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Food for the holidays — you can find it at the library

By Gretchen Beilfuss Witt

Rowan Public Library

It’s that time again, when we stroll down memory lane thinking about the wonderful aromas and delicious goodies that came from Grandma’s kitchen.

We pull out the recipe books or clippings we’ve saved through the year hoping for the occasion on which we can try that marvelous sounding dessert or appetizer. Many of us are in a rush with lots of gatherings and events to attend, as well. Make the library a stop in your busy schedule and pick up a book or two to help you through the holidays.

For those busy days when we have mouths to feed but no time in the evening to make something, take a look at “Slow Cooker to the Rescue” a Gooseberry Patch cookbook with over 400 recipes including stews and soups, party foods like Roasted Cajun Pecans, Fiesta Taco Dip or Honey Sesame Wings, lasagna and hearty sandwich fillings, Maple Praline Chicken and Creole Shrimp and Sausage and even breakfast casseroles. Put it in the cooker in the morning and it’ll be ready by supper time.

Sally Sampson’s “Party Dips” is a terrific place to find dips of every variety such as Peppery Watercress spread with pita chips, Creamy Almond-Basil pesto dip, Roasted Red Pepper with Pomegranate molasses or even a cookie dip made with peanut butter and ice cream. Each dip recipe comes with clear instructions, great illustrations and suggestions of what types of crackers, chips, fresh veggies or fruit would work best with the flavors and textures of the dip (smooth, chunky or cheesy).

Looking for something with some elegance? Take a look at Rick Tramonto’s “Amuse-bouche: Little Bites of Delight Before the Meal Begins.” Beautifully and mouth-wateringly photographed, “Amuse-bouche” won the James Beard Award. From the very simple Tomato Soup with Basil to Angel Hair and Artichoke Frittata or the gorgeous grilled mission figs with mascarpone and prosciutto these before meal gems will wow your guests.

Readers’ favorite Debbie Macomber shares her Christmas traditions, decorations and recipes in “Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook.” Swimming four times each week, Debbie developed a relationship with many of the folks she swam with, but realized after seeing a fellow swimmer in the store with glasses that she had no idea what these folks looked like out of the water. Thus began her tradition of Christmas teas. She gathers with swimmer friends, with fellow knitters and others to celebrate and share. She includes for recipes creams scones with figs and cherries, Cranberry Walnut Cobbler, creamed spinach and feta pie, butternut squash bisque, Pan-Roasted Flank Steak with ginger-sesame marinade, crafts and décor ideas. Interspersed amongst the recipes are tales of her family Christmases with old and new traditions.

The library has a good collection of the “Spirit of Christmas” books from Leisure Arts. Published for many years these books share craft creations, gourmet gifts, buffet ideas, decoration and gift ideas and scrumptious goodies. Themed Christmases are easily managed with the help of Leisure Arts editors – a snowman tree, with snowman pillows and mantle pieces all coordinated, with directions and patterns included. Chocolate boxes and place cards, handmade soaps and candles, baked goods and gift bags for them are all included in this bright and well-organized series. Enjoy the holidays with a little help from the library.

Rowan Public Library holiday closings: Headquarters, East branch and South Rowan Regional will be closed Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 24-26. Regular hours resume Dec. 27.

The Twelve Books of Christmas: Dec. 1-22, East. On the first day of Christmas, I saw at my library 12 books wrapped for a reader like me. Check them out and have a surprise for each day before the holidays. This exciting spin on your regular check-out routine is available through Dec. 22. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Runaway Reindeer Scavenger Hunt: East, Dec, 1-22. Where have the reindeer gone? Can you find all nine before Santa flies back to the North Pole? Find the reindeer, hidden around East Branch, and be entered into a contest for a literary-themed prize. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Arctic Express: South, Dec. 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m.  “All Aboard!” Children are invited to a magical ride on the Arctic Express with conductor (and magician) Steve Somers. Passengers will visit and learn about winter holiday traditions from around the world. Somers’ presentation, a mix of storytelling and illusions, teaches the importance of respect, the spirit of giving and the magic of sharing. Snowball Bunny, a live rabbit, will also make an appearance. After the program, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit. To learn more about Somers and Amazing Teacher, visit www.amazingteacher.com/shows/arctic-express. For more details about this program at RPL, call 704-216-7728.

Movie: “The Star,” East, Dec. 21, 2:30 p.m. Join us for a showing of the 2017 animated holiday film “The Star” (PG, 86 min.). This free event is open to the public, and all ages are welcome. For more details, call 704-216-7842.

Displays: Headquarters, Ghosts of Christmas Honor Cards Past by Rowan Helping Ministries and Photowalk at Chestnut Hill Cemetery by Paul Birkhead; East, History of Candy by Tammie Foster; South, memorabilia by Sharon Ross.

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.

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