Wednesday, April 27, 2011

West Virginia's Heritage Music

On May 3, 2011, fiddler Bobby Taylor will present "West Virginia's Heritage Music" at the monthly Tuesday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

The evening's program will be a combination of historical information on and musical performance of heritage music. Taylor will have several instruments on display, including Clark Kessinger's fiddle, Ed Haley's fiddle, and several family instruments. The exhibit also will include photographs. Accompanying Taylor on musical selections will be Kim Johnson on banjo and John Lilly on guitar.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Staff Pick of the Week

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner

Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for History

Winner of the 2011 Bancroft Prize

From a master historian, the story of Lincoln's—and the nation's—transformation through the crucible of slavery and emancipation.

In this landmark work of deep scholarship and insight, Eric Foner gives us the definitive history of Lincoln and the end of slavery in America. Foner begins with Lincoln's youth in Indiana and Illinois and follows the trajectory of his career across an increasingly tense and shifting political terrain from Illinois to Washington, D.C. Although "naturally anti-slavery" for as long as he can remember, Lincoln scrupulously holds to the position that the Constitution protects the institution in the original slave states. But the political landscape is transformed in 1854 when the Kansas-Nebraska Act makes the expansion of slavery a national issue.

A man of considered words and deliberate actions, Lincoln navigates the dynamic politics deftly, taking measured steps, often along a path forged by abolitionists and radicals in his party. Lincoln rises to leadership in the new Republican Party by calibrating his politics to the broadest possible antislavery coalition. As president of a divided nation and commander in chief at war, displaying a similar compound of pragmatism and principle, Lincoln finally embraces what he calls the Civil War's "fundamental and astounding" result: the immediate, uncompensated abolition of slavery and recognition of blacks as American citizens.

Foner's Lincoln emerges as a leader, one whose greatness lies in his capacity for moral and political growth through real engagement with allies and critics alike. This powerful work will transform our understanding of the nation's greatest president and the issue that mattered most. (Synopsis from publisher)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Start a new hobby this summer, geocaching!

Geocaching is sweeping the nation as a fun outdoor recreation for the entire family and West Virginia libraries are getting involved.  Thanks to a donation from West Virginia Education and the Arts, many public libraries now have geocaching kits available for library customers to check out. 


Plan your Seder feast with this week's cookbook, Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Joan Nathan

Pickled Salmon

(Serves 6-8)

2 cups white vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon cardamon pods
1/2 teaspoon mace blades
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 cinnamon stick
6 bay leaves
3 pounds salmon fillet, skin removed
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 red hot pepper (like a pequin)

1. Bring 2 cups of water, the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil. Add the mustard seed, cardamon, mace, coriander, black pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon stick, hot pepper, and bay leaves. Simmer for a few minutes. Add the salmon and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

2. Remove the salmon fillet from the pot and reserve the marinade. Cut the salmon into 2-inch slices. Place the salmon in a glass bowl and cover with the reserved marinade. Top with the onion. Cover the container and refrigerate for 3 days, making sure that the salmon is submerged in the marinade.

3. Remove the salmon and the onions, straining and discarding the spices but reserving the marinade. Serve the salmon as an appetizer with the onions and a little bit of marinade. If you like, you can also serve the salmon with sour cream.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Plan your Seder feast with this week's cookbook, Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Joan Nathan

Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; howbeit the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses; for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. Exodus 12:15

"Haroset, the blend of fruits and nuts symbolizing the mortar which our forefathers used to build pyramids in Egypt, is on of the most popular and discussed ritual foods at the Seder. The fruit and nuts found in almost all haroset" recipes refer to two verses in the Song of Songs closely linked with the spring season: 'Under the apple-tree I awakened thee' (8:5) and 'I went down into the garden of nuts.' (6:11) The red wine recalls the Red Sea, which parted its waters for the Jews.

The real purpose of the haroset is to allay the bitterness of the maror (bitter herbs) required at the Seder."

Egyptian Haroset

1 pound raisins
8 ounces pitted dates
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1. Place the raisins and dates in a bowl with enough water to cover. Let stand for 1 hour.

2. Add the sugar. Whirl the mixture in a blender, a few spoonfuls at a time. Or divide the mixture in thirds and place in a food processor.

3. Transfer the chopped fruits to a heavy saucepan and let simmer over low heat until the fruits are cooked and the liquid absorbed. It should take about 20 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and place in a jar. When cool, sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pulitzer Prize Winners 2011

2011 Winners
Letters, Drama and Music

FICTION - "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan (Alfred A. Knopf)

DRAMA - "Clybourne Park" by Bruce Norris

HISTORY - "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery" by Eric Foner (W. W. Norton & Company)

BIOGRAPHY - "Washington: A Life" by Ron Chernow (The Penguin Press)

POETRY - "The Best of It: New and Selected Poems" by Kay Ryan (Grove Press)

GENERAL NONFICTION - "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner)

MUSIC - "Madame White Snake’" by Zhou Long, premiered on February 26, 2010 by the Boston Opera at the Cutler Majestic Theatre.

Please contact the WVLC Circulation Desk for title availability, 304-558-2045 or

Staff Pick of the Week

LeAna's Pick

Ted Hughes: Collected Poems

This book collects the work of someone who touched greatness many times over a long and distinguished career. Ted Hughes had the uncanny ability to imagine otherness, whether fox or crow, and to render the creature in vivid close-up. In his poetry, steeped with folklore and myth, we do not simply read about nature, we experience nature.

This collection includes not only the official editions originally published by Faber and Faber, but also work from literary journals and small-press editions. Hughes revisited and revised throughout his career, and this volume does not cheat us of this growth.

Hughes was a brilliant poet and an accomplished translator, ultimately attaining the post of British poet laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998. He was a literary genius, and his talent doesn’t slowly evolve, it erupts from this volume.

Ted Hughes has been reviled for over four decades for his part in the life and death of his wife, the poet Sylvia Plath. Ted Hughes evidently had a great many faults both specifically as a man and more generally as a human being, leading people to be intensely superficially interested in his life, but not at all in his work. This can only be said to be their loss.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cooking Up History

Civil War Sesquicentennial

150 years ago this week the Battle of Fort Sumter (April 12-14) became the opening engagement of the American Civil War.

This week's cookbook is The Civil War Cookbook by William C. Davis.

"The Civil War Cookbook intertwines history and cuisine for a new insight into the lives of soldiers on the battlefield and their loved ones at home."

Camp and Field

Rabbit Stew

(Serves 2-3)

Fresh meat was greatly prized throughout the war, and for a hungry soldier deprived of good rations, rabbit or squirrel was a very acceptable alternative to beef or pork.

1 rabbit, dressed and cut into pieces
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper
Piece of butter size of an egg (4 tbsp)
2 onions
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped potatoes
Mixed herbs

Mix the flour and seasoning together, and coat the rabbit in the mixture. Melt the butter and fry the rabbit pieces to brown. Put the pieces in a large pan and add the onion, carrot, and potato. Cover with water and season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Cover and cook in a moderate oven (375 degrees F) for about 1 hour.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial

150 years ago this week the Battle of Fort Sumter (April 12-14) became the opening engagement of the American Civil War. For more information about the Sesquicentennial celebrations go to:

The West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission website is:

Preston Williams, WV native, celebrates the state's independence of spirit in this article from the Washington Post will have you yearning for more information on our state's formation.

"West Virginia: The state that said no" by Preston Williams:

The article by Mr. Williams quotes Joe Geiger, the Director of West Virginia Archives and History. Mr. Geiger presented a lecture at the Culture Center last year titled "A State of Convenience: The Creation of West Virginia." There is an online exhibit by the same name on the WV Culture and History website:

West Virginia Archives and History has also recently launched another online exhibit, "Child of the Rebellion: An Archives and History Sesquicentennial Project." Check out the "Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood."

Montani Semper Liberi

Cooking Up History

Civil War Sesquicentennial

150 years ago this week the Battle of Fort Sumter (April 12-14) became the opening engagement of the American Civil War.

This week's cookbook is The Civil War Cookbook by William C. Davis.

"The Civil War Cookbook intertwines history and cuisine for a new insight into the lives of soldiers on the battlefield and their loved ones at home."

Off To War

Red Flannel Hash

(Serves 2-4)

Soldiers may have eaten this has at home, but it is certainly tastier than the version served to the army! Beets and fresh herbs add extra flavor, but add some of your own favorites, as this dish has always been concocted from any leftover ingredients which may have been on hand.

1 pound corned beef
4 large cold boiled potatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg
1-2 cooked beets, peeled and diced
Fresh herbs to taste
2 Tbsp butter

1. Cut the beef into small pieces. Combine all the remaining ingredients except the butter. Melt the butter in a skillet and when foaming add the meat mixture. Spread the mixture out evenly in the pan.

2. Cook over low heat, pressing the mixture down continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook for about 15-20 minutes. When a crust forms on the bottom, turn over and brown the other side. Cut into wedges and remove from the pan to serve.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Staff Pick of the Week

Megan's Picks

I've always loved poetry. Both of my grandmothers loved poetry. I inherited their books when they passed and their poetry tomes are some of my most cherished possessions. I've added to the collection as the years have passed, even adding my own poems, not to the printed page but to the blog page. I won't inflict my works on you. But I will share two works by two of my favorite poets.

The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems By Billy Collins.

Collins, a former Poet Laureate of the United States, has been hailed, rightly so, for his accessibility. His easy language is deceptive. His images are so clear and understandable, not clouded with heavy verse and rhymes and poetic pretension of the past. And that, as he states in this title poem, is

"The Trouble With Poetry" (excerpt from the poem "The Trouble With Poetry)

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night--
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky--

the trouble with poetry is
that is encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world.

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

My second selection was more difficult to choose. I love the Epic Poem: the Beowulf-s and the Gilgamesh-es, the Odysses-es and the Aeneid-s. I love the Romantics (Big R, not little r, as my favorite professor would say.) In the end, I went with the artist and poem that always springs first to mind when I think of poetry.

Poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson Selected by Ruth Greiner Rausen

"The Lady of Shalott" Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower-d Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, "'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.'"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poetry on the Plate

My salad days,  When I was green in judgement ...
Anthony and Cleopatra, 1.5

April is National Poetry Month and what better way to celebrate the poetry of words than with the poetry of food. This week's cookbook is Shakespeare's Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes For the Contemporary Cook by Francine Segan.

Endive Topped with Periwinkles
Serves 6

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey vinegar (or any sweet vinegar)
3 tablespoons honey
Salt and freshly milled black peper
3 heads of endive
1/2 cup periwinkles or other edible flowers

  1. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl and season to tast with salt and pepper.
  2. Cut the endive into thin slices, removing the tough inner core, and toss with the vinaigrette.
  3. Place some of the endive in the center of each place and top with the flowers.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hispanic Titles Now Available

The Library Commission now offers customers Spanish language titles and, for libraries, a Hispanic Rotating Collection.  The collections include fiction and non-fiction titles by best selling Mexican and Latin American authors, in addition to popular English language works translated into Spanish to libraries. Click here to view the title list.

Interested in requesting the rotating collection for your library? Contact us for more information.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poetry on the Plate

A good digestion to you all: and once more I show'r a welcome on ye; welcome all. -King Henry VIII, 1-4

April is National Poetry Month and what better way to celebrate the poetry of words than with the poetry of food. This week's cookbook is Shakespeare's Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes For the Contemporary Cook by Francine Segan.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Though art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date...
-Sonnet 18

Chicken Plum Pie
(serves 6)

This is a lovely summer picnic dish that makes perfect use of leftover chicken. The nobility enjoyed outdoor dining in Shakespeare's day. A 1575 painting shows Queen Elizabeth I at a picnic during a hunt. One foreign visitor observed that when Queen Elizabeth dined, her ladies in in waiting 'gave to each of the Guards a mouthful to eat...for Fear of any Poison.'

1/2 recipe of Renaissance Dough (page 239 of this cookbook) or store-bought ready- to-use or frozen crusts
1 pound cooked chicken meat, shredded
3 tablespoons Renaissance Stock (recipe listed below)
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mace (or nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 purple plums, pitted, peeled, and diced
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 plums, cut in 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the Renaissance Dough to 1/8 inch thick on a floured work surface. Press into a round or square pie pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until the bottom is very light golden.

2. Combine the chicken, Renaissance Stock, cloves, mace, cinnamon, and diced plums in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the piecrust and place the plum slices on top of the chicken mixture. Drizzle the butter over the top and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the plums are caramelized. (If serving the pie cold, double the quantity of mace, cinnamon, and cloves.)

Renaissance Stock

4 1/2 pounds chicken parts (necks, backs, wings, giblets)
1 lamb shank (about 8 ounces)
2 springs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of mint
4 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
1 whole mace
2 onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup ground blanched almonds
8 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup currants
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

Place the chicken and shank bone in a large pot. Add 2 3/4 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Skim the impurities that rise to the top. Add the rosemary, bay leaves, mint, parsley, mace, and onions and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the wine, almonds, dates, and currants and simmer for 1 hour, periodically skimming any impurities that rise to the top. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Staff Pick of the Week

Crazy Quilt

If I had my way,
we'd all sleep together in a
rickety, four-poster bed:
eight beagles, two tabbies, grandma,
three tots,
my old man, and the hen.
We'd squirm, squeak, and giggle--
snores and sighs rising like ballons

under a silvery roof of tin
under a tent of silvery rain
under a silver-dollar moon--

we'd snuggle
safe as spoons
and dream together

while the clock
chomps the night
like a bone.

-E.D. Pendarvis

This week's Staff Pick is in honor of National Poetry Month. Wild Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry 1950-1999 edited by Barbara Smith and Kirk Judd. This title, and other collections of poetry by West Virginians, can be found in the West Virginia Collection of the West Virginia Library Commission Reference Library.

"With insights into Japanese flower gardening and hog butchering, into mother-daughter relations and horse trading, in verse that is wistful or bright or drenched in rural beauty, Wild Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry surprises and delights... This varied collection of remarkably high poetic quality will enchant readers throughout the English-speaking world.

The editors, longtime aficionados of their state's poetic production and well-established poets in their own right, professed themselves gratified and inspired by the quality they found in an outpouring of submissions. More than one hundred ten living West Virginia poets and some twenty deceased poets are represented here.

This book will appeal to readers young and old, to students and gardeners, to political activists, to anyone who responds to natural beauty and to truth. West Virginia Poet Laureate Irene McKinney has said that poetry is the one form of art which can't 'sell out.' This book doesn't either." (Text from title's book jacket)

The Library Commission has expanded Learning Express Library Resources to include basic computing courses!

Learning Express Computing basics online courses guide computer novices, step-by-step, through the fundamentals of using a computer and going online. This new service includes:
  • Seventeen courses covering the fundamentals of computers and the Internet, from powering on and working from the desktop.
  • Self-paced multimedia experience with narration, illustrations and demonstrations make grasping fundamental computing concepts easy.
  • Information is presented in an easy-to-understand format so even those technically adverse can feel at ease.
  • Accessible from any computer, 24 x 7
The getting started with computers sessions include:
  • Roles of a computer
  • Personal computer fundamentals
  • Windows 7 basics
  • Customizing windows and your desktop
  • Application basics
  • Saving and finding files
  • Web browsing
  • Printing
  • Maintenance and security

 The getting started with using the Internet sessions include:
  • What is the Internet?
  • Surfing the Internet
  • Using Internet search tools
  • Using email, chat, and Internet phone services
  • Using blogs, newsgroups, and other topic-based communities
  • Using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Using web tools
  • Protecting yourself online

 To use this services, go to and click on the Learning Express Library button.