Author Archives: winnipegpublibrary

Have an Earth Day Treat

Since the launch of Earth Day in 1970 the fight for a clean environment continues with  increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. Fortunately awareness has increased as well and many take action to help relief the pressures on our one and only home. Recycling, taking public transportation, walking, biking, looking for more energy efficient solution in everyday life, reducing consumption and much more has become increasingly more popular. It’s serious business. So it’s time to reward yourself with an earth-friendly treat. Whether you make it yourself or have it made for you, I hope you will find just the right one. And if you do, why not treat yourself more often?

Let’s start with my very favourite book,  150 Best Vegan Muffin Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury. My family and I love muffins, not just for their taste but also for their versatility. They come together and bake up so quickly that even people, who are very busy and/or lack baking experience, can whip up a delicious treat in no time. Muffins are great for breakfast, to put in a lunchbox, bring to a sick friend, share at a potluck or donate to a local charity bake sale. In the unlikely event that there are any left they can just go into the freezer to be enjoyed later. There is a muffin for every occasion and every time of year in this wonderful book. You will find sweet muffins to be enjoyed with ice cream or savory ones to accompany a soup or a stew. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the habit of eating dairy, egg, or cruelty free; there will be at least one favourite muffin recipe for you.

If cookies are more your thing, this book is for you.  Vegan Cookies: Invade your Cookie Jar  by Moskowitz and Romero has the most delicious, easy to follow cookie recipes this side of your grandma’s. I can guarantee that nobody will know they don’t contain eggs etc. The excellent instructions make it easy to create fabulous texture and taste, and your cookies will most likely look just like the photos in the book, which are so beautiful your mouth starts to water just by looking at them. This book is proof that vegan baking can be out-of-this-world, mouthwatering delicious. There is also a whole section explaining ingredient substitution, troubleshooting recipe issues, comparing various types of flour and other ingredients, all of which is very useful when experimenting with other recipes. Although, I don’t think you would have to, because this book will keep you busy for a while.

Do you have an ice cream machine? If so I highly recommend  Dairy-Free Ice Cream by Kelly V. Brozyna. This book is filled with delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. The Swiss Almond looks great as does the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk and the Pumpkin Ice Cream. There are recipes for frozen yogurt made with coconut and cashew milk as well as sherbets and pops. All the bases for dairy-free treats are covered and there are useful hints throughout. If you have experience with making ice cream not using an ice cream machine, many recipes in the book can be modified. With summer not so far off it’s time to start experimenting with some cold treats. But then again, who says that ice cream is just for summer?

Speaking of summer… when it’s blistering hot outside, firing up the oven doesn’t sound very appealing. But it doesn’t mean that you have to forgo cakes, pies, and bars altogether. The book Rawsome Vegan Baking by Emily Euw takes care of all that with no baking involved. Even if you’re skeptical looking at the title, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour by checking out  this book. Just look at the amazing photographs! Cream cakes, cheesecakes, lava cakes, Black Forest Cake! Need I say more? Even better, these recipes are uncomplicated with easy ingredients and stunning results, which are sure to impress anybody who gets the chance to enjoy one of these wonderful delicacies. Go ahead wow your friends and family! If you like you can also have a peek at Emily’s blog http://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/

Chocolate-covered Katie by Katie Higgins. It all started when Katie Higgins, a total chocoholic, developed her own naturally sweet treats and put the recipes on her blog http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/ . Soon millions followed her online and were clamoring for a book featuring  her delicious creations. Katie obliged. And here it is! If you have a sweet tooth, you will be instantly hooked. There is not much more to say other than this book proves that having a sweet tooth can be healthy and there is no harm in having your dessert and eating it, too.

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” —Lady Bird Johnson. So why not meet and share an earth-friendly treat with somebody this Earth Day? Enjoy!

-Elke

The Next Big Thing

 

Up here on the fourth floor of the Millennium Library we’ve been highlighting books about inventions and inventors, tinkering and making. Here are a few picks that have been moving off our shelves:

Black Inventors: Crafting Over 200 Years of Success by Keith Holmes

This book about African American inventors highlights history that is often overlooked. For more on Black inventors check out these profiles from Biography. We also loved finding this write-up about Elijah McCoy as part of his nomination to the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame: “The noted African Canadian inventor, Elijah McCoy was issued more than 57 patents for his inventions during his lifetime. His best known invention was a cup that fed lubricating oil to machine bearings through a small bore tube. Machinists and engineers who wanted genuine McCoy lubricators might have used the expression “the real McCoy.”

Milestones of Space: Eleven Iconic Objects from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Lunar modules, astronaut Neil Armstrong’s space suit, and the Hubble telescope. Milestones of Space provides gorgeous photographs and meticulous explanations of the inventions that have made space exploration possible.

The Eureka Method: How to Think Like an Inventor by John Hershey

Written by a PhD in Electrical Engineering (with 134 patents to his name!), the Eureka Method will show you how to scan the world around you and think systemically to spark big ideas.

Patently Female: From AZT to TV Dinners, Stories of Women Inventors and Their Breakthrough Ideas by Ethlie Ann Vare

From the hang glider to Jell-O, tract housing to windshield wipers, learn about the women behind these inventions and many more.

 

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

Especially because of the recent announcement of a lower (if not low) cost Tesla, Elon Musk has been in the news a ton lately.  This bio discusses how his success is an example of the intersection of visionary thinking, inventing talent, and business acumen.

A History of Invention From Stone Axes to Silicon Chips by Dr. Trevor I. Williams

From the humble axe-head to the ubiquitous indispensable silicon chip, here’s a fun and informative history of “things”.

Makers: All Kinds of People Making Amazing Things in Their Backyard, Basement, and Garage by Bob Parks

From the publishers who brought us Make magazine this title featuring real-life – and definitely home-grown – inventions is sure to speak to your inner-tinkerer.

Rube Goldberg: Inventions by Maynard Frank Wolfe

The shortest path from A to B may be a straight line but what’s the fun in that? Here’s a wonderfully, whimsical title full of schematics for hair-cutters, Easter egg-dyers, a better golf tee and more, devised by the one and only Rube Goldberg.

 

-Monique W.

Writing the Necessary

The second of two posts reflecting on the role of the writer in today’s world, and why what we write matters—urgently.


The Role of the Writer, Part 2: Writing the Necessary

Sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror—for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us. – Harold Pinter, 2005 Nobel Prize speech

When I was a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada listserv, there was a regular debate about the topics allowable for discussion. Some writers felt that the listserv should only be concerned with “writing” matters—for example, copyright, freelance rates, information about publishers and agents, etc. Other writers argued that everything was of potential interest to writers, and that we shouldn’t shy away from issues that weren’t strictly literary.

I happen to believe that writers no longer have the luxury—if they ever did—of walling themselves off from the world. In fact most writers have no choice. If you live in Egypt or China or Colombia, where writers who fall afoul of the government are regularly imprisoned, you cannot help but be aware of political issues. Writers in many countries often find themselves having to write in disguised ways in order to address the issues where they live.

North American writers are, for the most part, relatively fortunate. Few of us go to prison for our writings. But the truth is that most current North American literary fiction has become too safe. It risks too little. The American blogger Brian A. Oard refers to our fiction as “suburban realism . . . narrow and domesticated . . .” The Canadian writer Mike Barnes calls it “duvet realism.”

Literary fiction today rarely deals with the “big issues,” as nineteeth-century fiction did. Which is odd, because we find ourselves facing unprecedented global crises, from intensifying climate change and massive species extinction to the corporate capture of governments and worldwide surveillance. “The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence,” says the Guardian columnist George Monbiot. “As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours . . .”

Surely it is writers, of all people, who should be addressing these issues in some way, or at the very least not ignoring them? This doesn’t mean writing didactic novels about what we ought to do. But it does mean recognizing where we are in history and what role writers might play in these troubling times.

“Some kinds of writing are morally impossible in a state of emergency,” say the writers and editors Kathleen Dean Moore and Scott Slovic. “Anything written solely for tenure. Anything written solely for promotion. Any shamelessly solipsistic project. Anything, in short, that isn’t the most significant use of a writer’s life and talents. Otherwise, how could it ever be forgiven by the ones who follow us, who will expect us finally to have escaped the narrow self-interest of our economy and our age?”

Two years ago Moore and Slovic issued a “call to writers,” asking them to respond to the planetary emergency of climate change. “There is essential work to be done in our roles as academics and writers, empowered by creative imagination, moral clarity, and the strength of true witness,” Moore and Slovic wrote. “[Writers] must write as if the planet were dying.” They continue: “Surely in a world dangerously slipping away, we need courageously and honestly to ask again the questions every author asks: Who is my audience—now, today, in this world? What is my purpose?”

That’s the question I’d like to leave readers with. As a writer, who is my audience, and what is my purpose? What kind of writing is necessary at this point in history, and how might that affect what I write about? Where do my particular imaginative landscapes fit, and how might they contribute, as all imagination and storytelling once did, to help people make sense of, and respond to, their world?

What is the most significant use of your life and talents? Or, as the poet Mary Oliver puts it:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


Being the 2015–2016 Writer-in-Residence at the library has been a joy and a privilege. Thank you to all those who shared their work and their thoughts with me, whether by email, in person, or at a workshop.

Until April 30th you can reach me at wpl.writerinres@gmail.com. After that you can reach me at info@patriciarobertson.net

Happy writing to you all!

Patricia

Cook by the Book: Canada – From Coast to Coast

Vegetables and cheese

 

What do you think of as “Canadian” food? Do bacon and maple syrup top your list? How about bannock, poutine, butter tarts or Nanaimo bars? Our country is very diverse, so it’s hard to come up with one food that is quintessentially Canadian. We’re also very fortunate to have access to pretty much any food we want, any time of the year, from West coast salmon to East coast potatoes.

Here are the results of our culinary journey across Canada:

cherylfishAnita Stewart’s Canada contains great stories aboutCheryl cheesecake Canada and would be a wonderful book for new cooks or newlyweds. Cheryl made several recipes, including a salmon dish and this decadent cheesecake, full of eggs, sour cream and orange and lemon zest, which was amazing.

 

Dianne thought Homegrown by Marilyn Smith was an excellent cookbook. The Cranberry Maple Butter tarts were delicious, especially while still warm. They were a little on the sweet side, so she would use less sugar, next time.

 

Lynda and Maureen had fun with You Gotta Eat Here, Too! They’ve eaten at Lynda burritoseveral of the restaurants that have been featured on the show, including The Fiesta Mexicana Lynda pizzaRestaurante y Cantina, which is famous for their giant Burrito Guadalajara –  the pico de gallo really makes this dish.  The Mango Tango Chicken Pizza from Mickey’s Dragon Pizza was fantastic.

carole tart1I chose John Catucci’s first book,  You Gotta Eat Here!  and tried Dottie’s Delicious lemon tart.  The filling is a lemon curd with a hint of basil. I used a gluten-free coconut crust, from Canadian Living Magazine,  instead of the usual pastry crust. This TV show has been very successful and it’s great to be able to re-create some of these restaurant favourites in your own kitchen.

Jackie thought The Dietician’s of Canada Cook Jackie Greek Chickenwould be perfect for a beginner cook, as it contains a lot of general information. The Greek Chicken was a tasty, easy dish, that she would make again. The Turkey and wild rice soup was a good, hearty soup that calls for ground turkey, but Jackie Turkey Wild Rice Soupmight be better with shredded turkey.

 

Grandma’s Kitchen reminded Iris of her own mother’s recipes and uses ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboard.

Ed Michae_smith 003Ed was very happy with Michael Smith’s Back to Basics and his “pan-rushed” cooking method – a restaurant technique for getting food out fast. It involves searing the meat, making a sauce, then putting the meat back in the sauce to simmer.

 

 Winnipeg Cooks is a wonderful new cookbook Rossita saladshowcasing our own city’s talented  chefs. Rossita made this colourful Roasted Beet Salad.

 

Sharla made the French Onion soup from The Soup Sisters, not realizing you Sharla onionneed to cook the onions for 40 minutes. The end result was worth it and the cheese toast was also a big hit, so she made it again to go with the Hamburger Soup. Sharla tomatoThe tomatoes were a little over-powering in this recipe, but nothing a little milk and hot sauce couldn’t fix.

 

Next month we’ll be hosting the “Bean Team” of the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers and learning about nutrition and the delicious possibilities of how to cook with pulses, for International Year of the Pulse. Please contact the Osborne Library at 204-986-4775 for more information.

-Carole

 

 

 


Books 2 Eat 2016

17302445942_642f6ce073_oEvery year, the Library Board of the Winnipeg Public Library organizes  “Books 2 Eat,” a fabulous edible art exhibition. This year’s Books 2 Eat will take place on Saturday, April 16 at the Millennium Library.

Love books and/or food? You’re invited to create an edible piece of art! The only two essentials are that your creation must be: made entirely of edible materials, raw or cooked; and fall under this year’s broad theme of “poetry” to celebrate National Poetry Month. How you choose to interpret the rules is part of the fun!

How to Enter
Visit the Books 2 Eat website, fill out an online entry form, and email it to Books2Eat@winnipeg.ca. The deadline to submit an entry form is coming up on Monday, April 11. Of course, your edible creation doesn’t have to be dropped off at the Library until April 15 or 16.

But there’s lots more to enjoy at Books 2 Eat, even if you aren’t tempted to try your hand at edible art.

Think you can hunt down food-related clues through all four floors of the Millennium Library? Kids and teens can pick up a smorgasbord scavenger Hunt sheet at the Children’s Desk and find out! Hand in your answers (right or wrong) by 3 pm and you’ll be entered in a draw for prizes.

From 1 to 2 pm, families can enjoy a delectable story time filled with mouth-watering tales and a pinch of tasty verses – plus a chance to get hands-on and decorate your own delicious cupcake. (Registration required; call 204-986-6488.)

Browse through a buffet of snack-sized displays! Watch cooking techniques demonstrated and try your hand at food-related crafts and activities from 12 to 3 pm.

And, of course, you can feast your eyes on a buffet of Books 2 Eat creations and  enter a draw for a chance to take one of the edible artworks home. Join emcee Chrissie Troy to find out who the scavenger hunt champions and the lucky winners will be.

Still hungry? Check out our website for more details.

Bon appetit!

Danielle

Resisting the disimagination machine

As I wind down my residency at the library, a two-part reflection on the role of the writer in today’s world: why we need the imagination more than ever, and why what we write matters—urgently.


The Role of The Writer, Part 1: Resisting the disimagination machine

“Paper is the strongest material in the world,” says the English writer Nadeem Aslam. “Things under which a mountain will crumble, you can place on paper and it will hold: beauty at its most intense; love at its fiercest; the greatest grief; the greatest rage.”

As writers, it is paper that we’ve traditionally entrusted with our words (even if today those words are sometimes virtual!) It’s paper sewn into books that holds the world’s memory, and fiction and poetry carry the history of the world’s imagination.

Yet imagination today seems to be under assault, or at the very least, suspect. We pay lip service to imaginative activity, but we also dismiss it as ‘daydreaming,’ ‘fancy,’ ‘building castles in the air.’

In fact we only really value the imagination if it can be harnessed to some money-making end. We call this “being practical.” And we behave as though the practical world of reason and logic and planning is the only real one.

Remember Thomas Gradgrind, the hard-nosed school superintendent in Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times? “Facts alone are wanted in life,” he announces to a terrified class of school children. “Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”

Gradgrind is a caricature, but his utilitarian approach to life has become, if anything, even more entrenched in contemporary society. The writer and teacher Henry Giroux has a term for our modern world: the “disimagination machine.” We seem to have forgotten that we humans have used our creativity to invent everything from tools to clothing to language, and that nothing exists without the imagination.

The American cultural thinker Arlene Goldbard has another term for our time. She calls it “Datastan.” It’s a place controlled by data, by statistics, by the logical mind. It’s a world that has no time for the imagination, which it considers irrelevant, if not downright dangerous.

But in a society that is always teaching us to forget, we need the world of imagination to remember who we are. We’ve always used the arts to express something otherwise inexpressible: our deepest emotional and spiritual selves. Arlene Goldbard calls this world “Storyland,” and it comes alive each time a reader opens a book and plunges in.

Storyland is every bit as real as Datastan (something we know when we lose ourselves in the world of a book). In fact, it’s more real. What we call reality changes—the world of Datastan didn’t exist a hundred years ago—but the world of Storyland, the world of the imagination, has always existed.

Storyland is a place that all writers, and all readers, are invested in preserving because it’s where our minds are at their freest. It’s a place where readers and writers collaborate in creating those fictional worlds, those theatres of the mind where we are nourished by the real and the authentic.

Storyland is also a place where we gain strength to resist the forces that want to control our minds and our beliefs and ultimately our souls. It’s a place that reminds us who we actually are—storytelling animals who are part of the natural world and the whole cosmos, and whose bodies are literally created from the elements of stardust.

When we live in the world of Datastan most of the time, it can be hard to find paths that take us out of it. But there are many such paths and many secret doors, and we can share with each other—we can whisper to each other—the names of those doorways. That’s how, as writers and readers, we resist the disimagination machine.


Next blog post (April 14): The Role of the Writer, Part 2: Writing the Necessary

It’ll be my last post as the 2015–2016 Writer-in-Residence. You can contact me until April 30th at wpl.writerinres@gmail.com.

Patricia

 

 

Wild and Windy Reads for Spring

Welcome to April, friends! You’ve probably heard that “April showers bring May flowers,” and if you’re at all like me, you are looking forward to the warmer weather and flowers May promises. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy those April showers!

This time of year can be a lot of fun, especially if you have little ones at home who are just learning to understand the cycle of the seasons. Every rainy day offers a new chance to explore, whether the day’s adventure will be jumping in puddles, making mud pies, floating homemade boats across puddles, or going for a walk to see  how different the world looks when it isn’t covered in snow and ice.

Here are just a few rainy day books you can share with your kids when it’s time to come in and dry off:

Are you ready to play outside? By Mo Willems

Although Gerald the Elephant and Piggie have their big plans interrupted by a rainy day, they prove that a bit of rain can’t stop good friends from having fun!

 

The Rain Train by Elena De Roo

This is a lovely book to read on a rainy night before bed! Listen to the sound of the rain on the roof while you join a young boy as he rides the Rain Train “past city lights, over rivers, through tunnels, and straight on to morning,” safe and dry.

 

Windblown by Édouard Manceau

When pieces of paper get caught in a gust of wind, the chicken, fish, bird, snail and frog are all sure that the paper belongs to them. Each one uses the pieces to create a new animal, but who do the pieces of paper actually belong to?

This is a fun book encourage creativity, and you could find yourself piecing together all kinds of fantastical things with scrap pieces of paper after you read it!

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

This cute story just goes to show that size doesn’t matter. Cloudette is a little cloud, and even though she wants to, she can’t join the big clouds when they do helpful things like water the big gardens on the earth below. However, when a storm blows her to a new area, Cloudette’s determination helps her figure out a way she can help. The illustrations are an excellent supplement to the text.

The Bears in the Bed and the Great Big Storm by Paul Bright

When the rainy, story nights get a little scary, this is a great book to pull out to reassure everyone that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark, especially when you’re all snuggled up in a comfy, cozy bed!

Baby Bear, Little Bear, and Young Bear all crawl into bed with their parents when the wind and the thunder get to be too scary.  Although Daddy Bear insists that there is “no such thing as monsters,” when the lights suddenly go out and there’s a noise at the door, he isn’t quite so sure.

Little Cloud by Eric Carle

Little Cloud likes to do his own thing, transforming into all kinds of different shapes as he floats through the sky. Sometimes, though, Little Cloud and his friends all play together, they become one great big cloud, and the rain begins to fall.

 

Float by Daniel Miyares

In this wordless picture book, a small boy in a bright raincoat makes the most of a rainy day, playing with a boat made of newspaper. However, when the boat gets away from him, the hunt is on, and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.

Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch

No one makes you appreciate the fun of getting dirty the way Robert Munsch does! When Jule Ann becomes the victim of an over-excited Mud Puddle, she has to think of a way to outsmart it. Enter two bars of smelly yellow soap. This is a great one to read aloud with funny sound effects and voices, just like Munsch himself would do!