Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sunday August 25, 2013 Fresh Horizons

My husband and I are thinking of selling our family home and relocating to a different province. We have been considering this move for a few years now. And yes, we’ve heard all the arguments both for and against. There are those who think we are too old/crazy/irresponsible/brave/all of the aforementioned, to exchange our established, comfortable existence for new and uncharted territory. But, that’s what makes it so exciting!  We have arrived at a point in our lives when it is time for another adventure. Wait now, hold the applause. There is family waiting for us at our final destination. Kind of takes the “wow” out of it, huh? Not quite as radical as it first sounds, is it? Don’t care. Can’t wait! However, first things first – we must sell our house. Now, fortunately I work at the Library and there are a number of books and electronic resources that can be consulted on everything from staging your home to selecting the right realtor. These have helped significantly to reduce the “scary” in the whole process and I encourage anyone who is anticipating a move in their future to preview what the Library has to offer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!                

I found Welcome Home by Sarah Daniels to be a good beginning even though it has a copyright date of 2010. Usually, I prefer sources that are a bit more current. But it IS a Canadian publication and it does offer some relevant tips on finding the right realtor, negotiating a fair deal and locating the ideal property. So it gets a “two thumbs up” from me.            

Next, I instinctively gravitated towards Buying and Selling a Home for Canadians for Dummies c2011. I find comfort in the “dummies” series because they contain a refreshing lack of jargon that makes their contents more easily understood and they usually include everything you need to know. (Plus, their focus group is “dummies” for goodness sakes! I feel right at home.) I was not disappointed. It is a fairly up-to-date resource and discusses everything from arranging finances and hiring an agent, to making and fielding offers, assessing house values and inspecting prospective homes. An added bonus is that the Library offers it in both book and electronic format so you can choose what best suits your needs.                    

From Renos to Riches : The Canadian Real Estate Investor’s Guide to Practical and Profitable Renovations c2012 and Fix & Flip c2013 are two more great sources. Even though my husband and I can hardly be described as “home flippers” these books offer all kinds of information and innovative ideas on ways to fix up your home preparatory to selling it.        

Of course, these days every real estate show on T.V. emphasizes the importance of “staging” your home. Silly me! I thought it just had to be clean and organized. Maybe, at one time that was enough but now, in order to facilitate a quick and profitable sale one must PRESENT one’s home. So, enter Hot Property c2007 by Alex Newman and Home Staging c2006 by Barb Schwarz. Actually, they offer a lot of practical ideas on how to create curb appeal, what and what not to do with your kitchen and bathrooms, how to emphasize the best features of your house and the art of de-cluttering. But, perhaps the most important thing they do is teach you to consider your home through a buyer`s eyes. For me, that has been an invaluable lesson.

And now that the research is done and the honey-do list compiled, it should be clear and easy sailing right? I only wish. I suspect that the real work is just beginning but somehow, the incurable optimist part of me believes that in the end, it all will have been worth it.  Fingers crossed!

Jill Otto

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sunday August 18, 2013 Food Trucks

Just like food on a stick, restaurants on wheels are something special.  And often food on a stick comes from a restaurant on wheels!   Food trucks are beginning to be seen around Thunder Bay.  You may have seen Pinetree Catering’s black Local Motion truck or Cindy Loohoo’s bright green Gourmet Eats on the Street truck, among others. Food trucks have an interesting history, and your Library has a few books which explore this unique dining experience.

When did the first food truck hit the streets?
In 1691 New Amsterdam (now known as New York City) began regulating street vendors selling food from push carts.  In 1894 sausage vendors sold their wares outside the student dorms at major eastern universities, and their carts became known as dog wagons. Ice cream trucks began selling frozen treats in the 1950s. In 1974 Raul Martinez converted an old ice cream truck into the first taco truck and parked it outside a West Los Angeles bar. (source: Running a Food Truck for Dummies)  Today the food truck market is one of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry. (USA Today, August 5, 2013, p 5B, from / Research / My Giant Search)

Why have food trucks become popular recently?
In a 2010 Maclean’s article, Julia Belluz explains:  In America, the craze was fueled by a combination of post-recessionary factors:  construction was drying up, which meant there was a surplus of food trucks, and chefs were being laid off from high-end restaurants.  The rules around street food are less stringent south of the border. ... By comparison, Canada’s gourmet street-food scene has been in the slow cooker.  Still, there are signs that’s changing. (“Construction guys never ate like this” Maclean’s, 10/4/2010, 123(38), p89.  From ebscoHOST database in My Giant Search.) 

How can I find a food truck?
The Web site of Eat Street, a TV program about food trucks on the Food Network ( has an interactive food truck finder. There is also an Eat St. App, which helps you find food trucks all over North America. Follow food trucks on Twitter and like them on Facebook and you’ll know where to find them.  David Weber notes that one of the major drivers of interest in food trucks has been improved technology that lets customers track trucks geographically over time. (Source: The food truck handbook)

How can I start my own food truck?
There really is a For Dummies book for everything, including Running a food truck! David Weber’s The food truck handbook: Start, grow and succeed in the mobile food business is another excellent resource.  Weber is the founder and president of the NYC Food Truck Association and really knows his stuff.  Start your own food truck business by Rich Mintzer focuses on start up and planning.

What’s the most popular food truck menu item?
The top five savory items are: burgers, sandwiches, barbecue, hot dogs and tacos.  The top five sweet items are: ice pops / frozen treats, cupcakes, ice cream, general desserts and bakery.  (Source:  The food truck handbook) Heather Shouse’s book Food trucks dispatches and recipes from the best kitchens on wheels can help you create some of this tasty food at home.

What do food truck operators like about their jobs?
Food truck entrepreneurs share their answers in The food truck handbook:
The high point is that we generally have a lot of fun. You get to be “outside” every day, meeting great people and giving them instant satisfaction, with your great product. Best part of street vending is taking your idea, this ephemeral thing, and after going through the arduous process of actually getting it off the ground, to see people line up to eat the food, your food, is pretty cool. 

I just got back from lunch, and can personally recommend the deep fried perogies on a stick from Cindy Loohoo’s.

Joanna Aegard

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sunday August 11, 2013 The Working World Isn't So Scary After All

With Graduation time just behind us in June, it is time for former students to look at starting their careers. Summer may seem like the perfect time to relax but it is also an excellent time to come to the library and find some materials on career building. For those just starting out, I know how you feel. I am also just starting out and gaining my own experience in the workforce at TBPL. I can also tell you that the working world is not as scary as they say (or for those who have been in it for a long time, then you will know what I am talking about).

A great place to begin may be by taking a look through the Knock ‘Em Dead Secrets and Strategies for First-Time Job Seekers, which provides helpful hints and tricks on finding your dream job and how to get it. For those who prefer electronic sources, the library provides an excellent service in the form of Career Cruising. This online resource will help you learn all about various careers before you even decide what you would like to do and can be accessed by visiting our website and clicking on My Giant Search under the Research tab. This will help explain the profession and include information such as salary range and education required for the position.

Following up, TBPL has a variety of titles on forming and writing resumes. Having a polished, organized and professional resume and cover letter is the way to start off your new career. An excellent and helpful series is the Knock ‘Em Dead cover letters and resume series. This series provides helpful hints, tricks and tips you can use to create a resume that will have employers impressed. The library has a number of other helpful resume and cover letter books that will also assist in knocking your potential employers off their feet. We also have a number of interview strategy guides for you to better prepare yourself for the “scary” interview process. These will help you relax, keep your cool, stay professional and get hired. What an excellent start to your new career!

For those who are getting back into it, or switching careers, you may be asking yourself how I do this again? Well that is where the library can be a great service. TBPL has a variety of materials on choosing a new career such as Coach Yourself to a New Career: 7 Steps to Reinventing Your Professional Life. One thing you may ask yourself is how do you deal with difficult people? Well we have some materials to help you handle them in the workplace. Dealing With Difficult People and I Hate People can help you with those people you just don’t know how to deal with. How about those trying to be more successful in their current career, well we have information on that too! Who knew? For the visual learners, like myself, The Adventures Of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need is a great way to learn how to be a better employee and worker. I know it helped me.

After all this you may be well suited for starting your first, second or even tenth career. Whatever the case may be you’re well on your way to enjoying what you do for a living, I know I do. Good luck, happy hunting and an early congrats.

Eric Stein

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Sunday August 4, 2013 Preserving and Canning

The recent cold spell in July made me think ahead to the long winter months when the basement will be filled with jars of jam and other preserves.....that is, I hope it will be. The tomatoes in my backyard are looking pretty desperate for some consistently warm days. Every year there are the traditional recipes to go to – tomato butter, green tomato chow, pluot jam, rhubarb chutney, and dilled carrots. But what about the new introductions to your garden that don’t quite have a role yet (suggestions are welcome for handling copious amounts of beets and squash)? Or maybe you’re after a new take on an old favourite?

Thankfully, preserving and canning has become very popular in the last couple of years. There are plenty of books available at your Library that showcase traditional, modern, and sometimes experimental methods for fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat and fish. In the realm of cookbooks, there are few that rival the Joy of Cooking; which published All About Canning & Preserving in 2002. This guide and recipe book provides 75 recipes for everything from strawberry jam to quick pickles. It has been reviewed as a great resource for beginners and provides a comprehensive overview of getting comfortable with the canning process.

Another well known name in the culinary world is Canadian Living. In 2012 they came out with The Complete Preserving Book to celebrate renewed interest in local and organic gardening/food production. This collection highlights the best jam, pickle, and preserves recipes from the last 35 years of Canadian Living history. Whether you're a novice or an expert at the art of preserving, this book has something to offer you. An in-depth introduction covers the most up-to-date canning techniques and offers a visual guide to the equipment you'll need. Helpful advice on selecting and preparing fruits and vegetables is sprinkled throughout to help you make the best of the harvest.

A review of the Complete Book of Home Preserving (2006) touts the benefits of home canning with regard to nutrition and food quality: cooks gain control of the ingredients, including organic fruits and vegetables; preserving foods at their freshest point locks in nutrition; the final product is free of chemical additives and preservatives; store-bought brands cannot match the wonderful flavor of homemade; only a few hours are needed to put up a batch of jam or relish; home preserves make a great personal gift any time of year.

There are plenty of other options available at your Library, check out the online catalog or browse the shelves at your favourite branch for inspiration.
Pluot Jam
1lb pluots (about 6-8 pluots)
¾ cup white sugar
juice of ½ a lemon
zest of 1 lemon
beans of ½ a vanilla bean
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (leaves removed from stems and finely chopped)
4 sprigs fresh lemon thyme (leaves removed from stems)
Pinch each salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Place pluots in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and immediately place in ice water for 30 seconds. Skins should now peel off. Roughly chop the fruit (removing pits) and place in a non-reactive bowl with the sugar. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients to the sugared fruit and pour into a large saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and allow to cook down until desired consistency (stirring often).

Portion jam into prepared 125ml jars and seal (water bath recommended). Makes approximately 2.5 cups of jam.

Recipe Source: Food Plus Words Blog by Jaclyn

Jesse Roberts