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Food for Thought

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Uncovering the edible NYPL in books, menus, and ephemera.

The Art and Science of Cooking

I like to cook, but I am not much of a baker. There is one yearly exception... the transition to autumn and then the holiday season usually puts me in a baking mood. For the past few Christmases I've made biscotti — Italian cookies flavored with nuts, spices, or dried fruits. They are something of a tradition in my family. This year when I got out my mixing bowl I grabbed a dry measure for the flour and sugar, but then I put it away. I decided not to use it.

Now, I know baking is all about scientific precision! 

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Programs for Foodies and Friends: The Recipe Project, Soul Food Junkies, Dirt Candy and More

Musical recipes... a soul food journey... a history of peanut butter... food bloggers... urban farmers and foragers...Dirt Candy... Julia Child... America's banana king... the hidden financial and political aspects of food... the astrological signs of the delicatessen... foodways of the African diaspora... cooking on TV. The Lunch Hour NYC exhibition currently at the Schwarzman Building has inspired us to offer some truly varied food related programs at the 

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Cooking for the Holidays, or, Bourbon Makes It Better

Although the rapidly approaching holidays usually only induces feelings of anxiety, I do look forward to getting out the cookware and making my tried and true holiday desserts and side dishes such as English trifle, Danish rice pudding (risengrød a la mande) and sweet potatoes baked in a sauce of maple syrup, butter and BOURBON!

You heard me, a little bourbon makes something I used to dislike when I was younger into the talk of any Thanksgiving get-together. Basically, after gently boiling 3 lbs. of scrubbed sweet potatoes in their skins for about 15-20 

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Food Special Libraries and Museums

I am a vegan, natural health food nut, and now I am on a gluten-free diet, so I was interested to see what food libraries are out there. I used to be a big fan of the Food Network Channel; I loved watching the Food Network Challenge show, which I believe has been discontinued. I cook natural grains and I made my own bread and apple pies as a teenager. I love vegetables, fruit, and health food stores. Below is a selection of the food libraries and museums that I found.

Special Libraries

from the

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Chinese American Food: Stories of Odds and Ends

Did you know that some of your favorite dishes from a Chinese take out restaurant have interesting stories behind them? The origin of their names, the ingredients used and how they were conceived and transformed in America all make fascinating tales in food history.

Since the 19th century, Chinese immigrants opened restaurants throughout the American frontier. These dishes preserved and reflected the different Chinese cultural and regional identities. Initially they were not accepted or liked by Americans because they were perceived as foreign. However, many dishes 

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Thanksgiving Recipes

A confession: I've never cooked a turkey. Sides, yes. Desserts, of course. But a turkey? Nope. I leave that to the experts. For me, turkey is the least exciting part of Thanksgiving. Sure, it may be the perfect vehicle for cranberry sauce. And turkey leftovers do make for a tasty soup, but if I had my druthers, I'd just as soon stick to chicken.

All this turkey bashing is just my way of explaining why you won't find any turkey basting in my Thanksgiving picks below. Everyone has their own method of preparing the bird, and I certainly wouldn't want anyone taking advice from a 

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"Compact and Ingenious": Lunchboxes, Dinner Pails, and Other Ways We've Carried Lunch

This post was written by former Lunch Hour NYC intern Caitlin Dover. Caitlin is a writer and editor based in New York City; she recently received her master's in material culture from the Bard Graduate Center in New York.

How do you pack your lunch? Chances are, you and your kids rely on an assortment of reusable plastic containers that you tote daily to work or school. That practice of packing one's midday meal goes back at least as far as the first half of the nineteenth century, when industrialization prompted workers to find ways to eat their "dinner" in or near 

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Read It, Make It, Write It! Eat More of What You Love

I had the honor of meeting Marlene Koch, author of the cookbook: Eat More of What You Love, at the Book Expo America event held this June at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. Marlene was all smiles as I told her how much I appreciate the publishing of this cookbook because not only does it reduce the length of time in the kitchen but substitutes the unnecessary calories from our daily diet. As she autographed 

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Boost your Budget with Help from a Food Program!

The following post was written by guest blogger Vanna Valdez, Benefits Outreach Worker, NYC Hunger Free Communities Consortium.

The New York City Hunger Free Communities Consortium (NYCHFCC) is a collaboration of New York City’s leading anti-hunger, nutrition, and aging organizations (AARP Foundation, City Harvest, Council of Senior Centers and Services of NYC, Food Bank 

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Grow, Preserve, Pickle, Cure, Brew, Do It Yourself: Homesteading in the City

The first time I made my own cheese, it was a revelation. It was so simple and easy, it was ridiculous to me that I had spent years buying it at the store like everyone else.

I wasn't making brie or cheddar or anything fancy or aged at all, just the standard fresh ricotta that usually comes in a tub in the dairy case. Making your own ricotta is only slightly more involved than brewing tea. You slowly warm up whole milk in a pot. When it gets to a 

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Lunch Hour NYC: Lunch by Denise Fleming

With the upcoming NYPL exhibit Lunch Hour NYC on the horizon, we can look forward to an in-depth look at the world of cafeterias, Automats, workers' lunches, lunch at home (including tenements), school and charity lunches, and power lunches too. Kids will get a glimpse of lunch in all its myriad forms, and we've whipped together a booklist of lunch-related titles they'll really enjoy. Today, let's examine one of those books for kids on the younger end of the scale. Have a toddler or preschooler who won't touch their food?  

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Lunch Hour NYC: Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf

With the upcoming NYPL exhibit Lunch Hour NYC on the horizon, we can look forward to an in-depth look at the world of cafeterias, Automats, workers' lunches, lunch at home (including tenements), school and charity lunches, and power lunches too. Kids will get a glimpse of lunch in all its myriad forms, and we've whipped together a booklist of lunch-related titles they'll really enjoy. Today, let's examine one of those books and we may as well begin with that most horrorific of all lunch-related themes: school cafeteria food! [insert dramatic music here]

I remember 

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Read It, Make It, Write It! "Hunger Games" Chicken Salad

If you are a huge fan of The Hunger Games Trilogy like I am, then The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook should be your next read. This book is filled with some of the most amazing dishes described within each novel (including Catching Fire and Mockingjay).

I truly had to control my excitement over finding this 

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My Favorite North African Vegetarian Recipes

The cuisine of North Africa Viktor Vasnetsov. The Flying Carpet (1880)(Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) was influenced by the many peoples who settled there: African, Islamic, Arab, Berber, Ottoman, French, Italian and Spanish. It has its roots in the beginning of civilization itself.

In addition to use in bread and pastry dough, wheat, an important staple in North African cooking, is made into bulgur and couscous. Bulgur, or cracked wheat, is made by partially cooking the wheat grains 

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Read it, Make It, Write It! Asian Beef and Noodles with a Twist

I stumbled upon this amazing recipe combo of beef and ramen noodles from the book:

Taste of Home: Busy Family Favorites

Serves Four

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef 2 packages (3 ounces each) Oriental ramen noodles, crumbled 2 1/2 cups water 2 cups frozen broccoli; stir-fry blend 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 2 tablespoons thinly 

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Read It, Make It, Write It! Curry Shrimp with Peas

Welcome to Read it, Make it, Write it, a Mid-Manhattan Library cooking blog showing some of the most amazing cookbooks available at The New York Public Library and the endless variety of healthy and delicious recipes right at your fingertips, for free!

The goal is simple: I pick a cookbook of my interest from the Library's collections, research the recipe and its ingredients, make the dish, eat it (which is my absolute favorite part), and finally — write about it.

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The Jefferson Market Library Free Classroom: Spring 2012

Jefferson Market Library, in an effort to offer substantive courses that teach the subjects you want to learn, is thrilled to offer its Spring Semester! Each course offers multiple sessions so students can build their knowledge as the course advances, class by class, guided by an experienced professor! And it's all free! Take a look:

Remember (just like in college) — for all courses requiring pre-registration — students are expected to attend all sessions to achieve the maximum 

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Books for the Slow Cook

An orange Crock Pot™ was a familiar presence in my kitchen in the 70s and 80s, a parental wedding present displaced by the microwave as the decade progressed. I had no idea the slow cooker was back until my youngest sister handed me a lightweight modern version on my last visit home. "You'll use it all the time, trust me," she said, already on her way out the door to her next engagement.

The slow cooker is back, buoyed by the real food 

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Fancy a Cuppa? Tea in the Rare Book Division

"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea."— A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith*

On the coldest winter days, I must say I agree with Smith. And while reading through a little 1863 recipe book called The Book of One Hundred Beverages in the Rare Book 

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Thanksgiving Recipe Decisions

Cooking is a very stressful situation that I do my best to avoid. I always get really excited and anxious when I decide to cook, but halfway through the process every burner on the stove is on, bowls, plates, and utensils have piled up on the counter, and all I’ve ended up making is a bowl of spaghetti for one. But as Thanksgiving rolls around my mother always asks the dreaded question, "What are you making?" I’m beginning to think that she regrets asking this question because the extent of my culinary assistance on Thanksgiving Day is opening up a can of cranberry 

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