Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

There’s something very comforting about Erica Bauermeister’s books — they’re sort of  “stop and smell the roses”  reminder.   For me, when she describes the smell of freshly baked bread, I swear I’m going to master making it from scratch, even though my past attempts at bread -baking have often yielded less-than satisfying results.  Indeed, at times I’ve been too embarrassed to throw it out for the birds!  (I mean, really, what if even they didn’t eat it?) But enough about me.

As in her first book, The School of Essential Ingredients, each chapter focuses on a different character.  In her new one, Joy for Beginners,  the characters are all women and all friends, even though they are different ages and at various stages in their lives.  These women don’t live Pollyanna lives — loved ones still die, couples still divorce, some parent-child relationships stay strained — but through it all, their friendships remain strong and continue to provide the support and encouragement each of them needs.

The book opens with a potluck dinner party, celebrating Kate’s recent victory over breast cancer.  Kate agrees to try something she’s always feared– white-water rafting– but in return, each of them must also promise to do something they find difficult, though Kate  gets to pick their challenges.  In some cases, the task seems surprisingly simple, such as baking bread or discarding books left by an ex-husband.  Still, Kate seems to have an innate sense as to what her friends need most.

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s a perfect gift for a good friend — or for someone who wants to make bread from scratch!

EBSCO Mobile App – Info on the Go!

With the new EBSCO mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch and for Blackberry, you can access the Davenport Public Library’s EBSCO electronic resources straight from your smart phone 24 hours a day!

Begin by visiting any EBSCO database through the Davenport Public Library’s website and follow the link at the bottom of the screen to get started.  Then, after downloading the free app from the app store, you are all ready!

Listed below are a few of the cool things you will be able to do with the app:

*Choose which databases to search

*Email results to yourself of others

*Retrieve the full text of articles

EBSCO just announced that an Android app is coming soon – stay tuned!

Food Trucks by Heather Shouse

A unique combination of old-fashioned chutzpah (becoming your own boss) and cutting edge technology (using twitter to tell your customers where you are), food trucks are all the rage. Significantly cheaper to open than a traditional brick-and-mortar restuarant, food trucks open the door to a better life for newly arrived immigrants (bringing authentic recipes from home) to a creative outlet and financial independence for wannbe-chefs and foodies. Plus, yum!

Food Trucks by Heather Shouse tours the country exploring the funky world of street food, from Hawaii to Los Angeles (ground zero for taco trucks) to Miami to New York City. You’d think (at least I did) that food trucks would be most prevelant on the coasts and in the southern, warmer states, but there are plenty of trucks worth seeking out in the Midwest (Madison, WI especially), the North and the Northwest. Interestingly, Chicago is considered a food truck backwater – city regulations prohibiting cooking in the truck means the food has to be prepared offsite, although it looks like that will be changed soon.  

Not quite a cookbook (although there are more than 40 recipes) and not quite a travel guide (although you’re going to want to hunt down some of these gems), Food Trucks is a fun look at a piece of Americana that is alive and kicking. Plus, again, yum!