Confessions of a Cookbook Enthusiast

Cookbooks fly in and out of the library, sailing across the circulation desk. Their glossy covers tantalize my imagination and whet my appetite with seductive photos and suggestive recipes. I’m lured, tempted, and enticed to experiment! Of all the genres, it’s the culinary arts that push my buttons and get me motivated. Whether I try a recipe or just read up on techniques and trends, the Everett Public Librarys motto to INSPIRE, INFORM, and ENTERTAIN feeds my cookbook enthusiast passion.

dahliabakerycookbookLocal restaurateur legend, Tom Douglas and co-author Shelly Lance, have won me over in compiling The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. I’ve raved about this cookbook, checked it out numerous times and recently became the owner of said cookbook thanks to my sister. I’m in heaven! The old-fashioned molasses cookie recipe with fresh ginger is what turned on my taste buds (see recipe below). They are delicate, chewy, and slightly crisp around the perimeter. These versatile cookies go well with a cup of tea or pair wonderfully with a chilled glass of Jones Late Harvest Riesling. If you like this recipe you may also enjoy the cranberry apricot oatmeal cookies, at 4 inches in diameter these cookies impress!

Personally I’m a bit intimidated when it comes to ‘baking’, more science than art and not my strong subject. Tom concurs that baking requires skill and gives credit to Shelly who is the head Pastry Chef at the Dahlia Bakery establishment on 4th Avenue in Seattle. As a side note several of Chef Douglas’s restaurants are near the bakery. One is Lola’s where my husband and I dined during Restaurant week. The chocolate dessert I had was otherworldly!

Currently, I have on loan two alluring cookbooks: Le Pain Quotidien and One Good Dish and both look a bit exotic. Borrowing cookbooks from the library sometimes leads to adding a well-loved cookbook to my home collection. The Food Matters Cookbook, by Mark Bittman is one such book. I use Bittman’s recipes on a regular basis because a lot of them offer healthy options with substitutions (If you don’t have this you can substitute using this). My confidence is growing as I try new recipes and mix things up expressing my creativity. I encourage you to come in and checkout one of the many excellent cookbooks at the library. There is something for everyone’s palate. Bon Appetite!

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Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies with fresh ginger

makes makes 4 1/2 dozen small cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, plus about 1/2 cup more for rolling
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. preheat oven to 350

2.In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, molasses, and ginger mix to combine. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before shaping the cookies.

3. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup sugar on a plate. Form 3/4-inch balls of dough and roll balls in the sugar before placing them on parchment-lined baking sheets. Press the balls of dough flat with the palm of your hand. The cookies should be spaced 2 or 3 inches apart after they are flattened.

4. Bake until golden brown and set around the edges but still slightly soft in the center, 7 to 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. If you have two pans of cookies in the oven at the same time also switch them between the racks. Remove from the oven allow cookies to cool before removing them with a metal spatula.

Haunt Locally

I grew up in what’s known as one of the most haunted small towns in America. Alton, IL is home to haunted mansions, schools, and churches. Ghost sightings and spooky histories are more abundant than actual people to tell the tales. There was never a shortage of material for the ghost stories we told around bonfires on chilly autumn evenings.

And guess what? The greater Seattle area is full of similar spots and stories, just waiting for you to explore and discover. Even better? The library has several books to help you find ghostly hot spots and haunted locales.

The easiest way to see as many haunted locations as possible is to follow the driving routes in Washington’s Haunted Hotspots by Linda Moffitt. There are 17 separate road trips, taking you from one end of the Evergreen State to the other. Everett falls in chapter 7 and includes some familiar local buildings. The Rucker Mansion, for instance, is said to be haunted by Bethel Rucker’s mother-in-law Jane, who died in the home of natural causes. Jane must have been a virtuoso in her day, because now she can be heard playing the piano when no one else is at home. Everett High School is also mentioned as being haunted by a man wandering the halls. A construction worker fell to his death when the school was being built—could this be the same man?

Spooked in Seattle by Ross Allison is another book packed with local ghostly lore. Each chapter centers on a different Seattle neighborhood. Most locals are familiar with ghost stories surrounding some of these spooky hotspots, like the Seattle Underground, Smith Tower, and Pike Place Market. But the Museum of Flight, Fremont Troll, and even the Rite-Aid in West Seattle are also apparently visited by spirits from the great beyond. Familiarize yourself with some of the more obscure tales and impress out-of-town guests the next time you head down to the Big City.

While it has the fewest photos, the best written book of the bunch is Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Seattle and Puget Sound by Jeff Dwyer. Don’t be put off by the sections of serious ghost hunting information in this book. Sure, I giggled at the thought of Dr. Venkman and Dr. Spengler running around Capitol Hill on the trail of Slimer. But I urge you to look past that to the wealth of ghost stories that are sandwiched in between ghost hunting tips and ghost sighting report forms. From Manresa Castle in Port Townsend to the Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham, this book covers much more than just the Emerald City. You may be particularly interested in the story about the haunting at the Historic Everett Theatre on Colby:

For nearly thirty years, patrons, theater staff members, and renovators have reported encounters with an elderly male presence. Many have gotten the impression that this ghost is a devoted patron or a former employee. Psychic investigations of the site have confirmed the presence of a spirit. The entity has been located in the balcony, the aisles of the main floor, backstage, and in the lobby near the four white columns.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, I guarantee you’ll find at least one story to interest you in these tomes. In fact, if you’re planning a bonfire and an evening of storytelling, be sure to pick up a copy of one (or all) of these books. When you read some of these stories out loud, you’ll have your audience in the palm of your hand.

Carol

Alternate Seattles

Ever wonder how Seattle might have turned out if, say for example, it was inhabited by zombies, werewolves and vampires? Or what if, perhaps, in the late 1800s a virulent gas that turned people into flesh-hungry undead monsters was released in an accident caused by an enormous digging machine? Answers to such ponderings abound as countless authors are turning Seattle into the supernatural capital of the literature world.

Not for the faint-of-heart, Battle of the Network Zombies  by Mark Henry tells of a present-day Seattle that is inhabited by ordinary humans (also known as “meat”) and supernatural beings of all sorts. Amanda Feral, flashy fame-seeking zombie, is in a financial crisis. She owes a large sum of money to the reapers—beings who provide medical services for the supernatural, look like young schoolgirls, and are as nasty as hellspawn—and her advertising business is about to go belly up. Oh, she’s also been attacked by an irritable yeti and dumped by her werewolf boyfriend. Other than that, everything is fine.

When Amanda is offered a role on a reality TV show, she sees it as an opportunity to gain clients and revenue for her struggling business. And when the host of the show is apparently murdered, well, what’s a zombie to do? She takes over the show, turning it into a hunt for the murderer! Sure to offend everyone (and I do mean everyone) at some point, this chick-lit-of-the-dead cum whodunit is a fast-paced, flippant journey into the nasty netherworld that lurks beneath the shiny bright sheen of the Emerald City.

In Boneshaker by Cherie PriestBriar Wilkes’ Seattle is not a happy place. Sixteen years ago the Boneshaker, a colossal machine designed to drill for gold in the frozen Klondike, ran amok below Seattle unleashing a toxic fog which turned people into ravenous undead monstrosities. In an effort to stop the spread of this blight, a massive wall is built around downtown Seattle. Leviticus Blue, the Boneshaker’s creator, is blamed for the disaster. 

 Now it’s 1880 and Briar, Blue’s widow, and her son Zeke, are simply trying to make ends meet. But her exhausting job at the water purification plant pays little, and her husband’s legacy continues to bring unwanted infamy. When Zeke, longing to clear his father’s name, sneaks into the walled city with little more than a vague notion and a gun he doesn’t know how to use, tragedy seems certain to follow. Flesh-hungry “rotters,” humans of varying ethical persuasions, and an evil inventor (who is eerily similar to Zeke’s allegedly dead father) all wait within the walls. It’s up to Briar to rescue Zeke while keeping herself alive.

This alternate history delivers heroes, demons, cool gadgetry and copious nail-biting in a slick steampunk package. Picture Here Come the Brides being remade as Here Come the Zombies.

Other alternate Seattles worth checking out can be found in the following titles: 

 Ron