Sunday, 26 August 2007

August 26, 2007 Culinary Mysteries

The last few mornings I've woken up to a chill in the air and a soft, crisp scent which tells me that autumn is on its way. Even the wind feels subtly different as it caresses my arms during my morning walks. It's during this time that my reading tastes change, the big fluffy beach reads can't seem to hold my interest but it's too early for the deeper novels and intense thrillers that I look forward to when fall has truly taken hold and the warmth of a big armchair is my siren song. It's at the hint of autumn each year that I turn to cosy mysteries and pulling out my crockpot.

Over the last few years, crops of light mysteries have arrived on the bookshelves frequently featuring homey themes, like crafting, antiquing, book collecting or cooking, with each possessing its own charms. One of my closest friends, a dyed in the wool crafter loves the crafting mysteries, whether its needlework, knitting, candle-making or quilts. Unfortunately, having never quite completed my grade 8 sewing assignment and having at least two large bins of unfinished craft projects, reading about sharp witted sleuths who can catch a killer and still finish an afghan, fills me with guilt.

forte is a good culinary crime, and I wasn't referring to my skills in the kitchen. Strangely, the combination of choking and cheesecake or stabbings and steak tartare, bound up with spunky characters and humourous dialogue make for a great read. The books always include recipes that are usually easy and delicious. The library is full of cozy mysteries, no matter what your taste. Here are a few of the newer titles to whet your appetite.

Cherry Cheesecake Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries)by Joanne Fluke The seventh Hannah Swensen mystery finds a movie crew in search of a quaint Minnesota location arriving in Hannah's hometown, and filming goes smoothly until the cruel and lecherous director, accidentally shoots himself on the set. But was his death really an accident? Between baking batches of Double Flake Cookies and Angel Kisses, Hannah figures out whodunit.

Culinary Mysteries by Nancy Fairbanks El Paso, Tex., food writer Carolyn Blue takes a gourmet cruise but things turn sour when another passenger, Mrs. Gross, goes missing. Was she accidentally left behind when the cruise ship docked? Or could something more sinister be afoot and what happened to the double chocolate raspberry mousse? The series is sprinkled with loads of fun and easy recipes.

Something's Cooking (An Angelina Amalfi Mystery) by Joanne Pence
For Angelina Amalfi, a gourmet chef and food writer normally life's a picnic until one of her recipe contributors winds up dead and Angie suddenly finds herself being stalked by a killer, who saw the previous murder as a first course. Paavo Smith, the homicide cop assigned to the case, is definitely a hot dish, but when everyone around her is in danger, Angie realizes she'll have to whip up a survival scheme before her goose gets cooked.

Hell Hath No Curry: A Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery (Pennsylvania Dutch Mysteries with
Recipes) by Tamar Myers In Myers's 15th crime caper starring Amish-Mennonite sleuth and innkeeper Magdalena Yoder, the corpse du jour is scoundrel Cornelius Weaver, and any one of his seven girlfriends ,all women scorned ,may be the killer. Familiar cast members provide the usual foils as Magdalena, copes with two murders, one by poisoned curry and her upcoming wedding.

Blood Orange Brewing ( A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs
Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's Indigo Tea Shop, is catering a fund-raiser for the local Heritage Society. The food is great, and all of Charleston's bigwigs are enjoying themselves, until a retired businessman and sleazy politician, Duke Wilkes, is murdered. With a great eye for local colour the reader in taken on tours of stately homes and Civil War re-enactments, as well as providing some mouth-watering recipes and tea tips and a delicious puzzle.

Sweet Revenge (Goldy Culinary Mystery)by Diane Mott Davidson
Davidson is really cooking in her 14th culinary suspense novel to feature Colorado crime-solving caterer Goldy Schulz As the Christmas season approaches, Goldy is thrilled to be catering a breakfast for the local library, but when the body of Drew Wellington, the disgraced former DA, turns up in the library, Goldy is forced to put her recipes on the back burner and find the murderer. In keeping with the literary theme, recipes included are Great Expectations Grapefruit, Chuzzlewit Cheese Pie, and Bleak House Bars.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 12 August 2007

August 12, 2007 Pigs

I love pigs. I think I may have mentioned this before. It all began with a little pig named Arnold Ziffel. For all intents and purposes he was the son of Fred and Doris Ziffel on the sixties television show Green Acres. He was one smart pig. He could play the piano and change the television channels on the family television. And that was before we had remote controls. He even went to school with the other children. I fell in love with Arnold and thus began my appreciation of the pig. I love the way pigs look, the way they snort, their curly tails and the feel of their noses. My love of pigs may be in the genes. My father used to tell me his mother had a pet pig. This column is a celebration of the pig.

When I set out to write this column I didn't realize that 2007 is the year of the pig in the Chinese lunar calendar. According to the February 17th edition of The Seoul Times newspaper it is actually the Year of the Golden Pig, which happens every 600 years. People born in the year of the pig have a kind and understanding nature and included are famous people such as Julie Andrews and Steven Spielberg. The Royal Canadian Mint is offering a beautiful lunar hologram gold coin of a pig. It is available for $498.95. Canada Post is offering a beautiful embossed pig stamp. I think it is more in my price range.

The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery is a good good book. If you read only one book about pigs this year, this should be it. Animal lovers will enjoy the heartwarming tale of the special bond between Christopher Hogwood and his family. Adopted as a sickly runt, he grew to nearly 750 pounds and lived for fourteen years. A celebrity in his hometown he had many human friends. He taught his extended family all about life, love and growing old gracefully. A pig of simple needs he
enjoyed eating, and resting in the sunshine on a summer's day (who doesn't). I thought I knew a lot about pigs, but found out many interesting things.

One of my favourite pig movies is Babe. It was recommended to me by several people and I purchased it sight unseen. What an adorable little pig he is. If you aren't familiar with the story, Babe lives with the Hoggett family, where he is reared by a border collie. He thinks he is a dog and develops excellent sheep herding skills. This movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, one of which was for best picture. The library carries Babe on both dvd and videocassette.

There are many well known quotations involving pigs, such as to buy a pig in a poke. What does that actually mean? According to the book Have A Nice Day – No Problem! by Christine Ammer, it means to purchase something sight unseen and risk disappointment. It comes from an old practice of vendors who put a cat in a bag, rather than a suckling pig. One of my favourite pig authors would have to be none other than Miss Piggy. The library carries Miss Piggy's Guide To Life. It's a fun book to read full of information on fashion, diet, exercise, romance, etc. She offers beauty tips for a variety of problems such as crow's feet. You just have to wear little scarecrow earrings. I've credited Paris Hilton with the popularity of using a small dog as an accessory. In fact Miss Piggy lists very small dogs in her what's in fashion list, and this was written twenty five years ago. She was a pig ahead of her time.

The Complete Pig by Sara Rath has adorable photos of pigs and piglets of every type. It's filled with quotations and interesting bits of information. For example did you know that a pig-puzzle is a gate that is made to swing both ways? Apparently there are lots of these in Scotland, but they use them for sheep. Have you ever been to a Piggly Wiggly store? According to this book they were the first self-service grocery store in America. Prior to their opening in 1916 customers would give their order to a clerk, who would retrieve items on the list. I wonder if they had an express clerk, who could move really fast? For more information on the store visit It
has sample meals, complete with recipes and their nutritional values and you can even convert the recipe to a shopping list, which you can then print out.

If you are a Winnie the Pooh fan, you may have noticed that you see a lot of Winnie and Tigger, but not much of Piglet. A few years ago I was happy to see Piglet finally get the recognition he deserved, his own movie. When he goes missing, Pooh and the gang has to search for him. It's a story about friendships and how they come to appreciate what an important little pig he is. The library carries Piglet's Big Movie on dvd, as well as the soundtrack.

If you are looking for articles on pot bellied pigs, please try one of the magazine indexes in our Virtual Collection, such as InfoTrac OneFile. Remember the Virtual Collection is available 24 hours a day.

I hope you have enjoyed this column. Perhaps you learned something new
and came to a new appreciation of the pig. I enjoyed writing this column, but it was over in a pig's whisper (which is a reference to time, it means merely an instant).

Karen Craib, Library Technician, Reference Services

Sunday, 5 August 2007

August 5, 2007 Blueberries

It's blueberry festival time! The 25th anniversary of the annual blueberry festival in Sioux Lookout is running August 3 to 12 (see and the 6th annual Nipigon
blueberry blast is taking place August 3-6 (call 1-877-596-1359 for information). So take advantage of this great time of year to go out and enjoy these and other berries.

What are the health benefits of blueberries?

There is growing evidence that the antioxidants contained in blueberries help fight aging, cancer and heart disease. One serving of fresh blueberries, especially the wild ones, provides more
antioxidants than many other fruits and vegetables. See and for more information on the health benefits of blueberries.

Do Saskatoon berries have similar health benefits?

Yes, they do. The Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association cites a three year study that has shown that the antioxidant activity of the saskatoon berry is comparative to that of the blueberry, blackberry and grape seed extract. However, they are higher in protein, fat, fiber, calcium, iron and potassium . For a side-by-side chart, see:

I've heard the Saskatoon berry called a serviceberry? Are they the same?

Yes, there are several other names for the Saskatoon berry as well: juneberry, shad-blossom, shadbush, mespilus, and sarvis. (

What is a bumbleberry?

This is not one berry but a combination of berries and fruit, a "tumble" of fruit as I've seen it described. The fruit could be rhubarb, strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries,
and/or blackberries. Check out this interesting story by Jeannette Ferrary about her search for the elusive bumbleberry: It
includes a recipe for bumbleberry pie as well.

How do I tell a chokecherry from a pin cherry?

Chokecherry leaves are egg-shaped with fine, sharp teeth. Pin cherry leaves a narrow, have in-curved teeth and are bright green and shiny above, paler beneath. The white flowers of the chokecherry are in long, dense clusters whereas the pin cherry has white flowers in umbrella-like clusters. Both have pea-sized berries which are too sour to eat fresh but make delicious jelly. Chokecherries are dark red to purplish black and pin cherries are light red. (A Field Guide
to Berries and Berrylike Fruits).

Before you get your berries you might want to check out these berry recipe books: Berries: a Cookbook, Berries: a Harrowsmith Gardener's Guide, The Berry Cookbook, The Compleat Blueberry Cookbook, Berries: a Country Garden Cookbook, Summer Berries, and Cooking with Berries. And, if you're a mystery reader, you'll be familiar with Joanne Fluke's culinary mysteries that feature recipes. Have a look at Blueberry Muffin Murder that includes a recipe for these muffins and 7 other baked goods. If you're a fan of this genre, go to NoveList in our virtual collection to find titles of similar books. For help with this or any of your searching needs, don't hesitate to call, e-mail or instant message library staff for assistance.

Happy berry season!

Sylvia Renaud, Head of Reference Services