The Ploughman's Lunch and the Miser's Feast: Authentic Pub Food, Restaurant Fare, and Home Cooking from Small Towns, Big Cities, and Country Villages across the British Isles by Brian Yarvin is a proper traditional foods cookbook of Great Britain.
|The thought of a full English breakfast makes me long for Dorset in South West England again. But alas, I am here in Southern California, but this lovely cookbook is available, so I headed for the kitchen and whipped up some British grub. The choice was difficult. Would the dish be savory or sweet? My savory choice was Welsh Rarebit, the sweet choice was Spotted Dick. Time would permit the creation of only one of these treats. I fancied sweet so I went with the Spotted Dick! The Spotted Dick recipe was appealing for the following reasons: simplicity, a colorful name, and I had most of the ingredients on hand. One ingredient—beef suet—would be a challenge to procure, but the recipe had an alternative ingredient—shortening—so I chose the alternative.|
|In addition to the Spotted Dick I planned to go whole hog and make my own custard from scratch—no Bird’s custard powder for this bold Englishman! Just to backtrack and clarify the recipe's name and what it is, the English tend to have strange names for foods, “Spotted Dick” being one of them. Spotted Dick is a raisin pudding that's steamed and usually drenched in custard. I know that wasn't much of a clarification of the recipe's name; you'll have to do your own research on that. Getting down to business, the pudding mixture was a snap and the custard sauce was a breeze, but steaming the pudding for two hours and being ever vigilant so that the pan didn't run dry was a bit of a pain! The end result was fine, and the custard sauce improved it to excellent. I dare say the Queen would approve. Knighthood, perhaps?|
Check out the book at Foster Library, or put it on hold—we will send it to you. If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library's collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I'll get cooking!
You can call or drop by the library for additional information on these or any of our other events. We're lucky to be in such a beautiful part of the state, so come learn how you can get out there and enjoy it!
We've been doing some additional testing with our new laser cutter and engraver, trying it out with various designs on a number of different materials. It's been a lot of fun!
So far we've tried everything we could get our hands on, including leather, stone, glass, and several types of wood—and we're still looking for more test materials.
We're very excited to be bringing this technology to the library as part of our makerspace. Remember to join us on September 30, 2014, at E.P. Foster Library for a demonstration of what the laser can do!
Know about the great work our adult literacy READ staff and volunteers are doing? Perhaps you know an adult who may benefit from reading instruction.
"What is more basic than the ability to read?"
-- Jackie Griffin, Director of Ventura County Library
"Your library is really a welcoming place and no one is going to judge you ..."
-- Christy Aguirre, Librarian at Sacramento Public Library
"We're a nation of second chances. And the library is a place to provide that second chance."
-- Rivka Sass, Director of Sacramento Public Library
On Wednesday, September 24, E.P. Foster Library will present a talk by Alan Salazar of the Chumash Maritime Association.
"The Chumash Maritime Culture, Past, Present, and Future" will focus on the seafaring tools used by the Chumash of the Santa Barbara coast and Channel Islands regions.
The talk begins at 6 p.m. in the Topping Room. We hope to see you there!
E.P. Foster Library will be hosting an early literacy workshop on Tuesday, September 23.
Read Me a Story & More is an event for parents and caregivers of children ages 0-5 years old, and will provide information on the literacy skills children need to be reading-ready.
Registration is required for this event, so contact the library for more information. The workshop is for adults only, and starts at 6 p.m. in the Topping Room.
Attention local makers! On Tuesday, September 16, E.P. Foster Library will be hosting its second make.show.tell. event.
Stop by the Topping room at 7 p.m. to see what some local makers, builders, and craftspeople have been up to, and to learn more about how YOU might participate in the future!
If you're a maker with a skill or hobby you would like to share with others, come by any of our makerspace events or contact the library. We would love to help you share your talents!
In last month’s Font to Film we talked about authors who bring a personal perspective to their subject matter in order to produce a work which asks important questions or defies expectations. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, first published in 1961, does both. Rich with satire and social commentary on the nature of war and authority, it is widely regarded as a classic that maintains its relevance today. While many would argue that war is nothing to laugh about, Heller and authors like him have successfully used dark humor to spotlight the cognitive and moral dissonance that results from being in a situation that is deadly serious while simultaneously appearing to be completely absurd.
|Catch-22 focuses on Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces bombardier serving in World War II. From the start it is made apparent that a central element of Yossarian’s character is his instinct for self-preservation; he harbors a firm belief that the people around him—both the German forces and his own commanding officers—are trying to kill him, and thus does everything he can think of to avoid flying combat missions. His attempts are largely thwarted by the existence of a military regulation known as “Catch-22,” which states, among other things, that Yossarian cannot request to be grounded due to insanity because such a request would be the act of a sane man. Heller’s portrayals of Yossarian’s commanding officers offer a grimly cynical take on the chain of command, and he likewise uses war profiteer Milo Minderbinder to showcase the naked greed and ruthlessness of unchained, unregulated capitalism. Throughout the chronologically-scattered narrative more details of Yossarian’s situation are revealed, and through him we witness the sheer horror of war as it is visited upon civilian populations and military personnel alike, including Yossarian’s close friends.|
|The 1970 film version of Catch-22 was directed by Mike Nichols and stars Alan Arkin along with a surprising number of familiar faces, including Art Garfunkel, Jon Voight, Bob Newhart, and Martin Sheen. The film condenses the plot a bit, eliminating some elements and simplifying others but managing to maintain the book’s tone and thematic concerns. Jokes better suited for the page than the screen are replaced with more visual gags, and certain auditory motifs—for instance, the drone of aircraft engines—are used to great effect. The film also reminds us that the strengths of the medium should not be underestimated; the actors all give compelling performances, and several scenes feature gruesome effects which really drive home the war’s terrible cost in a visceral way. While the novel received both positive and negative reviews upon its release, the movie was largely eclipsed by other war films released at the time, including another dark comedy, MASH (1970). Both the book and the movie have enjoyed great success in subsequent years, however; Nichols’ version has a reputation as a cult hit, and Heller’s original is seen as one of the most important war books of our time.|
Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 can be found at E.P. Foster Library in both the adult and young adult fiction collections. Mike Nichols’ film version is also at Foster, and in addition can be accessed via our new database Hoopla Digital. The film is available for streaming or downloading to those with a Ventura County Library card who have created a Hoopla account; see the staff at any of our branches or call for information on setting up an account. And as always, if the version you’re looking for is not on the shelf you can request that a copy be sent to your local branch over the phone or online through our catalog.