August 22nd, 2016

I Scream, You Scream…

Ice cream bookAugust seems like the perfect summer month to enjoy a sweet and cold treat like ice cream to combat the sweltering heat, but when did people first start eating this creamy dessert? Interestingly, the history of ice cream is filled with urban legends that can’t quite be proven, but each story contains at least a small bit of truth.

In the very beginning, the Romans and Persians would mix snow or chipped ice with mainly fruit or honey flavorings to create something like our water ices now. They would do this when the weather was hot and used the snow saved in Persian underground chambers known as ‘yakchal’ or taken from the snowfall that still remained at the top of the mountains.

Ice creamCream ice or ice cream seems to trace its origins back to China, although nobody can nail down the date. We do know that a frozen mixture of milk and rice was used in China around 200 BC and ice cream is mentioned being served at the Mogul court in the fourteenth century. Many believe that knowledge of ice cream could have spread overland along the Silk Road routes from China through the Middle East and into Italy, but the knowledge of how to freeze things by the combination of ice and salt was even more important.

Ice cream bookIce cream’s European debut was probably in Italy in the latter part of the seventeenth century. There are many stories surrounding the Italian duchess Catherina de’ Medici being credited with introducing ice cream to France when she married the Duke of Orleans. Ice cream and flavored ices were still the desserts for royalty and the rich up until the mid-eighteenth and nineteenth century, as access to an ice house and expensive ingredients such as sugar were needed. French-style ice cream is made with egg yolks, whereas the next step in the journey takes ice cream to the Americas where what we now know as Philadelphia-style ice cream is made with either no eggs or egg whites only.

Ice cream bookThe first known instance of ice cream being served in American occurred in Maryland in 1744, when Governor Thomas Bladen put it on his dessert table. It was May, and the frozen dessert astonished his guests. Thomas Jefferson himself helped to popularize ice cream in this country when he started having it served at the President’s House in Washington. One of only ten recipes surviving in Thomas Jefferson’s own hand is a vanilla ice cream recipe attributed to his French butler, Adrien Petit.


Ice cream bookThese days, ice cream is a beloved dessert in the US. The average American annually consumes about 22 pounds of ice cream and 10% of milk in the US goes towards making it. It’s been estimated that there have been over a 1,000 different ice cream flavors created, but the most popular flavors still tend to be chocolate and vanilla in polls…although some more creative flavors like cookies and cream and cookie dough also tend to lead the list.

No matter what flavor you choose, a cone or bowl of this cool treat will always be a sweet memory of summer.

What’s your favorite flavor?

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May 30th, 2016

Summer Reading

2016_SR_sticker_reminder_finalSummer Reading is almost here! The Cecil County Public Library 2016 Summer Reading and Learning Program begins June 1 with kick-off events Saturday, June 4. It’s a fun, free, and educational way to stay academically engaged all summer long, and encourages children, as well as teens and adults, to read and explore topics they are interested in. (Note, “Read to Me” where participants tracked the number of books, is now part of the Kids Summer Reading program and all logs are completed by tracking time spent reading.)

If you’re like me, you know that students who do not participate in reading or educational activities began to “slide” further and further behind their peers and that each year of falling behind could lead to a student’s low academic achievement or dropping out of school. Summer reading is important because it helps combat this slide. Simply reading 4-5 books over the course of the summer may be powerful enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement skills.

Here are some quick tips to try this summer to keep the children and teens in your life reading, active and engaged all summer long:

-Visit the library. Check out books and participate in educational and fun programming.
-Let your kids and teens choose! Any kind of reading can help kids sustain or improve skills.
-Read every day.
-Ask questions about what they’re reading! Start a conversation and kids and teens can practice comprehension skills by talking about what they’re reading.
-Connect what they’re reading to activities. Going to the zoo? Read Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya. Planning a picnic? Check-out Picnic by Emily McCully. You can also ask a librarian for crafts, recipes, and activities that can be done with your child based on the book they are reading.
-Bring books with you wherever you go. Whether you are waiting for an appointment or stuck in a traffic jam, reading books is a great way to pass the time.
-Don’t forget to write. Writing improves reading skills. Encourage your child to keep a journal, compose a story, or write a poem.
-Practice math and science skills at the library too! Check out topic-specific books and sign your kids up for our science-themed programming throughout the summer!

Stop in at any branch to learn more about the full list of summer events or to register for summer reading, which begins June 1 for all ages. Sign up at any branch or online:

What is your favorite summer read?

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