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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Adult Summer Reading Contest

When Daddy Took Us Camping
 by Archana Sidhaye
We had a great time at the Adult Summer Reading Creative Writing Workshop on Tuesday.  We created Book Spine Poetry!  Here are a few of our best works.  I am turning this into a contest this summer and everyone is invited to participate!

After Dark by Archana Sidhaye
All you have to do is find some book titles that work together to make a joke, a poem or just a fun saying.  If you want some inspiration, put the words “Book Spine Poetry” in a Google image search and read through all of the results that come up.  But you really can’t realize how fun (and easy) it is until you try it ourself!
Go through the books on your shelf, or on our shelves, and write down all the interesting titles that jump out at you.  Make a note of the call letters or numbers so that when you have your final idea, you can gather the actual books for a photo.  Stack them up in order and snap a photo of your creation by August 15, 2012.  Send it to, with your name, email and age (if under 18) and you will be entered in our contest and your poem will be posted in the library and on our website.  All of the entries submitted will be posted on the library website at  

Summer Memories by Barbara Battles
In our next Creative Writing Workshop on Tuesday, July 10 in Program Room 1A/1B at 2:00 we will start to write our stories or memoirs – recording our thoughts “Between the Covers” of the book of your life!  I heard Michael Phelps this morning describe how he has kept a journal of his experiences on the road to becoming the athlete with the most gold medals in the Olympics.  He said he was not a writer but he has enjoyed putting down his thoughts and impressions.  What a legacy he will have to pass on to his family, and maybe share with the world. And it is never too late to start.  We will discuss some ways to make the task easier, starting with some meditation and then looking at resources that are on the Internet and in books available at the library.  Bring your laptop if you find it easier to type, or bring your favorite writing instrument and make this a pleasurable assignment.  Paper and pens will be available if you don’t bring one. 
Body Parts by Dr. Nose

Friday, June 29, 2012

What (Cupcake) Professionals Know

You can be pretty good at something, but I am convinced that you will never know as much as professionals,.    This was brought home to me this week because 1.)  my bathroom is getting renovated, and 2.) I was baking for the staff birthdays at the Library.

 I am a pretty good baker, but until I read the book The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating by Autumn Carpenter, I didn't realize how little I actually knew.  Many of the problems I have encountered in 33 years of semi-serious cake baking have been solved between the pages of this book.  

At the same time, my husband and I have been picking out fixtures, etc. for our (tiny) master bathroom. As a do-it-yourselfer, you probably wouldn't think about the height of your faucet and the height of the medicine cabinet and lights until you started installing them.  But our bathroom remodeler, Ralph, alerted us to these issues and more right away as we were picking out our fixtures.  You just can't beat a professional for the inside track on all this information.

Red velvet cupcakes with (swirly!) cream cheese frosting.  In the background, Outrageous Brownies from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and blueberry/cranberry pie.

Have you seen the fabulous looking cupcakes at bakery shops and on TV?  I am fairly handy with a pastry bag, but I did not realize until I read this book, that the generous swirls on top of the cupcakes need to be started with a rosette of frosting in the middle of the cupcake FIRST before you build up the swirls around that cone base.  Otherwise they just look flat and boring!  Yep, this tip was illustrated in Carpenter's book.  

Of course, you can go to YouTube to find this out too.  If you need to brush up on your computer skills, why don't you come to the Library and take some of our computer classes?  Even more conveniently, you can go to our website,, click on Databases, then go to Learning Express, click on Popular Software Tutorials, and find a huge panoply of computer tutorials from basic to advanced on everything from Photoshop, to Excel, PowerPoint and lots more.  

If you are remodeling, we have lots of great books on plumbing, decorating and renovating in our collection.
Consider our library, and its myriad resources on a lot of DIY subjects (including baking!) as a source to keep your mistakes to a minimum.  

And if all else fails: consult a professional!

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Not a Plumber

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Good Flicks You Might Have Missed…

Here are more of my favorites from our collection.  Let me know what you think!

The Kids Are Alright

Starring Annette Bening and Juliane Moore, Mark Ruffalo
Nic and Jules are in a long term, committed, same-sex relationship. Nic, a physician, needs to wield what she believes is control, whereas Jules, under that control, is less self-assured. They have two teen-aged children, Joni, who is Nic's biological child, and Laser, who is Jules' biological child. A big-hearted, sexy and uproariously funny movie that combines comedic surprise with poignant emotional truth. 2010, rated R. Comedy/Drama.

My Week With Marilyn

Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson
In the summer of 1956, 23-year-old Colin Clark, determined to make his way in the film business, worked as a lowly assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, the film that famously united Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. When his diary account was published, one week was missing. This is the story of that week: an idyll in which he escorted a Monroe desperate to get away from Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work. Based on the diaries of Colin Clark. 2011, rated R. Biography/Drama. (In my opinion, Michelle Williams should have won an oscar for this.)

A Matter of Size

Starring Itzik Cohen, Dvir Benedek
Four overweight friends from the Israeli city of Ramle are fed up with dieting and the dieting club they belong to. A comedy about a 'coming out' of a different kind - overweight people learning to accept themselves. 2009, Not rated. In Hebrew and Japanese with English subtitles. Comedy/Drama.


Jill Eisner
Sr. Librarian


Monday, June 25, 2012

This Week at SBPL I Discovered ... The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

This week I watched all three movies based on Swedish author Stieg Larsson's trilogy, beginning with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009).  The first book was published in 2005.  The book's success and that of the two that quickly followed prompted the 2009 Swedish film trilogy featuring each of them : The Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  All three of these films feature Swedish actress Noomi Rapace in the title role of Lisbeth Salander.  Ms. Rapace is  currently making her Hollywood debut in the sci-fi thriller Prometheus, by the way.

I had already seen the 2011 Hollywood version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara and I had already read the first book of the trilogy but not the next two.  I liked both.  The story is by no means for children or even teens - it is strictly R-rated for sexuality and violence.  I did not find the graphic nature of the film gratuitous, but did found it intense and suspenseful, relevent to the nature of the story.  The plot focuses on the victory of good over evil, victim over fiend.  But, I won't say more so not to give away any surprises. 

The Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was different in some (not very important) ways from the story told in the book or of the book's Hollywood interpretation, but yes, there were differences.  I thought both versions were equally good, in terms of the story as well as the acting.  There are no American movie versions for the next two books, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that happen in the near future.  I did enjoy the Swedish movies.  I watched the first with subtitles and the next two dubbed in English.  The dubbed versions were not at all "bad" or distracting in any way.

My reason for writing this post is not to review the film so much - though I recommend it highly for grownups who enjoy international adventure/intrigue and the kind of justice found on television shows such as Law & Order.  My purpose is to let you know that you can rent this gripping movie trilogy for just $3 ($1 for each movie borrowed) thanks to the South Brunswick Public Library movie collection.  Don't forget we also carry the print and audiobook versions as well.

All I needed to do was to go to my Library account online, locate the titles in the online catalog and then reserve each of them with a click here and there.  You can also just walk in and check the shelves in-person.  Before I knew it I had some excellent films waiting for pick-up for very little cost.  It's really that simple.  If you have any trouble just call for assistance at 732-329-4000, ext. 7286.  Movie rentals are $1 per film for a one-week loan period!

By Rosemary Gohd, SBPL PR/Marketing

Friday, June 22, 2012

Feeling Crabby

Only ONE crab cake?  Ok, this must be the lunch platter!
One of the easiest things to make, and make wonderfully well, is a good crab cake.  There are soooo many recipes out there, for various iterations of crab cakes, but after four consecutive Fridays of making crab cakes from different recipes, our family all agreed:  the simplest recipes are the best.

The flavor of crab is so subtle and sweet, that adding a lot of herbs and spices just seems to obscure the taste, rather than enhance it.  And when you’re spending anywhere from $20 to $26 a pound (Costco prices), you want to actually taste the crab meat.  Those prices are for the lump and the jumbo lump, which is what you want for crab cakes.   Don’t even bother with the unrefrigerated crab meat that is sold next to the canned tuna – it won’t be the same.  That kind is ok for crab dip, but you really want the fresh crab for a great crab cake.

This is the time of year when going out to a good seafood restaurant at the shore seems like a great idea.  But why go out when you can forgo the traffic and make a great crab dinner for five for the price of just one entrĂ©e?  (OK, so you won't be able to take a walk on the beach...)  Best option – throw these together in the morning before work – it’s easy as pie – and then let rest, covered in the fridge.  Get home, heat up your skillet, arrange some lettuce and good tomatoes on a plate and say goodbye take-out pizza, hello gourmet dinner!

Where are the best crab cakes to be had?  In Maryland, of course – so one of the best recipes comes from the book, Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields.  The recipe is  Faidley’s World Famous Crab Cakes, from Faidley’s restaurant in Baltimore where they have been making renowned crab cakes since 1886. 

Adapted from Faidley’s World Famous Crab Cakes
1 lb. jumbo lump crab meat
1 cup crushed saltines
½ cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Vegetable oil, for frying
On a large sheet pan, spread out the lightly drained crab meat.  Sprinkle the crushed saltines over the top.  Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl.  Distribute over the top of the crab meat and crackers.  Fold together lightly.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Use a large ice cream scoop to portion out 10 or 11 crab cakes.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge from 1 to 12 hours.
Heat about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of oil in a heavy frying pan over medium high heat.  Saute half the crab cakes for about 4 minutes per side until golden brown.  Repeat with remaining crab cakes.  Serve hot with fresh lemon slices.

Another, even more basic, but equally delicious, recipe comes from, of all places, the radio.

Joan Hamburg’s Crab Cakes from WOR 710 radio
1 lb. lump crab meat (this time, not jumbo)
8 saltines, crushed
3 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Lightly mix together crab and saltines.  Mix the mayo and mustard in a small bowl.  Fold into the crab mixture.  Form into 6 – 8 large crab cakes or 10 smaller ones.  Chill in fridge 1 – 12 hours.  Saute in butter and olive oil in batches until golden brown on each side.

So go to the beach or not, but have some authentic Maryland crab cakes this summer – and take out some cookbooks and/or beach reads from our Library today.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Crabby Person

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tween Scavenger Hunt for 2012 SR Program!

This summer is Tween time!

South Brunswick's fourth to seventh graders are eligible to join our Tween Summer Reading program! When you sign up, check out the square barcode on your reading log. You can scan that code to begin our exclusive Tween Digital Scavenger Hunt that will run throughout the summer!

To scan the code on an Android smartphone, download the free Google Goggles app through the Google Play store (link). To scan the code on an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad, download the free Google Search app through the iTunes app store (link). Once installed, just open the app, hold the device up to the QR code, and follow the link!

If you don't have a smartphone or Apple device, you can still participate! Just follow the link underneath the QR code by typing the case-sensitive link into any web browser and following that to the next clue, code and link!

There are plenty of clues to keep you active and searching throughout the summer! When you reach the end of the Scavenger Hunt, you'll find a link to a form you can fill out to enter for a chance to spin our prize wheel!

In fact, if you're already in the middle of the scavenger hunt, scan the QR code below (or go to for your next clue!

For your next clue, go to

Friday, June 15, 2012


Inspiration comes from the darndest places.  Was reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn, a book we acquired in March of this year.  It was all about how a trained chef gave a series of free cooking classes to people she spotted at the food store purchasing pre-packaged and highly processed food.

Things I knew but needed to be reminded of by Kathleen Flinn’s book:

1.  Use up your leftovers.   Some suggestions - combine with new things and create pasta toppings, fillings for omelets, add to salads and soups. 

I put this adage to work right away.  Yes, I confess, I shop at Costco, and am sometimes seduced by the low prices on items I don’t normally consume in huge quantities.  Like that giant jar of Kalamata olives that was languishing in my fridge. 

Checking a cookbook I own, I used my food processor to whip up an olive tapenade,  and added a chopped ripe beefsteak tomato, chopped fresh parsley,  a can of drained imported tuna and served this over wagon wheel pasta (plain for my granddaughter), and topped with more whole olives and freshly microplaned Parmesan cheese.  Wonderful!

  1. Use flavor profiles to cook without a recipe.  I do this all the time, but The Kitchen Counter Cooking School contains a “Cheat Sheet” for cuisines from Cajun to Asian with lists of relevant ingredients that you might have forgotten.

  1. Always have fresh garlic, onions, and lemons on hand.  Note to self:  buy lemons.

  1. Pass on your love of cooking to others.  My granddaughter loves to "make" fruit salad (she can cut up soft fruits like bananas and strawberries).  I was cutting up fruit for breakfast one morning and Devon offered to arrange a fruit platter.  She tentatively tried the apricots, and loved them.  Funnily enough, Devon used the apricot pit, and the next day, used the tops of the strawberries in her design.  Don’t stifle creativity!
Devon and Apricot Pit Fruit Plate

  Finally, a quote from Chapter 2:

  1. “You have to give yourself that dream assignment.  No one is going to give it to you.”  Sage advice I’d love to follow and pass on to all my kids.  It's a variation on one I've always loved:  “Create the life you dream of living.”

Lots of people, books, ideas and cooking -   all things I love being surrounded with.  Come and explore all your options at our Library today.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Lifelong Student

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Google Music

Hello. Google Music is a free service that allows you to purchase and store your digital music in the Cloud.  You can then listen to your music on your Android phone, tablet, PC laptop, or desktop.  If you have any of those devices and a Gmail account, go to Google Play which is the Android market.  From Google Play you can download a selection of  free music to your cloud account or purchase music.  The music will be stored in your cloud and ready to play  whenever you want it. 

Another option is to load CDs that you have already purchased into your cloud share via your computer.
To do this download Google Music manager.  Google Music manager will search for music on your PC and automatically upload it to your Google Play Music account.  If you have any questions about how to do this contact Randy at the Information Desk.

Randy Marsola
Network Librarian
South Brunswick Library

Friday, June 8, 2012

Four Generation Quilt Cake

Quilt and Quilt Cake

Quilts endure; cakes, not so much
It started with the quilt Great Grandma Marion made for Devon when she was born - triangles of lavenders and purples, interspersed with white, each square quilted with a heart.  Five years later, it was "Mimi's" (Devon's nickname for Great Grandma) 80th birthday, and there was a big family reunion weekend planned to celebrate the occasion.

Daughter Kate wanted to know who was making the birthday cake, and that if I wasn't making it, I should.  And, she added, it should be a quilt.

I just hadn't thought about it, but so instructed, I volunteered.  Upon inquiry, the "birthday girl" admitted her favorite was carrot cake.  When pressed for a choice of frosting to go with vanilla cake, Mimi ventured that she loved apricot anything.

So charged, I was pondering how to transport a tiered cake serving 30 people for three or four hours on the car drive up to Massachusetts, and thinking wouldn’t it be easier to bring cupcakes?  In that case, each person could choose whichever flavor they preferred, and I would get to socialize and not have to cut up and serve a layer cake.

Devon, future master baker

Having had so much fun making a fondant baby shower cake (see blogpost titled Adventures in Fondant), I enlisted granddaughter Devon to help me make a seven pounds of fondant, (see The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum) knowing that whatever cake I made, I definitely wanted to use fondant for the decorating.
Meanwhile, I was leafing through Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book, and Devon was tucking her Teddybear in on the couch with her lavender quilt and she said, "Grandma, why don't you make cupcakes and cover it with fondant like a quilt?"  Bingo!  Devon's a genius!

Fondant "quilt"

Using Devon's quilt as inspiration, I drew up a plan to make a quilt just like Devon's, only made of fondant.
The next day it was off to the kitchen with Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book in hand.  A few hours later, I had 60 cupcakes:  half of them carrot, and half vanilla.  And then, on to the frostings.

 Full disclosure:  there was leftover cream cheese frosting on hand from a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes Kate had made for her friend's birthday two days before, so I just needed to make frosting for the vanilla ones. Following America's Test Kitchen's Family Baking Book's excellent recipe for Vanilla Frosting, and reasoning that orange and apricot are compatible flavors, I made the Orange Frosting variation and added glaceed apricots.  Perfect!  Recipe follows. 

Brought the cupcakes to Massachusetts, and rolled out the fondant at the camp cabin.  With help from cousin Tara, we made all different purple combinations of colors - some with a reddish tint, some with blue and rolled out "fabric" triangles to put on the quilt top.  Finally I used a template and a toothpick to add the heart quilting.  Voila - you could hardly tell the difference between the quilt and the cake.

"Marbled" fondant - see Carpenter's Cake Decorating for how-to

Mimi loved the cake and it was a true generational collaboration:  from the quilt that Great Grandma Marion originally made, to the idea for the cake from Granddaughter Kate, to the design from Great Granddaughter Devon, and finally the execution of it all by me (with thanks to Tara for color mixing and moral support).

Vanilla cupcake with Orange Apricot Frosting

Orange Apricot Frosting inspired by the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, enough for 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
1/3 cup finely chopped glaceed or dried apricots
1/8 teaspoon salt
16 ounces (1 lb.) confectioner’s sugar

In an electric mixer on medium speed, mix together the butter, cream, vanilla and salt.  Beat for 2 minutes until smooth.  Turn off the mixer and by hand carefully mix in the confectioner’s sugar.  Turn up the mixer to medium-low and beat until smooth again, about 4 – 6 minutes.  (If too dry, add 1 – 3 teaspoons of heavy cream.)  Finally, increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until very light and fluffy, 5 – 10 minutes.

Notes:  This recipe produces a very light, creamy and irresistibly buttery frosting that can only be achieved through the lengthy mixing time.  This rivals buttercreams made with eggs, but is much easier and you don’t have to worry about egg safety issues.

Carrot Cupcake - recipe from Stewart's Cupcakes

A new book in our Library is The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating, by Autumn Carpenter:  what an encyclopedic reference!  I am really impressed.  Filled with both basic information and really useful tips (example:  grease your hands with shortening before mixing food color into fondant to keep your hands from getting stained) that I have never read before, this is a fun book to peruse for reference, instruction and inspiration.  Find it in our Library.  Right after I return it.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
(Cake) Quilter

Thursday, June 7, 2012

More Good Flicks You Might Have Missed…

By Jill Eisner, Sr. Librarian

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson. Evelyn is a cheerfully strong-willed mother of ten who compensates for the failings of her alcoholic husband by becoming the most successful "contester" in the country. Between the mid-1950s and the early '60s, Evelyn submitted cleverly worded poems, jingles, and slogans in corporate-sponsored contests. Winning everything from palm trees and pogo-sticks to sports cars and cash, she somehow mangages to hold the financially desperate family together with happy smiles and a rock-solid defiance. Based on the book "The prize winner of Defiance, Ohio: how my mother raised 10 kids on 25 words or less" by Terry Ryan. 2005, rated PG-13. Drama.

Mao’s Last Dancer
Starring Chi Cao and Bruce Greenwood. Based on the autobiography Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin. The fascinating true story of Li Cunxin, a peasant boy from rural China who beats impossible odds to become a world-renowned ballet dancer. Through breathtaking talent and sheer determination, Li makes his way to the United States, but when he falls in love with an American woman, he must risk everything to remain in the land of the free. 2009, rated PG. English and Mandarin. Drama.

Being Julia
Starring Annette Benning and Jeremy Irons. Based on the novella Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham. Julia is a true diva: beautiful, talented, wealthy and famous. She has a devoted husband who has masterminded her brillant career - but after years in the spotlight she begins to suffer from a severe case of boredom and longs for something new and exciting to put the twinkle back in her eye. She finds what she is looking for in a handsome young American fan, who adds a few more sparks than Julia was hoping for. 2005, rated R. Comedy/Drama.



Monday, June 4, 2012

This Week at SBPL I Discovered … Yoga!

As I got out of bed the other day my right shoulder hurt. When I twisted to stretch out that sore spot, my lower back hurt. I stood up in my doorway and reached for the top of the door frame and grabbed hold. I dropped down and let my weight pull out the kinks in my old body until it felt right again. What little I have gleaned in my sporadic visits to the gym told me that this body needed a more long-term solution.

There is enough health information floating around the internet and water cooler to tell me that this body might best be mended with yoga. It is physical but gentle enough if practiced for old people like me to do it (hey, if its good enough for Raquel Welch…!) But, where to start? The Library of course!

After searching in the Library’s online catalog I found enough print and AV materials on yoga to fill the trunk of my car. Looking in the nonfiction area, around the Dewy number 613.7 I found yoga books upon yoga books. There are a variety of types of yoga styles (astanga, hatha, and bikram to name a few), some more rigorous than others. There are yoga books aimed at heavyset adults, beginners, soul searchers, persons with special needs, men, women, children, the elderly, “idiots,” and a few for those who want to look like a model and think like a guru.

That gave me a lot to consider.

I needed to learn more about yoga in general first before I could decide which specific path would be best for me, so I started with The Everything Yoga Book and figured I would get to the DVDs after I learned more about which yoga I wanted.

The books and movies were fine and all accounted for, but one-on-one with an instructor would probably be even better, so I investigated what yoga classes are offered at the Library. There are several! The Library partners with professional instructors for various offerings at a small fee to help benefit the Friends of the Library. Fundraising dollars help the Friends to support many of our classes and programs for the public, such as the current Summer Reading events.

From fall through spring, the Library offers basic beginner and intermediate yoga classes in recurring six-week courses that cost $60 per session. During the 2012 summer, there is a Back Care Yoga course, in addition to Qigong (pronounced chee-gung), both are now open for registration. Qigong is not actually yoga, but incorporates yoga-like movement with breathing and relaxation exercises to help with physical and mental well-being. That couldn’t hurt!

So, this summer I will be focused on self-improvement through yoga with the help of classes, books, and movies at my local Library. Namaste!

What are you discovering this summer at the South Brunswick Public Library?!

by Rosemary Gohd, PR/Marketing

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Scone by Any Other Name...

What is a scone anyway?   

Coffee or bake shops showcase alluring looking scones bearing fruits, nuts, and spices, but which usually taste more like a mouthful of sawdust than anything else:  dry, flavorless and dense.  Good news!  If you make any of the scones from the book, Alice's Tea Cup, by Haley Fox and Lauren Fox, you will have a biscuit-y/muffin-y treat tasting better than any commercial scone you've ever had.

Moreover, they're dead easy to make. You can whip these up any morning you are in need of something special for breakfast.  Put on the oven as soon as you think of it, and by the time that's preheated, the scones will be ready to go in the oven.  Only requirement:  you need to have buttermilk on hand.

This weekend I made breakfast for 20 people:  dozens of scrambled eggs, tomatoes cut in half and oven roasted with olive oil, garlic,  fresh basil, and Kalamata olives, and asparagus dressed with olive oil, sea salt, and shards of Parmigiano Reggiano.   I was trying to make a healthful breakfast, but I couldn't resist serving two kinds of homemade scones, and lots of bacon, along with the eggs and veggies.  (Thank you, dear husband for frying up all four pounds!)  Truly a delicious meal.  You don't have to blow your diet - just eat the veg and eggs and have half a scone.  Easy, best scone recipe follows.

Mixed Berry Scones, adapted from Haley Fox and Lauren Fox's Alice's Tea Cup

Yield:  12 Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups mixed berries:  whole blueberries, raspberries, blackberries,or strawberries, hulled and quartered, and dried very well
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/3 cup heavy cream (for brushing over the top) - you can always substitute milk
1/4 - 1/2 cup (more or less) sugar, coarse or regular granulated (for sprinkling)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and set the rack on the upper middle level.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, powder, and salt.  Cut the sticks of cold unsalted butter lengthwise into quarters, and then into slices, resulting in cubes.  Drop these into the dry ingredients, and cut in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs:  either using a pastry cutter, two forks, or your (clean!) hands.  Fold in the berries carefully. 

Add the buttermilk and vanilla.  Fold in lightly, until mostly all of the flour is incorporated.    Dump out onto a floured surface and pat into a rough rectangle about 10 inches by 4 or 5 inches.  (Resist the temptation to work the dough too much, as the result will be a tougher product.)  Cut the rectangle into quarters, and then divide each quarter into 3 approximately equal sized blobs - the irregular shapes just add to the charm and texture. The mixture will be sticky - don't worry, they bake up beautifully.

Place the scones onto a non-stick half sheet pan (or large cookie sheet), or a pan lined with a Silpat (silicone) mat.  (All 12 will fit on at once, they don't rise much at all.)

Gently brush each scone all over with the heavy cream, and sprinkle liberally or stingily with the sugar, as you wish.  Bake until lightly browned - about 20 minutes, switching the pan front to back, side to side after 10 minutes to ensure even baking.  Note that if the berries are juicy, the time may need to be adjusted upwards for 5 or more minutes.

Great warm; with a cup of tea, of course!

Don't use a food processor.  Silly me, thinking I could accomplish this recipe even faster, I tried to make the variation recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Scones in my food processor.  Cutting the butter into the dry ingredients worked well, but then when I added 1 1/4 cups berries and 3/4 cup chocolate and the wet ingredients, the whole thing had too much moisture because the berries were pureed rather than whole.  Result:  instead of baking in 12 minutes, the scones took about 30 minutes.  They did taste great though:  a mix between a scone and a chocolate chip cookie, but not exactly what the authors had in mind, I'm sure.

Be sure the butter is right out of the fridge and very cold; this recipe uses the same technique as making pie crust or biscuits.  If you are using your hands to mix in the butter with the dry ingredients, try to just use your fingertips, not the palms of your hands which are much warmer and will melt the butter.

When you are shaping the scones,  you can also lightly roll out the dough and cut out any size circles with an inverted glass or a biscuit cutter.  Just adjust the baking time so that the scones are "lightly browned".  Shape doesn't much matter: round like a biscuit, triangular like a scone.   'A scone by any other name...would taste as sweet?"  (Apologies to Shakespeare!)

You can check out Alice's Tea Cup,  Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and lots of other great books from our Library.  The Alice's Tea Cup cookbook is owned by South River Library, but you can have their copy sent here by placing a hold on it with your library card from home or at the Information Desk.  It takes about a week to get it here in our Library, and will cost 25 cents when you pick it up.  Well worth it when you consider how awesome these scones are, as well as having access to lots of Alice's other recipes for salads and sandwiches which look equally beguiling.

Turn up the A/C, turn on the oven, and make some scones!

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian