Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 at 7:30 pm
Our next book will be “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins, a dark contemporary fantasy novel that questions how we know what we know, and terrifies and astonishes us while doing it. Copies of the book and audiobook are available at the Reference Desk. The audio version is available for instant download or streaming on hoopla for Norwood residents. Pick up a copy, read it, and join us on 9/27 @ 7:30 pm!
Titles on Tap is a social book group for readers in their 20s and 30s and for the young at heart. We go in for stories that are shaken, not stirred, and we don’t mind taking our love of lit outside the library walls. Titles on Tap meets once a month in the left-hand bar of Napper Tandy’s to eat, drink, be merry, and discuss the latest reading selection. Visit our website and follow us @titlesontap to learn more.
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 at 6:30 pm
Learn about the art, history, and symbolism in Norwood’s own living history museums – its graveyards. Cemetery educators, The Gravestone Girls, whose mission is to “Keep Our Dead Alive,” will be presenting a virtual tour called “Welcome to the Graveyard,” centered on Norwood’s local cemeteries. Their 90 minute presentation is built on photographs recently taken in these special and interesting burial places around Norwood, and charts the evolution of cemeteries and gravestones from the colonial era into the 21st century. This popular program has been given for over fifteen years across New England by The Gravestone Girls. To learn more about The Gravestone Girls and their work, please visit their website, www.GravestoneGirls.com.
Registration is required. To sign up for this unique program, call 781-769-0200 x110, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Reference or Information Desk. “Welcome to the Graveyard” will be partially funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
My husband and I were visiting my sister at her home in New York last winter. While I had known for some time that she had turned into an incredible bread baker, my husband was experiencing the fruit of her labors for the first time. While he was was blissfully savoring his fourth or fifth piece of just-out-of-the-oven sourdough, my husband absently asked, “Why don’t you bake like your sister?”
I have to admit, I contemplated throwing the remainder of the loaf at his head while yelling, “Why don’t YOU bake like my sister?!” I resisted, but explained snarkily that working full time, volunteering several hours a week, and keeping house for His Royal Highness did not leave endless hours to devote to mixing, kneading, and rising.
When I mentioned this to my sister, she told me that baking bread was “easy” and “took no time at all.” I later learned that she was at least exaggerating, if not outright lying on both counts, but for the moment, I began thinking that I could give this home baker thing a shot and said as much.
Upon arriving home from our stay with my sister, I mostly forgot about the bread and our conversation until a big box arrived from Amazon. I opened it to find a banneton (yes, I had to look up what that was for), a book, assorted bread baking tools, and a note that read, “So you can bake like me. Or at least try. Love, Jessi.”
This got my competitive juices flowing, and I dove into the book with enthusiasm. “The Bread Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum is all anyone could ever want from a cookbook and more. It turns out, there are as many ways to make bread as there are stars in the sky, and this book seeks to familiarize readers with many of them. Within the first few pages, I learned that my kitchen was woefully lacking ingredients and equipment. Once this was rectified by a good trip to the grocery store and another to Sur La table, I got to work.
I found that kneading, even with my trusty Kitchenaid mixer, was a little too daunting. So I went searching for recipes with no kneading involved. Jim Lehey’s “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No- Knead Method” cookbook provided the perfect solution. According to this acclaimed baker, you mix flour, a small amount of yeast, salt, and water in a bowl and just leave it for 18 hours. Come back almost a day later, toss the thing in a really hot cast iron pot and bake- voila, bread!
I was skeptical at first. My loaf may have missed its mark as I was tipping it into the hot dutch oven that served as its cooking vessel. Despite having been coerced into place with several wooden spoons after having landed on a hot oven rack (pro-tip: take your cast iron pot all the way out of the oven before trying to tip your unbaked loaf into it), it actually looked ok, if a bit…rustic.
I cut through that crunchy crust and into the chewy crumb, slathered it with butter, and my husband and I took our first bites. As he said was, “This is the best bread I have ever eaten.” That’s all it took to send me into a baking frenzy.
I swiftly conquered my fear of kneading (although I still go back to Jim Lahey’s Basic No-Knead white bread and No Knead Italian Strecca recipes regularly) and moved on to making challah, Parker House rolls, bagels, ciabatta, pretzels, pizza dough, popovers, and almost every kind of artisan loaf you can think of. My counters are lined with flour containers and my cookbook shelf is at capacity.
Last spring, I scoured the Friends of the Library book sale for any bread baking book I could get my hands on. It turns out, the 1960’s edition of the “New York Times Cookbook” has a host of great recipes- just don’t expect details. For example, the Cuban bread that I forced my coworkers to test last week, instructed me to bake in a “hot” oven until “done”. Even without a specified baking time or temperature, it turned out fine and I got a serious confidence boost knowing that my knowledge of bread baking allowed me to correctly interpret these vague instructions.
That said, I have still not ventured into the strange and perilous land of sourdough and not everything I have made has been a hit. Come to find out, peanut butter bagels are only amazing if you have four legs, a wagging tail, and a wet nose. Also, the time I excitedly told my husband, “I will make the bread of your people!”, referring to his Swedish ancestry, I probably should have noted that Swedish Limpa bread contains anise and fennel. We both hate anise and fennel, and as such, we hate Swedish Limpa bread.
For the most part, we have not bought bread at a store in months (although I simply refuse to make hot dog rolls from scratch) and I love trying out new recipes from books old and new. Most of all, I love sharing recipes with my sister. While she is still the CEO of Sourdough, I am fairly certain that I can now bake like not only my sister, but like Rose Levvy Beranbaum, Jim Lahey, Mark Bittman, and any number of great bakers, at least in a small way.
Allison Palmgren is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Alli’s column in the August 18, 2016 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Growing up, my family was not a puzzling one; to clarify, we did not do jigsaw puzzles. Of course, we had small puzzle toys for our family of four children when we were young but I don’t remember doing jigsaw puzzles with my family or friends as a young child or teen.
I think I must have first fallen in love with jigsaws when my children were babies – when I had very short or very long stretches of time on my hands between their naps or after their bedtimes. We lived in Ireland at the time and the toy shops in Cork and Dublin were filled with wonderful European puzzles of rich scenes and thousands of pieces and they captivated me.
My puzzling bug hit hard over the next few decades and for the past thirty-five years, with few interruptions, there has usually been a jigsaw puzzle set up in my home. I’ve always received jigsaw puzzles as gifts from my families and friends who are aware of my hobby. Everyone who visits can rely on spending time with me chatting over a puzzle because Gerry and I always have a puzzle in the works on our family room coffee table. It sits on a spinning puzzle board with a removable acrylic cover that protects it from a grandchild’s tiny hands, spills from drinking glasses, and crumbs of cheese and crackers. We have an entire closet shelf devoted to jigsaw puzzles that we think we might do again or ones that lie in wait to be unwrapped and the box’s contents spilled. Or sometimes, we simply save the horribly challenging ones to share with friends whose lives we want to make difficult.
The history of the jigsaw puzzle is a relatively recent one; it’s only three hundred years old. In Anne Williams book, The Jigsaw Puzzle – Piecing Together a History (2004), she writes that jigsaw puzzles were first created in the mid-1700s as an educational tool for children. Ms. Williams is an economics professor at Bates College in Maine but is also a puzzle collector and puzzle historian.
Berkshire Puzzles, a company in Northampton, Massachusetts (they create handcrafted wooden puzzles) also attributes the first puzzles to cartographer John Spilsbury. Spilsbury created these learning tools by cutting up a wooden map of Great Britain with a jigsaw so that children could learn their geography. (Today, Spilsbury is also an online company that uses the cartographer’s name to offer puzzles of every type for sale.)
In the early 1900s, the jigsaw puzzle craze found its way from Europe and across the Atlantic to Salem, Massachusetts. That is where Parker Brothers began creating puzzles for the wealthy adult population who loved working puzzles, most often pictures of landscape and famous art. Game maker Milton Bradley soon joined the fun and during the Great Depression puzzles took off when they were first manufactured and mass-produced using die cuts and cardboard instead of the traditional wood and jigsaw machinery. They had become affordable to the common family.
The Consolidated Paper Company in Somerville, Massachusetts produced weekly Perfect Picture Puzzles for middle and lower class families. In Master Pieces: The Art History of Jigsaw Puzzles by Chris McCann (1999), the author refers to the Great Depression puzzling craze in the 1930s as the Great Puzzle Panic. Jigsaw puzzles, pieced by a multitude of American families, created the perfect, cheap family entertainment during a difficult time. And, back in the box, the puzzle could be taken out again and again. A radio and a puzzle made up the family together time.
Puzzles are now created by so many companies you can search for hours on the internet for both the companies that sell them and companies that make them. My favorite puzzlemaker is Eric Dowdle Folkart Puzzles and one reason is that the company will send you a new puzzle if you are missing a piece. All Dowdle puzzles are wonderfully artistic and depict scenes from across the USA and the world. The majority of Dowdle puzzles are 500 and 1000 pieces and are moderately difficult to complete. Other great puzzle companies are Ravensburger and Heye in Germany and White Mountain Puzzles and Master Pieces in the United States. The Puzzle Warehouse online store carries puzzles made by 80 manufacturers.
1000-piece puzzles are a perfect size to work on at the dining room table, a folding card table, or some larger coffee tables. The Puzzle Warehouse boasts that Ravensburger currently has the record of making the largest puzzle – at 32,256 pieces it measures 17 by 6 feet when completed. Their 32,000-piece puzzle of New York City will set you back about $300 or about a penny each piece.
Wooden puzzles are still crafted by companies like Berkshire Puzzle in New Hampshire and others. You can have your own puzzle made by companies who will take your high resolution photographs and make them into puzzles of various sizes. Jigsaws are made two-sided or three-dimensional. A traditionalist, I still like my puzzles flat, one-sided, and with no particular mystery to its construction.
So, what does this have to do with your library here in Norwood?
This past winter, we added a wonderful spinning puzzle board that sits in a corner on the second floor. Not only do we have dozens of puzzles to lend (once we find out all the pieces are intact), but we have an ongoing puzzle for patrons to complete. We have received donations of puzzles and purchased some for the library. We’ve even had a puzzle-share with the Morse Institute (the public library in neighboring Natick.)
Do people really come to the library to work on jigsaw puzzles? You bet they do. Sometimes visitors to the puzzle table complete a 1000-piece puzzle in a single day. Puzzlers come for different reasons – to get out of the house, to meet friends after work, to spend a few moments in quiet solitude, or to exercise their brains. It is becoming commonly believed that jigsaw puzzle-making may help to offset the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. They also come for different seasons – to enjoy the cozy warmth or the cool air conditioning on the library’s second floor.
Stop by the library and work on our current ongoing puzzle or browse our collection of jigsaw puzzles to check out. It’s always something new at the library!
Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte’s column in the June 30, 2016 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Tuesdays @ 7:00 PM
3rd Grade and up
Children’s Program Room
Join Miss Jane every Tuesday for a fun night of Scrabble! Kids will test their vocabulary playing against each other while having a great time. This program is for third graders and up.
Contact Jane Bradley by emailing email@example.com for more information.