Happy Polish American Heritage Month!


Celebrate Polish American Heritage Month (ongoing throughout October) at the AADL! This annual event was first started in 1981 and celebrates Polish history, culture and pride, as well as the many achievements of Polish Americans. Whether or not you have Polish heritage, participating in Polish American Heritage Month is fun and easy. Listen to traditional Polish fiddle music by the Karol Stoch Band and try your hand at some Polish recipes. Kids may enjoy hearing ancient Polish fables and folktales read aloud to them, too.

The library also has many books written in Polish in our World section, as well as books and CDs to help you learn and master the Polish language, whether you are an interested beginner or an out-of-practice native speaker. Try Colloquial Polish: the complete course for beginners, or Mastering Polish with 2 audio CDs, which also comes with a Polish-English dictionary.

For information about Polish history in Michigan, read about the first Polish people to settle in Detroit in Detroit’s Polenia, by Cecile Wendt Jensen. You can also learn about the contributions Polish people have made to Michigan culture and about the attraction that many Polish people feel to our state in Poles in Michigan, by Dennis Badaczewski.

Happy Polish American Heritage Month, and Miłego dnia!

Gumbo time

National Gumbo Day is coming up! If you're looking for an excuse to celebrate gumbo, October 12 is your day.

There seem to be as many possible explanations of where the word gumbo originates as types of gumbo. However, most sources will tell you that the word likely originated from one of its two main ingredients, okra or filé. The Bantu word for okra, which itself comes from Africa, is ki ngombo or quingombo. In the language of the native Choctaw, filé was known as kombo. We know that Louisiana, gumbo's home, was influenced by the French, the Spanish, those of African ancestry and those of Native American ancestry. With gumbo, we can see and taste Louisiana's melting pot.

With this in mind, it's no surprise that gumbo is different things to different people. Some people thicken it with okra; others wouldn't think of putting a slice or pod of okra in the dish. Some gumbos include filé powder, others don't. Some people depend on a roux to thicken the dish. The AADL cookbook collection can get you started on an exploration of this delicacy.

Chef, author, and restaurateur Josh Besh gives you a variety of gumbo recipes in his book My New Orleans. There are "Drew's Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo," "Blake's Duck, Green Onion, and Chicken Sausage Gumbo," and "Seafood Gumbo" among others. That's not all; you'll find over 200 recipes in this book.

Beyond Gumbo, by Jessica Harris, is a cookbook that focuses on the "Atlantic rim." The recipes in this book venture beyond Louisiana, but focus on creole food from a variety of cultures surrounding the Atlantic. Here you'll find a recipe for "Aunt Sweet's Seafood Gumbo."

If you like your recipes presented in a down to earth fashion, Down Home with the Neelys might be your perfect gateway to gumbo cookery. Here you'll find a recipe for "Nana's Southern Gumbo," delivered in their signature casual style.

Happy National Kale Day!

Today is National Kale Day! A whole day to pay extra attention to the yummy, delicious, truly beneficial green leafy vegetable known as kale. Put this super food in green smoothies, have a kale salad, toss it in a burrito, in chili, or on pizza! Bake it into chips, eat it raw, or massage it up. Kale is super hearty and versatile, ready to go in just about any dish.

For a few books from AADL on kale and other greens check out Spinach and Beyond and Wild About Greens. For books outside of AADL I recommend The Book of Kale: The Easy-To-Grow Superfood and Kale The Complete Guide to the World's Most Powerful Superfood.

And for some extra fun: Perhaps you remember when Chick-Fil-A went up against a Vermont artist and T-shirt creator stating that his slogan “Eat More Kale” was too similar to their slogan “Eat More Chickin.” The matter still has not been settled, as Chick-Fil-A claims that “Eat More ____” is their property.

Lastly, local gardener Diana Dyer (garlic!) has a blog called 365 Days of Kale where she offers a ton of recipes, info, and insight on the health benefits of kale.

How will you be celebrating Kale Day?!

That's Right-- National Corned Beef Hash Day

On August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon ordered his last meal as the President of the United States. Deviating from his usual breakfast of wheat germ and coffee, he ordered corned beef hash. You have to wonder what he would have thought about this comfort food having its own day. That's right; September 27 is National Corned Beef Hash Day.

In case you don't know, corned beef hash is often a mix of beef, onion, potatoes, and spices that are mashed together and then cooked with other ingredients. In many places in the United States, corned beef hash is served primarily as a breakfast food. It is often served with eggs, which is how Nixon ate it on his last day as commander in chief.

If this has whet your appetite and you're interested in making your own corned beef hash, there are several books that will help you do this.

The Joy of Cooking has a recipe for Cabbage Stuffed With Corned Beef Hash. If you're looking for another interpretation of this dish from the "dean of American cookery," you'll find a recipe for Quick Corned Beef Hash in James Beard American Cookery.

Ellie Krieger has written a number of cookbooks that focus on healthy choices. For a healthier take on corned beef hash, check out Comfort Food Fix.

Perhaps Emeril put some "bam" his recipe for Baked Eggs With Corned Beef Hash. You can try his interpretation of the dish in Sizzling Skillets and Other One Pot Wonders.

Finally, if you see corned beef hash as a "manly" dish, maybe the Eat Like a Man cookbook is your best source for this meal. If you like the results, maybe this book is, indeed, the only cookbook that a man needs, as suggested by its subtitle.

However, if you'd just like to have it like Nixon did, this article claims to have that recipe.

Celebrate National Butterscotch Pudding day!

Who knew that there was a such thing as National Butterscotch Pudding Day?

Indeed, there is!

Maybe you've never made your own? This doesn't have to be the case.

The New York Times Dessert Cookbook has a recipe for it. That's not the only treat you'll find in this volume. Florence Fabricant, a long time food writer for the New York Times, put together this collection of 400 dessert recipes that appeared in the paper through the years. There's a wide range of recipes here, as well as essays and holiday menu suggestions.

I've mentioned this book before, but Make the Bread Buy the Butter has a recipe for butterscotch pudding, along with other foods you might not otherwise think to make at home.

David Leibovitz gets a bit fancier with his take on it with Butterscotch Pudding With Coffee-Caramelized Bananas in Ripe for Dessert. This book will inspire you with unique recipes like Brazil Nut, Date and Ginger Tart, or Pineapple Frangipane Tart.

As we head into fall, a bit of butterscotch pudding might be the perfect way to transition from light summertime treats to the deeper flavors of autumn.

Fun Fall Cookbooks

One thing I look forward to every fall is my family’s yearly pilgrimage to our local apple orchard. If you have a cellar full of bags of apples that you don’t know what to do with, The Apple Lover's Cookbook and An Apple Harvest: Recipes and Orchard Lore will show you how to make delicious meals and treats.

On a cold, blustery autumn day there isn't anything better than curling up with a good book with a bowl of hot stew. Soups, Stews and Chillis: A Best Recipe Classic is an excellent place to start and will teach you the basics like the good old standby chicken noodle soup and beef stew. If you want to get adventurous and try something new, however, you might want to try Recipes from the Night Kitchen and The Best Soups in the World. You can find more soup and stew recipes here in the library's catalog.

Fall is also pumpkin and squash season, and The Compleat Squash has a section on how to make transform these gourds into tasty fall meals.

And if you hunt (or you know someone who does) The Venison Cookbook will teach you how to incorporate venison into your meals.

Chocolate Milkshakes

Give me an excuse to think about, drink, or even be near chocolate milkshakes, and I'm in. This time, the excuse is National Chocolate Milkshake Day, September 12.

"Chocolate milkshake" isn't the sort of thing that will easily generate a well-populated catalog search, but don't worry. We've done some digging for you. Many of AADL's cookbooks have recipes for unique ice cream + chocolate concoctions.

For example, if you're in the mood for a Chocolate Stout Milkshake you can find a recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. If you like chocolate and mint, you might enjoy Bobby Flay's Fresh Mint-Chocolate Speckled Milkshake, which you can learn how to make in Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries and Shakes. In fact, if you like chocolate milkshakes, this book won't let you down with recipes like Banana-Milk Chocolate Crackle Milkshake, Double Chocolate Milkshake, Dark Chocolate Milkshake With "Fluffy" Coconut Cream, and a few other chocolate-featuring milkshakes.

Flavor Exposed: 100 Global Recipes From Sweet to Salty, Earthy to Spicy gets creative with its treatment of chocolaty shakes. Here you'll find a recipe for a Chocolate Brownie With Gula Melaka Toffee and Chai Milkshake. In case you don't know what gula melaka is, you're not alone. I looked it up; it's palm sugar.

There you have it, an excuse to try a few new treats.

Homemade Pizza

September 4 was National Cheese Pizza Day. It's not to late to celebrate by exploring pizza-related cookbooks.

If you would like to learn about pizza, not limited to the cheese variety, Pizza: A Global History might be the book for you. Here, in this brief volume, Carol Helstosky takes us from pizza's origin in eighteenth century Naples through its presence (omnipresence?) in popular culture. This particular book is a part of a series dedicated to the history of food and drink with a global perspective. Thought this book is mostly a book about pizza, you'll also find a few recipes to try if you find yourself inspired. If you enjoy this book, you might like others in the series on topics such as pie, pancakes, hot dogs, and sandwiches.

Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough's book Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! can be described as their guide to making a variety of enjoyable pizzas at home. This book contains over 100 recipes including classics and more inventive recipes with toppings such as squash, chard and even duck confit. This book also includes instructions for making a variety of crusts including a gluten-free one.

For a take on pizza from a well-known chef and restauranteur, try Alice Water's Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza & Calzone. From the title you can tell that this isn't a single subject book. However, it has something in store for you if you're interested in pizza. Some of these recipes can be time consuming, particularly if you're tackling the homemade pasta, but with over 140 recipes, you're sure to find inspiration. In this book you can expect to find recipes with names like "Buckwheat Pasta, Roasted Peppers, & Endive," or "Barbecued Artichokes & Broken Garlic Pasta."

Inspired by a trip to Naples, Charles and Michiele Scicolone became determined to find a way to duplicate the pizzas they experienced in their home kitchen. Their pizza-related quest, gives us the book Pizza: Any Way You Slice It, which boasts tips on topics from dealing with dough to selecting toppings.

Pizza California Style sets out to provide a pizza recipe for every palate. Here you'll find California style pizzas which are relatively light and have a thin crust. The flavors in the pizzas in this book borrow from a variety of cuisines including Mexican, Japanese, Thai, French and Italian. Here you can find recipes for "Chinese Style Duck" pizza or "Sesame Shrimp Teriyaki" pizza.

In any case, it's pretty likely that even the most die-hard pizza fan can find a new way to enjoy it!

Lunch box inspiration

Looking for inspiration as you face another school year of packing lunches? Or maybe this is your first year sending a young one off to school during the day. Maybe, even, this isn't the first year in school, but you've decided that this is the year you don't go for the hot lunch, and decide to pack lunch instead. Maybe you don't have kids, and you're looking for ideas to make your own lunches more fun. In any case, we have some cookbooks that might help.

Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes For School Lunches Kids Will Love is a packed-lunch cookbook with ideas that you can implement without driving across town looking for hard-to-find ingredients. It might even make you see some of the things you already cook in a new way, as candidates for lunch.

The vegans don’t need to be left out! Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love! is full of ideas that will make those packed lunches interesting. You don’t have to be a vegan to see the fun in this book. Long before her book was published, McCann maintained a blog where she photographed and posted the vegan lunches she made for her son.

If you’re looking for something more striking, you might try Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes. Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal, and is common in Japanese cuisine. This book can help you see how different edible building blocks can combined to make visually impressive lunches for your kids (or yourself).

Building a Pantry

We're in those August weeks where there's still some summer to be had, but preparing for the school year is right around the corner.

Like the new year, this can be a time to assess things, and maybe set some goals. If you have a goal to make more of your food at home, there are many books that can help you toward that end.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch is the book that came about when Jennifer Reese lost her job. In this situation, she decided to start making some of the things that she had previously bought for convenience. Sometimes, she wondered whether her efforts were actually saving her money. In this book, you can find out which homemade items were money-saving winners and which weren’t. This isn't simply a book of recipes, but you get a sense of Reese's family and the impact of her experiment on them.

If this sort of thing appeals to you, you might take a look at Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making. Alana Chernila’s book, also, was born of a tight budget. She’ll show you how to make things that, maybe, you never considered making before like ketchup, sauerkraut, potato chips or spice mixes.

If you’re attracted to economy in the kitchen, you might like An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. This book is a bit more philosophical than the other two. Here, Tamar Alder will point out (or remind you of) things that can add some efficiency to your efforts to create more of your meals in your own kitchen.

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