All posts by David

Edible Book Festival 2016 Report

If you were on campus on Monday, April 4th, we hope you had enough time to stop by the Student Life Center and sample all of the wonderful culinary and literary creations at the 10th Annual Edible Book Festival. This event, hosted by the Ivy Tech Northeast Library, brings together students, staff, community members, and local businesses to showcase their edible interpretations of their favorite books. This year’s celebration featured 20 unique creations and brought in 200 attendees.

This year’s edible books covered a wide range of literary favorites, including The Lord of the Rings, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and The Great Gatsby. Children’s stories were also well represented with delicious renditions of Winnie the Pooh, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and The Lorax, as well as some lesser-known children’s tales such as Mean Soup, Creepy Carrots, and Hold the Anchovies! Some participants really flexed their creative muscles by adapting works that aren’t normally associated with food into delicious dishes, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, The Haunted Mesa by Louis L’Amour, and Online Gambling and Crime, an academic text about the controversies involving the online gambling industry. Leave it to a librarian to come up with that last one.

When it comes to edible books, the flavors are just as important as the stories, and this year did not disappoint. Attendees were treated to Edible Books comprised of pizza, barbecue ribs, burritos, soup, and popcorn on the savory side of things. As always, dessert creations were also plentiful, with cookies and cakes coming in flavors from vanilla and chocolate to caramel marble, peach ginger, and oatmeal-carrot.

This year’s Edible Book Festival also featured a performance from professional storyteller Lou Ann Homan whose wonderful narrative flair entertained both children and adults. There was also a craft station where children and their families could make food-based necklaces with a charm representing a well-loved book. Not to leave any sense neglected, the soundtrack to this year’s festivities was an eclectic mix of songs from films that were inspired by literary works.

The winning edible books were selected based on audience voting, and this year’s winners were an impressive bunch. The first place winner was Ivy Tech student, Claudia Hollinger, with an edible book based on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Second place was taken by community member, Cayla Veach, with her creation based on Just You and Me by Sam McBratney. Taking third place was Ivy Tech student, Adrienne Cottrell, with her entry based on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. These three talented participants took the prizes this year, but each entry showed artistic skill and creative thinking. It’s never too early to start thinking about how you can take the top prize next year!

If you didn’t make it out to the 2016 event, be sure to check out the coverage on our local NPR station< WBOI, as well as the story that ran on local Fox affiliate WFFT. The Journal Gazette was also present to cover the event. As always, if you need a good book, or inspiration for your own delicious dishes, stop by the library and browse our collection today!
(By Library Clerk, David Winn)

Edible Book Festival 2016 – 10th Anniversary!

As March brings the fragrant flowers and singing birds of spring ever closer, here at the Ivy Tech Northeast Library we are gearing up for the delicious annual event that is The Edible Book Festival. This year’s festival marks the 10th time that we’ve held this event. We hope for it to be the most successful yet with crafts, prizes, a performance from storyteller Lou Ann Homan, and, of course, all of the fun, creative, and scrumptious dishes that the entrants have put together. For more details, information on how to enter, suggestions for books that may help with constructing a decorative dish, and to view photos of previous years’ Edible Books, click here.

We love that the flavors of Edible Book Festival bring everybody together, and sharing culinary works is a unique way to make books come to life, but let’s take a moment to focus on the other element that makes the Edible Book Festival possible—-the books! The dishes that participants create are a unique way to engage with literature. Another way to engage with your favorite literature, with the help of the Ivy Tech Northeast Library, is with the Bloom’s Literary Reference Online Database.

Based on the canon of famed literary critic Harold Bloom, Bloom’s Literary Reference Online is a collection of author biographies, synopses of works, and articles of literary criticism. There are also a host of pieces that trace themes across different works of literature. This is an invaluable tool for delving deeper into a piece of literature, whether for an assignment or your own personal interest. You may also have some luck with gathering ideas for an edible book. Allow me to demonstrate.

I’m a fan of the works of Edgar Alan Poe, but I’m not sure which one of his works would best translate into a food dish. Luckily, I can use the Bloom’s database to quickly browse synopses of his works. I simply search by author, and once I am on the page of articles related to Poe’s work, I start to browse the “Overviews and Synopses” tab for stories that sound like they may inspire an edible book. One that catches my eye is the story “Bon-Bon.” The story focuses on a French chef named Pierre Bon-Bon who is a lover of philosophy and wine, apparently too ardently on the second count. He is also renowned for his omelets. The story involves a conversation that he has with the devil himself, who, in Poe’s rendition of dark humor, relates that he has tasted the souls of many great men. Bon-Bon then tries to make a bargain with the devil by offering his own soul, and the devil refuses on the grounds that Bon-Bon has become unconscionably drunk over the course of their conversation.

This gave me a few ideas for edible interpretations of this story. The first that popped into my mind was deviled eggs. Chef Bon’s Bon’s deviled eggs would be a great way to combine that mention of Bon-Bon’s famous omelets with a devilish twist. I even found a recipe online that used a little curry powder and cumin to add some spice and a garnish for each egg with a slice of red grape, which you could use as a reference to the chef’s favorite drink. If I was feeling a little bit more daring, I could make chocolate bon-bons and then decorate them with the faces or names of the philosophers mentioned in the story, a way to reference the devil tasting the souls of the great thinkers. This is just an example, but hopefully it goes to show that there are creative ways to make a dish out of a story with just a little interpretation. You also don’t need to be a master in the kitchen to put together a fun display.

I encourage you all to give Bloom’s Literary Reference Online a look and to tuck it into the back of your mind if you ever need a resource for analyzing a story. It is just one of many places to look for inspiration in creating your own edible book, and we encourage everyone who is interested to fill out an entry form and join us to show off and share your creation. Even if you don’t feel like sharing your culinary skills, please join in the festivities at 12pm on April 4th. We hope to see you there!(By Library Clerk, David Winn)

Chocolate

 

As we make our way toward the tail-end of this rather mild winter, you may find yourself celebrating Valentine’s Day. For different couples, this day has various associations. Perhaps it’s an excuse for a romantic getaway. Maybe it’s a vibrant bouquet of flowers to dispel the winter’s dreariness. Or, if you’re anything like me, it’s all about the chocolate. Is it any wonder that we give this delicious, unique, and versatile treat away as a sign of our affection? Let’s dig a bit deeper into the world of chocolate, using the resources available in the Ivy Tech Northeast Library, to help understand what makes this confection so special.

A world without chocolate sounds like a dark place, but depending on where your ancestors hail from, that may have been the case. Made from the seeds of the cacao tree, chocolate was known for centuries as a treat, usually in the form of a drink, to Central American civilizations such as the Maya and the Aztecs. While we have come to associate the food with chocolatiers from Switzerland or Belgium, chocolate didn’t hit European shores until the Spanish conquistador Cortés encountered it during his New World exploration in the 16th century. As this Modern Marvels segment, available from the Films on Demand database, points out, chocolate as we know really came to be in 1828 when Dutch chocolate maker C.J. Van Houten created a press that allowed for the processing of cacao seeds into a dry powder, which in turn allowed in to be pressed into bars or baked into all the delectable treats we know it for today.

Since this development, the uses for chocolate have become many and varied, from the simplest bite-sized chocolate bar to the most elaborate cakes and pastries. The book Chocolate Passion from Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty is chock-full of “choc”-full recipes that feature the ingredient in delightful ways. For something relatively simple, the “Pain au Chocolat” is the perfect treat. The light, flaky croissant crust is the perfect way to deliver a rich, melted chocolate filling. If you’re feeling a bit more daring, try the unique fusion of flavors in “Ganache-filled Fried Wontons with Ginger Ice Cream and Chocolate Sorbet.” This recipe teaches you how to make everything, from the ice cream itself made with fresh ginger, to the ganache filling with bittersweet chocolate and cognac. The “Asian-spiced Dipping Sauce,” with its cinnamon, cloves, and anise is a perfect example of the many flavors that can complement and enhance your chocolate eating experience.

If you’re looking for something solely chocolate-focused, try Lisa Yockelson’s “Chocolate Savannahs, Remodeled” from her appropriately Chocolate Chocolate. As Yockelson describes, “The intense flavor reaches a chocolatey plateau in the dough through use of cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and chocolate chips in the dough.” I’ll take a dozen.

Are you a diagnosed chocaholic? Ok, that may be a made-up condition, but our curiosity about chocolate from a health standpoint is definitely real. From the MedlinePlus database, an article from the National Institutes of Health entitled “Claims about Cocoa: Can Chocolate Really Be Good for You?” explores the various health claims about chocolate and its place in our diet. It details an interesting study about the Kuna people off the coast of Panama whose low risk of cardiovascular disease and blood pressure was found to be inconsistent with their salt intake and weight. Could this be good genetics? Not likely. The article also states that “those who moved away from the Kuna islands developed high blood pressure and heart disease at typical rate.” One unique aspect of their diet that piqued the interest of researchers was the fact that, as Dr. Brent M. Egan said, the amount of cocoa they consume “was easily 10 times more than most of us would get in a typical day.” Of course, this doesn’t mean you should stock up on Hershey’s bars for daily consumption. The Kuna’s chocolate is much closer to the original way that humans consumed it, a drink made from crushed and dried cacao pods that we would probably find much too bitter. Some researchers have tried to find links between chocolate and preventing disease such as diabetes or cancer, but it’s difficult to determine correlation with something as complex as diet, and almost impossible to declare causation. Even if chocolate helps stave off diabetes, most of the chocolate we eat as Americans is delivered in a way that is high in sugar and fat, which almost certainly does more harm than good. Going with darker, less processed chocolates—ideally paired with healthy foods such as fruits and nuts—seems to be the way to go. This is because a compound called flavonols are thought to be responsible for the health benefits of chocolate. Often flavonols, along with the more bitter taste that accompanies them, are removed the more cocoa is processed. By the time that cocoa makes its way into your slice of triple chocolate cheesecake, you probably shouldn’t consider it a health food. We haven’t yet reached a consensus on exactly what the health benefits of chocolate are, but as long as you’re watching the sugar and fat that accompany it, you may very well be doing your body a favor.

Are you going to enjoy any chocolate this month? There’s no wrong way to do so, and with so many interesting flavor combinations, you’ll never run out of interesting and flavorful ways to try this delicious ingredient. If you need more ideas about how to get more chocolate in your life, make sure to stop by the Ivy Tech Northeast Library and get inspired. (By Library Clerk, David Winn)

Workplace and Civility

As we rush headlong into the spring 2016 semester, we begin a campus-wide focus on promoting values to improve Ivy Tech as a place to work and grow. To start off the year, we will be focusing on, as Jane Janovyak of Change Action Northeast puts it, “civility and the traits of being neighborly and encouraging.” Let’s take a few moments to think of what civility means here at Ivy Tech, and what we can all do to promote this value.

First things first: just what is civility? We seem to recognize right away when someone is being uncivil, but it can be harder to narrow down exactly what embodies this big concept. P. M. Forni, the author of Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules for Considerate Conduct defines civility by four qualities which it satisfies:

-Civility is complex

-Civility is good

-Whatever civility might be, it has to do with courtesy, politeness, and good manners

-Civility belongs in the realm of ethics

When reading more about Forni’s thoughts on civility, it becomes clear that this big idea of civility is not simply a checklist of dos and don’ts, or a handful of behaviors to adopt. The actions and behaviors of people who practice civility are certainly something to discuss and emulate, but the broader sense is that civility is about a constant sense of awareness about your own behavior and how it affects everything around you, both the people you interact with and the environment you inhabit. As Forni puts it, “Being civil means being constantly aware of others and weaving restraint, respect, and considerations into the very fabric of this awareness.” Civility, then, is not merely avoiding things that are considered uncivil, but actively aspiring to be well mannered.

One excellent article that is especially germane to everyone here at Ivy Tech is Alexander Popovics’ “Civility on Community College Campuses: A Shared Responsibility.” This article is available through the Humanities International Complete database, a part of EBSCO, and was originally published in the College Student Journal. One interesting distinction that Popovics makes via author Judy Rootskool is the difference between etiquette and civility. Civility is the underlying respect that informs behaviors like good etiquette. Civility may start to seem like an abstract concept, floating out there in the æther, but Popovics is very practical about the process of improving campus civility. He queries, “So do actions speak louder than words when we speak of civility and respect? The correct answer is that words combined with actions speak the loudest. And we need to speak loudly.” Popovics speaks to the need for a campus-wide initiative to really improve the level of civility in campus interactions.

As much as we focus on promoting civility, the value of civility stands out the most when we are confronted by the lack of it. An article entitled “Tit for Tat? The Spiraling Effect of Incivility in the Workplace” that is available through JSTOR addresses the true dangers of allowing incivility to perpetuate. Though incivility can be as simple as not cleaning up after yourself, neglecting to say thank you, or adopting a brusque tone, it can lead to larger problems such as verbal aggression, violence, and other antisocial behavior. Another article that is available through Proquest shows a link between incivility in the workplace and a negative impact on productivity. From a psychological perspective, Paul Jiménez demonstrates in his article “Workplace Incivility and Its Effects on Value Congruence, Recovery-Stress-State and the Intention to Quit” that a lack of civility can cause employees to look for other work, and keeps employees from uniting around positive values. There are very real consequences to allowing incivility to perpetuate within the workplace, and this is all the more reason to foster civility in its place.

Have I been civil today? Was there a time when my behavior could have been seen as rude? Could I have done more to make everyone around me more comfortable? Civility is not something that can be switched on instantly, but it is something at which we can try to be a little better each day. If you have an interaction that you walk away from with that slight “off” feeling, take a moment to examine what could have gone better. Even if it was the result of someone acting uncivil toward you, was there anything you could have done to improve the situation? Most of all, talk with your coworkers. Improving civility is a collaborative project, and only by engaging with others can we truly make strides toward civility. Hopefully this has been something to keep in mind as we all strive to make Ivy Tech a better place to work, live, and learn. (By Library Clerk, David Winn)