extra fishy.

Materials: a mixing bowl, a spoon, a loaf tin or muffin tin (!!), or something else that is bakeable for a mold, a serving plate to turn it out on, oven mitts. OR a coffee mug and a microwave (!!!), if you can’t use the stove and oven.

Ingredients: a can of sardines, raw eggs, olive oil, fish or veggie stock, white wine (optional!), fish sauce (you can get it in the international section of the supermarket, or in East Asian or Southeast Asian food stores – if you can’t get fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce can be substituted.)

Procedure: open the can of sardines into a mixing bowl, and mash them. Add eggs, a splash of oil, stock, maybe some white wine, and a dash of fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce to taste (yeaaahh…), and stir thoroughly until everything is a grayish yellow slurry. Oil the tin you’re planning on using as a mould, and pour the egg-and-fish mixture in, leaving room for it to rise. [OR: pour the slurry into a microwave-safe bowl or mug and microwave on high for 40 seconds or so at a time, watching carefully to see that it doesn’t rise too high. Puncture with a fork if it tries to escape the mug. Nuke it until it’s set up.] Preheat oven to 375 F, and bake until the mold has set up. Turn out the mold onto the plate to serve. Drizzle with more fish sauce and sprinkle with pepper and serve.

 

Stewed Ostrich

A photo of a male ostrich, with nice pink legs visible.

To be fair, the drumsticks on an ostrich are enormous. Which is really half the problem, actually.

In struthione elixo: piper, mentam, cuminum assum, apii semen, dactylos vel caryotas, mel, acetum, passum, liquamen et oleum modice et in caccabo facies ut bulliat. Amulo obligas, et sic partes struthionis in lance perfundis, et desuper piper aspargis si autem in condituram coquere volueris, alicam addis.

A broth for ostrich: pepper, mint, cumin, leeks, celery seed, dates, honey, vinegar, raisin wine, broth, and a little oil. Boil in a kettle with a (plucked, cleaned) ostrich, thicken (to use as sauce). Cut ostrich meat into convenient pieces, and serve in sauce with a sprinkle of pepper. If you want to season it further, add garlic.

Honestly, your real problems here are: 1. Finding a whole ostrich and 2. Finding a pot big enough to BOIL AN ENTIRE OSTRICH IN. If you can do that, though, you’re golden. You might need some help managing a whole ostrich carcass, though, they’re pretty heavy. If you can do all that, it’s an otherwise straightforward recipe.

And, finally, one last recipe.

 

Gardener’s Pig

Hold onto your butts…

Porcellum hortolanum: porcellus hortolanus exossatur per gulam in modum utris. Mittitur in eo pullus isiciatus particulatim concisus, turdi, ficedulae, isicia de pulpa sua, Lucanicae, dactyli exossati, 66fabriles bulbi, cocleae exemptae, malvae, betae, porri, apium, cauliculi elixi, coriandrum, piper integrum, nuclei, ova XV superinfunduntur, liquamen piperatum, ova mittuntur trita. Et consuitur et praeduratur. in furno assatur. deinde a dorso scinditur, et iure hoc perfunditur. Piper teritur, ruta, liquamen, passum, mel, oleum modicum. Cum bullierit, amulum mittitur.

Debone a whole pig through the throat. Stuff with: minced chicken meat croquettes, roasted thrushes, roasted figpeckers, pork sausages, pitted dates, glazed onions, cooked snails taken out of the shell, mallows, leeks, beets, celery, sprouts, coriander, peppercorns, nuts, eggs and broth diluted with eggs. Sew shut the pig, roast, and split the back, pouring over a sauce of crushed pepper, rue, broth, raisin wine, honey, and oil, thickened with roux.

And that’s not even getting into the stuffed roast dormice. Enjoy!

Girl Power Graphic Novels

If you like comics and love a great story full of action and girl power, you can’t go wrong with these three new graphic novels.

Princess with a crown

Princeless: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley

Princess Adrienne gets tired of waiting for a prince to rescue her and takes matters into her own hands. She escapes from her tower with the help of Sparky the dragon, and she sets off on an adventure to rescue her sisters.

Girl in rollerskates on book cover

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Astrid signs up for roller derby camp even though her best friend wants to go to dance camp. She works hard to master her skates while she makes new friends and finds a place on the roller derby team.

Ms Marvel book cover

Ms Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

Start here to watch Kamala Khan morph from ordinary Muslim girl to extraordinary superhero while remaining true to herself. Two more issues are coming soon!

What are you reading this summer? We love to see your recommendations!

-Susan, Teen Services, Iroquois Branch

It’s Time Once Again for the SWON Teen Reading Challenge!

susans-books

Every year from February through April, library staff in Kentucky and Ohio gear up for summer programming by reading as many young adult novels as possible. I have participated for several years, and I am ready to jump back into it. (Go Team Louisvillains!!!) For three months, I will be swimming in young adult titles.

I thought I would share some of the new books on my desk.

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Something for Everyone in Five Comics Books

Whether you have always loved comics or you never picked one up in your life, if you want to read about cape-and-tights heroes or curl up with something trendy and artsy, then this list has something for you.

The Arrival – Shaun Tan

The Arrival is proof that a good story doesn’t even need words. A stunning narrative of an immigrant’s experience in a new and alien land, it’s like having someone play solos about hope and isolation on your heartstrings.

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making: a Review

12-year-old September is bored.  She’s bored with Nebraska, bored with washing tea cups, bored with her mother, bored with her dog. She wants an adventure, and an adventure finds her with the fast talking Green Wind, who whisks her off to Fairyland where she must retrieve a spoon from an evil Marquess.  Along the way, she encounters a lively and wonderful cast of characters that would put the Wizard of Oz and Wonderland to shame;  including a wyvern ( like a dragon) named A-through-L who loves books (my kind of dragon) and a mysterious blue boy (he’s the color blue, not sad…) named Saturday.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland book cover

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente

Fairyland is in disorder, and it’s up to September and her newly acquired tribe of misfits to make things right.  September is given a warning before entering Fairyland concerning fairy food…but does she listen?

This book is beautiful.  And charming!  Entrancing!  Thoughtful!  Marvelous! Superb writing.  It’s imaginative, a bit odd and absurd in places and yet perfectly lovely. It might make you tear up in places….most excellent-est Young Adult novel EVER! In this teen librarian’s humble opinion.  🙂

If you enjoy Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Patrick Ness, Neil Gaiman or Madeleine L’Engle you’ll love The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland.  Try it out, you won’t regret it.

-Heather, Children and Youth Services, St. Matthews Branch

Bone Chilling Books

When I was in the 2nd grade, Stephen King’s IT was made into a TV movie. I’m pretty sure the movie wasn’t targeted to seven and eight year-olds, but everyone I knew stayed up late and somehow or another snuck a way to see the movie. If you don’t know, IT is about 7 kids who are being terrorized by what appears to be a clown who wants to kill them.  I may be over-blowing the importance of the phrase (I was seven), but I have some serious memories of this creepy clown poking his head out of a sewer and beckoning to a little boy that “they all float down here”. “They” being the bodies of the dead that he–Pennywise– killed, and “here” being the sewer.

Stephen King's It  book cover

A few years later, I became obsessed with the show, Are You Afraid of the Dark? which introduced me Zeebo the clown. Creepy right? So, if you happen to meet a person of a certain age and they mention over the course of the conversation that they suffer from coulrophobia, it is possible that they may have spent some time hiding under the covers because they were traumatized in their youth.

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Coming Soon: Fall/Winter Series Preview

If you’re looking to discover a new series before the school year starts, it’s not too late. In fact, being slow to jump on the bandwagon for trending series has its perks. For example, chances are the waiting list at your library is subsiding. Meaning you go from being number 237 on the wait list to suddenly finding the book on the shelf at your branch the moment you want it. No wait! And speaking of waiting, you no longer have to agonize over cliffhanger endings (sometimes for years) before the next installment is published. We all know how excruciating that can be, so check out some of the newest titles that will hit the library shelves at the end of this year, and get caught up on these fantastic series.

Raven Boys book cover

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

Publication date: October 21, 2014

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DIY Pedicure

The sun’s out and the feet come next! Ladies, this blog is directed towards you (but fellas you should do it too)! You do not want to be caught in the streets with worked over heels and toes while wearing the latest footwear and strappy sandals. Tell me who doesn’t like clean, pretty and healthy feet? Some people choose not to bother with their feet because who cares right? Wrong. People do care, I care. I want you to always put your best foot forward both figuratively and literally. One of the greatest setbacks for many of us females when it comes to our life long pursuits is our self-esteem.

Buzz on Beauty Book Cover

During this time of your lives, you want to grow, experience, trail blaze, fit in, have fun, love and be loved. In amidst of all of that, your confidence, self-respect and healthy self-esteem will take you anywhere you want to go. In order to do so, your image should reflect all that you want to be and are. In other words, your hair, skin and nails should be healthy and well maintained. Now, maintenance can come at a cost. But being well put together does not mean going to spend $50 plus on a spa pedicure and full set manicure at a beauty salon. Everything I needed cost me less than $7 at the store, and some of the items you may already have at home. So, let me get off my soap box and get you all started on your do-it-yourself feet beautification routine!

Recommended Reading

The Buzz on Beauty: A Girl’s Guide to Looking and Feeling Your Best By Amy Gelman

You Glow Girl By Dianne York-Goldman and Mitchel P. Goldman, M.D. 

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Five by Five

Need a new series/obsession for the summer? Let me introduce you to the greatest television series of ALL TIME. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yes, you heard that right. Are you thinking silly blonde cheerleader and sparkly vampires? You would be wrong. Let me give you the low down on the greatest television series EVER. Did I already say that? It bears repeating.

Oh and if you think your high school is horrible wait till you check out Sunnydale High School…

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Fictional Food: Recipes Inspired by Your Favorite Teen Fiction

My bookish friends, how often have you fantasized about wandering through Hogsmeade, slipping into the Three Broomsticks, and ordering yourself an excellent foaming hot tankard of Butterbeer? Or perhaps the tempting sweets of the White Witch from Chronicles of Narnia are more to your liking? Will it be Turkish Delight? Alice’s Looking-Glass Cake? Or Dauntless chocolate cake?

Some books are meant to be savored—some books devoured. Some, moreover, simply whet our appetites for food that we can never taste.
Or can we? Whether you’re culinary, literary, or both, I invite you to test out some of these fun cookbook compilations available in the library’s collection. Cook something right out of the pages of your favorite book! Be sure to check out some of these fun cookbooks.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory—More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Wizards and Non-Wizards Alike by Dinah Bucholz

Offers many a tempting treat for wizard or muggle (though those looking for butterbeer will be sorely disappointed). Explore Diagon Alley delights, treats from the train, Great Hall favorites, holiday fare and much more!

 FEATURED RECIPE:Hagrid’s Rock Cakes

hagrid-cakes

 Hagrid’s rock cakes, which are mentioned no less than three times in the Harry Potter books, are a standard with tea and hard as a rock if made authentically (to make a more palatable version don’t over bake and leave them out for several days like Hagrid probably did).

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