Thursday, March 31, 2011

New In Food

Today's cookbook is The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes by Connie Green and Sarah Scott. This cookbook can be found in the New in Non-Fiction section of the West Virginia Library Commission Reference Library.

Ramp-Up Sunday Brunch Scrambled Eggs

(Serves 4 to 6)

There's a good reason why ramps and eggs are served at all the ramp festivals. The hillbilly breakfast trinity of ramps, eggs, and bacon is a boisterous way to begin a weekend spring day. While the other two ramp recipes here (in the cookbook) show the gentler side of ramps, these slowly scrambled eggs proclaim their oniony glory. Munching on the ramp swizzle stick in your bloody Mary is the crowning touch to complete the traditional breath treatment for your own home-based ramp festival.

12 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
6 ounces cleaned ramps with greens
3 tablespoons bacon fat or unsalted butter
Bloody Marys garnished with fresh ramps (optional)

1. Whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside while cooking the ramps.

2. Cut the greens off the ramps and slice them into 1/4-inch strips. Cut the bulbs into 1/4-inch dice.

3. Heat the bacon fat in a large saute pan over medium heat until hot. Add the ramp bulbs and saute until tender and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the greens and cook until wilted and tender, 2 to 3 more minutes.

4. Pour the eggs into the saute pan with the ramps and turn down the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula or spoon, gathering the cooked portion as it forms curds and stirring the curds back into the liquid to form a creamy, moist scramble. Depending on the heat, this will take from 5 to 7 minutes. For moist eggs, remove them from the pan just before they are fully cooked and still look wet. They will continue to cook a little bit more off the heat. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Tips and Techniques
-The slow stirring method for scrambling the eggs produces a creamy texture. For larger curds, turn up the heat slightly and stir less often.

-The bacon fat gives this a southern taste and is a nice flavor complement to the ramps.

Substitutes and Variations
-You can add grated cheese-Monterey Jack or Gruyere, for example- to the eggs halfway through cooking. A milder, nuttier cheese will complement the flavor of the ramps.

-Scallions can be substituted for the ramps. There is no need to separate the greens form the white parts of the onion when cooking.

-The sauteed ramps can also be used as a filling for an omelet or in a frittata.

April is National Poetry Month

In honor of the month-long celebration, the Academy of American Poets will be hosting 30 poets on their Twitter account during April. Throughout each day during National Poetry Month, one featured poet will post his or her daily insights.

Follow them on Twitter to keep up-to-date on the latest poetry posts:

Guest tweeters include:
4/1 D.A. Powell
4/2 Dawn Lundy Martin
4/3 Noelle Kocot
4/4 Richard Siken
4/5 Jennifer Chang
4/6 Joshua Clover
4/7 J. Michael Martinez
4/8 Mark Bibbins
4/9 Jennifer L. Knox
4/10 Randall Mann
4/11 CAConrad
4/12 Ada Limón
4/13 Graham Foust
4/14 Evie Shockley
4/15 Jen Bervin
4/16 Ken Chen
4/17 Sherwin Bitsui
4/18 Noah Eli Gordon
4/19 Ronaldo Wilson
4/20 Nate Pritts
4/21 Danielle Pafunda
4/22 Amy King
4/23 Ching-in Chen
4/24 John Gallaher
4/25 Srikanth Reddy
4/26 Jericho Brown
4/27 Gabrielle Calvocoressi
4/28 Kazim Ali
4/29 Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
4/30 Dorothea Lasky

Logging and Shortline Railroads in the Mountain State

On April 5, 2011, Lloyd D. Lewis will present "Logging and Shortline Railroads in the Mountain State" at the monthly Tuesday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. This program is free and open to the public. 

Lloyd Lewis comes by his love of railroading naturally. His father worked in the industry for 43 years, and Lewis himself worked for 17 years for the Chessie System Railroads and its successor CSX Transportation and was spokesman for the company from 1979 to 1991. Among other jobs, he also worked for the Huntington Herald Dispatch and taught school in West Virginia. Lewis is the author of several books on railroads, including The Virginian Era (1992) and Virginian Railway Locomotives (1993), and he is the editor of Norfolk and Western and Virginia Railways in Color, by H. Reid (1994). He currently is working on another railroad-themed book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New In Food

This week's cookbook is The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts For Every Occasion by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark. This cookbook can be found in the New in Non-Fiction section of the West Virginia Library Commission Reference Library.

Acacia Honey Madeleines

(Makes 2 Dozen (2-inch) cakes)


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the molds.
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup acacia honey or other good-quality honey
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons whole mile


1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Butter two madeleine mold trays with the softened butter.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, briefly combine the flour, confectioners' sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3. Slowly add the eggs and honey, mixing on medium speed until just incorporated. Add melted butter and milk, and mix until the batter is smooth. The batter can be transferred to a container and frozen for up to 3 days at this point. If the batter is frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Using a teaspoon, fill the madeleine molds two-thirds of the way up. The filled pans can be loosely covered and refrigerated for up to 4 hours at this point.

5. Bake on the center rack until the madeleines have puffed and are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly, then unmold.

6. To make the glaze, place the sugar, lemon juice, and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Brush the warm glaze over the ruffled side of the madeleines and return them to the oven to set the glaze. Serve warm, or allow them to cool, then wrap.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Staff Pick of the Week

In honor of Women's History Month this week's picks celebrate women in war.

I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story by Rick Bragg

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Rick Bragg lends his remarkable narrative skills to the story of the most famous POW this country has known.

In I Am a Soldier, Too, Bragg let’s Jessica Lynch tell the story of her capture in the Iraq War in her own words--not the sensationalized ones of the media's initial reports. Here we see how a humble rural upbringing leads to a stint in the military, one of the most exciting job options for a young person in Palestine, West Virginia. We see the real story behind the ambush in the Iraqi Desert that led to Lynch's capture. And we gain new perspective on her rescue from an Iraqi hospital where she had been receiving care. Here Lynch’s true heroism and above all, modesty, is allowed to emerge, as we're shown how she managed her physical recovery from her debilitating wounds and contended with the misinformation--both deliberate and unintended--surrounding her highly publicized rescue. In the end, what we see is a uniquely American story of courage and true heroism. (Synopsis from the Publisher)

Hell Hath No Fury: True Stories of Women At War From Antiquity To Irag by Rosalind Miles and Robin Cross

An engaging collection that uncovers injustices in history and overturns misconceptions about the role of women in war

When you think of war, you think of men, right? Not so fast. In Hell Hath No Fury, Rosalind Miles and Robin Cross prove that although many of their stories have been erased or forgotten, women have played an integral role in wars throughout history.

In witty and compelling biographical essays categorized and alphabetized for easy reference, Miles and Cross introduce us to war leaders (Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, Margaret Thatcher); combatants (Molly Pitcher, Lily Litvak, Tammy Duckworth); spies (Belle Boyd, Virginia Hall, Noor Inayat Khan); reporters and propagandists (Martha Gellhorn, Tokyo Rose, Anna Politkov- skaya); and more. These are women who have taken action and who challenge our perceived notions of womanhood. Some will be familiar to readers, but most will not, though their deeds during wartime were every bit as important as their male contemporaries’ more heralded contributions. (Synopsis from the Publisher)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cooking Up History

In honor of Women's History Month this week's cookbook/history book is A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances by Laura Schenone

Corn Dodger

Do You Know Corn Meal? Its Use Means Service Service to Your Country Nourishing Food For You

The U.S. Food Administration published wartime pamphlets to help American women conserve food. This tasteless recipe for Corn Dodger was one of the endless suggestions for alternatives to wheat suggested by the federal government. I heartily discourage it.

2 cups corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fat
1 3/4 cups boiling water

Pour the boiling water over the other materials. Beat well. When cool, form into thin cakes and bake 30 minutes in a hot oven. Makes 14 biscuits. These crisp little biscuits are good with butter or gravy. Eat them with your meat and vegetables.
-U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food Administration, 1917

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Lifetime Remembered: Elizabeth Taylor

Screen Legend Elizabeth Taylor has passed away. Learn more about the grand dame and her tumultuous relationship with fellow actor Richard Burton in Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the marriage of the century by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. This title available at the West Virginia Library Commission Reference Library.

Also check out the actress in some of her famous roles: Giant, National Velvet and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof are some of the Elizabeth Taylor films available to check-out on DVD at the Reference Library.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cooking Up History

In honor of Women's History Month this week's cookbook/history book is A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove: A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances by Laura Schenone

Federal Pan Cake
Take one quart boulted rye flour, one quart of boulted Indian meal, mix it well, and stir it with a little salt into three pints milk, to the proper consistence of pancakes; fry in lard, and serve up warm.
-Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796 (second edition)

Modern tastes differ from those of the eighteenth century. Most of us are likely to find this a bit too dense and gritty, as well as too large in quantity. Here's an adaptation that brings in all the common luxuries of modern American life: white flour, eggs, sugar, and chemical leavening. These additions will make your pancakes sweeter and lighter, but you'll still get to taste the rye and cornmeal combination, once so essential in New England.

3/4 cup rye flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup white flour
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Mix the dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs well and add milk. Stir this into your dry ingredients until smooth. Fry on a greased griddle until light brown. Serve with stewed apples, pears, or warm maple syrup. Makes about 12 small pancakes.

Staff Pick of the Week

In honor of Women's History Month this week's pick is Daughters of the Mountain: Women Coal Miners in Central Appalachia by Suzanne E. Tallichet

"Much has been written over the years about life in the coal mines of Appalachia. Not surprisingly, attention has focused mainly on the experiences of male miners. In Daughters of the Mountain, Suzanne Tallichet introduces us to a cohort of women miners at a large underground coal mine in Southern West Virginia, where women entered the workforce in the late 1970s after mining jobs began opening up for women throughout the Appalachian coalfields.

Tallichet's work goes beyond anecdotal evidence to provide complex and penetrating analyses of qualitative data. Based on in-depth interviews with female miners, Tallichet explores several key topics, including social relations among men and women, professional advancement, and union participation. She also explores the ways in which women adapt to mining culture, developing strategies for both resistance and accommodation to an overwhelmingly male-dominated world."

(Text from back cover of this title.)

This title is from the West Virginia Library Commission Reference Library's West Virginia Collection.

Current Topics in the News--Crisis in Japan

The Library Commission has created a research guide to provide current information on the natural disasters and nuclear crisis in Japan.  Please visit  for information.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Drink O' The Irish

Today's recipe comes from Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichel

Get ready to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in delicious style with this recipe.

Irish Coffee

(Makes 4 Drinks)
Active Time: 10 minutes
Start to Finish: 10 minutes

A delicious excuse to pull those stemmed mugs out of the china closet (though regular mugs work fine), Irish coffee is warming and invigorating. Don't add too much sugar to the whipped cream, though, or the drink will be cloying.

6 ounces (3/4 cup) Irish whiskey
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
3 cups freshly brewed strong hot coffee
Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Combine 3 tablespoons whiskey and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar each in four 8-ounce mugs. Divide coffee among mugs and stir until sugar is dissolved; stir in more sugar if desired. Top each drink with a dollop of whipped cream.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Free Creative Writing Workshop This Weekend

Please join the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Library Commission at the Culture Center on Friday, March 18th at 7 PM, and Saturday, March 19th, from 9 AM to 3 PM for a free intensive creative writing skills workshop.  Click here to see the full program for the event. Statewide Databases on Your Mobile Device

EBSCOhost Mobile phone image
 The West Virginia Library Commission is pleased to announce that many of your favorite databases are now searchable though mobile devices. The EBSCOhost Mobile application is designed for the smaller screens of mobile devices—including iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.—and offers the most important features and functionality for searching, including:

• Searching the following statewide databases at once or separately: Magazine, journal and newspaper databases; Points of View; Consumer Health Complete; Kids Search (designed for grades 4-6); Searchasaurus (designed for grades 4-6); NoveList Plus
• HTML and PDF full text views of articles
• Limiting to types of articles and dates
• Image quick view
• Emailing articles
• Dedicated iPhone and iPad App coming soon

To get started, go to in your mobile device browser. Contact the Reference Library for additional information.

Food O' The Irish

Today's recipe comes from Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichel

Get ready to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in delicious style with this recipe.

Beef and Guinness Pies

(Serves 4)
Active time: 1 1/4 hours
Start to Finish: 6 1/2 hours (includes making dough)

2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Beef Stock (recipe included in book) or store-bought reduced sodium broth
1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons green peppercorns packed in brine, drained and coarsely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Quick Puff Pastry Dough (recipe included in book)or store bought Puff pastry dough
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Special Equipment: four 14-ounce deep bowls or ramekins (4-5 inches wide) or similar ovenproof dishes

1. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess flour and transfer to a plate.

3. Heat oil in a 5-to 6-quart wide heavy ovenproof pot over moderately high heat until just smoking. Brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch; transfer to a bowl.

4. Add onion, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

5. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, stock, stout, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover, transfer to oven, and braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and cool stew completely, uncovered, about 30 minutes. (If stew is warm when you assemble pies, it will melt pastry tops.)

6. Divide cooled stew among bowls (they won't be completely full.) Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Trim edges and cut dough into quarters. Stir together egg and remaining 1 tablespoon of water and brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around each square. Invert 1 square over each bowl and drape, pressing sides lightly to help adhere. Brush pastry tops with some of remaining egg wash and freeze for 15 minutes to chill dough thoroughly.

7. Put a baking sheet on middle oven rack and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

8. Place pies on preheated baking sheet and bake until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for 5 minutes more to fully cook dough.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pass the Sandwich

Today's selection comes from American Sandwich: Great Eats From all 50 States by Becky Mercuri.

Grilled Brats, Sheboygan-Style

4 fresh bratwurst sausages
1 12-ounce can or bottle of beer
Softened butter
4 bratwurst rolls, crusty rolls, or hot dog rolls
German or Dijon-style mustard
Chopped fresh onion
Sauerkraut (optional)

Pierce each bratwurst four times with a fork and place in a pan large enough to hold them in one layer.  Add beer, bring to boil over medium heat, and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat grill. Drain bratwurst and place on grill over medium-high heat.  Grill bratwurst for about 10 minutes, or until well browned.

Lightly butter the rolls.  Just before the brats are done, place rolls under a preheated broiler, or facedown on the fill, until they are golden brown.  Place brats in rolls and serve with mustard, onion, and pickles or sauerkraut, if desired.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Celebrate Fat Tuesday with this Bite from the Big Easy

This traditional Mardi Gras dessert is a Fat Tuesday favorite!  Today's recipe is from Louisiana from the American Regional Cooking Library (Culture, Tradition, and History)

King Cake

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup warm milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup softened butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
small plastic baby (available at hobby stores)

3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 to 6 tablespoons water
food coloring or colored sprinkles

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sprinkle the yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar over warm water in a small bowl.  Allow it to sit for 3 to 5 minutes and then mix thoroughly.  Set the bowl in a warm place for about 10 minutes until the yeast bubbles.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together 3 1/2 cups flour, the remaining sugar, nutmeg, lemon zest, and salt.  Gradually, add yeast mixture, milk, egg yolks, and softened butter.  Add more flour as needed to make a soft ball. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is shiny and stretchy.  Place dough in a buttered bowl and cover, then set in a warm place for about 90 minutes until the dough doubles in size.

When dough has risen, punch down and sprinkle with the cinnamon.  Form the dough into a cylinder shape and twist it into a circle.  Pinch the ends together to complete the circle.  Cover again and allow to rise for about 45 more minutes, until doubled in size.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until it is a golden brown.  When the cake is completely cool, poke the plastic baby into it.  The hole will be hidden one you frost the top of the cake with the icing.  Mix together the confectioner's sugar, lemon juice, and enough water to make smooth, spreadable icing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bites from the Big Easy

With Mardi Gras swift approaching these recipes will get you ready to celebrate Fat Tuesday in delicious style.

This week's cookbook is Louisiana from the American Regional Cooking Library (Culture, Tradition, and History)

New Orleans Muffaletta

1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped black olives
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 baguette (loaf of French bread about 14 inches long)
4-6 lettuce leaves
4-6 ounces thinly sliced roast beef
4-6 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
4-6 ounces sliced Genoa salami
4-6 ounces Swiss cheese
4-6 ounces sliced mortadella
12 sliced-for-sandwiches dill pickle slices

Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Cut baguette in half and then cut each half horizontally. Spread mixture on each slice of bread. Layer on lettuce, meat, and cheese. Top with pickle slices, and gently press top piece of bread on top. Sandwiches' flavor improves if they sit for a half hour or so before eating.

This recipe calls for fresh parsley, but you can substitute 1 1/3 tablespoons dried parsley.

If you don't like mortadella--or you can't find it-- you can use bologna instead.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bites from the Big Easy

With Mardi Gras swift approaching these recipes will get you ready to celebrate Fat Tuesday in delicious style.

This week's cookbook is Louisiana from the American Regional Cooking Library (Culture, Tradition, and History)

New Orleans-style doughnuts

Cooking utensils you'll need:
mixing bowl
measuring cups and spoons
rolling pin
large kettle for deep frying

1 package hot roll mix (1 pound)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
confectioners' sugar
vegetable oil

Prepare roll mix according to package directions, adding the extra sugar and vanilla for added richness. When dough has risen once, punch down and cut in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half to make a rectangle that is 9 inches long and 12 inches wide. Cut each rectangle into 12 three-inch squares. Cover with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large cooking pot about two-thirds full of oil and heat. Oil is hot enough when dough sizzles and begins to turn brown when it is placed in the oil. (Be very careful not to burn yourself on the hot oil.) Deep fry the beignets, two at a time, for one and a half minutes on each side, until both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and let drain on paper towels. Sprinkle Generously with confectioners' sugar. makes 2 dozen.