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Nourishing the Body and Mind with an Examination of African American Chefs and Cuisine!

3 Feb

For this year’s Black History Month, I wanted to serve up some not only tasty but also enlightening reads that explore and celebrate African American Cooks and Cuisine.

The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin

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Although African Americans have added many great dishes, techniques, and ingredients to the food culture of America, often their contributions have not been fully recognized and appreciated.  Tipton-Martin moves beyond soul food staples and looks back at a variety of cookbooks by African American starting in the time of slavery and moving into the 21st century including examples of illustrations from the books themselves.  This shows a fascinating progression of not only food, but the changing ethos of this country.  The book won a James Beard Foundation Book Award, 2016; Art of Eating Prize, 2015; and a BCALA Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation, 2016.  If you find this book fascinating you might also want to check out Psyche A. Williams-Forson’s scholarly Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power, which explores and goes beyond the stereotypical association of chicken with African Americans to look at issues of race, gender, and class and examines the way African American and also women’s cooking has often been marginalized by the larger American Culture.

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story about Edna Lewis by Robbin Gourley

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Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie is Robbin Gourley’s, author of the cookbook Cakewalk, first picture book.  Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie tells the fictionalized story of Edna Lewis during her childhood as she helps to garden, pick, and prepare fresh produce with her family.  Lewis was the granddaughter of emancipated slaves and her focus on fresh simple ingredients was a forerunner to the current local fresh food movement today.  I’m planning to check this one out to read with my son who should enjoy the bright vibrant watercolor illustrations, and being a budding chef I’m sure will want to pick out one of the five kid friendly recipes included to help make.  For adults wanting to recreate some of Lewis’s delicious recipes you can check out The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great Southern Cooks by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, In Pursuit of Flavor by Edna Lewis with Mary Goodbody, and The Taste of Country Cooking available from BCCLS libraries.  In 2014, Lewis was one of five chefs to be honored on United States Forever Stamps; “forever” to me is the perfect way to describe her lasting legacy.

Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem by Marcus Samuelsson

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Marcus Samuelsson is a James Beard Award Winning chef and author of several autobiographies and cookbooks.  In 2009, Samuelsson had the honor of being invited to be the guest chef for the first state dinner of Barack Obama’s presidency (and Obama and his guests had the honor of eating Samuelsson’s delicious food).  Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia and was adopted along with his sister by a Swedish family.  He spent time cooking in France before coming to America.  This diverse history informs his life and food.  At Red Rooster he sought to synthesize the many stories of Harlem, where his restaurant is based, including those of the many generations of African Americans who have lived there along with other immigrant communities, which creates a compelling fusion cuisine.  If you are curious to learn more about Samuelsson check out from HPL his biography Yes, Chef, which was also adapted for teens into Make it Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life.  Or for Samuelsson’s recipes borrow his cookbooks Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home, The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa, The New American Table, and Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine.

BCCLS libraries have a variety of modern African-American cookbooks to borrow including Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry, The New African-American Kitchen by Angela Shelf Medearis, and Low-Fat Soul by Jonell Nash.  Your little chef and budding historian can enjoy Addy’s Cookbook: A Peek at Dining in the Past with Meals You can Cook Today written by Rebecca Sample Bernstein, which features authentic recipes inspired by the popular fictional American Girl character Addy, who in the book series escaped slavery along with her mother.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Adulting 101: Books to Get You Started on Behaving Like an Adult

9 Dec

Whether it was when you moved out of your parents’ house or when you graduated college and started looking for your first job, at some point we all have that thought that we’re a grown up now.  Adulting doesn’t have to be filled with existential dread.  Here are a few books that will help you with everything from financial planning to finding the one.

What Your Financial Advisor Isn’t Telling You: The 10 Essential Truths You Need to Know About Your Money, by Liz Davidson

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Confused how to handle personal finances beyond balancing your check book? Then check out Liz Davidson’s What Your Financial Advisor Isn’t Telling You from HPL.  Financial advisor Davidson helps with how to find a trustworthy advisor and cut through some of the jargon surrounding the field.  She also looks at topics like paying off debts, the advantage of different types of employment benefits, and investing mutual funds.  You might also want to borrow from BCCLS Libraries, The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to be Complicated by Helaine Olen and Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson.

Avoiding the Con in Construction: How to Plan for Hassle-Free Home Building, Renovation, and Repair, by Kia Ricchi

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First time condo or home owner?  Avoiding the Con in Construction is written by a Florida based contractor who gives tips on planning, cost, and communicating with contractors on home projects.  I wish I had read this before we had renovated our kitchen since it would have helped us better work with our contractor.  If you are handy and looking to take care of repairs yourself consider, The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair: With 350 Projects and Over 2,000 Photos or The Useful Book : 201 Life Skills They Used to Teach in Home Ec and Shop by David and Sharon Bowers.

121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!), by Wendy Newman

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Once you are out of high school and college, dating can seem a bit more intimidating.  Lots of people have gone online to find love (it’s how I met my husband).  Relationship coach Wendy Newman draws from her own experiences to give you tips on online dating advice on everything from profile pictures, from what to expect, advice for making your first meeting safe, and how to make your first date great.  You can also check out Love: The Psychology of Attraction by Leslie Becker-Phelps for a fun infographic and quiz-filled book that will help you find and improve your relationships.

How to Cook Everything The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food, by Mark Bittman

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Bittman’s gives you the basics of cooking including everything from how to peel vegetables to how to hold a knife.  After reading the book you’ll understand the difference between roasting and broiling.  Helpful pictures illustrate the techniques and recipes.  You’ll also be given a list of recommended ingredients to have on hand and the cooking equipment any kitchen should have.  This could be the year you host Christmas!  Also check out Simply Scratch: 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy by Laurie McNamara.  Now that you’ve got cooking learn how to behave with Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother by Jeremiah Tower which looks at everything from RSVPs to iPhones at the table.

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, by Kelly Williams Brown  

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Finally if you are looking for something all-encompassing for your exploration of adulthood, this funny but informative book attempts to cover all the basics of being a grown-up from home care, autocare, getting a job, saving money, and more.  The guide may even soon become a TV series!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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