Friday, November 29, 2013

Holiday Recipes - Part One

Season’s greetings! One of the best parts of this magical time of the year is the festive food we enjoy at family gatherings and on cold winter nights throughout the season. This December we will be sharing some of our staff’s favorite holiday recipes and encourage you to try them yourself! Of course a lot of the time these kinds of dishes are tied to a tradition or memory so the staff may also reflect on what their choice means to them or why it is their favorite. Have fun trying out the staff’s favorite recipes and for more seasonal meals and treats check out one of the library’s many holiday cookbooks!

Our first recipe is from Jessica Lawrence. Jess is sharing a traditional family recipe for Dilly Bread. The dish is very special to her and sounds delicious! 

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It has been a tradition for the past 40 years in the Lawrence family to make Dilly Bread at every family gathering. It is simple, but filled with so much flavor and love. It always looks so lovely on the holiday table steaming fresh from the oven and with the scent of butter and dill unfurling in your nose. It is so well-loved that it makes other appearances throughout the year, but is an absolute necessity at every holiday meal. 

It was a prize-winning recipe in the 1960 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, but the matriarch of the Lawrence family got the recipe from a magazine and started making it in the 1970s. She has since passed it down to almost every member in the family and from there it has been shared with friends, neighbors and co-workers across the country who continue to share the recipe with their friends, neighbors and co-workers. 

I enjoyed it at the very first Christmas celebration I spent with my husband's family, and he has made it for me every year since then. This year, I tried my own hand at making it and shared it at my family's Thanksgiving feast. It turned out fabulously, and I was glad I brought copies of the recipe to hand out! 

I am thrilled to be able to spread the love and tastiness on to you. I hope you enjoy it as much as our families do.



DILLY BREAD

INGREDIENTS
2 to 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour 
2 tablespoons sugar 
2 to 3 teaspoons minced onion 
2 teaspoons dill seed (or to taste)
2 teaspoons dill weed (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup water 
1 tablespoon margarine or butter 
1 cup small curd cottage cheese 
1 egg 
2 teaspoons butter, melted 
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, if desired 

1. In large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, onion, dill seed, 1 teaspoon salt, baking soda and yeast (mix yeast with warm water first as described in instructions); mix well.

2. In small saucepan, heat water, 1 tablespoon butter and cottage cheese until pretty warm (120°F.). Add warm liquid and egg to flour mixture; blend at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

3. By hand, stir in remaining 1 to 1 2/3 cups flour to form a stiff batter. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80 to 85°F.) until light and doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. 

4. Generously grease 1 1/2 or 2-quart casserole dish or loaf pan(s). Press down batter to remove all air bubbles. Turn into greased dish. Cover; let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.

5. Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover dough. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until loaf is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when lightly tapped. If necessary, cover with foil to prevent over-browning. Remove from dish; place on wire rack. Brush loaf with melted butter; sprinkle with coarse salt. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm with pads of butter on each slice.

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For more seasonal recipes check out one of our holiday cookbooks.  The library has a great selection of holiday recipe books that can be found in the nonfiction section both on the main floor and children’s floor. We have a large variety of seasonal reading so also be sure to browse our holiday displays. Happy holidays! 

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk and Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Library Makes Your Holidays Merrier


It's the most wonderful time of the year, especially at the Collinsville Memorial Library Center where we like to go all out for the holiday season. Here is a list of the top ten reasons a visit to the library can make your Christmas merrier.

#10 You might spot Santa Claus watching TV in our community room.
#9 Arnold Schwarzenegger’s holiday classic "Jingle All The Way" is available for checkout.
#8 Just try and find a better deal on cross stitched Christmas ornaments. 
#7 Three words - FOOD FOR FINES!
#6 The 6th Annual Art & Author Holiday Market.
#5 Upon request Matt will perform his original rap "Crunk Christmas.”
#4 Our kitchen is open to anyone making fruitcakes.
#3 Somewhere in the library an elf is on a shelf.
#2 Eggnog really brightens up our already friendly staff.
#1 Obviously, the mistletoe.

Posted by Grahm Underwood, Library Clerk

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In Defense of Minecraft


If you have visited the Children’s Library recently you may have noticed quite the furor around the computer station over a game called Minecraft. For months now kids have been practically lining out the door to play the game – it’s not unusual to have a child at every single computer playing Minecraft. I initially was baffled by the game and couldn’t comprehend why it was the hot new thing but after some research have concluded that there are merits to it and there are certainly worse things kids could be spending their time on. While the amount of time kids often dedicate to the game, sometimes in all-day marathon bursts, is staggering, Minecraft challenges kid’s creativity and problem solving in a way few video games do.

Minecraft is a low-budget, online video game in which the player creates and builds the virtual world around them out of 3D cubes. Players can join in to each other’s worlds and play as a team online. In its simplest form, Minecraft is a bit like a virtual Lego world, in which the player stacks and arranges objects around them to construct objects. There are two modes in Minecraft: survival and creative. In survival mode players explore the world to gather resources in order to maintain their health while in creative mode players are free to craft the world around them without any limitations. Both modes offer the signature blend of exploration and constructing central to the game.

I was initially skeptical of the game more as a life-long video game enthusiast than anything else. That is to say I simply thought it looked boring and couldn’t understand why the kids loved it so much. As someone who grew up with Mario fighting through the Mushroom Kingdom and the complex, impressively in-depth worlds of Grand Theft Auto, I just didn’t see any allure in the simplistic game play and ugly, blocky textures of Minecraft. I rolled my eyes at the game while simultaneously feeling sure that I must be missing out on something.
I haven’t figured out what that something is, as I personally still have no desire to play Minecraft, but have been able to conclude that even if I don’t understand why the kids like the game it may not be such a bad thing that they do. With its basic format of exploration and construction, Minecraft is a completely family-friendly, skill based game that challenges kids to solve problems and be creative. I can speak from personal experience to say that there are countless other games on the internet that do not have comparable credentials. Most easily accessible games on the internet boil down to absurdist humor and reaction speed and don’t offer anything approaching the level of depth and challenge in Minecraft. Furthermore, while it wouldn’t be a problem in the Children’s Library where the computers are restricted to age-appropriate content, there are of course many games that are entirely inappropriate on the internet and Minecraft offers a safe, clean environment for kids to be creative in.


While we certainly all wish children today would spend half as much time reading as they do playing games, when you can’t fight against the tide it is best to swim with it. Kids are going to play video games and if they are we can at least hope they choose the ones that are most worthwhile. Minecraft may not look like much fun to you or I but it probably wouldn’t be as popular with kids if it did. The game is at least a challenging, clean, sometimes educational experience and when the next big craze comes along we may end up looking back fondly on it in comparison.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Upcoming Friends of the Library Book Sale


Grab your reading list and join us for our Friends of the Library Book Sale, which offers books, records, videos and more all ready for you to take home!  Held every other month throughout the year, this book sale offers hundreds of items on every subject including biography, romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and cook books to name just a few! Our next sale is Tuesday November 26th from 9-8pm.

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review - "The First Phone Call From Heaven" by Mitch Albom


Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call From Heaven, is a story that moves the reader to consider the question of life after death. But not just whether there is an afterlife or not, but also the question of if we could communicate with those in heaven, or better, if they could talk to us, what would be the result. 

Albom is careful not to go too deep into theology and the conversations in the book speak only in very broad terms about the nature of heaven. I was reminded of the phone calls made from flight 93 on September 11th, when all on board knew that to defeat the terrorists meant that the plane was going to crash. What does one say in that last phone call? What would you say if you could speak to a deceased loved one? What would you want to hear from them? These questions and the book as a whole cause the reader to realize how fragile life is and how precious the relationships we enjoy really are. 

The story explores how the news of such miraculous phone calls might affect the recipients, their town, and in the age of the internet and 24 hour news, the whole world. As one expects form Albom, there is faith, hope, love, and in this story grief and intrigue. I enjoyed how he wove details about the invention of the telephone into the story, which were not only informative but also helped emphasize the rapid pace of change, the importance of each moment, and how small incidents can often make a big difference. 

It is a quick read, entertaining, sometimes emotional, and causes one to think about life, death and eternal life. Well worth checking out.

Posted by Jim Ritter, Library Clerk

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Infinite Wasteland - Television 50 Years After Minow's Vast Wasteland


When Newton Minow gave his now famous Television and Public Interest Speech (or "Wasteland Speech") as head of the FCC under President John Kennedy in 1961 the world and television were very different from how they are now. At the time there were only three networks in the United States, demographics were less diverse, and a conservative social culture provided a sort of unwritten code for what was acceptable on television. However much of Minnow's speech remains not just relevant but absolutely significant to this day. Unfortunately much of it could still pertain to television today almost as much as it did back then.

In his speech Minow said: "Your industry possesses the most powerful voice in America. It has an inescapable duty to make that voice ring with intelligence and with leadership." While relatively television has improved in this regard with stations like PBS, National Geographic, and the History Channel the medium is also directly responsible for the dumbing down of society with programming like The Jersey Shore and Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Even in a world with hundreds of channels available on cable that air content 24/7 Minow's challenge to "sit down in front of your television set...and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you" would be a painful one to endure. If you stick to the major networks and local channels you will still have to sit through countless game, phony judge, and dysfunctional family shows that offer no educational or artistic merit.

It would seem that in the years since, television has not heeded Minow's words that "We all know that people would more often prefer to be entertained than stimulated or informed. But your obligations are not satisfied if you look only to popularity as a test of what to broadcast. You are not only in show business; you are free to communicate ideas as well as relaxation". Indeed, it seems apparent from the state of channels like MTV and TMZ that some in television seek only to exploit mind numbing entertainment for the sake of ratings. Even major news networks like CNN are guilty of running ridiculous entertainment or "fluff" pieces that aren't in the interest of anyone.

The Kennedy/Nixon debate and Edward Murrow's Harvest of Shame, both of which aired a year before Minow's address in 1960 were exemplary of the kind of content Minow hoped the networks would more often pursue. And television did improve in response to Minow's remarks. The informative, historically enlightening broadcast of the White House Tour by Jacqueline Kennedy was an example of it at the time and since then television has become home to more challenging, creatively satisfying content such as Breaking Bad and Mad Men that have broke the ceiling of what is thought to be acceptable as television entertainment. However one flip through my TV Guide convinces me that here fifty years later we have not entirely achieved the goals, ambitions, and hopes that Minow laid out for the medium.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

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In addition to books on the metamorphosis of television over the years, the library also has an extensive T.V. series collection. Stop by and check out both classic and modern television shows and compare them for yourself. Where do you think the evolution of television is headed?