meltA cookbook that reinvents the American classic, macaroni and cheese, with gourmet ingredients and unique flavor combinations, Melt, the Art of Macaroni and Cheese is the first book to marry the American standard, with handcrafted artisan cheeses and a wide array of pastas, producing dishes that are both classic and chic.

Home cooks of all levels will be encouraged to incorporate fresh, simple ingredients into the everyday comfort food they know and love. Featuring such unexpected and delicious combinations as Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar with Avocado, Lime, and Shell Pasta; Drunken Goat, Fennel, Edamame, Mint, and Rotini; and Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage, and Macaroni, Melt takes mac and cheese out of the box and elevates it to a level that will delight even the most sophisticated palates. With gorgeous color photography throughout, Melt is a compendium of inventive recipes that will add a fresh twist to the family dinner or play a starring role at your next dinner party. (description from publisher)

flappersBy the 1920s, women were on the verge of something huge. Jazz, racy fashions, eyebrow-raising new attitudes about art and sex – all of this pointed to a sleek, modern world, one that could shake off the grimness of the Great War and stride into the future in one deft, stylized gesture. The women who defined this age – Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Tamara de Lempicka – would presage the sexual revolution by nearly half a century and would shape the role of women for generations to come. In Flappers, acclaimed biographer Judith Mackrell renders these women with all the color that marked their lives and their era.

Both sensuous and sympathetic, her biography lays bare the private lives of her heroines. These women came from vastly different backgrounds, but all ended up passing through Paris, the mecca of the avant-garde. Before she was the toast of Parisian society, Josephine Baker was a poor black girl from the slums of Saint Louis. Tamara de Lempicka fled the Russian Revolution only to struggle to scrape together a life for herself and her family. A committed painter, her portraits were indicative of the age’s art deco sensibility and sexual daring. The Brits in the group – Nancy Cunard and Diana Cooper –  came from pinkie-raising aristocratic families but soon descended into the salacious delights of the vanguard. Tallulah Bankhead and Zelda Fitzgerald were two Alabama girls driven across the Atlantic by a thirst for adventure and artistic validation.

But beneath the flamboyance and excess of the 1920s lay age-old prejudices about gender, race, and sexuality. These flappers weren’t just dancing and carousing; they were fighting for recognition and dignity in a male-dominated world. They were more than mere lovers or muses to the modernist masters – in their pursuit of fame and intense experience, we see a generation of women taking bold steps toward something burgeoning, undefined, maybe dangerous: a New Woman. (description from publisher)

stacks of booksDid our Favorite Quote from last week stump you, or was it too obvious? Ready to give it another try? Here’s a pretty easy one, from an American classic, a poignant line that perfectly evokes the novel it comes from.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”.

Check if you got the right answer here!

servantsFrom the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate and the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house to the poor child doing chores in a slightly less poor household, servants were essential to the British way of life. They were hired not only for their skills but also to demonstrate the social standing of their employers even as they were required to tread softly and blend into the background. More than simply the laboring class serving the upper crust as popular culture would have us believe, they were a diverse group that shaped and witnessed major changes in the modern home, family, and social order.

Spanning over a hundred years, Lucy Lethbridge in this “best type of history” brings to life through letters and diaries the voices of countless men and women who have been largely ignored by the historical record. She also interviews former and current servants for their recollections of this waning profession. At the fore are the experiences of young girls who slept in damp corners of basements, kitchen maids who were required to stir eggs until the yolks were perfectly centered, and cleaners who had to scrub floors on their hands and knees despite the wide availability of vacuum cleaners. We also meet a lord who solved his inability to open a window by throwing a brick through it and Winston Churchill’s butler who did not think Churchill would know how to dress on his own.

A compassionate and discerning exploration of the complex relationship between the server, the served, and the world they lived in, Servants opens a window onto British society from the Edwardian period to the present. (description by publisher)

indexA James Beard Award-winning writer captures life under the Red socialist banner in Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking in a wildly inventive, tragicomic memoir of feasts, famines, and three generations.

With startling beauty and sardonic wit, Anya von Bremzen tells an intimate yet epic story of life in that vanished empire known as the USSR–a place where every edible morsel was packed with emotional and political meaning. Born in 1963, in an era of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen. She sang odes to Lenin, black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum at school, watched her father brew moonshine, and, like most Soviet citizens, longed for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, drab, naively joyous, melancholy–and ultimately intolerable to her anti-Soviet mother, Larisa. When Anya was ten, she and Larisa fled the political repression of Brezhnev-era Russia, arriving in Philadelphia with no winter coats and no right of return. Now Anya occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, the other where a taste of humble kolbasa transports her back to her scarlet-blazed socialist past.

To bring that past to life, in its full flavor, both bitter and sweet, Anya and Larisa, embark on a journey unlike any other: they decide to eat and cook their way through every decade of the Soviet experience–turning Larisa’s kitchen into a “time machine and an incubator of memories.” Together, mother and daughter re-create meals both modest and sumptuous, featuring a decadent fish pie from the pages of Chekhov, chanakhi (Stalin’s favorite Georgian stew), blini, and more. Through these meals, Anya tells the gripping story of three Soviet generations– masterfully capturing the strange mix of idealism, cynicism, longing, and terror that defined Soviet life. We meet her grandfather Naum, a glamorous intelligence chief under Stalin, and her grandmother Liza, who made a perilous odyssey to icy, blockaded Leningrad to find Naum during World War II. We meet Anya’s hard-drinking, sarcastic father, Sergei, who cruelly abandons his family shortly after Anya is born; and we are captivated by Larisa, the romantic dreamer who grew up dreading the black public loudspeakers trumpeting the glories of the Five-Year Plan. Their stories unfold against the vast panorama of Soviet history: Lenin’s bloody grain requisitioning, World War II hunger and survival, Stalin’s table manners, Khrushchev’s kitchen debates, Gorbachev’s disastrous anti-alcohol policies. And, ultimately, the collapse of the USSR. And all of it is bound together by Anya’s passionate nostalgia, sly humor, and piercing observations.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is that rare book that stirs our souls and our senses. (description from publisher)

frozen in timeTwo harrowing crashes . . . A vanished rescue plane . . . A desperate fight for life in a frozen, hostile land . . . The quest to solve a seventy-year-old mystery Mitchel Zuckoff delivers a gripping true story of endurance, bravery, ingenuity, and honor set in the vast Arctic wilderness of World War II and today in Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff.

On November 5, 1942, a U.S. cargo plane on a routine flight slammed into the Greenland ice cap. Four days later, a B-17 on the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on the B-17 survived. The U.S. military launched a second daring rescue operation, but the Grumman Duck amphibious plane sent to find the men flew into a severe storm and vanished. In this thrilling adventure, Zuckoff offers a spellbinding account of these harrowing disasters and the fate of the survivors and their would-be saviors. Frozen in Time places us at the center of a group of valiant airmen fighting to stay alive through 148 days of a brutal Arctic winter by sheltering from subzero temperatures and vicious blizzards in the tail section of the broken B-17 until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen attempts to bring them to safety. But that is only part of the story that unfolds in Frozen in Time.

In present-day Greenland, Zuckoff joins the U.S. Coast Guard and North South Polar–a company led by the indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza, who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight–on a dangerous expedition to recover the remains of the lost plane’s crew. Drawing on intensive research and Zuckoff ‘s firsthand account of the dramatic 2012 expedition, Frozen in Time is a breathtaking blend of mystery, adventure, heroism, and survival. It is also a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of our military personnel and their families – and a tribute to the important, perilous, and often-overlooked work of the U.S. Coast Guard. (description from publisher)

american-flagThe Davenport Library will be closed Monday February 17th in observance of President’s Day. All locations will reopen on Tuesday at their regularly scheduled time – 9am to 5:30pm at Main and Eastern Avenue and noon to 8pm at Fairmount Street.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

art of french pastryWhat does it take to perfect a flawless éclair? A delicate yet buttery croissant? To pipe dozens of macarons? The answer is: an intimate knowledge of the fundamentals of pastry.

In The Art of French Pastry award-winning pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, cofounder of the renowned French Pastry School in Chicago, gives you just that. By teaching you how to make everything from pâte à choux to pastry cream, Pfeiffer builds on the basics until you have an understanding of the science behind the ingredients used, how they interact with one another, and what your hands have to do to transform them into pastry. This yields glorious results! Expect to master these techniques and then indulge in exquisite recipes, such as: · brioche · napoléons / Mille-Feuilles · cream puffs · Alsatian cinnamon rolls / chinois · lemon cream tart with meringue teardrops · elephant ears / palmiers · black forest cake · beignets as well as some traditional Alsatian savory treats, including: · Pretzels · Kougelhof · Tarte Flambée · Warm Alsatian Meat Pie.

Pastry is all about precision, so Pfeiffer presents us with an amazing wealth of information–lists of necessary equipment, charts on how ingredients react in different environments, and the precise weight of ingredients in grams, with a look at their equivalent in U.S. units–which will help you in all aspects of your cooking. But in order to properly enjoy your “just desserts,” so to speak; you will also learn where these delicacies originated. Jacquy Pfeiffer comes from a long line of pastry chefs and has been making these recipes since he was a child working in his father’s bakery in Alsace. Sprinkled with funny, charming memories from a lifetime in pastry, this book will have you fully appreciating the hundreds of years of tradition that shaped these recipes into the classics that we know and love, and can now serve to our friends and families over and over again.

The Art of French Pastry, full of gorgeous photography and Pfeiffer’s accompanying illustrations, is a master class in pastry from a master teacher. (description from publisher)

side by sideCrafting is always more fun and more meaningful when it’s shared with those you love. Discover the joy of working alongside your child while creating arts and crafts that inspire in Side by Side by Tsia Carson.

With these twenty whimsical projects in a variety of mediums, you and your child will find fun ways to work collaboratively and independently – together on the same project, or side by side on related projects. Create Giant Newspaper Snowflakes that take traditional paper snowflakes to magical new levels. Create surprising monoprints that take glitter glue to new heights. Explore the versatility of embroidery with a child-friendly version that uses a leaf as the canvas and a more advanced version that uses a child’s drawing for stitching inspiration. Get out in the garden and plant a Living Willow Teepee that will be a perfect playhouse and retreat for years to come.

Some of life’s best moments are spent simply doing things in the presence of the ones we love, not necessarily doing the same thing together, but being together and working side by side. The craft projects in this book will help you to create just those moments with your child. (description from publisher)