Please enjoy our latest finalist in the Food Writing Contest — 9th Grader Penelope Duran!
Child of the Phở Bowl
My entire life, I’ve felt different from everyone else around me as I moved from place to place as a sort of global vagabond. There are several clichés about food and about home like home is where the heart is or the way to the heart is through the stomach. Stir all these clichés together in a linguistic soup, and you might say home is where you have home cooking. Perhaps for some that soup would be clam chowder or lobster bisque. For me, I feel at home when I have a steaming bowl of phở — a favorite specialty of my mother’s birth country.
I’ve always identified myself as half-American and half-Vietnamese. I’ve tried to maintain a balanced connection between both halves of my heritage. The more that time passes the more difficult this becomes.
Since I was two months old I’ve traveled the world, moving from place to place every two to three years due to my father’s job as a diplomat. Living as a global citizen has been wonderful in many ways and has introduced me to new and varied cultures. It has also made it difficult to stay rooted to my own culture. Since there’s been large groups of American expats both within the embassy communities where my dad has worked and outside of them, it’s always been easier to stay connected to my American side. It’s been more difficult to stay connected to my Vietnamese side since the Vietnamese communities aren’t as numerous globally. The main time when I feel truly connected to my Vietnamese heritage is when I visit my maternal grandparents — a Vietnamese alcove in America.
Every time we visit, my siblings and I are greeted by warm bowls of phở, a delicious noodle soup with tender beef and herbs. I relish grandma’s phở. During these visits, my siblings and I beg to have phở for breakfast, lunch and dinner. More often than not, grandma obliges.
I’ve found connection with my Vietnamese heritage through cuisine. At multiple residences, there have always been quaint Vietnamese restaurants that served my favorite food. Even though it was not quite as authentic as grandma’s phở, the stand-ins bring back joyful memories of time spent with my grandparents. And of course, my mother has made phở in the various kitchens of all our homes. Mom’s phở serves as a reminder that I am in many ways my mother’s daughter — not just in appearance but also in my identity. I will always be a child of the phở bowl.
Submissions are pouring in and we are very pleased to announce the first finalist!!
Food Writing Finalist of the Week:
Jane Butterfield, “Magic”
What can be more ordinary than bread. The magic comes when the ordinary is changed into the extraordinary. My recipe for Irish Soda Bread comes from my husband’s mother. She shared it with me when I was first dating my husband. I was determined to make this bread since it was one of his favorite foods. I planned on surprising him with this treat, fresh from the oven, lathered with butter, the aroma filling the house as he arrived for our date. I followed the recipe to a tee. The only problem was that I did not understand the meaning of the word, “scant” as applied to the addition of the quantity of milk. I poured in the whole cup at once . The result was an “I Love Lucy” experience. You see, the process of kneading the dough by hand is critical to the success of the bread. My bread dough was more like thick paste. Never the less I plunged both of my hands into the mixture, confident that it would all come together somehow. The dough covered every finger and stuck to anything that I touched as I tried to extricate myself from the gooey mess. Fortunately this was not the end of the story. Humbly I sought guidance and through persistence, I finally learned the right consistency for a good dough.
Homemade Irish Soda Bread is now one of the most treasured traditions in our family. Whenever I make the bread I feel the presence of Grammie, my husband’s mother. Each of my five children have enjoyed making the bread with me through the years. When the grand kids come to visit they always ask, “Can we make a soda bread today?” I remember when my four year old grandson was just about to knead the bread, he lifted his hands up above his head and he said with all seriousness , “ Okay, I’m goin in!”. Once the bread is in the pan the children remind me to make the baker’s cross on the top of the bread as a special blessing. The aroma of the cooking bread floats through the house calling all to the kitchen to enjoy the fresh bread together.
This is when I enjoy sitting back and savoring the moment. The bread makes present our roots. It combines the past, present and the future. The beauty of the moment is magical. It nurtures the family spirit as well as the body. All of my children have the recipe. I know the creative experience will continue on to the next generation.
Whenever members of the family are expected for a visit the magic and beauty is experienced anew as I am making the bread. I like to have it on the counter waiting for them to arrive. It gives me a joyful sense of anticipation. It is a true north experience for my family. It is not just ordinary bread, but is transformed into a message of love, faith and welcome home
Drum roll please………………………………………..
If you haven’t already seen our fabulous full-page announcement in the centerfold of the Farm & Table magazine in your Lincoln County News this week, it is with great pleasure that I would like to announce the 2018 Skidompha Community Read book. At long last I can say that we will read “Blood, Bones & Butter” by chef and author Gabrielle Hamilton.
If you are jumping up and down right now, it means that you already know how amazing Gabrielle is, and perhaps have eaten at her NYC restaurant, “Prune.” If you’re not jumping up and down yet – just wait. You are in for a real treat!
A New York Times bestseller, “Blood, Bones & Butter” follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years, from the rural kitchen of her childhood, to the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, to Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law. Along the way Gabrielle’s story unfolds with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.
Join us as we explore the themes of Food, Community and Identity over the course of the 6 weeks of this community-focused extravaganza. Events will include: our second-annual Community “Read-Aloud”, Book Discussions, Food Films, a ‘Meet Your Farmer’ Event, Cooking Contests, Cooking Classes, Mixology Class, Food Writing Contest, “Bivalves and Brews” 4th of July Party at Skidompha, a discussion on Food Security and Childhood Hunger, partner events with Rising Tide Coop, the DRA and Wild Seed Project, Live Music & Performance, and the best part? Gabrielle Hamilton herself will join us during the finale weekend for a talk on her book with a cocktail reception and local food showcase to follow.
Break out your pots, pans, and fancy dress – you’re in for a great summer!
Have a great week,
Something BIG is coming to Skidompha Library. This summer we are bringing back the Community Read, and it’s more magnificent than ever before. Mark your calendars now, and prepare for 6 weeks of thrills, spills and chills from the end of June to the beginning of August.
What’s the book? Can’t tell you. Not yet! But if you happen to pick up a copy of The Lincoln County News Magazine, Farm & Table, on the 24th of this month, you’ll see our grand reveal!
Even though I can’t tell you the title of the book, I can tell you that this summer we are focusing on the themes of Food, Community, and Identity. Join us as we read, cook, and eat together, learn about Midcoast Maine’s farmers, producers, chefs and culinary minds, and ask the fundamental questions of who are we, and what do we eat? Programs will include our second-annual Community “Read-Aloud” from the chosen book, Book Discussions, Food Films, a Farm to Table Dinner and Meet Your Farmer Event, Cooking Contest, Food Writing Contest, Local Foods and Beer, a discussion on Food Security and Childhood Hunger, partner events with the DRA and Wild Seed Project, Live Music & Performance, and an evening with the Author!
Have I piqued your interest? Are you hungry for more? Stay tuned – Skidompha Library is cooking up events to keep the whole family, including your out-of-state visitors, entertained all summer long.
Here at Skidompha, we think of libraries as living, breathing things. Though it may seem that our collections sits there quietly on their shelves waiting for a patron to pick them up, the truth is much more dynamic. Did you know that there is not just one single universal way to organize library shelves, and that systems of organization change over time?
This will be especially good news for our lovers of Short Stories, who will now find that ALL library short stories are in one place, instead of being dispersed throughout fiction. Why is this important? It reflects the way that our patrons think about choosing the books that they read. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want, but you know you want something short and sweet. Wouldn’t it be nice to browse all of those books in one place? You might find something that surprises you!
For our Science Fiction fans, we have reinvigorated our Sci-Fi & Fantasy area, with brand new titles arriving monthly. What’s April’s title? “Written in Red” by NYT bestseling author Anne Bishop, full of shape-shifters, vampires, and prophets.
And did you know that Skidompha Library has an exstentive Maine Collection? You may not have when it was hidden away in our Genealogy area, but you might just happen upon it now that these books live across from the DVDs in our upstairs stacks. Part of what makes a library a great library is having good books and resources. Another part of what makes a library a great library is to keep those resources easy to access and up to date. We’ll keep thinking of creative ways to do both – a librarian’s job is never done!
Have a beautiful week,
If you were to ask people why they volunteer at the library, many of them would talk about their love of books, or their special memories of a library from their past. Sometimes people volunteer when they are between jobs and need something to do. Sometimes it’s a teenager who needs volunteer hours for a school or club, or a retiree who wants wants to feel of real value to the community. The library provides these volunteers with direct benefits that make their lives better. But the benefits they provide the library are incalculable.
When you think of our library volunteers, you may imagine that friendly face that greets you when you check out a book. You may not always see the ones who sanitize the storytime toys, or the ones who repair damaged books, or the person who may make it their personal mission to keep the Mystery section in perfect order. But they’re here too. And they keep Skidompha Library alive and well and ready for you.
This past weekend we had an opportunity to celebrate with our 104 volunteers, set to the rocking refrains of the band 32 North. Our yearly volunteer party is just one very small way that we say thank you. We hope that you will join us in appreciating our volunteers all year long. The next time you see someone shelving in Mystery, remember to give them a smile. 😉
Have a great week,
Happy National Library Week everybody! What’s that you say? You’ve never even heard of National Library Week? Well, maybe we’re a little biased being a library and all, but National Library Week is a bit like the Academy Awards and library “Christmas” all rolled into one.
In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers started National Library Week as a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians, and to promote library use and support. You see, they believed that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries, and in turn be a more well-informed and educated population. The first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!” This year the national theme is “Libraries Lead,” and libraries across the nation are asking their patrons to share how the library led them to something of value in their lives. Library lovers can post to Twitter, Instagram, or on the ‘I Love Libraries’ Facebook page during National Library Week for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card. Entries can be a picture, video, or text, and creativity is encouraged. Just be sure to include the hashtags #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesLead on your post, and enjoy taking a look at what others have shared about their library experiences.
Ultimately, today more than ever libraries need the support of our patrons. To coincide with National Library Week, Skidompha has launched its Spring Funding Campaign – the first of only two times a year we ask our patrons to help keep us funded and strong and offering books, free services, and programs to the community. If you can help us pay it forward, please consider making a secure donation online at www.skidompha.org, and thank you. We rely on individual donations to make up the bulk of our yearly funding, and believe me when I tell you that every dollar counts. Let’s share the love and learning all year long.
Have a great week,
The Winter Olympic Games have begun in South Korea, and I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me feel more fiercely patriotic than watching our athletes compete for gold and glory.
From my armchair I glide along with our speed skaters, thrill at the intensity of focus exhibited by our curlers, and ride the emotional highs and lows of our skiers, snowboarders, and professional sledders in the luge competition. Was anyone else reduced to tears during the ladies figuring skating free skate??
However, if you are one of the many people out there who have forgone your cable subscription and find yourself without a window into PyeongChang, never fear! The Library has you covered! For the entirety of the Olympic Games we will be showing NBC coverage in our Atrium during regular hours of operation, where you can pull up a red comfy chair and tune in to one of the greatest shows on Earth. The best events are still to come!
Have an inspiring week,
Though we may still have six more weeks of winter – according to some prognosticating ground squirrels – I believe that we should look past this, and focus instead on the bright things ahead in 2018.
For Skidompha Library, 2018 represents not only the debut of our first full season of programs for the whole family, but also comes with the expectation of another summertime Community Read Event, the excitement of live performances thanks to our partnership with River Company Theater, and participation in a timely national discussion. 2018 is already being heralded as “The Year of the Woman” for political and social reasons, but it also represents a very significant anniversary in the story of the women’s suffrage movement.
After more than 80 years of protests, parades, outreach and argument, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, mandating that voting rights could not be restricted on the basis of sex, was brought before the House by President Woodrow Wilson. It would take another two years for all 50 states to ratify the amendment and make it law, but it was the tipping point that made women’s rights more of an inevitability. As we prepare to join the national celebration in 2020 of women’s right to vote, this year we will be highlighting women authors, women in history and great women thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Keep an eye out for upcoming events such as a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein,” the 150th anniversary of “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, and a very special event for the release of the forthcoming movie adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time,” by Madeleine L’Engle. (Remember Harry Potter Day last year? Well, hold onto your tesseracts! We’re at it again!)
Have a great week,
Challenge yourself to read a little differently this winter with the Mid-Winter Reading Challenge!
Always wanted to try reading a graphic novel, or a book that inspired a film? Now’s your chance!
Read a book in just 5 of the 13 categories, and you will be entered to win a $50 Gift Certificate for the Skidompha Secondhand Book Shop, or a Skidompha Beanie!
Please pick up your challenge card at the library circulation desk.