Eating in Season

The picture depicts four recipes: bread, a dish with green vegetables and red cabbage. another dish with sliced beef, carrots, and potatoes, and a fourth dish with red grapes and sprigs of herbs on a white pie with a slice cut out of it.

by Cherise T.

End of summer blues? Turn to the colorful fruits and vegetables of autumn for a mood lift. Filled with nutrients, seasonal produce offers a culinary treat.

The Complete Autumn and Winter Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen includes side dishes, main courses, and desserts filled with the flavors of fall. An entire chapter is devoted to pumpkin, a low-calorie, vitamin-dense treat. The antioxidant beta-carotene in pumpkin lends it that beautiful orange color and blocks the free radicals that cause cells to age. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A which is essential for healthy eyes, skin, and bones. Try the slow-cooker creamy pumpkin-chai soup for a treat on a chilly day.

The picture shows a woman in a blue denim shirt holding a cleaver with her arms crossed, as she looks down at a wooden kitchen counter full of vegetables, including radishes, carrots, leeks, greens, potatoes, and onions.

Winter squash, another rich source of beta-carotene, can be fun to prepare with the guidance of Cara Mangini’s The Vegetable Butcher. Squash is low in carbohydrates, for those monitoring sugar intake, and high in potassium, for those following a heart-healthy diet. Recipes include kale and spelt berry salad. Lutein gives kale its dark green color and helps protect the eye from developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Cranberries are high in vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system and helps shorten the duration of cold symptoms.

The cover shows a man with a walking stick, dressed in a gray cap and black cape, roasting vegetables over an outdoor fire while others hang on a circular wire frame behind him.

As temperatures drop, the grill is a wonderful way to prepare vegetables. In Green Fire: Extraordinary Ways to Grill Fruits and Vegetables from the Master of Live-Fire Cooking, Francis Mallman shares his unique Patagonian recipes. Prepare his salt-baked beets for a dish rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Diets high in fiber have been associated with fewer digestive issues and lower colon cancer risk. Betalains, responsible for the purple-red color of beets, reduce inflammation and cell damage. Beets are also high in folate (vitamin B9), which has been linked to lowered risk of heart disease and stroke.

The cover depicts a cake or tart of two layers, on a white cake stand and covered with raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. A pie server sits next to it on a wooden table, and in the background are a pint container of additional berries and a blue glazed ceramic picture filled with greens and pink rose blossoms.

In Naturally Sweet Baking: Healthier Recipes for a Guilt-Free Treat, recipes include fall fruits such as pears as alternative sweeteners. High in fiber, pears have some sugar but do not have the high glycemic index that contributes to diabetes risk. The vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants in pears add to their health benefits. Authors Carolin Strothe and Sebastian Keitel include a seasonal calendar as part of their guidance in baking without artificial coloring or processed sugar. Explore the baking collection at Elkridge’s DIY Education Center to find specialty cake pans available for checkout.

The Howard County Farmers Market continues on Wednesdays from 2 – 6 pm in the Miller Branch parking area.

Cherise Tasker is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch. When not immersed in literary fiction, Cherise can be found singing along to musical theater soundtracks.

Get Cozy and Crafty with the DIY Collection at Elkridge

A pile of colorful skeins of yarn.


by Emily T. and Eric L., HCLS Elkridge Branch

In this dark and chilly season, creative activities like making and baking can light us up from within. Tapping into creativity is a proven mood-booster, whether you complete a masterpiece or simply enjoy the process. With the DIY Collection at Elkridge, find a trove of inspiration and tools to help you get cozy and crafty.

Love the warmth of freshly baked treats? Get creative with our fun seasonal cookie cutters or cupcake tins with our icing piping kit. Or, go big with specialty cake pans like Frozen’s Elsa, a magical castle, or a smiling dinosaur.

Or, brighten those long sunless hours with the glorious colors and textures of fiber arts. Our yarn winding and spinning kits are a meditative joy and get any project off to a smooth start. Try our knitting needles or crochet hook sets for stitching comfy blankets, hats, and more. Our fabric cutting mats and tools pair perfectly with our ever-popular sewing machines – and be sure to check out our excellent pattern and technique guidebooks, too.

With the DIY Collection, you can even try your hand at leathercrafting, tile mosaics, and more. Whatever you choose, we hope you’ll be basking in the glow of creativity! Anyone 21 or older who lives, works, or attends school in Maryland may apply for an HCLS DIY library card (instructions and more information here).

Emily is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS Elkridge Branch. Because she is solar-powered, her favorite winter activities involve warm, sunny window seats and brisk walks outside if she’s feeling adventurous. 

Eric is a DIY Instructor and Research Specialist at the Elkridge branch. He enjoys reading, films, music, doing nearly anything outside, and people.

The Baking Bug

Cover of cookbook features a plum tart with luscious glossy fruit arranged in a swirl on a pastry shell, with a cherry in the middle.

by Kristen B.

My husband has a saying: When the going get tough, the tough bake. It certainly holds true that I have a tendency to stress bake. The precision of measuring and mixing, followed by having a tasty, tangible end product soothes me … as does eating whatever treat now sits on my kitchen counter (alas for the scale). Although I prefer sweet to savory, the occasional loaf of bread or cheesy rolls happens when I have the need to knead. Although I’m a frequent visitor to King Arthur Baking Company for recipes, their tried and true whole grain recipes are also collected in this book.

I like to try new recipes and often browse the cookbook shelves at the library. It’s how I came upon Great Pies & Tarts by Carole Walter, which has yet to disappoint (confession: I bought it). The blueberry pie always wins rave reviews, even if I trash my kitchen making it. This book also has one of the best step-by-step descriptions of how to make a standard American flaky pie crust, complete with photographs. With all the wonderful fresh fruit in season now (visit a Howard County farmers market), it’s the perfect time to make tasty desserts.

American pie crust you ask? As opposed to all the different kinds of pie crusts I’ve learned about on The Great British Baking Show. This show provides the perfect anecdote to anyone’s stress: it’s kind and funny and filled with every kind of baking, from scratch-made puff pastry to savory hot water game pies. If you’ve not visited The Tent, or if you need a little British humor to get you through the week, HCLS has several seasons available on DVD and via hoopla (also available via Netflix). It’s wonderful fun and perhaps a tad inspirational.

If you are already a fan (as clearly I am), and want to spend a little more time with GBBS, you can get the inside scoop from Mary Berry herself. HCLS has several of her cookbooks, and many are available on Overdrive. If you are interested, Chetna, one of the Season 5 contestants, published The Cardamom Trail with her favorite flavors from her home country of India. I found it tricky to follow from an American point of view, but it’s a gorgeous book to drool over (literally).

I wish you Happy Baking … though not tough times to prod you into the kitchen. Check out a cookbook and discover a new favorite treat, and maybe submit photos of your kitchen victories at createdwhileisolated.org, HCLS’ journal of our community’s wonderful creativity.

Kristen B. has worked for HCLS for more than 15 years, and currently hosts the Books on Tap discussion group at Hysteria Brewing Company. She loves reading, Orioles baseball, and baking.