Archive | June, 2016

Digital Delivery Delicacies: Food-A Cultural Culinary History, Online Courses from Universal Class, and more!

15 Jun

If you have been wanting to expand your culinary knowledge and skills, but don’t have time to attend a class in person then checkout these great online lectures and courses available from home for Hoboken Library Card holders.

Food: A Cultural Culinary History and The Everyday Gourmet

For Hoboken Library and other BCCLS Library Patrons interested in learning about the history of food check out episodes of Food: A Cultural Culinary History, part of The Great Courses lecture series available from Hoopla.  Although best watched in order since each of the 36 lecture builds on one another, they are filmed as 30 minute segments by topics on specific regions/eras so if you are just interested in specific food cultures/time periods you can skip around.  The lecture starts at the Stone Age and then moves through different times in history including Ancient Egypt, Elizabethan England, Edo Era Japan and ending with a look into what the future of food might be.  I found the lectures very interesting in the way they looked at not only food trends, but the way history impacted the food we eat and the way food in turn influenced history.  You can pick up some great tidbits for cocktail party chatter.  The course is taught by Dr. Ken Albala, Professor of History at the University of the Pacific in California, where he teaches food history.  The series is also available on DVD from BCCLS libraries and you can check out several of Albala’s books in print on a variety of food history topics.

Hoopla has other lectures from The Great Courses series including several Everyday Gourmet courses on topics such as Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking, Essential Secrets of Spices in Cooking, and Baking Pastries and Desserts.  I have checked out the first of the Baking Pastries and Dessert lectures and plan to watch more in the future.  It has some useful tips for beginners like how to ensure all the ingredients are mixed.


Hoopla also features a variety of cookbooks and ebooks on food history.  I enjoyed reading The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin by Michael Krondl.  My parent’s house was behind Dunkin’ Donuts so the delicious smell of fresh made donuts makes me think of home; it was fun to learn about their history and other notable moments in donut history.  Also featured are a baker’s dozen of donut recipes including ones from around the world such as Venetian Carnival Fritters and Oliebollen Dutch Donuts.  My husband was inspired to make the Nutella filled Bombolonis-Yum!  Remember BCCLS patrons have 20 checkouts for Hoopla per month of books, movies, music and more!


Get Cooking and Baking with Universal Class
For those looking for a more interactive learning experience check out some of the cooking classes available to Hoboken Patrons from Universal Class including online courses on:

If you don’t have a Hoboken Library Resident Card to access Universal Class from home, you can access the courses from within the library on the library’s computers or from your wi-fi enabled laptop.  The courses each feature an instructor who you can email about assignments with.  The courses are self-paced and you have a six month period to complete them.  This is a great way to expand your repertoire and learn some new skills.  I love baking cakes and cookies, but have always found pies intimidating so I’m hoping to take the pie baking course and be able to have homemade rather than store-bought pumpkin and apple pies for Thanksgiving.  Courses are available 24/7 so they are perfect for a busy working mom like me since I can work on them after my little guy goes to bed.  Besides the classes that will appeal to beginning cooks there are also ones on a variety of other topics such as Excel, Grammar, and Resume Writing.  The courses are easy to navigate.

And if you are looking for an in person class for foodies we have that too; on Monday June 13 back by popular demand I will be co-teaching a class on ice cream making using a machine as wells as an easy recipe using just plastic bags, ice, salt and a few simple ingredients.  This is a fun class for adults, older kids, and teens!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Quick Staff Pick: Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

8 Jun

Great North Road is a commitment. At 914 pages (paperback) it is
well plotted, has characters that you’ll really care about, a lot of
sci-fi concepts, and an intriguing mystery.


The North family is a dynasty that is coming apart at the seams. The
three sons of Kane North (Augustine, Bartram, and Constantine) have
cloned themselves and are pursuing different interests in different
parts of the galaxy. It is 2143, and interstellar travel is common,
with new outposts of humanity and clones inhabiting strange new
worlds. The cloning thing doesn’t quite have all the bugs worked out
yet, as the clones of clones tend to lose intelligence as the copies
of copies seem to introduce flaws. The clones are conveniently named
with A, B, and C names to help keep them straight and help you
remember who is allied with whom. There is also a lengthy list of
characters at the front of the book to help you keep the other
characters straight. It isn’t quite complete, though, because the book
is a mystery, and to list all the characters and suspects would lead
to spoilers. So you will encounter names that you will have to
remember as the story progresses.

While the narrative progresses in strictly date-defined chronological
order, it also includes uses some present-tense background fill-in
that gradually paints the broader picture of how these characters came
to this point and how they relate to one another.

Sound confusing? It’s really not.

The gist of the plot is this: A North is murdered and despite DNA info
and a lot of futuristic surveillance technology Sid Hurst and his
homicide team have trouble identifying the victim, let alone the
perpetrator. The body, however, has tell-tale forensic details that
tie it to the death of Bartram North. Bartram’s killer, Angela
Tramelo, is imprisoned and could not have committed the second murder.
Angela has always claimed her innocence and says that a
humanoid-looking monster is responsible for the killing.
So the search for the killer proceeds on two fronts: a search for a
monster who arrived via interstellar travel, or someone with an ax to
grind against the North family.

While some of the descriptions of society in the age of advanced
technology are pretty cool, Hamilton can get a little bogged down
describing the technology. And over 900 pages, there were parts of the
novel that dragged a bit. I was glad that I kept slogging through at
points, though, as the book as a whole was worth the time and effort,
and provided a look at what the future may hold. Cloning, omnipresent
surveillance, deporting society’s undesirables…the future may be
nearer than we think.

-Written by Victoria Turk, Reference Librarian

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