More Than Just Cookies and Milk: Santa’s North Pole Cookbook

As Santa Claus travels across the U.S. on Christmas Eve, he usually picks up a few cookies and some milk along the way to snack on.  But in other countries, his goodies are quite different.  Santa, with the help of writer Jeff Guinn, has put together a cookbook of all the foods that he enjoys in his travels, titled Santa’s North Pole Cookbook.


Santa's North Pole Cookbook: Classic Christmas Recipes from Saint Nicholas Himself

Santa prefaces each recipe with a description of the dish and what makes it special at the holidays, along with his recollections of the country of origin.  Lars, Santa’s North Pole chef, offers additional commentary and cooking tips.  The cookbook offers an array of foods, beverages and desserts for breakfasts, dinners and parties.  There are even a few recipes enjoyed by historical figures!  The nations that celebrate Christmas are well represented (a majority of the recipes being from Europe and the US), making it a good international recipe collection. 

Despite the cheery image of Santa on the cover, this is not a kids’ cookbook; the recipes aren’t all difficult, though, and children can assist parents with the cooking.

I bought a copy of the cookbook for myself, and look forward to putting some of the recipes together for my family.  I may even bake the Banana-Walnut Christmas Bread, in case the old elf stops by my house!


Santa’s North Pole Cookbook is available at all CCLS libraries.  Ask a staff member for assistance.

Check out other international cookbooks at CCLS.  Some children’s cookbooks are among the selections.

See other books by Jeff Guinn at CCLS and in PINES. Some of his writings relate to Santa Claus.

Christmas recipes abound on the web, especially on popular recipe sites like and All Recipes.  Visit Food Network’s Twelve Days of Cookies for cookie recipes to make for Santa!

Published in: on November 29, 2007 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Santa Claus Is Back In Town!

It’s the holidays, and our International Santa Claus collection is back on display!


We revived last year’s North Pole scene with the jolly old elves descending on Santa Claus’ gingerbread house for a pre-Christmas Eve get-together.  We added a few new touches to enhance the appearance, and to make room for two new figurines!


El Nino - Mexico.2 El Nino - MexicoEl Niño, the gift giver from Mexican tradition, is new to our collection.  El Niño – The Child – is the Christ Child who rides on the back of a gentle burro that is adorned with Mexican-print blankets and bells, bearing holiday gifts.  We already have Pancho Navidad, a fairly recent addition to Mexican Christmas lore. 


Father Christmas – India.2Father Christmas of India is the second new addition to our Santa collection.  Christmas is celebrated differently in various parts of India, and in some parts, Father Christmas will dispense gifts to children in villages by way of horse and cart with a lantern to light his way through the night.


The Branch acquired its collection of International Santa Claus figurines from a former Branch manager.  Starting with ten figurines, we added seven more over the last three years; mainly figurines that represent different countries and cultures that make up the Forest Park community.


You can see each of our Santa figurines in our photostream.  Click here to link.  But as always, it’s best to see the display in person at the Library!




Click here to see Santa Claus history .


The Santalady website also offers a brief Santa history, as well as a list of Santas and gift givers from around the world, and a listing and history of the International Santa Claus collection.


Santa collector Christiane La Crecelle shares pictures and video of her Santa collection on her blog.  The blog’s in French, but she adds a greeting in English.  (My thanks to her for editing her blog so I can link it here!)


On Christmas Eve, track Santa as he makes his ’round the world delivery run! 

And how fast does Santa have to go to make all of his deliveries?  The answer’s here!

Published in: on November 28, 2007 at 5:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas with the Kranks

Christmas with the Kranks

Try and imagine a Christmas without presents, decorations, a tree and lights.  Imagine not giving to charities or participating in neighborhood festivities or welcoming carolers.


This is what Luther and Nora Krank try to do in the movie Christmas with the Kranks, based on the novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.  When their only child goes off to the Peace Corps for a year, the Kranks decide to forego the rituals, headaches and expense of the season and spend their money on a cruise.  Despite protests of neighbors, scoffs from friends and acquaintances and ridicule from the general public, Luther and Nora stick to their principles… until a phone call changes everything.


The Forest Park Branch Library will screen Christmas with the Kranks on Monday, December 3rd at 6:45 pm (15 minutes earlier than usual).  Tim Allen lends his comic stylings to the character of Luther, and Jamie Lee Curtis shows her physical comedy side as Nora.


Following our screening, I’ll post here on the blog a comparison between Christmas with the Kranks and Skipping Christmas.  This will be the first of what I hope will be a series called “Book vs. Movie,” where I analyze a literary work and the film based on the work, then compare them.  I won’t conclude whether one is “better” than the other, but will address how faithful the film is to the original, and if the film captures the original’s spirit and intent.  This month, in addition to Christmas with the Kranks, I’ll compare a classic holiday film with its short story source.


Please join us on December 3rd for Christmas with the Kranks, then check back to see how it stacks up with Skipping Christmas!


See our Event Calender for other programs at Forest Park in December. 

Published in: on November 28, 2007 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Of George Washington and Holiday Shopping

Black Friday is behind us, and shoppers have hit the malls and the toy stores and have checked the gifts that they wanted to purchase from their shopping lists.  Despite bleak forecast from financial analysts, retailers had a better Black Friday than last year.  The next few shopping days will tell if this will be a better holiday shopping season, as those who didn’t find all of their intended items – or like me, have yet to shop – hit the stores.

The people of colonial America didn’t have the stress and bluster of holiday gift shopping that we have today.  People were not so pre-occupied with gift giving; in fact, gifts were given only to children, servants and other dependents.  In 1759, before he lead the fight for independence and became our first president, George Washington made up a list of presents to give to his stepchildren, Jackie and Patsy.  It included:

A bird on Bellows
A Cuckoo
A turnabout Parrot
A Grocers Shop
An Aviary
A Prussian Dragoon
A Man Smoakg [Smoking?]
A Tunbridge Tea Sett
3 Neat Tunbridge Toys
A Neat Book fash Tea Chest
A box best Household Stuff
A straw Patch box w. a Glass
A neat dress’d Wax Baby

I couldn’t find much information about these toys, but Washington probably either traveled to Boston to purchase them, or ordered them from Boston shops or toy makers in England.  Washington was a man of means, and could afford toys such as these, whereas toys owned by the average colonial kid were homemade:  The baby doll was made from cornhusks instead of wax, and a barrel hoop was as good as any turnabout Parrot.

We’ve come a long way in how we celebrate Christmas and how we give.  Gifts are exchanged across all stations of life; buying gifts are far more commonplace than handcrafting; even low income folk shop for and spend money on toys.  The change in custom is, in some ways, a reflection of the growth and economic prosperity of this country.  We have more money, relatively speaking, than some and more things to spend it on.  At this time of the year, we think of things we can buy to honor friends and loved ones.  Just as we did a short time ago, the holiday season might be a good thing to reflect and give thanks for our relative wealth.


George Washington’s shopping list was found in The Book of Christmas, The Reader’s Digest Association, New York, © 1973.

Learn about Washington and other US Presidents from POTUS (Presidents of the United States), part of the Internet Public Library.

This essay describes Christmas in Colonial America.

Published in: on November 27, 2007 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Angus & Twilight?

What do Twilight and Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging have in common?


Can you say oh my squeeeeee! Okay now you’re probably like huh? Let me enlighten you:

Angus, Thongs, & Full-Frontal Snogging is the diary of Georgia Nicholson. It is set in England, and the funniest book I think I have ever read. When it first arrived in the library the Youth Services librarians handed it to me and said, “Please read.” So I started it and was laughing SOOOOO much by the end and couldn’t wait for the next.

Georgia rocks! Her cat Angus is crazy, she has awesome friends, and her family is a bit on the wacko side. lol But seriously-highly recommended if you are looking for a funny teen book (oh there is even a glossary in the back for the “Georgia Speak:” snogging, Hamburger-a-go-go-land, etc)


And Twilight. Words just cannot describe how I feel about this book. Okay they can, but they would go on and on forever. One of my top 5 favorite books of all time. Twilight falls under that ‘dark fantasy’ genre. Bella falls in love with Edward, who happens to be a vampire. Then bad things start happening… Their story continues in New Moon and Eclipse.

I actually found out about both of these book-to-movies when I read one of my fav blogs: Bookshelves of Doom

(And since I found it there, credit is given to the author of the blog.) Here is the Twilight movie post. Kristen Stewart will play the part of Bella. She was in  Speak (based on book written by Laurie Halse Anderson. Fantastic book, well really anything by her is totally worth reading but especially Speak & Catalyst), you may also recognize her from Panic Room . Now I’m just anxious to see Edward. Mmm Edward 🙂

And here is the link for their Angus post.


Anyway-so that’s it for today. Just wanted to share those bits of yummy book to movie infos with you!

Published in: on November 20, 2007 at 12:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving: When Football Games Won’t Do

WARNING!!!  Beyond this place, there be SPOILERS!!!

After the Thanksgiving feast, you might want to settle down to a good movie, rather than watch a football game (though I can’t imagine why!). If you’re not yet ready for a Christmas movie, but want to see something on the Thanksgiving theme, consider renting the independent film gem Pieces of April.


  Before she became Mrs. Tom Cruise and ran in New York City Marathons, Katie Holmes starred as April, a bohemian Lower East Manhattan girl who’s on the outs with her white bread family. With her mother dying, April attempts to reconcile by inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner. Right when it’s time to cook the turkey, April discovers that her oven isn’t working. She desperately races through her empty apartment building, trying to find someone who’ll let her use an oven before her family arrives. Meanwhile, her family travels to her home, wary of April and her dinner.


As you watch, you wonder what April has done – other than buck her family’s conservative lifestyle – that makes her family dislikes her (This is probably discussed; only I can’t remember that detail). April is not like her family (though in a moment of weakness, she shows her mother’s nastiness), and you feel for her because she tries so hard to do right by her family, whom we know won’t appreciate her efforts.

Katie shows some good acting chops as April. She has the potential to be a great actress; hopefully she’ll have equally substantial roles as her career develops. Patricia Clarkson earned a well deserved Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of the mother.


Planes, Trains and Automobiles  Another Thanksgiving movie to check out is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but it’s a hilarious movie with a great heart. Steve Martin plays a snobbish, uptight executive who longs to be with his family on Thanksgiving. On his flight home, he meets a talkative slob in John Candy. By some misfortune, they end up stranded at a Kansas airport. Both are determined to get home for the holiday… by any means necessary! Their transportation solutions challenge Martin’s sense of primness, and Candy’s amiable but irritating personality grates his nerves and creates conflict… and hilarity.

Martin, Candy and writer/director John Hughes are at their best in this movie.  All three settle into types later in their careers, but Planes, Trains and Automobiles displays their individual comic brilliances and knack for portraying or directing great characters.

If neither of these movies appeal to you, check Internet Movie Database and do a keyword search using the term “Thanksgiving.” (You’ll have to used the advanced features to find movie titles only) You’ll find several suggestions for Thanksgiving movies, including some unusual ones!

Published in: on November 12, 2007 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Turkey Talk: Safety Tips for Deep Frying

Thanksgiving is near, and people across our country will observe the day with a grand feast.  These meals will more than likely have turkey as the primary protein.  Many, like myself, will roast the bird in the oven, while others will opt to deep fry.  Turkey frying is a fairly popular cooking technique where an entire turkey is submerged in oil and fried until done.  Sadly, homes and people are damaged every year as a result of fires started while frying turkeys.  Gallons of oil overflow the cooking vat, make contact with the open burner flame and spread fire to the immediate surroundings, which usually are awnings, porches, houses and people. 

Fried turkey, when done right, is extremely moist and delicious.  Personally, I’d never fry a turkey, not because of the potential danger, but because of splatter and the massive amount of cooking oil to dispose of!  I’d rather buy one somewhere than go through the work. 

But there are those for whom the work is worth the reward, and that’s okay.  The success of the cooking and the day will rely on the precautions you take before pouring the oil into the fryer.  Alton Brown, Food Network’s celebrity cook and science geek, devotes an entire episode of his series Good Eats to the art of turkey frying.  In the episode, Brown demonstrates his turkey derrick, a device designed to submerge the bird into the vat of hot cooking oil while the cook/operator stands away at a safe distance.  It’s impressive when you see it in action, and what’s better, when used correctly and with other safety precautions, you avoid the risks that typically lead to those flaming turkey catastrophes!  The derrick employs common household hardware that you might have around the house already, and a few that you’ll need to secure from the hardware store. 

I prefer to brine my turkey before roasting in a fast then slow oven.  The brine recipe I last used comes from Brown’s cookbook I’m Just Here for the Food; he also has a recipe on the Food Network site.  The meat comes out very tender and moist, with hints of flavoring from the brine.  What’s best, there’s less risk of fire! 

However you cook your turkey, please exercise caution to insure a safe and tasty holiday! 


Additional turkey frying safety tips from: 

Underwriters Laboratory – which includes another video of turkey frying gone wrong; – safety tips plus video demo, equipment list and recipes 

Hormel Foods ; and 

LouAna Peanut Oil  

(The latter sources are not meant to be endorsements, by the way.  Many more safety tips as well as methods and recipes can be found on the web) 

Here are some tips that a US Navy sailor learned the hard way!:

Published in: on November 5, 2007 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment