Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series: Pasta and Bean Soup with Kale

This week's post in our Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series is a patron-submitted recipe received through our Summer Reading Program recipe challenge.Thanks to Victoria, you can make this Pasta and Bean Soup with Kale chock full of protein-packed beans, vitamin-packed kale, and some lovely herbs.

  • 1 pound dried beans* (black eyed peas, cranberry or great northern beans) or 3 cans (15 oz) various beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil or 3 tablespoons water (for water saute)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (about 4 loose cups), center stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 large organic tomatoes, diced (I leave the skin on) or 1 can (15 oz) crushed canned tomatoes with juice
  • 8 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage or 3-5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Optional 3 bay leaves a pinch or two of red pepper flakes
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • Cracked pepper to taste
  • 8 oz of pasta of choice
  • Almond parmesan and lemon, for serving

*Preparation for dried beans:

Pre-soak your beans overnight, or at least 8 hours, in a large pot of water filled two to three inches above the beans. Drain and rinse well, set aside. After pre-soaking, different beans will need to cook and simmer for different times. Cranberry beans need 45 minutes or so cooking time, while northern beans & black eyed peas need about 1 – 2 hours.


  1. Using the same pot you pre-soaked your beans in, add oil/water and heat over medium heat
  2. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes
  3. Add garlic, carrots, thyme, and sage, cook another minute or so
  4. Add broth(or water), beans (prepared dried beans or canned beans), bay leaves, tomatoes, kale and red pepper flakes
  5. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until beans are done (time varies depending on beans…the black eyed peas will take about 1 1/2 hours; canned beans will take about 30-40 minutes)
  6. Stir occasionally
  7. While the soup is simmering, cook your pasta according to package, set aside
  8. Once soup is ready, remove bay leaves, add in pasta, and cook for 5 more minutes
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste
  10. Serve with a dusting of almond parmesan and a squeeze of lemon for brightness

Pairs great with crusty artisan bread or warmed corn tortillas.

Have a healthy recipe you enjoy and would like to recommend? Submit it through our Summer Reading Program  and complete the “Share Your Favorite Recipe” challenge or email me at and perhaps your recipe will be featured on this blog!

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 2016 Staff Book Recommendations

But What If We’re Wrong?
By Chuck Klosterman

What if all of the assumptions that we take for granted will be looked at by future generations as completely mistaken or irrelevant? This is the main question tackled by Chuck Klosterman in his new book But What if We’re Wrong: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past. Klosterman, a well-known essayist whose last book I Wear the Black Hat covered the nature of evil, this time turns his attention to our tendency to try to predict what will happen in the future. From debating whether football will still be a dominant sport in the coming decades, to whether we will still view gravity the same way we do now, Klosterman brings his unique wit and insights to a variety of topics large and small.

Among other things, Klosterman explores whether or not cultural works that are today looked at as being the most significant, will continue to be viewed as equally important in the future. One of Klosterman’s most interesting arguments deals with the idea that it is incredibly hard to determine what books and authors will be viewed as the most historically significant and for what reason. Klosterman cites the example of Moby Dick, noting that the book was commercially and critically unsuccessful for decades until a critical reappraisal happened in the wake of the horrors of World War I for unclear reasons. As Klosterman writes “it’s not like Moby Dick was the only book that could have served this role.”

Klosterman is always a great read, because even if you don’t agree with his conclusions, his arguments are always delivered engagingly and thought-provokingly. To be fair, there is a fair amount of rambling in Klosterman’s chapters, and a few of them could perhaps use a bit more editing. Depending on your tolerance for philosophical topics like this, you might find But What If We’re Wrong? to be profoundly annoying. I enjoyed it though, and would recommend it


The Wright Brothers
By David McCullough

Through the use of primary source material housed at the Library of Congress, David McCullough pens the exciting story of the Wright brothers’ climb from small boys awed and inspired by a French toy helicopter, to bicycle shop owners,and finally, to the inventors of the “the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.” Many of us are familiar with the basic story of Wilbur and Orville’s first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but McCullough reveals a deeper, more comprehensive view of the lives of the Wright brothers and those who were part of their epic invention. 

McCullough introduces us to the Wright family following the death of their mother due to tuberculosis in 1889. Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine are the three out of seven siblings living at 7 Hawthorne Street in Dayton, Ohio with their father, the Bishop Milton Wright. McCullough makes great use of the family correspondence, diaries, and papers to bring to life the personalities, relationships, and accomplishments of this close-knit family. Wilbur, the tall and quiet thinker, Orville, the well-dressed, hands-on extrovert, and Katharine, the social, outgoing sister, and the only Wright sibling with a college degree, come to life through McCullough's detailed biography. 

Subject File: Chanute, Octave--Photographs, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Originals, 1901, Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Whether you read the book or listen to the e-audio version, you will become wrapped inside the life of the Wright brothers. McCullough’s ability as a storyteller does not falter with this book. Critics point out McCullough’s lack of focus on the patent wars instigated by the Wrights which caused a lapse in aviation invention in America for a period of time. Regardless, the most amazing parts of their lives and of American innovation in the early 20th century shine through and make us wish we were there to comfort Orville and bring him back to health after his fatal flight at Fort Myer, Virginia; or, we were there snapping a photo of their glider at Kitty Hawk; or, we were there witnessing Wilbur’s spectacular flight at LeMans, France. Thanks to McCullough, you can get pretty close. 


Battleborn : Stories
By Claire Vaye Watkins

A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage.

I don’t know, I’ve had love affairs with novels in the past, but maybe Ms. Moore was speaking from the writer’s point of view.  Anyway, now that I’ve got your attention, if you’re a fan of the short story genre and don’t mind gritty themes, Battleborn : Stories by Claire Vaye Watkins is not to be overlooked. 

The debut publication for this writer, these ten stories manage to be heartbreaking without being maudlin, thoughtful but not depressing, and serious while still entertaining.  The geographical setting is the American West--the Nevadan desert, the lower half of California. Throughout, the landscape acts as an additional character, non-judgmental but omniscient, nonetheless. Scenes take place in casinos, ghost town bars, trailers, and a bordello, and plots run toward the harsh and dark: A desert hermit takes in a teenage runaway and tender feelings long dormant are awakened in “Man-o-War”; In “Wish You Were Here,” a young couple can no longer recognize each other after miraculously creating a child together.  But, like good art, Watkins clean writing and unsparing eye make every story worth any discomfort its truth reveals.

Typical of any promising young writer, Watkins has been widely compared to well-known veterans; in this case, Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, Annie Proulx, and Joan Didion.  She also reminds me of another newcomer, Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove and Swamplandia! Interesting side note: The author is the daughter of Charles Manson’s right-hand man and “procurer of young girls” Paul Watkins, and the first story in the collection, “Ghosts, Cowboys,” explores the reality of being so closely related to such an extraordinarily notorious historical phenom.

Not for the faint of heart.


Patron Review: "Longbourn" by Jo Baker

Did you know that if you are participating in our Summer Reading program, you can complete special challenges and receive extra entries for prizes? One fun challenge is to share a review of a book you've read, and over the course of the summer, we'll be sharing some of those reviews from librarygoers just like you.
By Jo Baker

Review by library patron Lex P. 

As someone who reads Jane Austen novels and their variations often, I have to admit this was something completely different. Jane Austen’s characters take the backseat while the Longbourn staff are the stars of the show, especially Hill. This version truly demonstrates the less glamorous life of the Regency era and how hard domestic staff needed to work to keep the house in order. Normally, we don’t think "Oh, while Hill is taking care of Mrs. Bennet's nerves, she must not be able to get any of her chores done!" or "Gosh, a maid is going to have to scrub hard to take out all those mud stains out of Elizabeth's petticoat." I really enjoyed this different perspective. 

Many of the characters are likable and I had a hard time putting the book down. My only complaint is that Elizabeth is a bit of a drag in this book. She comes off as selfish, self-centered, and a bit insecure, not at all like the Elizabeth we all know and love. Of course, from a maid’s point-of-view, this may more realistic. 

What I liked most about this book is that it is like taking apart a beautiful functional clock to see how all the grimy gears move. We get to peek behind the stage curtains and observe the stagehands, the theatrical  illusion gone.

Share YOUR review on our summer reading site, and you'll be entered into a drawing for a WPL Book Bag!

by RJ Palacio
Review by library patron Helen O.
I work in an elementary school – how have I not read this book by now?! This novel is an absolute gem, and has been extremely popular among elementary school-aged children since its release in 2012. In my library, there’s rarely a copy available to check out due to demand. 
In the story, August “Auggie” is a 10-year-old about to enter fifth grade. He’s going to a real school for the first time – up until now, he’s been homeschooled. Auggie isn’t like the rest of the kids, he’s a wonder. He’s intelligent, funny, kind, talented, tough, brave, and a major Star Wars expert. Oh yeah, and he has a rare facial deformity. This is why he’s been homeschooled for so long, but he’s more than ready for middle school when his parents make this decision. 
Even though the principal arranges three students to show him around the school and “hang out” with him, one of the kids, Jack Will, sticks around well after they fulfill the principal’s request. Also, a quirky girl named Summer sits with Auggie at lunch – that was her own decision. Summer is my third favorite character next to Auggie and Auggie’s sister Olivia. Via, as they call her, is such an interesting character. If there’s one thing about the book I wish were different, it’s that we learn more about her. It’s not easy growing up with such a unique brother: the ongoing medical trauma, the bullying, the constant attention from parents. Via is academically gifted, but often feels overlooked in the family next to her brother. She’s sympathetic toward her brother and sticks up for him each time he’s bullied, but she admits to these struggles too.
Speaking of perspective, the edition of Wonder I enjoyed included “The Julian Chapter,” a section at the end of the novel written from the point of view of the fifth grade’s biggest bully. It doesn’t exactly make him any more likeable, but it’s interesting to see how crazy his parents are, especially his mother, who pretty much single-handedly tries to kick Auggie out of school because she disagrees with the way he looks. What a beautiful story. Despite incessant bullying, mostly from Julian, Auggie overcomes obstacles to graduate with honors and a special award. Turns out, everyone realizes what a wonder he’s always was.
Thanks for sharing, Helen! What book has inspired you this summer? Share your review on our summer reading site, and you'll be entered into a drawing for a WPL Book Bag!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series: Cauliflower Rice with Mixed Veggies

Up next in our Superfoods, Super You! Recipe Series is cauliflower rice with mixed veggies. Substituting cauliflower for rice makes your favorite fried rice dish super healthy. Packed full of cauliflower, carrots, and peas, this recipe was a hit at our Summer Reading Kick-off event! This is a simple recipe you can experiment with - try different veggies and different spices, and most of all enjoy eating healthy, tasty, food!


  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup carrots, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp green onions, chopped


  1. Chop head of cauliflower into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until it starts to resemble rice; set aside.
  2. Heat a large wok (or skillet) over medium heat and drizzle in sesame oil. Add onion, peas and carrots and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and red pepper flakes; set aside.
  4. Stir in cauliflower "rice" and pour the soy sauce over top, mixing well. Cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until cauliflower is soft and tender.
  5. Top with green onions, serve and enjoy!

Have a healthy recipe you enjoy and would like to recommend? Email me at and perhaps your recipe will be featured on this blog!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series: Kale Chip Recipe contributed by WPL patron, Jasmine!

In continuation with our Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe series, enjoy this healthy kale chip recipe submitted by our patron, Jasmine! Kale chips were also featured at Worcester Public Library’s Summer Reading Kick-off. Great suggestion, Jasmine!


  • 1 large kale bunch, tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces (about 16 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Position racks in upper third and center of oven; preheat to 400°F
  • If kale is wet, very thoroughly pat dry with a clean kitchen towel
  • Transfer kale to a large bowl, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt
  • Using your hands, massage the oil and salt onto the kale leaves to evenly coat
  • Fill 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale, making sure the leaves don’t overlap (If the kale all of the kale doesn't fit, make the chips in batches)
  • Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 12 minutes total (If baking a batch on just one sheet, start checking after 8 minutes to prevent burning)


  • Choose organic kale when possible, non-organic kale can have high pesticide residue
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days

From EatingWell September/October 2011

Have a healthy recipe you enjoy and would like to recommend? Email me at and perhaps your recipe will be featured on this blog!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Join the Big Library Read 2016 by e-borrowing A Murder in Time

Starting today until July 7, users from over 20,000 libraries around the world will be participating in the Big LibraryRead, a global digital book club. Readers can borrow A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain without wait lists or holds and join the OverDrive discussion board to share their thoughts.

Fans of mystery, Jane Austen and/or time travel will love this thrilling story of an FBI agent from present day trying to solve a murder case while trapped in the early 1800’s. WPL library users can also hear an exclusive interview with the author, Julie McElwain on Professional Book Nerds podcast and will find read-alikes the our Big Library Read website. Borrow the title, join the conversation and learn about the author’s writing process.

For the next two weeks, you can be a part of the largest digital book club in the world!  All you need is a WPL card. On, click on Ebooks and Digital Media, then OverDrive to go to the digital catalog and check-out the book.