“Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.” – John Q. Tullius

Ok.  I’ll admit it.  I never was a Girl Scout.  Brownie, yes.  But I quit before I made it any further up the ‘chain of command.’   I was an outdoors kid; my house growing up was on  a cul-de-sac so all the neighborhood kids would get together and play kickball or tee-ball or wiffle ball or some complicated, spontaneous invention that we could never replicate if we wanted to.  I thought Girl Scouts was going to be about camping and hiking and doing out-doorsy things.  And, maybe it was for some.  But, Ms. Williams, my Scout Leader, wasn’t the outdoors type.  We never went camping.  All we did was make things out of popsicle sticks and sell Girl Scout Cookies.  Not quite my thing.  Well, I should say that the selling part was not my thing.  Eating the Girl Scout cookies was right up my alley.

Samoas, you know, the chocolate, coconut, and caramel cookie goodness,  were always my favorite.  So, I was so pleased and intrigued to find a recipe for a version of the cookie, and a host of other Girl Scout favorites, on a great website for cooks: CHOW.

Yummy. 

Chow includes recipes and articles about food.  There are even a slew of ‘How-To’ videos about various kitchen tasks.  Like how-to prepare a winter squash, how-to bake brownies in an orange, and what you can do with wilted lettuce.

So, maybe your experience with the Scouts, either girl or boy, was memorable.  (In fact, I’d like to hear about it if that’s the case.)  While I can’t say that’s so for me, I can say that I’m looking forward to replicating the iconic cookies in the comfort of my own kitchen!

Alan Moore – lover of libraries!!

February 5th was National Save our Libraries Day in the UK and Alan Moore, creator of incredibly popular and critically acclaimed series like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, credits libraries with making him the writer he is today.  Pretty heady stuff.

Image courtesy of Vertigo

Adults read graphic novels too.  So, if that’s your thing you’ll be happy to know that the library has quite a few graphic novels for you on its shelf.  JMRL’s wiki, JMRL Reads, is a great place to visit if you’re looking for something to read.  There’s even a page devoted to ‘great graphic novels for reading adults’ put together by our Gordon Avenue Branch Manager, Meredith Dickens.  Click here to see if any of these titles interest you.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Brillat-Savarin

Photo courtesy of Thorndike Press

Food to some is a method of sustenance; solely a means to fulfill basic biological ends.  How else can one explain such food novelties as spray cheese and bacon flavored soda?  I love food.  While I wouldn’t call myself a ‘foodie,’ as my tastes are not all that exclusive, I love to cook and putter around in my kitchen.  This wasn’t always true.  I lived in Center City, Philadelphia for almost six years and hardly ever visited the kitchen, except to make coffee.  Once I made the decision to live more remotely, it just wasn’t as easy to pick up a pizza or order Chinese food or Pad Thai or whatever was the special at Monk’s Café.  (an awesome place if you ever find yourself in Philly)

I just finished Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake; a surreal tale of nine year old Rose Edlestein’s unique ability to taste her mother’s emotion through food.  Rose is horrified to learn of her outwardly cheerful, exuberant mother’s “absence, hunger, spiraling, hollows.”

The Edlestein’s are a dysfunctional lot and Bender captures their idiosyncrasies in relatable ways.  Rose’s trapped mother, beleaguered father and science genius brother, Joseph, help give Rose an uncanny ability to sniff out hypocrisy.  She eventually reveals her secret to Joseph’s only friend, George.  George is the most normal influence in Rose’s life and it is through him that she is able to hone her skill to a surprising conclusion.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake reminded me of another food-related book I’ve read recently:  Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery.  This book was written and published in France before her sensational hit The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but was issued in the United States in 2009.  Gourmet Rhapsody takes place in the same building as The Elegance…, but its story involves Monsieur Arthens, a well-respected food critic on his death bed.  While acclaimed by his peers in the food world, M. Arthens family feels differently about this distant husband and altogether absent father.

But, M. Arthens is not concerned about his legacy, professional or personal.  M. Arthens is haunted by taste.  His dying wish is to recapture a specific flavor from long ago.  This quest takes the reader on a quick (156 page) jaunt through the food critic’s life, racing through all sorts of culinary episodes, in hopes of returning with the Flavor par excellence.