Category Archives: Book Clubs

Delicious Desserts

“It’s the finale. It’s the last impression. A bad dessert can ruin the meal.”  ~ Anne McManus  

No pressure, right? A lot of people are intimidated by desserts, preferring to cook a savoury meal, rather than bake something. Me, I’ve always preferred baking to cooking. I loved my Easy Bake oven, when I was a child and I was also known as the cookie monster in our family. This year, I’ve been attempting to make classic desserts that I’ve never tried before, like Crème Brûlée and my most recent attempt, Macarons.

Perfect Patisserie by Dr. Tim Kinnaird, shows you how to make the three different types of meringues – French, Italian or Swiss. I went with the Italian meringue, where the egg white is whisked with a hot sugar syrup. My first attempt wasn’t too bad – I did manage to get the “feet,” the tiny little bubbles on the edges of the meringue, but some of the shells were hollow. I learned a few things this month: 1) I need to work on my piping bag skills. 2) I don’t like macarons enough to try making them again.

Sandra made a bread pudding from an old cookbook she had at home, but also did some on-line research and discovered that this dessert is a staple in a lot of cultures. The Pioneer Woman, Martha Stewart, Anna Olson all have recipes on their websites for this comforting dessert, but Sandra says the Bon Appétit one is the best.

Food52 Genius Desserts is a great cookbook for experienced bakers to try. Prasanna liked this book so much she is considering buying it for her birthday. She tried the Pistachio Millionaires Shortbread, but found it a bit too salty, with 3.5 tsps of Kosher salt. (We all thought it was fine!) She also made the Coffee Cardamom Walnut Cakes.

Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts by Laurel Gallucci was the perfect cookbook for Deb’s family, since they have a lot of dietary restrictions.  The only sweeteners that her daughter can tolerate are honey and dates and she was ecstatic with the Alfajores. The Vegan caramel in the recipe is one she will use for other recipes as well. It’s quick and easy to make and tastes really caramel like. The orange pistachio loaf was a really good breakfast loaf – not too sweet.

Lynda and Maureen experimented with Slow Cooker Desserts by Roxanne Wyss and Lynda admits she became a little obsessed with it. The Warm Brownie Pudding is cooked right in the slow cooker. It was quite good although not as chocolate-ty or saucy as similar recipes she has made in the oven. The French Lemon Cake had a lovely fresh flavour that comes from fresh lemon juice and the zest of one whole lemon. The texture from baking in the slow cooker is similar to a pound cake rather than fluffy like when it is baked in the oven. It is baked in a 7″ spring form pan supported by a ring of tin foil to keep it off the bottom of the slow cooker.

Cathi chose Betty Crocker’s Sheet Pan Desserts for a couple of reasons. She is always looking for recipes that will work at the lake when resources are more limited but sometimes the numbers are not! This book has recipes that serve a number of people and are straightforward in terms of ingredients. This also applies to Treat Day at work and being made in a sheet pan makes transport easy. She also likes desserts, like the Gluten-free Rocky Road Bars and the Chocolate Truffle-Topped Caramel Bars that can be a little bite to go with sherbet, which is nice and light after any meal, and makes it complete.

Harriet tested out a couple of recipes from Simple Desserts: the Easiest Recipes in the World, on dinner guests, with mixed results. The Mango Pistachio Puff Pastry Rolls turned out really well and were delicious. The mangos were so sweet and tasty, after twenty minutes in the oven. She was a little disappointed with the Chocolate truffles, which ended up being granular in texture. The recipes are all really simple, with six ingredients or less, and also use a lot of pre-made products.

Cathy found Modern Baking by Donna Hay to be a little confusing, since it jumps from cup measurements to weighted measurements and had some very complex recipes. There were a few quick and easy ones, too, like the Chai Bundt cake, which mixes all the ingredients together in one bowl. She also tried the Goji Coconut Bliss Balls, which are like an energy ball, full of almonds, coconut, and dates.

The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan is the result of collection, testing, and tweaking hundreds of heirloom recipes gathered from vintage baking booklets, resulting in a blend of nostalgia and modern-day baking. Jackie was intrigued by the idea of cookies with potato chips in them, so she had to try the Butterscotch – Potato Chip Balls and she wasn’t disappointed. They were DELICIOUS! This recipe is definitely a keeper, as well as, the Black Bottom Banana Dream Bars.

Tatiana would like to buy Jenny McCoy’s Desserts for Every Season. She ran out of regular flour while she was making her Cherry Pie, so she substituted in some peanut flour and was really happy with the results. It made the dough very pliable and she plans on making all of her pie crusts with peanut flour, from now on. It was also her first time making a lattice topping, which turned out great. The Rice Krispie Granola Bars were also a success.

Happy Baking!

Carole

It’s Time to Read : Poetry

Dear Readers, did you know that April is National Poetry Month?  To celebrate, Time to Read is exploring all of poetry. Too broad? Well, we’ll just explore as much of poetry as we can in an hour. But as usual, we want your help. We’d like for you to share your favorite poems with us—and of course tell us why they’re your favorite. You can let us know on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, or by writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.

And, if you need a good place start, or are just curious what the Time to Read team will be reading during National Poetry Month we’ve each selected one poem in one book by one poet that we’d like to spotlight. And, in the tradition of recent social media trends, I’m going to share one stanza from each of our poems with no explanation—that is until the podcast!

Erica’s choice:

“Verse For a Certain Dog” from Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker

Such glorious faith as fills your limpid eyes,
Dear little friend of mine, I never knew.
All-innocent are you, and yet all-wise.
(For Heaven’s sake, stop worrying that shoe!)
You look about, and all you see is fair;
This mighty globe was made for you alone.
Of all the thunderous ages, you’re the heir.
(Get off the pillow with that dirty bone!)

Trevor’s choice:

“Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost


He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.

Kirsten’s choice:

“riverstory” from River Woman by Katherena Vermette

I wait
to hear the stories of the river
sit at the edge
scoop up the silence
my fingers tangle
in the long dark hair
there is always long dark hair
that is where our spirits linger
left behind to wander the waves

Alan’s choice:

“I’m Not All Knowing But…” from Come On In! New Poems by Charles Bukowski

the best poems
it seems to me
are written out of
an ultimate
need.
and once the poem is
written,
the only need
after that
is to write
another.

One last thing: if you weren’t able to make it to our live podcast event (or if you just want to re-live the memories) the recording of “But I don’t Wanna Grow Up! Favourite Childhood books” is available today!  I don’t want to spoil too much but, Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess won our first ever book battle.

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

It’s Time To Read: But I Don’t Wanna Grow Up! (Special Live Episode)

“There’s real drama in performing live. You never know how it’s going to be.”

Kevin Costner

Welcome, dear readers. Or maybe I should say “Dear LISTENERS”?

Have you ever wondered what goes into making an episode of our library bookclub podcast, “Time To Read”? Now’s your chance to find out (and have some fun at the same time!) It’s also one of the only times I think I could use a Kevin Costner quotation to start things off, so it’s already a success.

To celebrate our one year anniversary, we cordially invite you to The Good Will Social Club (625 Portage Ave) on Tuesday March 26, 2019 to help us record a LIVE EPISODE of “Time to Read”. We plan to get underway at 7:30 pm.

Never listened to an episode? NOT A PROBLEM. Our theme for the Live Episode is “But I don’t wanna grow up!” and we will be discussing our favourite books as kids. No homework required!

And you know what? We’ve heard from some listeners that they enjoy the book discussion even HAVING NOT READ the featured book each month, and many have been inspired to read the book after they’ve listened to a particular episode. (Assuming you don’t mind hearing possible spoilers. WE MAKE NO APOLOGIES!)

In any case, it isn’t a spoiler to say that we are super excited (and a little bit scared!) to record our upcoming live episode. We have a few surprises up our sleeves, including some music from funlife, featuring WPL’s own Brittany Thiessen.

We hope you can make it! It would be less fun if you weren’t there.

In the meantime, why don’t you give a listen to our most recent episode where we discuss Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake? And then tell us in person what you think!

-Trevor and the rest of the “Time to Read” gang.

march26

 

 

It’s Time to Read: The Namesake

The reader should realize himself that it could not have happened otherwise, and that to give him any other name was quite out of the question

                —Nikolai Gogol, “The Overcoat” & epigraph of “The Namesake”

 

Dear Readers,  if you listen to Time to Read regularly you’ll know that I love thinking about names and titles and what they mean. So it is fitting, one could say that it could not have happened otherwise, that this month we will be reading The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri.

In The Namesake, a couple emigrate from Calcutta to America, eschew cultural tradition and name their firstborn child Gogol after the Russian author of the same name.

 

Do you need to know your Gogol to read The Namesake?  No.  But I bet it will be more interesting if you do.  I’ve been reading The Overcoat and Other Tales of Good and Evil and have found it surprisingly accessible.  I’ve found the collection at different times both dark and funny, and Gogol plays with story structure in surprising ways.  But if you only have time for one of Gogol’s short stories I recommend The Overcoat from which the above epigraph is pulled (and if you have time for two I highly recommend The Portrait.)

Please let us know if you have any thoughts about Gogol or The Namesake by going to our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca or leaving a comment on our Time to Read Facebook group.

Also, don’t forget to check out the new episode which drops today.  It features Alexa and Sappfyre who joined from BlackSpaceWPG to discuss Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.  A great way to kick off Black History Month!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

It’s Time to Read: Washington Black

Welcome to the New Year, dear readers! Since the Time to Read podcast book club began early in 2018 it has been an incredible experience to come together as a community, read books, and engage in conversations.  To everyone who listened and everyone who wrote in:  you have our most heartfelt thanks and know you are a friend of the show.

But as we all know, the New Year isn’t just a time for reflection, it is also time to look forward; so, speaking of friends and speaking of coming together, I’m excited to announce the novel we will be reading in January comes in collaboration with Black Space Winnipeg. The novel is the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.

Not only did our friends at Black Space Winnipeg collaborate with us to choose this month’s title, they will also sit down with us to record the episode. We look forward to the forthcoming discussion as we follow the eponymous Washington Black as he escapes slavery and faces the challenges of freedom in a world where slavery still exists.  We also hope that you, dear readers, will contribute to the conversation by commenting on our website, via email, or on our new Facebook group. Keep an eye out for discussion questions in the coming weeks and be sure to download the episode when it releases on February 1, 2019 to see if your comments made it onto the air.

And of course, our latest episode in which we discuss Beartown by Fredrik Backman is available to download today! Spoiler: we loved the book, but tune in to find out if we love hockey.

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

Stress-less Cooking

cookbythebookWhat will we do when we find ourselves, stumble over ourselves, encounter ourselves, once again, in the kitchen?”   Dana Velden

Eating is something we all have to do, but in order to eat, we must cook – or get take out! But really, who can afford that everyday? Everyone’s lives are so busy these days, and cooking often becomes a tedious and stressful activity. If you’re feeling uninspired in the kitchen, check out Dana Velden’s book, Finding Yourself in the Kitchen; Kitchen meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook. The author recounts her time living in a Buddhist monastery and working in their Zen kitchen, where she re-discovered the simple joy of being in the kitchen, creating a meal. If that doesn’t work, have a look at the Cook by the Book’s latest cookbook reviews!

Harriet Chicken dishHarriet liked the straight forward and easy approach of Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking by Jessica Gavin. Harriet Buttermilk biscuits #2The book provides the science behind slow cooking which was helpful in making the Honey Hoisin Garlic Chicken. The Flaky Buttermilk biscuits turned out really well and were very tasty.

 

kerry2Kerry discovered that deep frying a Reuben sandwich is a terrible idea! The Spicy Hot Russian dip that accompaniedKerry1 the sandwich was really good, though, and so was the Tangy Lemon Chicken from Bruce Weinstein’s The Kitchen Shortcut Bible.

Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Quick & Easy Food cookbook has lots of pictures of all the ingredients you need, which Sandra really liked. She tried the Lemony Zucchini Linguine recipe, which was so easy to make and delicious!

Jackie kungpaoEasy Chicken Dishes by Addie Gundry uses a lot of prepared foods and dairy and very little seasoning, which Jackie didn’t like. Jackie lemonThe Kung Pao Chicken was easy, but required a lot of chopping and could have been spicier, although the heat did build when it was sampled the next day. Unfortunately, they couldn’t taste the lemon in the Lemon Chicken.

Anita pastaAnita loved the gorgeous pictures in Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry and appreciated the simple recipes that all take under 20 minutes to prepare. This book is all about comfort food and the Rigatoni Pasta was the BEST THING EVER!

 

The New Easy by Donna HayPrasanna pork contains a lot of unusual ingredients, but Prasanna would recommend this cookbook. She liked that the author shows how one recipe can be revamped and used for other occasions. The Sticky Korean pork with apple and cucumber pickle took 20 minutes to put together and was really good.

Shirley scallopsShirley enjoyed the little jokes that The Best of Bridge are known for in their latest Weekday Suppers cookbook. With new writers on board, you’ll find this cookbook is more adventurous than their previous books. The Thai Scallops Stir Fry turned out very well.

 

Tatiana dipTatiana drinkAlton Brown’s Everydaycook features what the chef likes to cook for himself. Tatiana tried the Sardine dip and the Barley Water, which is purported to be very good for you. She didn’t like that you discard the barley at the end, which seemed a bit of a waste.

Joanne lasagnaJoanne loved Uncomplicated by Claire Tansey and would gladly pay full price for it! It contains the best Bran muffin recipe she has ever had, as well as this delicious Ravioli Lasagne, with a tasty tomato sauce.

 

Cathi2Cathi dessertAll New Fresh Food Fast has beautiful pictures, but called for a lot of ingredients Cathi didn’t have on hand. She tried several recipes, including the Steamed Halibut with Leeks (fabulous!) and the Peanut Butter Truffles with Ritz Crackers (not so fabulous!)

Sherri turkey soupSherri tomato soupThe Turkey Spaetzle Soup and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup from Fast From Scratch Meals by Betty Crocker, were simple to follow, with ingredients on hand and they were both delicious. The cookbook has tasty recipes that are simple to follow.  It’s a great cookbook for preparing after work meals with fresh ingredients and kitchen staples. Sherri also tried the Greek burgers, which were a big hit with her family.

Lynda Tofu Bahn Mi cutLynda Fideos with Chickpeas2The recipes in Dinner Illustrated from America’s Test Kitchen all take 1 hour or less to prepare and were really easy to make. Lynda and Maureen pickled their own vegies for the Tofu Ban Mi and declared the recipe a keeper. For the Fideos with Chickpeas they toasted the pasta first, giving it a nutty flavour. This recipe is a close cousin to Paella.

Cathy udonCathy shrimpCathy liked that The Smart Dinner by Betty Crocker used ingredients she already had at home and gave lots of substitutions. The Udon Noodle Bowl was a little too spicy for her taste, but the Spicy Chili Garlic Shrimp Pasta was excellent.

carole turkeyThe Eggplant and Turkey Stir fry from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy was full of flavour and is definitely a dish I would make again. The cookbook is a typical celebrity cookbook with lots of pictures of Gwyneth and her family, but I have to say I liked all of the recipes I tried.

Happy cooking!

Carole

 

It’s Time to Read: Beartown

Hello, dear readers.  It’s that time again! No, not the holidays. What I have to say might help you if you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the season. It’s that time when I tell you what the Time to Read podcast book club will be reading in December. It’s Beartown by Fredrik Backman.

 Though I haven’t read it yet, I know the book takes place in a tiny forest community on the ropes that has all of its hope riding on the local junior hockey team and a violent act that “leaves the town in turmoil.”

I’ve thought a lot lately about how geography influences culture and life and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so while reading this book. I touch a little bit on that in our latest episode of Time to Read, available today. But I’m looking forward to thinking about those ideas further while reading Beartown as I grew up in a northern Manitoba town in which hockey was woven tightly into the fabric of community life. In fact, I already know what my “Book you would also like” will be, but you’ll have to listen to the episode when it releases in January to find out.

But what I’m most excited to know is what you, dear readers, think about the book. Do you have any experiences with small town life? And if so how do they compare to the book? Or are you a lifelong urbanite? If so, in what ways do you relate to stories about rural life? And if none of these questions appeal to you, let us know what your liked (or didn’t) about the book.

Reach us by email at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca or leave a comment on our website.

~ Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

It’s Time to Read: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Welcome, dear readers!  Happy first Friday of the month.  In the past, we’ve celebrated the all-important first Friday of the month by letting you know the latest episode of Time to Read was available to download.  We thought this was a pretty good way to spend your weekend. We were wrong.

What we should have been doing, and what we promise to do from now on, is to tell you what book we’re reading now.  Why? So you have Time to Read it of course!  And then you can let us know what you think. And when we record the next episode we can let you know what we think of what you think. We think that’s pretty neat.

reid For the month of November we’ll be reading I’m Thinking of Ending Things.  A Novel. By novelist Iain Reid.  I don’t know much about it … yet.  But I have it on good authority that it’s good.  Whose authority you might ask? An author I really admire, Heather O’Neill of Lullabies for Little Criminals fame calls it “Addictive.”  Charlie Kaufman of Charlie Kaufman fame is apparently turning it into a television series.  I can only hope he brings on Donald Kaufman to help him out.

But what I’d really like to know, dear readers, is what you think of it.  Did it keep you up at night? Because it was too scary? Or, maybe you couldn’t put it down?  Let us know by email at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca or leave a comment on our website.

And don’t forget to check out our latest episode, in which we discuss The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  Available now.

-Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

It’s Time to Read: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Welcome, dear readers! It’s the beginning of the month, and that means a BRAND NEW EPISODE of Time to Read, WPL’s very own podcast! Find it wherever you get your podcasts or on our Time to Read website.

This month, the gang discusses Becky Chamber’s The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. No worries if you haven’t read it! We tend to chatter about the ideas in the book rather than dissect the plot itself, so please join in anyway. (Honestly sometimes we run out of time to read them all too!)

If you have thoughts on Artificial Intelligence, really long journeys, or lesbians in sci-fi this is the show for you. We also have tangential segments like Nerd Words for Word Nerds and Books You Might Also Like (or something – I keep forgetting what that part is called).

long

Synopsis:

Humans are now just one of many sapient species in the galaxy, and a lesser and weaker one at that. This is the story of a motley multi-species crew on a patchwork ship, trying to make an honest living as tunnelers – making wormholes to connect star systems to one another. When they take on their biggest job yet, connecting a distant and isolated species that is still at war with itself, they each find themselves also on a long journey of self-discovery. With questions of personhood, identity, family and love, this is the story of that journey, as they travel the long way to find a small angry planet.

And if you’ve already read Angry Planet, we want you to tell us – Corbin, hero or villain? Who would you prefer to be stuck in a space capsule with? And what did you think about the surprise hook up?

devilThen, pick up our next read, Devil in the White City : Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. Sounds good right?!!

And always always you can email your thoughts on the book and on the podcast to us at: wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Until next time, try to find some Time to Read!

  • Erica and the rest of the Time to Read team

 

It’s time to read: Walkaway

Welcome, dear readers! It’s that time at the beginning of the month when you should check your podcast feeds because a BRAND NEW EPISODE of WPL’s podcast, Time to Read is now available wherever you find your podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, and on our Time to Read website.

This month, the gang talked about Cory Doctorow’s book Walkaway, set in a dystopian/utopian near future. We pondered if we’d be brave enough to walk away from society (spoiler: Alan is not), or if any of us were interested in “uploading” a version of ourselves (spoiler: Kirsten is not.)  And of course Trevor found us a handy-dandy list to discuss (what was the list about? Tune in to find out!)

If you want to get in on the fun, pick up next month’s read, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Set in a fictional universe, Rosemary Harper escapes her old life (and accompanying secrets) and joins a multi-species crew of a spaceship called The Wayfarer. It’s Erica’s favourite book! So, be sure to let us know what you think of it. Do you agree with Erica? Even better, do you NOT agree with Erica? Email, tweet or facebook us your comments – we really love hearing from you.

Watch for our discussion questions later this month, and you can email your thoughts on the book and on the podcast generally to us anytime.

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Until next time, try to find some Time to Read!

  • Kirsten and the rest of the Time to Read team