Friday, August 29, 2008

Take a nostalgic return to school days

"School days, school days,
Good old Golden Rule days,
Reading and writing and 'rithmatic,
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick.
You were my queen in calico,
I was your bashful barefoot beau..."

Working backwards,

1. What young man would ever attend school without his trendy footwear. Ask any mother whose credit card is maxed out by the 1st of September.

2. I’d bet the youth of today has absolutely no idea with “calico” is. “The American Heritage Dictionary” characterizes calico as “..a coarse cloth usually printed with bright colors…”. And then there is the calico cat, but I don’t think they meant some child was dressed her in favorite pet.

3. How many of you think the teacher or some other individual at school is playing an exotic musical instrument called a “hickory stick”? You’d be mistaken. Once upon a time not so long ago children were given a good swat if they misbehaved at school, presumably with a hickory stick. Today those educators would be taken to court!

4. “Rithmatic”? Of course that is the shortened version of arithmetic, adjusted to fit. (Is it iambic pentameter? I’m a little obtuse when it comes to identifying various types of poetry. I just know what I like.) The question I have here is whether children actually work the problems themselves or whether they are trained in the finer art of working a calculator. I’ve never attended school so I honestly do not know.

5. Now to the most important and never out-dated portion of this rhyme. The Golden Rule. The rest of this ditty may seem like Grandma’s lexicon, but The Golden Rule should live forever. characterizes it as “the ethic of reciprocity”. They went on to say,

“…The ethic of reciprocity or the Golden Rule is a fundamental moral value which simply means "treat others as you would like to be treated." It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights …”

“Human” rights? I beg to differ. Feline though I may be, I feel obliged to suggest that I too be treated as you might wish to be treated. With deference.

And so back to school. Children, enjoy your school days. Learning is a gift.

Until next time, I remain,

Browser, the library cat

PS. I have lost my collar. By this printing it has perhaps been returned. If not, let me describe it as red with black paw prints and jangling tags attached. If you find it – I must have lost it when I was in the throws of some adventure or other – please return it to The Pine River Public Library.

Printed in the Pine River Journal August 28. 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

Looking foward to 'Magical Cooking'


Thursday, August 7 at 2:00 PM the Pine River Library will present a program by performer Chef Roberto entitled “The Magical Cooking Show” as a part of our summer reading program with the theme of “What’s cooking at your library”.

An entertaining look at the wonderful world of cooking this exciting program, emphasizing books and reading, helps children to learn while having fun at the same time. A Chock-ful of Crazy Cookery, Unbelievable Magic and Terrific books.

Lots of audience participation (including some special fun for the parents). Come join us at the library!

In the interest of continuity I have decided to review a cookbook. Given the enormity of selecting a single volume among the many, I have chosen a compendium of deserts.

Fearless readers all, you may not realize that your resident feline has a taste for the sweet. Yes. I admit it. I am a lover of sweets. My personal preference, of course, is ice cream. However, for the sake of convenience (I am familiar with this tome.) I have chosen one of our more popular volumes here at the Pine River Library, “The Cake Mix Doctor” by Anne Byrn.

Given the title, one would suppose this book is simplicity itself. Page after page of a variety of delicious cakes made only from ingredients residing dustily in your cabinets waiting to be rearranged. Maybe, I shall open a page at random…

· 1 package plain yellow cake mix – check
· 1 cup smooth peanut butter – well, not quite a full cup and it has a tiny bit of jelly in it
· 1 stick butter – does it have to be butter?
· 2 large eggs – do they have to be large or would Jumbo be okay? Or medium?
· 1 package (12 ounces; 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips – what if my bag is smaller? Or larger?
· 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk – who stocks that?
· 2 tablespoons butter – we’ve addressed this before
· 1 cup frozen unsweetened grated coconut, thawed – What?!
· 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract – I’m pretty solid on that

I have tried several of the recipes in this book and they have proven to be better by-in-large than just dumping out a box of cake mix and adding the requisite water, oil, and eggs.

The key, as I see it, is to read the recipe before the fact – preferably before you go to the grocery store – and make a list of that elusive frozen coconut and any other ingredients not currently living in your kitchen. You might also wish to make sure you have the correct configuration of baking container such as a Bundt pan.

There are several recipes requiring one of those.

Many of the recipes come from friends, relatives and the odd step neighbor-in-law. All are given credit for their concoctions. (Some are better cooks than others.)This book is perfect for someone who bakes often for a family or for church potluck dinners and is tired of the same cake or bar recipe. There is quite a variety here and even suggestions for variations. A worthy perusal.

Thank you again for honoring me with your readership. I am humbled.

Remember to attend The Magical Cooking Show if you are able. I will be in evidence.

Until then, I remain

Browser, the library cat

Printed in the Pine River Journal 7 August 2008