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Inspired to bake or try something new? Come to the library

By Gretchen Beilfuss Witt

Rowan Public Library

I am a baker and enjoy trying new recipes and combinations of flavors. Like many of us, I am addicted to the television show “The Great British Bake Off.” The trouble with watching this show is it kindles the desire to bake, to try new techniques and different sweets.

Fortunately, for the budding bakers or for the re-inspired, the library has recently acquired “The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking.” This richly and beautifully illustrated book gives step-by-step instructions of some favorites from the show and even some additional recipes not part of the program.

The photographs are drool-worthy and the accompanying stories about contestants are short and entertaining. The recipe book provides clear instructions as well as assigning difficulty levels to each entry; there are a few recipes rated with the three-spoon “tricky” but nearly all are certainly possible for most folks.

Once the inclination strikes to explore new recipes or twists on old favorites, take a look at “Our Sweet Basil Kitchen” by Cade and Carrian Cheney. This couple, one from the Pacific Coast and one from the Southeast coast, combine their love of food in unique mashups and family favorites.

Beginning with breakfasts full of pumpkins pancakes, berry crepes, ham frittatas and fruit pizza, they present foods that are family friendly and generally use fresh and healthier ingredients. The Cheneys’ recipes include well-known side dishes — like green bean casserole with matchstick potatoes instead of fried onions on top — to internationally inspired dishes like coconut curry or Greek citrus chicken.

They offer meatless meals as well as decadent desserts like the brownie cookie or Southern-inspired, deep-fried strawberry shortcake. Mouth-watering pictures and understandable instructions make this an excellent book for a family to use to cook together.

For the more adventurous cooks, “My Two Souths” by Asha Gomez blends the spices of the southern India state of Kerala and the home-cooking of the Southern United States in an interesting collection. Gomez spends some time explaining the more unusual (to the U.S. cook) ingredients often used in Indian cuisine and where one might find some of these items. Carrot cake with ground pepper icing, pickled catfish and goat biryani are some of the offerings included in her attractively presented cookbook.

For the food devotee who wants to go all out and investigate field-to-table living — raising, preserving and processing all their own food — Andrea Chesman’s “The Backyard Homestead kitchen Know-How” is the book to check out. Chesman explains how to organize a root cellar, dry food with solar or electric dehydration, create pickled and fermented foods like kraut and kimchi.

She discusses how to fill out a “cut sheet” when having an animal butchered whether it is lamb, rabbit or beef. Her book describes how to begin and use a sourdough starter, how to can or freeze produce, how to process raw milk and make cheese. For anyone who is interested in making more of what is locally available or how to live from their own land, this is a terrific resource.

From Britain to your own backyard, the library has the cookbook for you.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets Tuesdays at East branch meeting room, through May 23, 5 p.m. For more information, contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842.

Teen Advisory Board: Teens who join this board provide input on RPL’s teen programming and book selection and discuss current events and issues of interest. Members can count their hours of participation toward school community service requirements. Headquarters, April 25, 4:30 p.m.

Lego free play: April 29, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., East branch, Rockwell. The library’s Lego collection will be available for free play for children.

Saturday Cinema: “Justice League: Cosmic Clash,” April 29, 10 a.m., East branch. When Brainiac sends several members of the Justice League to different places in time, Batman and the Flash must work to bring them back together and stop Brainiac in this LEGO adventure. Rated PG. Light refreshments; free, open to the public, all ages are welcome.

Homeschoolers Library Tour: Ages 5-10, April 28, 9:30 a.m., South Rowan Regional, China Grove. This 30-minute tour includes a walk through South’s children’s department, demonstrations of the online catalog to find resources and story time. An adult must accompany participants under 9 years old.

Tour for ages 11-17, April 28, 11 a.m., South Regional. This one-hour tour around the library includes a short slide show about the library and its services, demonstrations using the online catalog and interactive activities about library services.

Registration for both tours is required. Visit bit.ly/SouthMeetingRm, select the April calendar, and click on the tour you wish to attend or call 704-216-7228.

Learn.Act.Grow.: Photo workshop, April 24, 5:30-7 p.m., South Regional. Learn the secrets of capturing great moments with photographers Aaron Cress and April Everett. Participants may bring their cameras.

Downtown Beats, Rowan’s Impromptu Chorus: April 24, 6-7 p.m., Headquarters. Everyone is welcome. This community sing requires no experience and no commitment. No charge or prior registration is required. Arrive at 6 p.m. for a short practice of two songs. March’s sing culminates with a final performance of the night’s songs. Questions? Contact Abigail at Abigail.Hardison@rowancountync.gov or at 704-216-8248.

Book Bites Book Club: South Rowan Regional, April 25, 6 p.m. The book club is free and open to the public and includes refreshments loosely related to the theme. Call 704-216-7731 for more information.

Adult Outreach Film: “Send Me No flowers,” April 28, 2 p.m., East branch. Rock Hudson plays George, a hypochondriac convinced that he’s dying. George decides to find his wife (Doris Day) a replacement husband (Tony Randall) and comedy ensues. This 1964 film has a runtime of 100 minutes. Light refreshments; free, open to public,. While the series is designed for retired individuals, all ages welcome.

Displays: Headquarters, Sexual Assault Awareness exhibit by the Family Crisis Council and national robotics display by John Deal; East, artisan jewelry by Myrtis Trexler; South, clothesline project.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

Weekly events for children run through the week of April 28.

Baby Time: Infants to 23 months. A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories and songs to infants up to 23 months old with a parent or caregiver; 30 minutes. Headquarters, Char’s Little Stars, Wednesday, 10 a.m.; East branch, Tammie’s Tiny Sprouts, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South Regional, Miss Pat’s Tiny Tots, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.

Toddler Time: 18 to 35 months. Focused on sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills with a parent or caregiver. 30 min. Headquarters, Reading Rumpus, Tuesdays, 10:30 .m.; East, Tammie’s Tot Time, Mondays, 11 a.m.; South, Miss Pat’s Wee Readers, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschool Time: To encourage the exploration of books and build reading readiness skills for children 3 to 5 years old with a parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, East and South, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Noodlehead Story Time: Books and songs for all ages; primary focus is pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; East, Tuesdays, 3:30 p.m.; South, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

Art programs: Activities and instruction based on various themes and media vary by branch. Appropriate for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Bethany’s Brushes, Tuesdays, 4 p.m.; South, Canvas Kids, Wednesdays, 4:30 p.m.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children 7 to 9 can practice their reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Dogs registered through Therapy Dogs International are available for beginning and struggling readers to read aloud to them. Reservations are recommended but not required. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, selected Mondays, 3:30 p.m.; South, selected Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

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