Sunday, 27 December 2009

All that Remains

As hard as it is to believe Christmas was just two short days ago and I’m sure I’m not the only one with leftovers in my fridge. We’ve reached decision time: should I just reheat them as they are or make them in to a whole new meal? I usually make a turkey pot pie out of my leftovers, but sometimes I get a craving for something different.

Where do you find recipes for leftovers? Often they seem to be passed down through families rather than recorded which can make them difficult to find. I searched the library catalogue and found a couple of titles to share. I also did a search on the Internet and have some websites to share with you. We’ll start with the books and then move to the Internet resources.

First up is Recipes for Leftovers by Jean Pare, this title can also be found in Meals in No Time (a 3-in-1 Cookbook Collection). It’s part of the Company’s Coming series and includes such mouthwatering recipes as: Turkey Strata, Asian Turkey Noodle Salad, and Potato and Cheese Scones. I willingly admit to scanning for recipes that contained my most likely leftovers.

The second book I found is checked out so I haven’t had the opportunity to flip through its pages. Based on the reviews Cooking from the Hip: Fast, Easy, Phenomenal Meals by Cat Cora looks fabulous. Recipes are divided in to four sections those mentioned in the title (fast, easy, and phenomenal) plus fun! I took at the index (available on the website) and found some interesting recipes. The beef, chicken, and vegetable stock recipes each have the choice of easy or phenomenal. This intrigues me because sometimes you really just want quick and easy stock, but at other times you have the luxury of taking your time to make a more interesting stock.

After searching our catalogue I decided to jump in to an internet search. I love recipe sites, so I had some places I already knew I wanted to start. The first one is the BBC’s (British Broadcasting Corporation) Food site. Once there I searched for leftovers and found the recipe I will probably make Boxing Day: Conchiglie al forno (baked pasta shells in a cheese and Christmas leftovers sauce) sounds like the perfect way to use up leftover turkey and stuffing. It’s essentially a pasta casserole with the main pieces of the Christmas dinner baked in!

The next website I visited was one of the first recipe sites I was introduced to by my high school English teacher – Epicurious. I did another keyword search for leftovers and found Stuffed Rolled Tortillas. The recipe author suggests that tortillas are a great way to make any leftovers interesting and I think she might be on to something there. Another recipe that came up was fried rice, you can use both your leftover rice and meat from a previous meal to make something new.

The final website I visited in this quest was Allrecipes. Like Epicurious, it is associated with cooking magazines, but it also has a lot of recipes provided by its community. So if you want to share your grandmother’s best pie recipes this is likely the best place to do so. When I searched for leftovers on Allrecipes I got by far and away the most results. I then tend to order them by rankings to see which people liked the best. Turkey salad, chicken enchiladas, and white cheese chicken lasagna all came up as highly rated recipes using leftovers. There’s a lot to explore on all these websites and in the cookbooks, so enjoy your leftovers this year!

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas, Children's and Youth Services Librarian at the Brodie Resource Library –

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Sunday December 20th Holiday Gift Giving

With Christmas almost upon us, now is the time for panic to set in about those last few gifts to purchase and the unexpected gifts for people who somehow fell off the original list. Are you feeling the pressure? While walking around the mall recently, I was noticing how most people had far fewer parcels and loads of purchases than what I would expect for this time of year. This reminder of the difficult economic year we’ve had started me thinking of the solution I used in order to make the holidays merry for everyone on my list while sticking to a budget. The answer was simple: home-made gifts. You don’t have to be a crafter to pull this off, just be creative. Here are some suggestions from the shelves of the Thunder Bay Public Library. Whether you are the type to plan out gift making strategies ahead of time, or wait until the last minute to throw something together, hopefully the following suggestions will provide some inspiration.

For those of you who are crafters, there is a wide variety of items to make and give. Knit and crochet accessories seem to be really popular this year. For ideas and patterns on making your own socks, toques, mitts, and many other personal and home accessories check out KNITTING A KISS IN EVERY STITCH: CREATING GIFTS FOR THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE by Nicky Epstein. This book also provides some new and unique ideas for holiday gifts and group knitting projects. But if you’re not into yarn and still want to be crafty you could make your own cards (ULTIMATE CARDMAKING: A COLLECTION OF OVER 100 TECHNIQUES AND 50 INSPIRATIONAL PROJECTS by Sarah Beaman), get creative with gift wrapping (GIFT WRAPPING AND GREETING CARDS: CREATIVE IDEAS FOR PERSONALIZING GIFTS AND CARDS by Lydia Darbyshire), or use your skills with a digital camera to create lasting memories for a loved one (99 DIGITAL PHOTO ART IDEAS by Annabel Williams).

To ease the strain on the environment this Christmas, why not strive to have a green holiday this year? The Library has many resources with ideas for environmentally friendly gift giving – such as THE BIG GREEN BOOK OF RECYCLED CRAFTS by Susan Sullivan or I’M DREAMING OF A GREEN CHRISTMAS by Anna Getty.

My personal favorite for home-made gifts however, is baked goods. Go digging through your recipe box for old favorites or come by the Library to browse our cook book selection for inspiration from HOLIDAY FUN: RECIPES TO MAKE YOUR OWN GIFTS and other titles. You might even find a new family favourite!

This holiday season remember that it’s the thought that counts, not how much went into the purchase. And with that in mind, where better to get a good deal than your local branch of the Thunder Bay Public Library, where ideas and inspiration are free all year round!

Jesse Roberts, Head of Reference Services

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sunday December 13th, 2009 Snow

Snow. Sometimes you love it; sometimes you hate it; sometimes you create sculptures out of it and sometimes it hits you in the head. I like it best when it falls soft and white and lazily, lacing the tree branches with white and brightening up the woods and streets alike. Perhaps we all have a bit of a love/hate relationship with snow here in the north. For certain, most Canadians have a proper respect for it, for we’ve all seen what it can do at times – downing power lines, stranding cars, covering everything in its path in an avalanche. So today’s column is humbly dedicated to snow. What do we really know about it?

Is snow truly pure as in the phrase “pure as the driven snow”?

You might not want to stick out your tongue to catch the snowflakes when you consider what David Philips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada has to say about the composition of snow. “Snow begins with a nucleus, which can be a speck of dust, or salt or spore, or a bit of pollution. Then water vapour in the air condenses onto that speck and grows.” And before you scoop up a handful of snow to eat, don’t forget about the little snow fleas which thrive in snow which is on the ground.


Are there really no two snowflakes which are exactly alike?

Considering that billions and billions of snowflakes fall during a single storm, it is probably safer to say that no person has ever observed two identical snowflakes up until this time. Snowflakes do come in a variety of shapes and sizes which scientists have classified into seven basic shapes- stellar (or star), irregular, hexagonal, spatial, columns and needles.

Source: Snow by John Bianchi and Frank B. Edwards

Why do snowmen have brooms?

Bob Eckstein, aka the Snowman expert, answers this in his book. There doesn’t seem to be any special meaning or symbolism in this choice except to say that children found a broom could easily be stuck into the snowman’s torso. The earliest engravings of snowmen in the late 1790s showed snowman decorated with objects found around a farm – baskets or buckets for hats and canes, sticks or broom stuck in their body.

Source: The History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein

When did Frosty the Snowman come into existence?

I can’t imagine a Christmas without a reference to the magical Frosty, but he only “came to life one day” during the 1950 Christmas season when he was introduced in a song written by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins. “Frosty the Snowman” was an instant, international hit and he became even more popular when a Golden Book by Annie North Bedford was published in 1951.

Source: Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Edited by Sara and Tom Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s.

When did Bonhomme first appear?

For nearly half a century, Bonhomme , the chubby and happy snowman has been a beloved mascot for the Carnival winter festival in Quebec. He wears the traditional red hat and belt and lives in an ice palace erected for the festivities. Bonhomme was created in 1954 and since 1955, the date of the first annual Carnival, he has personified the "joie de vivre" associated with this winter celebration.

Source: “Festivals” L’encyclopedia. 2002

What causes snow blindness?

Also known as photoheratitis or niphablepsia, snow blindness happens when the intense sunlight of the springtime in the Arctic reflects off snow and temporarily (but painfully) blinds the viewer. To prevent this, the Inuit created snow goggles. These were fashioned out of wood or antler to fit the contours of the face snugly and only allowed light to enter through narrow viewing slits. Even today, they are quite superior to sunglasses for preventing this affliction.

Source: The Inuit Thought of It by Alootook Ipellie and David MacDonald

What is snud?

Well, it’s not snow and it’s not mud – it’s that dirty, sloppy accumulation of snow which builds up behind your car tires – it’s snud! My brother recalls Arthur Black describing this word when he lived here in Thunder Bay, and describing the national Canadian pastime of kicking snud off your tires and watching the satisfying plop or thud of the snud falling away. Whether the word originated with Black or not, it’s a great word to describe this ubiquitous but seldom mentioned phenomenon.


So kick that snud off your tires and head to your nearest branch of the public library where you can learn much, much more about snow. Or make a cup of hot chocolate and settle down by your computer and search the information databases for more snow facts at

This article was written by Angela Meady, Head of Children’s & Youth Services

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sunday December 6th, 2009 Christmas Novels

The months leading up to Christmas are a busy time for everyone. Be sure to make time to just relax, maybe pour yourself a bubble bath and read a good book. As December 25 nears I find myself wanting to read novels about Christmas. It’s just one more thing that helps you get into the spirit of it and can leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. A nice cup of cocoa also helps. Here are a few books that I’ve enjoyed, I hope you will too.

A Redbird Christmas: A Novel by Fannie Flagg

When 52 year old Oswald T. Campbell is told he has less than a year to live he escapes Chicago to spend what will likely be his last Christmas in the small Alabama town of Lost River. This sleepy little community located on a lazy river, welcomes him into their fold. Oswald spends his days visiting the grocery store, waiting for the postman to come by boat and accepting dinner invitations from a wealth of single older women. Here he meets Jack, the resident cardinal or redbird as the locals call it. It’s a delightful story about a Christmas miracle so amazing that witnesses have never forgotten it. A Redbird Christmas is also available as an e-book, which is accessible from the OverDrive database in our Virtual Collection.

Shepherds Abiding: A Mitford Christmas Story by Jan Karon

I’m a fan of Father Tim and all the residents of Mitford, and I have to say it doesn’t get much better than Christmas and Mitford all in one book. When Father Tim finds a battered nativity set in his friend’s antique shop, he sets out to restore it as a Christmas gift for his wife Cynthia. Inspired by memories of a manger from his childhood, Tim takes on the challenge of repainting every piece and even giving one of the wise men a new nose. This retirement project gives Tim a chance to learn to work with his hands, and the thought of Cynthia’s face when she sees the manger, is all the inspiration he needs. Publishers Weekly said – Written in light, breezy prose that shimmers with faith and good hope, Karon’s story goes down like hot cocoa by the fireplace.

A Christmas Star by Thomas Kinkade

This title is part of the Cape Light series by American artist, Thomas Kinkade. Cape Light is a small New England town, similar to Mitford. Perhaps that’s why I’ve enjoyed this series. This volume finds Sam and Jessica Morgan facing a sad holiday season after they lose their home to fire. With no home of their own, they find themselves relying on the kindness of others to house them. Meanwhile Julie Newton and her young daughter are in need of a place to stay when their car breaks down and they have nowhere to go. Grieving widower, Jack Sawyer, comes to their rescue, but is he ready to let someone new into his life. A delightful tale and a perfect Christmas read.

The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere

This book is based on a chance encounter between two people out Christmas shopping. Robert Layton, a successful lawyer, is so wrapped up in his career that he’s about to lose his family. Meanwhile, eight year old Nathan Andrews is losing his beloved mother, Maggie, to cancer. Nathan wants to buy his mom a pair of shoes as a going away present. When he realizes that Nathan doesn’t have enough money, Robert helps him purchase the shoes. What follows is a heartwarming tale that will have you reaching for a hankie. This title is also available on DVD. So, if you don’t have time to sit and read, you could just sit and watch and maybe even wrap a few gifts while you’re doing it.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your holiday preparations, take a deep breath and grab a good book. This should give you a start to capture that wonderful Christmas feeling that only comes once a year. And since it is only 19 sleeps away I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful holiday season. See you next year.

Karen Craib is a Library Technician