Category: Nonfiction

Savor Summer: Nashville Brews

By , August 2, 2015

Nashville Beer coverThirty years before William Gerst entered into Nashville history, the city’s first brewery, the Nashville Brewery, opened on South High and Mulberry Streets at what would become the Gerst Brewing Company’s future home.

Gerst came from a brewing family in Bavaria and after coming to the United States in 1866, found employment at the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gerst and Moerlein acquired the old Nashville Brewery property in 1890 and in 1893, Gerst became the sole owner.

When the state got ready to celebrate its centennial in 1897, Gerst saw an opportunity to market his product. He became involved in the exposition’s planning and made sure Gerst beer was available for purchase at local restaurants. His beer also won the gold medal at the exposition’s competition in which it was the only local brew.

Even though the brewery’s been out of business since 1954, today you can experience a taste of history with Yazoo’s Gerst Amber Ale – a brew made possible by a partnership between the local brewery and owners of the Gerst Haus Restaurant. In fact, folks can enjoy a variety of local craft beers from Yazoo to Jackalope to Fat Bottom to Black Abbey and many more. One of my personal favorites is the May Day Brewery in Murfreesboro. If you’re over 21, pick one, take a tour, and treat yourself to a tasting! Friday just happens to be International Beer Day.

If more knowledge is what you’re thirsting for, Nashville Beer: A Heady History of Music City Brewing and Nashville Brewing offer a spectacular look into the city’s rich brewing history including tons of great photos and ads, some of which come from the library’s Special Collections.

Other heady resources:
Encyclopedia of Beer
Drink: A Social History of America

Gerst Color

Brittingham, John. “Gerst Beer Heyday: 1890-1917.” Nashville Banner 6 Apr. 1976: 16-D.

Wm. Gerst Brewing Comp page29, 1st fl and 2nd fl

Nashville in the Twentieth Century. 1900: 29.

Savor Summer: Nashville Food Trucks

By , July 28, 2015

Nashville Food Trucks: Stories and Recipes from the Road
By Julie Festa

We’ve had a lot of fun this month Savoring Summer, but now I’m actually going to take our library culinary tour on the road.

Working downtown like I do it’s hard…no, nigh unto impossible to ignore the existence of the food truck phenomenon. A few of them even park directly in front of the library on 6th Avenue. I considered hiring a bunch of food trucks for my wedding reception instead of catering (which in hindsight might have been a better idea).

And yet…I’ve never officially eaten at one. I’ve seen The Grilled Cheeserie on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, but I’ve never had one of their fabulous grilled masterpieces.

I know it’s horrible. I’ve tried. In the summer, Thursdays on Deadrick usually become Food Truck Row, but the times I’ve tried they ended up not setting up until the evening for the downtown concerts. So this summer I am making it my goal to eat at at least one food truck. In order to pick the best option I need to do my homework, and what better way than with this book. Author Julie Festa started Nashville’s first food truck blog at in 2012 and she keeps tabs on all her favorite trucks.

Festa’s book starts off with some basic food truck knowledge and advice. Then she jumps in with stories about the individual trucks – complete with recipes! Yummy!

Here is my Top 5 List for the Food Trucks I’d Like to Visit First:

The Grilled Cheeserie (because everybody does)
Biscuit Love
Bradley’s Curbside Creamery (for the White Trash Experience specifically)
Hoss’ Loaded Burger
Tie: Crepe A Diem & The Waffle Boss

I don’t really eat out much, but after reading about all these great taste sensations, I’m glad I’ve been saving my pennies so I can go explore Food Nirvana. And if you don’t work downtown, don’t worry. Nashville Food Trucks are mobile and they do A LOT of traveling to the different parts of Middle Tennessee, so check out their websites and make a date to try one.

The library has Festa’s book in both book book and ebook forms, so check one out today and begin your culinary adventure.

Happy Trails to Food…see you at the trucks (fingers crossed)!

:) Amanda

The Wilson Collection is music to my eyes and ears

By , July 27, 2015

Music notes

“The drums come in on the beat of one to lift my soul.” ~ Maya Angelou, Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul

Like other forms of art, music represents an expression that’s free, open-to-interpretation, and loved in its many variations. It also has an advantage among other forms of art – its intangible presence allows it to be weaved throughout the rest of the art world (and for that matter, the rest of the world in general). Like many others and many of my fellow staff members, I am an avid fan of all types of music. Without getting too sentimental about what music means to me, I can simply say that if I go a day without listening to music, you know something is wrong. I use it to think, chill out, calm down, get excited, read a book, get work done, to get cleaning done faster, go on road trips, ponder meaning in the world…you get the idea.

So I’m going to combine my love for music with my passion for books, and discuss a few books from the Wilson Collection that are either music-related or musically inspired. I’ve discussed this first book before if you recognize it, but because it’s such a unique part of the collection, it’s worth mentioning again…

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul 

"Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul" by Maya Angelou

“Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul” by Maya Angelou

by Maya Angelou
LEC, 2003

Of course anything by Maya Angelou is going to be well worth the read, but this one is significant because it is a first edition book created strictly for the LEC. And what about music, you say? Everything about the poem and book is rooted in music. Angelou links joy and pain and music all in one, not as her own but as humanities pain as well. 

An original jazz composition was created by Wynton Marsalis just for the book, as well. The disc includes a 30-minute composition of Angelou reading the poem, with Marsalis on trumpet and a few more instruments in the background. This added feature helps bring the poem alive, along with the 6 colored etchings by Dean Mitchell.

It’s an amazing all-in-one package for the LEC subscribers and even more valuable because only 400 copies were printed, and the book was signed by the author, artist, and musician.  

"Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul" by Maya Angelou

"Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul" by Maya Angelou

A Lie of the MindA Lie of the Mind
by Sam Shepard
Arion Press, 1993

One might say that the author of this play has “The Right Stuff” when it comes to writing. Hahaha, I realize I am probably the only one chuckling at this one so let me explain. Though he is a man of many talents, having won a Pulitzer Prize for a previous play in 1979, Sam Shepard is more commonly recognized as an actor. And more specifically, you can find him playing Chuck Yeager in the movie, The Right Stuff. If you haven’t seen that, then maybe you’ve seen him in Black Hawk Down, Swordfish, August: Osage County, The Notebook, Steel Magnolias…ladies. But if you are still clueless, clearly you don’t watch much tv. Just kidding, just IMDB him.

But anyway, he’s a talented playwright as well, with this play being named the best new play of the season by the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1986. The story is a heavy one following two families as they struggle to deal with a severe incident of spousal abuse. Now for the musical relation – along with the book, subscribers to the Press also received a CD recording by the Red Clay Ramblers from the first production of the play. Actually, the current tapping of my toe is due to that soundtrack, it’s quite catchy being an “Old Crow Medicine Show”-type sound.

A Lie of the Mind     A Lie of the Mind


"Requiem" by Anna

“Requiem” by Anna Akhamatova

by Anna Akhamatova
LEC, 2000

The power of this poem can certainly be felt in the music that accompanies it. Requiem is a group of short poems written by Anna Akhamatova, a Russian poet whose work was officially prohibited during the Stalin era. The years were tough for Akhamatova and remained that way until the dictator’s death in 1953.

Eventually, the Writer’s Union paid tribute to “the great Soviet poet who for more than half a century devoted herself to the noble service of Russian poetic speech, of the homeland, and of Soviet society building a new world” (LEC newsletter).

Though love was primarily her focus, Requiem focuses on her experiences during the siege of Leningrad. The poems combined include her work between 1935 and 1943. This passionate piece of work focuses on love, shame, and hatred. Subscribers to the LEC received a treat when the CD including Sir John Tavener’s musical rendering of Requiem was included with their book. This recording is from the 1981 rendering played at London’s Royal Albert Hall. This was the first time that the LEC included a musical recording with its books.



Other musical tidbits:

Outside of the good music mentioned above, the Library has other means of providing good tunes. For example, the variety you can find if you use Freegal and Hoopla. Freegal is a great service because you can download the music for you to keep (only 7 songs a week, please). And Hoopla is also cool because you can listen to an entire album that was recently released, and then purchase later as I usually do. For example, some of the albums you see below are found on Hoopla

"The Fool" by Ryn Weaver

“The Fool” by Ryn Weaver










If you like the Glass Animals, you will like this girl. Her song “Octahate” came across my radar when I was listening to a Glass Animals Itunes station. The album is solid and full of variety. Also look for “Pierre” and “Promises”.

Marina and the Diamonds

“Froot” by Marina and the Diamonds










Also another similarity to Glass Animals and Ryn Weaver, Marina has several more albums out prior to this one which I plan to listen to when I get the chance. But to speak for this one, it has a fun, somewhat ‘poppy’ feel to it but infused with Florence-like tones.

"Drones" by Muse

“Drones” by Muse









Though I have not listened to this album fully as of yet, I love the band and all of their previous albums. A friend and co-worker recommended this one to me, explaining that it is possibly the best thing that he has ever heard. I don’t doubt him.

The Wilson Room is open during regular library hours. If you are interested in viewing any of the Wilson Collection books individually, you can make an appointment by calling either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363, or simply respond to this blog post.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for a special Off-the-Shelf post about school next month!


Book List: Genre-Bending Authors

By , July 25, 2015

We all have our favorite type of fiction – for example, I tend to read science fiction and fantasy more than anything else. We also tend to have our favorite authors that are our go-to reads in those genres. So what do we do when our favorite science fiction author puts out a romantic comedy novel set in current times? Or our favorite historical fiction writer suddenly gets the idea to write a science fiction thriller?


The Bourbon Kings, J. R. Ward1.First on our list is J.R. Ward. Her Black Dagger Brotherhood series features vampires, romance, and horror – good combinations for those guilty-pleasure reads that have a little bit more…ahem…bite to them. People typically group J.R. Ward with authors like Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlaine Harris, and her books have a huge following. However, her latest novel moves away from the vampire-loving crowd, and into the exploits of a rich Southern family at the heart of the bourbon empire in a novel called The Bourbon Kings. There is a distinct class division in this – the upper-crust family and their hired help. When lines are crossed between the two, chaos and heartbreak ensues. Changes are coming, in the return of the prodigal son of the family. This novel presents a shift for J.R. Ward and her fans. The novel comes out on July 28th of this year, and coincidentally, she will be at the Nashville Public Library to promote it as part of the Salon @ 615 series! For more information (and tickets) please check out the link here.


Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice2. The next author on the list is Anne Rice. Many people know her for the Vampire Chronicles featuring the adventures of the vampire Lestat, as well as the Mayfair Witches books. She also wrote the book Cry to Heaven which is a historical fiction novel based on the lives of 18th century Italian castrati (male sopranos who were both revered and loathed in Italian society). Under another name, A. N. Roquelaure, she wrote a trilogy of erotica novels (simply called the Beauty series) that rivals 50 Shades of Grey. Under the name of Anne Rampling, she wrote two more novels, Belinda and Exit to Eden. Belinda is strongly reminiscent of the novel Lolita, with a bit more dimension in the characters. Exit to Eden seems to be yet another erotica, but this one takes place in the Caribbean, at a very exclusive club. There was a movie made out of it (starring Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O’Donnell) that came out in 1994.


The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling3. Anyone who has access to books in the past decade or so has probably run across the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The series about the Boy Who Lived was one many people grew up with. Each book that came out showed Harry and his friends a year older, a year wiser (sometimes), and facing new challenges in their wizardry careers. After the final book in the series, J.K. Rowling wrote an adult novel called The Casual Vacancy. It was a dark novel,  following the aftermath of the death of a member of a parish council, and the ensuing war for his place. Conflict seems to be at the center of this novel – husband against wife, teenager against parent, rich against poor, and the ending is far more depressing than anything seen from her previously. J.K. Rowling also wrote mystery novels under the name Robert Gilbraith. When the first one came out (before she was revealed as the author), demand for the books exploded. The Cormoran Strike series is expecting a new addition (Career of Evil) sometime this year.


Naked In Death, J. D. Robb4. Speaking yet again of authors and pseudonyms, Nora Roberts typically writes contemporary romance novels, that sometimes have a hint of the paranormal to them. Several of her novels have an Irish angle to them – either in the characters or location. Her novels regularly have a long hold list on them at the library – but so do her science fiction hardcore cop dramas (called the In Death series) written under the name of J.D. Robb. In these novels, Detective Dallas is a hardcore detective in the homicide department, in New York City. It is the future, and guns have (for the most part) disappeared.  Homicides take place in interesting ways, and the novels are spent with Detective Dallas and (later) her husband Roarke, as they solve them.


On, Off by Colleen McCullough5. Last on our list is Colleen McCullough. Although she typically wrote historical fiction (she has series entitled Masters of Rome which chronicles the life and times of various important figures and wars in Roman history), she also had a series of five books that were murder mysteries (called the Carmine Delmonico series), focusing on forensic science and suspense. These books were a bit more sensational – with murders, sexuality, and detailed descriptions of forensic science. Looking at other people’s reviews of this book, it is obvious to see people who were surprised to see someone who wrote such detailed historical fiction diving into the murder mystery genre.

Express Yourself: Activism through Zines

By , July 24, 2015

Girls to Grrlz coverBECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways. – Excerpt from the original Riot Grrrl Manifesto

*     *     *

The concept of the zine dates back to the 1930s when science-fiction fans started producing do-it-yourself magazines containing news, reviews, and tributes to the latest sci-fi and fantasy literature. These small-run publications were called fanzines.

Eventually the idea spread to other genres and areas of interest, including what was to become known as the Riot Grrrl Movement. The term “Riot Grrrl” was coined by punk bands Bikini Kill and Bratmobile with Bratmobile members Allison Wolte and Molly Neuman releasing the first Riot Grrrl zine in 1991.

In Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist & Queer Activism in the 21st Century, Jenna Freedman notes that “punk rock and riot grrrl community ethos are fundamental to zines, not just as the cultures that birthed them…but also as what separates them from other self-publications,” continuing on to say “that zine producers are not only people who have been relegated to the margins but also people who have chosen to claim the margins.”

The Riot Grrrl movement, for example, empowered young women to speak up against sexism and as author Trina Robbins explains, “one of the first Riot Grrrl actions was to protest violence in a traditionally feminist collective way, by reclaiming the mosh pit, that crushing and frightening all-male area in front of the band at concerts. To make a space for themselves, the girls formed packs and forced their way to the front en masse, each protecting the other.”

Today, many communities use zines as a form of self-expression and activism. Check out the POC Zine Project and the Queer Zine Archive Project online. Locally you can explore the Watkins Zine Library and the Brainfreeze Comics & Zines shelf in The Groove. And if you’re up for a road trip, the Fales Library Special Collections at NYU houses The Riot Grrrl Collection.

Inspired to tell your own story? Make a Tiny Zine!


  • 1 letter size (8.5 x 11) sheet of paper
  • Markers, scissors, glue, old magazines, scrap paper, etc.


  1. Construct – Fold and cut paper to make a book (see infographic below).
  2. Personalize – Write, draw, paint, cut, glue, and decorate your zine.
  3. Distribute – Make photocopies and share / trade with friends and family!

Make a Tiny Zine Infographic

Histories & How-tos:
Don’t Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl
Ephemeral Material: Queering the Archive
From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Comics from Teens to Zines
Make a Zine!
Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist & Queer Activism in the 21st Century
Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Zine Resource

Savor Summer: The Art of Cooking

By , July 23, 2015

The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.” ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste

You know what really goes together…summer time and food…and books, of course. There’s nothing better than sitting poolside (or beach side) with something sweet and a good book. Maybe you’re reading a classic like Fahrenheit 451 out of inspiration from the weather. Or you’re reading the newest book by Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman. Or even better, you’re reading a book ABOUT food. That sounds yummy to me. Allow me to make a few recommendations based on some books from the Wilson Collection:

"The Physiology of Taste" by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

“The Physiology of Taste” by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Originally Published: Dec, 1825
Published by LEC: 1949
Translated and annotated by M.F.K. Fisher
Arion Press published their own copy in 1994 but that version is not included in the Wilson Collection.

This was one of his most famous works and was published in 1825, two months before his death. Arguably one of the most famous books ever written about food, The Physiology of Taste was first published in 1825 and continuously has been in print ever since. It is a classic because it is a combination of recipes, anecdotes, reflections, and general musings about anything gastronomical by Brillat-Savarin. He was a French Lawyer and politician prior to publishing the book, and also famous for the statement: “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are.”

In the author’s preface, Brillat-Savarin says that it was not a lot of work to prepare this book because he only needed to organize the material that he spent so long collecting. “It was an entertaining task, and one which I did well to save for my old age.”



I think my favorite part of the book – Under Meditation 6: On Food in General, #47: Chocolate and its Origins

My mouth was watering as I read: “we have come to think of chocolate as the mixture which results from roasting together the cacao bean with sugar and cinnamon: such is the classic definition…And when we add the delicious perfume of vanilla to this mixture of sugar, cacao, and cinnamon, we achieve the ne plus ultra of perfection to which such a concoction may be carried.” Excuse me while I go hunt down a candy bar…

Other fun tidbits:

  • The book begins with “Aphorisms of the Professor” that serves as a preamble to the following work and as a foundation for the science of Gastronomy. The first “aphorism” is “the universe is nothing without the things that live in it, and everything that lives, eats.”
  • I recommend reading the chapter about Truffles (pg. 96 under On Food in General), he pretty much hits the nail on the head with the description of Truffles. Mmmm, chocolate…
  • There is also a brief chapter about death and how your appetite relates to that; this man really does discuss every aspect of gastronomy. It’s a good thing the chapter is brief.
A Commonplace Book of Cookery by Robert Grabhorn

A Commonplace Book of Cookery by Robert Grabhorn

A Commonplace Book of Cookery by Robert Grabhorn
Published by Arion Press: 1975
Preface by M.F.K. Fisher

This is a rather unconventional book because it is not one that follows a specific plot or anecdote. Prior to Arion Press, Grabhorn Press was one of the best and most successful presses in California. Robert Grabhorn was one of the owning brothers of the press and was very good at what he did. He also had a hobby of clipping and collecting quotations throughout his life. So essentially what we have here is about 170 pages of quotes – all kinds of quotes about food in every form, context, and opinion, that he collected throughout his life.

A few reflect an ancient way of thinking while others are rather amusing. Here’s a sample…

  • “All things require skill but an appetite.” ~ George Herbert, 1593-1633, Outlandish Proverbs
  • “Old meat makes good soap.” ~ Italian Proverb
  • “When beer goes in wit comes out” ~ German Proverb
  • “A grapefruit is a lemon that had a chance and took advantage of it.” ~ Author unidentified
  • Heavenly Father, bless us, and keep us all alive, there’s ten of us to dinner, and not enough for five.”         ~ Anonymous, Hodge’s Grace, c. 1850

This book was originally published by Arion Press and then later republished by North Point Press as a trade edition, in 1985. If you’re curious to read more from this collectible, be sure and come by the Wilson Room and check it out.

I’m not the first blogger to mention The Physiology of Taste, or food writing for that matter. Talented fellow blogger, Amanda, recently discussed MFK Fisher and and her book, The Art of Eating in her July 14th blog post. Be sure to check it out too!

And now for food…raiding through some of the recipes in the 1966-67 edition of Southern Living, I wonder that people survived the 60′s eating some of this stuff. No offense to the people that like this stuff, but Cheese Meat Loaf? Franks and Cheese Casserole? Really?! To each their own I guess…

But here’s a recipe from that same magazine that I tried and though it turned out well, be aware that it is incredibly sweet!

Seven-Layer CookiesSeven-Layer Cookies

1/2 stick butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 can (1-1/2 cup) coconut flakes
1 (6-ounce) package chocolate chips
1 (6-ounce) package butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter in a 9 x 12-inch baking pan (I used an 8 x 8 and it was fine). Add ingredients by layers, in order listed. Bake at 325 degrees about 30 minutes (I went the full 30 minutes). Let cool in pan, then cut into small squares.

These were incredibly easy to make, and even better, hard to mess up because as I told the man bagging my groceries at the store, you’d be surprised how easy it is to mess up a recipe. Word of advice – ALWAYS read the recipe and the box you’re opening. But this was easy, turned out well, the only warning is to eat them in small bites, they are incredibly sweet but flavorful. Enjoy!

Seven-Layer Cookies


Savor Summer: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

By , July 19, 2015

I didn’t eat vegetables as a kid, and I don’t mean I choked down random green beans or gagged my way through the occasional salad. I ate potatoes, but that’s like saying you like beer then ordering an O’Doul’s, and the only green things I ate were candy or cereal so sugary it might have qualified as candy. I. Did. Not. Eat. Vegetables. Somehow I survived into adulthood without scurvy and am now a willing consumer of spinach, asparagus, and even Brussels sprouts.

Part why my diet changed is that I’m married to a vegan. Aside from the occasional desire to go out and kill something with my bare hands, I’ve slowly made the transition myself. I still eat meat if we go out, and when my in-laws visit there’s usually plenty of hot chicken around, but the majority of my diet is plant-based.

If I had my way, though, my diet would primarily be dessert-based, and my bible would be Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. This book is filled with cookie recipes so delicious you won’t want to compromise their integrity by dunking them in milk, almond or otherwise.

There’s a lengthy primer on flours, sweeteners, egg replacement, and all the ins-and-outs of vegan cookery, but the stars of the show are the cookies themselves. There’s the basic chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, but my favorite is the Mexican chocolate snickerdoodle. This is a sweet and spicy cookie with cinnamon and cayenne pepper that I could eat everyday, if only I could abandon all good sense and a predisposition toward chunkiness.

There are enough recipes here to keep your cookie jar filled all summer. In fact, you might want to get a couple of spares. You can switch to salads in the fall.

Savor Summer: The Egg

By , July 17, 2015

Egg: a culinary exploration of the world’s most versatile ingredient
By Michael Ruhlman

Our whirlwind library culinary tour continues with one of my favorite ingredients – is it savory or is it sweet? Nope. It’s just The Egg.

I was first introduced to Michael Ruhlman through what I like to call Library Serendipity. I was browsing in hoopla and came across his first two books which I talked about in a previous blog post in May. I liked his stuff and had never heard of him, so imagine my surprise when I looked him up in our catalog and found he has written bunches and bunches of books!

O happy day!

I haven’t explored them all yet, but the first one I tried was called Egg and I am loving it. Part cookbook, part history book, here Ruhlman talks about anything and everything you want to know about eggs. Brief history, Ruhlman is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America)-educated journalist and sometime Iron Chef America judge. But his books break down cooking techniques into simple steps for the moderately-talented home cook. I say moderately-talented because if you have issues with toast and boiling water, this book may be a little advanced for you.

I’ve looked at a lot of cookbooks in my time and this is the first one in a while that I’ve wanted to jump in and make a lot of the recipes. Challah bread, homemade pasta, and deep-fried eggs are just some of the items I am going to make before I have to bring the book back and share it. The first recipe I actually pulled the trigger on was the Mollet Egg with Asparagus. My husband loves both eggs and asparagus, so I knew I’d get him on board if I tried this.

But what in the world is a mollet egg? I’ve never heard that term before.

According to Ruhlman, mollet is somewhere between soft-boiled and hard. The egg white is cooked solid, but the yoke is still kind schmoopy (that’s my technical term, thank you). There are easy directions to follow on how to make them. After cooking the eggs to mollet stage, you cook the asparagus, puree part of it and save the tips. Then you roll the egg in panko and fry it until golden brown.

This is what my finished dish looked like (and yes, I totally planned the plate to match. I’ve seen Chopped, I know how it works):

Eggs jpeg





Not bad, huh?

To make it better I need a stronger blender. Mine left the asparagus puree a little chunkier than I expected, but it had good flavor – with red onions instead of shallots due to the price difference. The eggs were awesome! Next time I’ll cook them less at the mollet stage because they were a little more done than I thought they’d be after frying. My husband absolutely loved it, though.

So if you’re not scared of words like mollet or panko, check this book out and explore the Incredible Edible Egg. I can guarantee you that you’ll find something in here to like. (Unless you’re Guy Fieri because everyone knows how much he hates eggs…which is good, more for me.)

Happy cooking and I hope you Savor Summer!

:) Amanda


Savor Summer: MFK Fisher

By , July 14, 2015

The Art of Eating
By MFK Fisher

If Julia Child is the grande dame of cooking, then MKF Fisher is her counterpart in the land of food writers. There is no way we could possibly Savor Summer without mentioning her brilliance.

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was born in Michigan in the early 20th century. Her personal life was fairly turbulent with a couple of marriages and two daughters that she raised largely on her own. She traveled extensively and bounced back and forth from France to California in between the two world wars.

Her first book, Serve it Forth, was released in 1937.  It was made up of a collection of short essays that Fisher wrote during her time in France. The second work, Consider the Oyster, came out in 1941, just as the United States was revving up for World War II. As this was again a collection of short stories, I figured that one or two of the stories would be about oysters and then Fisher would change topics. But no. Consider the Oyster really is all about oysters. She talks about oyster love, the difference between oyster stew and oyster soup, and how pearls fit into the picture. I never would have imagined that Fisher would find so much to say about oysters, but I found her essays captivating.

In 1942, she released her third volume, How to Cook a Wolf. Written during the heavily rationed war years, Fisher attempted to help American housewives make the most they could out of what little they had. Reading it now, a significant amount of years later, it’s hard for me to understand having to cook all your food at one time so as not to waste electricity for three separate meals. As I read these essays, I thought to myself, “What would my Grandma do?” Yup. That sounds about right. It is also enjoyable because the edition I read was revised in the 1950s, so even Fisher herself goes back and has to laugh at some of her suggestions. Hindsight and all that, I guess.

The library does not carry Fisher’s individual books, but what we do have is a collection of all five of her major works called The Art of Eating. It includes the three volumes I’ve already mentioned, as well as The Gastronomical Me and An Alphabet for Gourmets. We also have a copy of her translation of great French food writer Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste. That one has been added to my To-Be-Read food pile. Summer Challenge points, here I come!

I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you that The Art of Eating is a large book. A tome even, if you will. The copy I have clocks in at 744 pages. But here’s the thing…if this intimidates you, check the book out, but pick your favorite book out of the five and only read that one (did I mention I liked the oyster one?). If you divide 744 by 5, each book is only about 150 pages. That’s totally doable, right?  Plus you might find some fun recipes to try. The most intriguing one I found consisted of spaghetti baked with honey and shaved almonds in a buttery dish.

Ok, I can see I have piqued your interest. Check out MFK Fisher and see what the American food life was like “back in the day.”

Happy exploring…

:) Amanda


Savor Summer: Chefs and the Community

By , July 13, 2015

Women in KitchenThe kitchen was the gathering place in my home growing up so food always plays prominently in my family memories, like the way eating a chocolate chip cookie always feels like getting a great big hug! But since leaving my parents’ home, my husband and I have enjoyed exploring the local restaurant scene in Nashville. And who wouldn’t?? This year Nashville has been ranked in the top ten on Zagat’s “New Hot Food Cities”, number 11 on Travel+Leisure’s “Best Cities for Foodies” and second “Most Barbeque Obsessed City” by Heck, one of our local chefs is even on Food Network Star!

One of the reasons I love eating out in this city is that it feels like my dad cooked those meals for me. Not so much in the quality or type of food, but in the way it makes me feel. Local chefs focus on cooking for the community like they are your family. For instance, in an interview with David Swett, Jr he talked about the way they have cooked at Swett’s since his grandfather started the restaurant.

Swett Brothers. Photo from restaurant courtesy of Trip Advisor

Swett Brothers. Photo from restaurant courtesy of Trip Advisor

We cook everyday as if we are cooking for our own family. That’s just the way we go about it. We require that from the people that are cooking in the kitchen. If you cook like you are cooking for somebody you love, you always do a good job. 

- David Swett, Jr

This focus on cooking with love has led to three generations of Swett family members serving up barbeque to students at nearby Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University.

Newer Nashvillians are also adopting this philosophy for their businesses. Javaneh Hemmat, founder of Hummus Chick, channels her Persian roots and passion for cooking for friends into every batch of hummus she makes.

Javaneh Hemmat

Javaneh Hemmat

 Did you know that when we were living in that loft, making hummus was one of the first things I ever learned to make? And today, it’s become my business – my little company, Hummus Chic., I remember every batch I made I would try to make it better than the last one. And I loved sharing it with you and my friends and it created a community around us.

- Javaneh Hemmat

Nashville may be growing, but it is becoming a foodie destination at least in part because of the love local chefs have for our city and the ways they create food that creates community.

What is your favorite food memory? Share it in the comments below or with #SavorSummer

For more of David Swett’s interview or interviews with other restaurateurs and business leaders, check out the Nashville Business Leaders Oral History Collection in the Special Collections Division or hear clips in our digital collection.

Javaneh Hemmat was interviewed as part of the New Faces of Nashville Oral History Collection, accessible in the Special Collections Division at the Main Library.

Also check out “Nashville Eats,” an oral history project by the Southern Foodways Alliance, conducted partly in partnership with Nashville Public Library.

Happy Eating!


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