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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hearing is Living; Don't Deprive Yourself

Experts from Total Hearing Care in Monroe Township will give a FREE educational program on hearing, hearing loss and the importance of baseline hearing testing. In addition to the program, a free hearing screening will be offered to all attendees.  The Program is scheduled for November 30, 2011 from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. in the Octagonal Program Room off the Children's Department (Program Room 2).  They will have literature and information to give out, so registration is recommended so they can be sure to have enough to go around.
In the literature they sent ahead of the program, they included a few articles of interest.  Did you know that symptoms of untreated hearing loss can mimic symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?  In fact, a 1996 study of memory disorders by the University of South Florida found that 94 percent of respondents suspected of having memory disorder actually suffered from untreated hearing loss.  The study found strong evidence that hearing instrument use, combined with effective follow-up care, helped alleviate many of the symptoms commonly attributed to Alzheimer's Disease.  Some of the symptoms that are present in both conditions are depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation or disorientation; reduced communication ability; reduced cognitive input; reduced mental scores; inappropriate psychosocial responses; denial, defensiveness and negativity and distrust and paranoia or distrust of other's motives. 

Another article on hearing describes auditory deprivation that can occur if a hearing loss goes untreated for too long.  Auditory deprivation is a decrease in an ear's ability to understand speech clearly and a crucial part of every hearing exam involves measurement of word discrimination.  It is unclear whether auditory deprivation is reversible, so it is important to detect hearing loss in the early stages so that you can preserve word clarity with the use of hearing aids.  the research supports the "use it or lose it" theory. 

Come to the library on November 30th to hear about the latest findings in audiology research and get a FREE individual hearing screening, either at the end of the program or later in their Monroe offices.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Basically Mexican

The very first time I had Mexican food, I made it myself.  From scratch.  Including the tortillas.

Why?  Because, at 17 years old and coming from a background where the only ethnic foods I ever ate were pierogis or pizza, I had no idea you could buy tortillas pre-made at the store.  So when one of my friends suggested that I make tacos for our group before we went out, I said okay.

I found a taco and tortilla recipe in an old all purpose cookbook my Mom had (was it the 1950's Good Housekeeping Cookbook?  Wish I still had it...) and proceeded to make tortillas from water and cornmeal, and pressed them out as thin as I could with a rolling pin (not very), and then baked them on a cast iron skillet.  Not bad, but certainly NOT what my high school friends expected or were used to.

Since then, I've eaten lots of different kinds of ethnic foods, some more, some less authentic, but I still enjoy making foods from scratch, even when they're readily available.

This week I made a supremely easy and delicious Fresh Tomatillo Salsa, from tomatillos we picked at Honey Brook Organic Farm - better than anything you can buy in a jar.

Two authors come to mind immediately when researching Mexican food:  Diana Kennedy, and Rick Bayless.

Forthwith the recipe I adapted from Bayless' Mexican Everyday.  I'm also going to try the Salsa Verde from From My Mexican Kitchen by Diana Kennedy - I've still got a lot of tomatillos!  I highly recommend both of these authors and books.

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

8 oz. tomatillos, (I used about 6, each about the size of a golf ball) papery husks removed, and rinsed
1 large garlic clove, quartered
1 jalapeno or other hot chiles, stemmed and quartered (or 5 more, if you're like my son)
1/2 cup cilantro

Blitz the garlic in a food processer first.  Add the rest of the ingredients along with 1/4 cup water and process until chopped but not pureed.  Serve with tortilla chips (don't have to be homemade!).

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reference USA helps small business owners!

Reference USA can help the small business entrepreneur!

Reference USA is the premier source of business and residential information for reference and research that can help the small business owner. 

Using the U.S New Movers/Homeowners module users can find the names and addresses of people who have recently purchased homes in their area. These homeowners typically need a whole host of services/repairs that the small business entrepreneur can now directly market to and contact. 

Another example of a useful data mining search is for a web designer to make a list of local companies that don’t have websites.  The web designer can then tout the merits of a custom made website that can be created for the business owner 

For more information contact the Information desk:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Organization Help from an Expert

Now that the weather is turning colder and the days are shorter, we will begin to spend more time indoors making it a good time to clear out some of the clutter and waste we have in our lives.

Sangita Patel of Kalakar Interiors, a life coach, interior decorator and professional organizer based in West Windsor will be here in the library on Tuesday, November 1, at 7:00 p.m. in the Meeting Room. Her presentation is titled The Magic of Thought Logic: Clearing and Connecting Your Mind-Space and Home-Space. According to Ms. Patel, “our body and our home are connected in many ways. Our home reflects who we are. In our homes, we need to plan, organize, and harmonize for a peaceful lifestyle. In our body, we need to have healthy intentions, attention to ourselves, and an active mindset to achieve our goals in life.” In her presentation, she will tell us how we can “customize and maximize our Mind-Space and Home-Space connection” so that we will be able to “deal with our yesterday, plan for today so tomorrow will be organized and harmonized.”

The South Brunswick De-Clutter Club requested that we bring in more speakers and organization professionals to talk about managing clutter; Ms. Patel will not only share her ideas of integrating your life and your surroundings to create harmony, but she will also give some pointers on maintaining a clutter-free life once we succeed at the process of clearing out.

Because we already have this de-clutter program scheduled in the first week of November, we will not have our regularly scheduled De-Clutter Club meeting on Thursday night, but there will be some information for the club members (and others who might want to join) on the December meeting and our donation project.

You can also read the blog for the De-Clutter Club at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Good vs. Evil

The bad me craves chocolate.  The good me argues that dessert can be light and lower in calories. 

Thus, this week’s recipes:  Dark Chocolate Gelato, and Lemon Sorbetto.  Both the good and bad news was that the Chocolate Gelato was so rich and dense and chocolately, it tasted like frozen chocolate ganache.  And the Lemon Sorbetto?  Divine - like the best fresh frozen lemonade.

For me, the Chocolate Gelato was just too much chocolate and not enough frozen-ness (is that a word?).  I told my family it was so rich, they should cut it with something:  so they went to town topping it with lots of whipped cream, pretzels, and what-have-you.  They disagreed with me:  they all loved it.

An unexpected plus - it was vegan, so my son’s girlfriend could have some as well – the chocolate intensity comes from dark dutched cocoa and dark chocolate, no milk involved.

A couple days later, I made the Lemon Sorbetto in my quest for the cold hit I was looking for.  It was simplicity in itself.  Boil water and sugar for a simple syrup.  Add lemon juice and zest, cool overnight in the fridge.  Churn. Freeze.  Eat.  Feel virtuous.

Dark Chocolate Gelato, adapted from The Perfect Scoop
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
6 Tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
6 oz. unsweetened bar chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk together over medium heat, the cream, cocoa powder, sugar and salt.  Heat until just boiling.  Remove from heat. Whisk in the chopped chocolate until melted.  Add the milk and vanilla.  Blend 1 minute with an immersion blender or regular blender.  Refrigerate overnight.  Freeze in ice cream maker.  Indulge.

Lemon Sorbetto, adapted from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 6 lemons
1 Tablespoon lemon zest

Combine water and sugar in small saucepan, stir to dissolve, heat to boiling.  Cool slightly, add lemon juice and zest.  Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
Churn in ice cream maker.  At this point the mixture will be too soft to scoop.  Pack into container, and place in freezer for 2 hours or more.  Enjoy. (Cute little sugar lemon decoration optional.)

Both The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz and The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto by F.W. Pearce are all around good go-to books for frozen desserts.  The nice thing about finding a recipe in a book versus finding a recipe online, is that it is “browsing enabled” (my term), i.e., it’s easy to find lots of enticing recipes as you leaf through the book, maybe inspiring you along the way to try something you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Find these books at our Library (– as soon as I return them! -) or tons of others on our shelves right now.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian,
Split Personality

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tablets! Tablets!

It seems that the biggest new thing in technology these days are tablets.  In case you don't know tablets are compact and very portable computers. Really more like a very big smartphone than a laptop.  Many of us have heard of the brilliant iPad created by the late Steve Jobs, but there is also the Android tablet that offers some things that the iPad doesn't.  Read about it here in Consumer Reports.

There are apps available for both that make using the South Brunswick resources easier like downloading and reading eBooks.

So, take two tablets and call me in the morning with your choice.
For more information, call 732-329-4000,ext. 7286.

by Randall Marsola
 Network Librarian

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Those that attended the Author Dinner with Chris Grabenstein last Thursday had a great time!  If you missed the event, we are sorry but suggest you put this event on your calendar for next October.  The meal is always delicious and listening to an author talk about the writing process and their inspiration for their stories is always interesting and entertaining even if the writing style is not what you regularly read.  Chris Grabenstein writes mystery stories for adults that are set on the Jersey Shore and are told with his wry sense of humor.  He also writes a popular series for young adults.  He has an impressive resume of places that he worked and things that he did before he decided to try writing full-time proving that you are never too late to try new experiences and take a different path. 

The library supporters that attend this event, the trustees, the Foundation and the Friends as well as patrons and staff, are all bibliophiles and are always good company and great conversationalists.  It is a fun opportunity to meet your neighbors and learn something new about what is going on at the library or in the literary world in some small way!  We hope to see you all next October.

Coming later this month:  the daytime book club meets on the second Wednesday of each month and is part of the Wednesday Wisdom series that promises something of interest to adults every Wednesday at 1:30 at the library.  The reading group will be discussing Zeitoun by Dave Eggers on October 12 and on November 9 they will discuss Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  The International Film that is being shown this month, on the evening of October 12 at 6:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, October 16 at 2:00 p.m., is Separate Lies starring Tom Wilkenson.  The movie is from 2005 and is shown in English.  Our Yoga classes continue with some time off for the upcoming Friends Book Sale which will be on October 22nd and 23rd.  The third Wednesday Documentary Film Series will continue Nature's Most Amazing Events narrated by David Attenborough.  This month's segment is "The Great Migration" about "the annual rains in the Serengeti which draws in the greatest concentration of large animals on the Earth."  We have a SCORE business seminar on October 18 titled "The Art of Closing the Sale" and we have programs for the children, tweens and teens all month long to keep the whole family busy!

Check out our Event Calendar that can be accessed from our homepage at so that you don't miss a thing!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Once again faced with a surfeit of tomatoes, I leafed through Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything for ideas and found an unassuming little recipe for Pasta all’Amatriciana

Who knew that pasta and just a few basic ingredients could transform into a fabulous dish that was so much more than the sum of its parts?  My daughter and I literally stopped talking just to eat and savor the meal – not a typical occurrence!  The key was balance - the saltiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the onion, the brightness of the tomatoes, and what they now call the the fifth taste:  "umami" or savoriness, the umami of the Parmesan cheese.  Try this dish - it's simple and awesome.

Pasta all’Amatriciana adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

1/2 lb. flat long pasta (I didn’t happen to have any on hand, so I took manicotti and had my granddaughter smash it with a rolling pin – it was fine, good even)

1/4 pound of bacon, sliced into ½ inch x 1 inch pieces

1 medium onion, sliced

2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (use all the seeds and “gel”, that’s where there’s tons of flavor. Also, Bittman says you can substitute canned whole, then diced)

½ cup or more of freshly grated Parmesan cheese  or pecorino Romano (use a microplane if you have one.  PLEASE don’t use the green can of already grated cheese –  it will go from amazing to meh.)

Freshly ground pepper

Boil a large pot of water for the pasta, salt heavily so it tastes briny. 

In a large sauté pan, (I used my trusty 12 inch cast iron one), saute the bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove and set aside.  Add the onions and sauté over low heat until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and simmer gently for 5 minutes, or until the pasta is ready.

Toss the pasta in whenever the water boils, and cook until al dente.  Dip out a half cup of pasta water just before draining the pasta. 

Add the drained pasta to the saucepan, mix and simmer slowly a minute or two.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Strew with the crispy bacon, add a smidge of reserved pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce, more if necessary.  Fold in the cheese.  Feast.

In Sunday’s New York Times, both How to Cook Everything, and The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated were cited as being the replacements for the old standard The Joy of Cooking.  I agree!

All of these titles are available in our Library – take them out and find something easy and wonderful – you won’t be sorry.   Incidentally, the subtitle for Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food  - I’m betting with this book you can always find something tasty to make with what you have on hand.  Bittman typically lists lots of variations.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Wannabe Italian

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Faith, Family and Forgiveness

Jennifer Haigh's newest novel Faith is a compelling novel that delves into the lives of the McGanns, a devout Irish Catholic family living in Boston whose faith in both their religion and each other is called into question during the Catholic Church scandal.  In 2002, members of the McGann family each day read of more and more priests accused of the horrible crime of molesting children and revelations surface that church hierarchy had been covering up the behavior of these priests.  Despite the newspaper headlines, the McGann family is shocked when their brother, Father Arthur, is accused of inappropriate behavior with the grandson of the church's housekeeper.   But this story is much more than just a novel about pedophile priests and irresponsible bishops and cardinals.  Instead, it is a much deeper story about family and the ties that bind us and our loyalty to those we love.   It is told from the perspective of Sheila McGann, the half sister to the accused priest who returns home to Boston to defend his brother and to find out what is the truth behind the accusations.  His half brother has already declared him guilty without even speaking to him while his mother is in total self denial, not believing that there is even a slight possibility that her favorite son could be guilty.

The story is complicated, a lot of shades of gray, and there are many hidden family secrets that surface to help the readers understand the motivations of these complex characters. The book is suspenseful--even the reader does not know whether Father Arthur is guilty or not until the end.  This family's lack of communication has contributed to the secrecy and the dysfunction of this blended family.  The characters are very interesting and the writing is well done. I have read one of Haigh's previous novel and enjoyed it but this one really stands out.  I plan to pick up her other two.  If you enjoy books with strong character development and a hint of mystery, you'll be glad you read this newest release of Haigh's.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom Series Features TED Talks

Tomorrow is the second of our Wednesday Wisdom programs where we will be showing some "jaw-dropping" TED Talks.

TED, which stands for "Technology, Entertainment and Design," is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).

On, they make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 900 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. Each month, the library selects three or four of these talks that total about an hour. We try to offer one talk from each of the TED themes - technology, entertainment and design - or talks that we think would be of interest to our Wednesday Wisdom audience.

Tomorrow the four talks are:

Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better - In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, "We are losing our listening." In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening -- to other people and the world around you. (TEDGlobal2011 – July 2011 – 7:50)

Thandie Newton: Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself - Actor Thandie Newton tells the story of finding her "otherness" -- first, as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and then as an actor playing with many different selves. A warm, wise talk, fresh from stage at TEDGlobal 2011. (TEDGlobal2011 – July 2011 – 13:56)

Anna Deavere Smith: Four American Characters - Writer and actor Anna Deavere Smith gives life to author Studs Terkel, convict Paulette Jenkins, a Korean shopkeeper and a bull rider, excerpts from her solo show "On the Road: A Search for American Character." (TED2005 – Feb 2005 - 23:08)

Robert Hammond: Building a Park in the Sky - New York was planning to tear down the High Line, an abandoned elevated railroad in Manhattan, when Robert Hammond and a few friends suggested: Why not make it a park? He shares how it happened in this tale of local cultural activism. (TED2011 – March 2011 – 5:41)

Please join us to view these fascinating discussions and presentations on the large screen in the library.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Running With the Library

 Running fast is something I will probably never be capable of.  I have accepted this fact.  I am "a middle age," a former smoker, nutritionally challenged, have  mild asthma, and am not gifted with athletic genes.  However,  I can always run better.  In fact my 5K time improved at a race just this past weekend to just under 38 minutes. My secret weapon? The Library of course!

Most people might not think of the Library as a place to improve running time and endurance, but it is the best place to begin. We carry Runners World magazine, alongwith related publications such as Sports Illustrated and Shape, depending on your objectives.

Our shelves hold running related how-to books, biographies, and movies to inspire and instruct. You will find training tips and guides here by some of the greatest runners of all time.

Your running companions at the Library include the great Jeff Galloway,  Kara Goucher, Amby Burfoot, Bart Yasso, Art Liberman, Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, and Hal Higdon. Your choice!

You will find the biographies in their own aisle next to the World Language section at SBPL.  The running books are located in the Dewey section 796.4, specifically the bottom shelf of Stack 38.

And of course its all free with your Library card.

by  Rosemary Gohd
SBPL staff member & weekend runner