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Monday, July 30, 2012

This Week At SBPL I Discovered … it’s never too late to wear a new hat.

Children are frequently encouraged to read as a way to encourage their future ambitions, but what about us grownups? Well, we can aspire too and we can do more than just read about it this summer at the South Brunswick Public Library.

Become a gourmand, an astronomer, an artist, and more!

Last week I attended a sandwich-making workshop at the Library and became a better cook! The demonstrator showed us the best way to cut an onion and choose the right cheese, not to mention how to make several great-tasting sandwiches. All the demonstrating and tasting was done right here in the Library.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 31, at 2 p.m.), we grown-ups can learn how to become artists in the Adult Summer Reading workshop Altered Books. Participants will supercharge their creative abilities by re-purposing old and unused books into sculptures and such.

On Aug. 7 (Tuesday at 2 p.m.) we can all become astronomers with a workshop by amateur astronomer/author/Princeton University Professor Robert Vanderbei.

While these are summer reading programs, there are similar opportunities for adults at the Library all through the year. You can take an hour to learn something new and/or try something new most days and nights of the week. Just check our newsletter The Compass or our website for ideas.

Expanding our knowledge does not end with childhood. It has been shown that the brain waves are more active simply daydreaming then watching a television program. With that in mind, take the extra step to the Library to learn something new. We offer dozens of programs just for adults every month … free! Imagine how your brain waves jump while you are involved in a group with creative challenges and new information.

See you at the Library …. Your Guide to Discovery!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cooking School: Sandwich Workshop

Cooking School:  Sandwich Workshop!

Cross this off the bucket list:  teaching a cooking class.  The class was held at our Library and was supposed to run from 2 – 3, but since we were still merrily cooking away and eating at 4, the Children’s Department wanted to know how long it would take for us to clean up?  (Longer than the 5 minutes I said, but we were up and out before the children’s program at .)  I had such a good time, cooking! and with a captive audience!, that we went over our allotted time.

The conceit of the class was this:  a four-course meal, salad, soup, main course and dessert, all interpreted in sandwiches. Famed chef and cookbook author Tom Colicchio provided the recipe basics from his restaurant and book ‘wichcraft, as well as all the photos. 

Having had a little car trouble on the way in, I was just arriving with tons of supplies when 3 people walked in to the class room 15 minutes early.  Since I’m used to cooking at my kitchen island, which is kind of like a stage, I wasn’t flustered, just a little harried.  I started out talking a mile a minute which washing my hands, spreading out ingredients and chopping celery.  I proceeded to build my first sandwich for the class.

It was a Goat Cheese, Celery, Avocado, Watercress and Lemon Vinaigrette with Walnut Pesto on Whole Grain Bread sandwich, which comprised the ‘salad’ course.  I had already prepared the lemon vinaigrette and walnut pesto at home, so I simply had to  dress the celery and watercress with the vinaigrette, slice the avocado,  and put together the sandwich.  Not technically challenging, but still harder to be able to talk about helpful hints while continuing the prep at the same time than if I were alone in my kitchen concentrating.  I babbled on trying to squeeze in lots of helpful hints all the while putting together the sandwiches.

This sandwich was pungent with the goat cheese, earthy with the walnuts and whole grain bread, and brightened by the crunch of the lemon spiked greens:  a great way to open up the class’ taste buds, especially for one of the attendees who had never had goat cheese before.  While goat cheese is not a personal favorite of mine, I do like it very much when it is presented in concert with other harmonizing ingredients, such as this sandwich.  And so did the class.  Yay!  They liked it. (Shades of Sally Field!)

Gaining confidence, I went on to an easier preparation: the Gruyere and Caramelized Onion Panini on Seeded Russian Rye, which was a stand in for French onion soup.  The Gruyere (lovely, nutty real Switzerland Swiss cheese) I sliced very thinly and put on rye bread, topped it with the prepared at home slow cooked smoky-sweet caramelized onions (which I passed around for the class to take in that great fragrance), and topped it with more thin slices of Gruyere and another slice of rye. This was then cooked in a panini press until darkly toasted, with the cheese oozing out:  rich, flavorful and satisfying.   

At this point, luckily my coworkers, Roe Gohd, and Viji Savrithi, had all been pitching in and giving me a hand, so I was in good shape with them microwaving the onions, grilling panini, and passing out napkins, water and sandwich samples.

The Gruyere was the one sandwich I had not tried at home, because I knew it would be delicious – with all those good ingredients, how could it not be?  But the seeded Russian rye bread (Pechter’s, from Wegmans) added that little bit of je ne sais quoi, so when I did taste it, I literally stopped in my tracks because it was so delicious. 

As people were eating and exclaiming, I went on to the main event:  a mix of Marinated Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers, Nicoise Olives, and Lemon Confit on Country White Bread.  I had cooked the chickpeas at home from scratch, and then prepared half of them in the marinade and half without, intending to demonstrate all the prep in front of the class.  Alas, time was running short, so I gratefully used the already marinated chickpeas, threw that in the food processor, and spread it on country bread - toasted on one side only! (Soft side OUT, so as not to scratch the roof of your mouth, but crispy on the inside so the sandwich doesn’t get soggy.)  

To the sandwich, I then added strips of red pepper that I had roasted on the grill at home, gave some Nicoise olives a quick chop, and layered on some confit lemon slices, a few grinds of black pepper, and some flat leaf parsely leaves..

The lemon confit I had started three days earlier, and I demo-ed how to the slice the lemons super thinly, rind and all.  You then layer the slices with salt, sugar, garlic,  and shallot, and let them sit in the fridge in a jar, turning over occasionally to cure all the slices.  After three days, you drain them, and cover with olive oil.  Sunshine in a jar.

Lemon Confit

3 lemons
1 large shallot, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar

About 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Put the lemons in a saucepan of boiling water to cover for 20 seconds.  Drain and dry.  Slice off one end only.  Cut in half lengthwise.  Slice as thinly as possible, discarding seeds and the remaining end. 

Mix all remaining ingredients except the olive oil with the lemon slices.  Put into a jar.  Turn once a day for 3 days to cure all the lemon slices.  Drain in a colander for 15 minutes.  Return to the jar, and barely cover with olive oil. 

Yield:  About 1 cup, keeps in the refrigerator at least one month.

(This makes an inspired addition to not only the chickpea sandwich, but is amazing on a sandwich with imported Italian tuna, capers, Nicoise olives and marinated fennel.  Also try with sliced roasted leg of lamb, bitter greens, and black olive mayonnaise.)

The completed Chickpea Sandwich was a multi-flavored affair with a balanced mix of garlicky, creamy chickpeas, the sweetness of the red peppers, the meatiness of olives all accented beautifully by the brightness of the lemon confit:  “tastes like the Mediterranean,”  was one admiring comment.  This was the favorite of the tasters.

For dessert, I made ‘Cannoli’ Bruschetta, this recipe one of my own creation: topped with ricotta cheese, orange marmalade, bittersweet chocolate and pistachios.  (“Very elegant – and delicious”, according to my son-in-law, when I reprised the class at home.) And for good measure, an Almond Bruschetta, this one spread with almond paste, almonds and showered with confectioner’s sugar, inspired by a recipe I found on the Food Network.

Now I was really rushing, because the Children’s librarians were trying to set up for the next event.  But these bruschetta are no-brainers- requiring no recipe, really, so I could rush and prepare at the same time.  Mission accomplished:  a four course meal all composed of sandwiches.

Either bruscetta would be an outstanding addition to brunch alongside a frittata or any kind of omelette.  And they are far easier to make than any baked goods, and  benefit from being done at the last minute because they are especially good served warm, immediately after preparation.

‘Cannoli’ Bruschetta

baguette, cut into ½ inch thick slices
ricotta cheese
good orange marmalade (recommended:  Tiptree or Dundee brand imported from England)
bittersweet chocolate, chopped, OR bittersweet mini chocolate chips
pistachios, chopped

Toast or grill the baguette.  Spread each slice with about 1 – 2 Tablespoons ricotta. Top with 1 Tablespoon marmalade.  Sprinkle on the chopped chocolate and pistachios to taste.

Almond Bruschetta

baguette, cut into ½ inch thick slices
almond paste
sliced almonds or slivered almonds
confectioner’s sugar

Toast or grill the baguette.  Mash up the almond paste a little to make it softer, then spread a Tablespoon on each baguette slice.  Top with some almonds, and sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar.

So that was my take on sandwiches – at the end of the class, I was left with a huge mess, a ton of satisfaction from all the positive comments I got, and a wish to do it all again soon. 

As Roe and one of the class attendees – Rose - so generously helped with the clean-up, we passed out the last of the samples and hurried to put away all the detritus from the class while the Children’s Department began their set-up. 

I left the class humming this melody from a long ago favorite children’s song of my daughter Kati:

Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine,
I like sandwiches I eat them all the time,
I eat them for my supper,
And I eat them for my lunch,
If I had a hundred sandwiches,
I’d eat them all at once!

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Now , “Cooking Teacher”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adult Summer Reading Program Going Strong!

We have had almost 50 people either submit Entry Forms for the books they have read, attend one or more of the workshops or agree to complete one section of the mural.  I have entry forms for 89 books that have been read so far.  I am compiling a list in order to the ratings readers have given.  There were 26 books rated 5 star and one given a 6 star rating, 21 books at the four star level, nine with 3 stars, seven with 2 star and 6 with only one star.  19 entries have come in with no rating indicated – don’t forget to give your opinion – the list will be shared with everyone at the party on August 18 and will be available for the rest of the library thereafter – so help your fellow readers find the good ones and avoid the no-so-good!

Everyone that participates in some way in the Adult Reading Program this summer will be getting an invitation to our End-of-Summer Party on August 18 where they will get to enjoy making their own Ice Cream Sundae and other goodies and get to see the unveiling of the group mural.  Every participant will be given tickets which can be used to win prize baskets.  We will also have some of the middle-school students who are taking the “In a Kaleidoscope” arts literacy class offered this summer bring the books they are creating.  “In a Kaleidoscope” is planned in conjunction with the Aging in Place Partnership (AIPP) and the South Brunswick School District Office of Curriculum and Instruction.  You can read more about the program in a recent article published on the website at

We have just completed our sixth creative workshop yesterday with the very popular Between the Covers Creative Sandwiches class.  Our resident librarian/chef, Diane Whitman, created four delicious vegetarian sandwiches for a class of 18 lucky attendees.  You can read more about the event and get the recipes in Diane’s Friday Food Blog tomorrow.

We also had our tie-dyed paper workshop where we experimented with ways to create some beautiful color papers to use in making greeting cards, gift wrapping and the basis for many other paper crafts. 

Next Tuesday will be our Altered Book Workshop. We have gathered an assortment of hardcover books from the donations that were discarded which we will use to create objects of beauty and utility. Each attendee can choose which project to do. There will be one craft, from The Repurposed Library by Lisa Occhipinti (New York: Abrams, 2011.) to create decorative “Book Bursts” out of books that have been cut into sections. We will have another option to make a protective and decorative cover for your Kindle, Nook or other tablet or reader using an actual book cover (bring the dimensions of your reader.) This project is also from The Repurposed Library. For those who are interested in trying to make altered books just for their beauty and art, we will have a few projects to work on in what might become your sample or practice book of altered book techniques. These are from Altered Books Workshop by Bev Brazelton (Cincinnati, Ohio: North Light Books, 2004.)

This should be great fun!  We look forward to seeing you at the workshop.  If you have an Xacto or other type of craft knife, you could bring it with you and bring along any small embellishments (buttons, coins, toys, game pieces, puzzle pieces, charms, beads, old jewelry); ephemera (greeting cards, correspondence, photos, postcards, stamps) or “accessories” (string, yarn, twine, ribbon, hardware, wire) you might want to incorporate into your designs to make them more personal and meaningful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Resume Help

The Library has many online resources that help you create a winning resume.

They are available from the Library's Database webpage .

The first is Brainfuse, funded by the grant from the South Brunswick Library Foundation.

Brainfuse is a learning center for both school age students and adults.

Scroll down the Library's Database webpage and click Brainfuse and then click on the Adult Learner button at the top of the Brainfuse  homepage.

Here you will find training material for Resumes, Careers, Microsoft Office Software, GED and Citizenship.

Create your own username and password during your first visit by clicking on Login. This will give you access to your message center whenever you visit. Then use the resume training material.  Prepare your resume and  upload it for review. You will receive feedback on the resume  in your message center.  If you have further questions you can connect to Brainfuse live help between 2-11pm daily.

The next online resource  on the Library's Database webpage is Universal Class. Here you will find the instructor-assisted class 'Resumes 101'.    You can submit any questions you have about the class material to your assigned instructor.

The last resource from the Library's Database webpage is Job And Career Accelerator.  This is provided by the NJ State Library.  Click on Job and Career Accelerator from the Library's Database webpage. You will go to Learning Express Library. Click on the More Information button on the Job and Career Accerator tab.  View a tutorial to learn how to use this online resource for resume writing and job searching. When you are ready to use it click on Login to create or use your username and password.

South Brunswick Public Library also offers an Effective Resume Writing class. Check our online Event Calendar to find out when the next class is.

You can search our online catalog for a list of the e-book, book and audiobooks available on resume writing.

As always, if you have any questions please contact the Information Desk .

Submitted by Mary Donne, Head of Information Services

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Free Classes Online @ SBPL

Universal Class is our free adult education service with classes on topics from knitting and gardening to photoshop and pets. Real instructors and engaging videos make this a rich learning experience.

Today's blog is about Universal Class' career training classes. These let you explore new career possibilities like career coaching, catering or even criminology.
If you want something in the creative arts you can choose web page design using Dream Weaver or you can choose Fashion Design.

The more adventurous may enjoy the Travel Agent class. Even Feng Shui and Kinesics 101 are options in Career Training.

You will find everything from 'How To Start and Operate a Day Care' to 'Running Your Own Craft Business'.

Check out these classes and many more by visiting our web page at . Click on Databases.  Select Universal Class

The first time you login you need to create an account by entering a username and password that you will remember.

Take advantage of any free time you have this summer by visiting Universal Class to check out a new vocation or avocation.

Contact the library on our Help Page if you have any questions.

Mary Donne
Head of Information Services

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Business @ Your Library

We have wonderful business resources available at the library.  You will need your library bar code number to login from home. Here is a review of some of them.

Small BusinessResource provides information on starting, managing and marketing every type of business are covered in this resource from major business publishers. Directories of go to resources such as ‘Consultants and Consulting Organizations’ and ‘Small Business Sourcebook’ are available along with business journal articles. John Wiley easy-to-understand “For Dummies series such as ‘Business Contracts for Dummies’, ‘Portable MBA Strategy’ and ‘7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth are here also.

Frost & Sullivan provides global market and industry research reports. Find out customer surveys, emerging technologies, country economic forecasts, and more.

Morningstar provides  proprietary analysis on thousands of stocks, funds, and ETFs, market analysis and lists of Morningstar’s top selections for companies, and Mutual funds.

Reference USA provides lists of business listings by industry and geography and year established or residential listings by estimated income, home value and geography.

Value Line provides year-ahead and three- to five-year probable relative price performance for each stock. Their ‘Ratings and Reports’ includes individual stock reports and industry reviews.
Universal Class provides free professional development classes on business topics such as : leadership & supervision, project management, team management, conflict resolution, customer relation management and many more.
The Business Searching Interface (BSI) provides an easy way to both browse and search for country economic data, company profiles, industry information and market research.

Audio books, e-books and hardcover books on topics such as bookkeeping, management, computers and small business start-up are all available.

Contact the Information Desk if you need help with any of these resources.

Friday, July 6, 2012

(Blueberry Cranberry) Pi Approximation Day

It all started in high school one March 14th.  My daughter's math teacher allowed the kids to bring in and eat homemade pies on 3/14 to celebrate, quote unquote:  pi day.  Note for the mathematically challenged:  pi (3.14) x diameter = the circumference of a circle.

On that morning, Kate left for school proudly bearing four fruit pies, but returned home with just one lonely pie plate.  After school someone in the hall had bumped into her, and all four pie plates - glass, of course - fell to the ground.  Only one survived.

But what did survive was her enjoyment of baking, enjoying and sharing pie.  Now that her wedding is coming up, in addition to having wedding cake, we will be having pie - lots of pie.

Here is one of the pie recipes that the staff here at the Library really liked.

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible, (on order and soon to be in our Library).  And just in time to celebrate Pi Approximation Day, which is July 22, because 22/7 is the

fractional approximation of pi (...of course!)

Deep-Dish Blueberry/Cranberry Pie

Pastry for a 2-crust 9 inch pie, either homemade or purchased, rolled out into 2 rounds
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt
2 pints (or about 5 cups) fresh blueberries
3 1/2 cups or 12 oz. frozen cranberries
1 Tablespoon milk or heavy cream for glaze
2 Tablespoons sanding sugar or granulated sugar for glaze

Place a baking stone on the lowest rack, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees for at least 20 minutes.

Mix together all the ingredients (except the milk and sugar for the glaze) in a large saucepan.  Heat to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, then continue to boil about 8 - 10 minutes or until the cranberries just start to soften and burst.  Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes. 

Line a 9 1/2 inch deep dish glass pie plate with a pastry round.  Pour in the filling.  Cut out and discard a one inch circle from the second round of pastry, and place the round on top of the pie.  Crimp the edges.  Brush with the milk or cream, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the pie on the baking stone for about 45 minutes, or until the top and bottom crusts are nicely browned.

This pie is not too sweet, and the crust becomes crisp and delicious.  Perfect for the summer or can also be made with frozen blueberries.

Happy Pi Approximation Day! Celebrate with pie, and your favorite books from our Library.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Reader of Cookbooks

Monday, July 2, 2012

This Week at SBPL I Discovered ... 35th Birthday of the Bookmobile!

Celebrating 35 years of Discovery on the Road!
Mixing a little old-fashioned personal service with current materials for education and entertainment, our colorful Bookmobile bus carries hundreds of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs to South Brunswick neighborhoods throughout the year.

After serving the community for more than 35 years, it continues to be a valued service for all ages, especially for those who have difficulty getting to the main Library, such as the elderly, disabled, those without transportation, the very young, and the economically disadvantaged. The visiting schedule changes four times a year so it can be where and when it is needed most.

Bookmobile service began in 1976; about 10 years after the main library opened its doors. Its service has kept pace with the computer revolution and current print and audio-visual collections.

For more information about Bookmobile service, please visit us at