Perfect Holiday Recipes

November 10th, 2017

Years ago my husband bought me the Williams Sonoma “Thanksgiving” cookbook—he joked that it was really a gift for him so he could enjoy all the delicious food. At first, I was intimidated by the recipes, but that book taught me a lot of basics—how to cook a great turkey, a flaky pie crust, and the “Spicy Three Cheese Spread” that’s become a Thanksgiving favorite.

Though I’m now a more seasoned cook, I honestly keep very few cookbooks on my shelf.  Instead, I prefer to browse lots of recipes from many sources, plucking ideas from here and there to craft the perfect menu or dish.  Checking out a huge stack of cookbooks is my idea of a relaxing night—hot beverage in hand, of course, to help inspire the browsing.

My new foodie fascination is browsing cooking magazines on RBdigital — the free digital magazine service available through the library.  I was delighted to discover I could download the holiday cookie magazines (if you’re a baker, you know that those magazines often retail at $10 or more).   Taste of Home, Food Network Magazine, Martha Stewart Living and more are all free to browse and download with your library card.

Stop by one of our library branches (and the library’s website) to get inspiration for your holiday menu planning. In the meantime, here’s how we like to make that “Spicy Three Cheese Spread” at our house.  Bon appétit and happy holidays!


Spicy Three Cheese Spread

Adapted from Williams Sonoma “Thanksgiving.”

Make this at least a day ahead to give the flavors time to meld.  It’s amazing used as a dip for crackers or vegetables and adds a delightful kick to leftover turkey sandwiches.

  • 6 oz. Swiss cheese, finely diced or shredded
  • 6 oz. sharp orange Cheddar, finely diced or shredded
  • 4 oz. creamy blue cheese or gorgonzola
  • 5 TBSP salted butter
  • 1/3 cup tawny Port
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (add more if you want it spicier)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 green onion, minced (include the tender green parts)
  • Finely diced pimento, if desired

Let the cheeses and butter come to room temperature, then mix with the remaining ingredients. If you want, mix in some pimento for a festive, red accent.  Makes 8-10 servings.

What’s your favorite holiday dish?

Photo credit: Lauren H. Craig —

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Devices and downloads

February 20th, 2017

Based on the widely-publicized recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, you may find yourself wondering, could my phone or device ever be fire hazard? Apart from the Samsung recall (which has been linked to a manufacturing defect) reports of exploding and fire-catching devices are very rare. However, the vast majority of modern devices use lithium-ion batteries, which do contain flammable liquids that can catch fire or even explode under certain extreme conditions.

In today’s world, it’s easy to fall asleep with a charging device by your side. Or perhaps you charge your laptop on a soft chair at your bedside. Devices get fairly hot while charging and these conditions can be unsafe and overheat the device, potentially leading to a fire. We consulted with a local fire fighter who confirmed he has put out several fires that started from devices left on soft surfaces. He advised that one of the key dangers to watch out for is that the device doesn’t end up sandwiched in-between flammable items like pillows and bedding. The best spot for your device (particularly when it’s charging) is on a hard surface, free of flammable clutter such as paper or clothes.

A few other tips from our staff: don’t leave a device plugged in after it has fully charged, as that can cause heat to build up. If you lose the charging cable that came with the device, invest in a quality, name-brand charging cable to replace it. Certainly, if your charging cable shows signs of wear such as exposed wires, get a new one. We pay a lot of money for our devices, so it makes sense to invest a little money in charging them safely. Finally, don’t charge your device in the extreme cold (below 32) or high heat (above 100) — it can cause damage to the battery.

While we’re on the subject, we have lots to offer for your device at Cecil County Public Library. To learn another language, you can use the Rosetta Stone app, free with your library card. Hoopla gives you access to movies, TV shows, music and audiobooks. Try out our OverDrive service for a great selection of eBooks and audiobooks and use Zinio to browse and download magazines. Want to do more on your device using library tools, resources and services? Our librarians and staff are ready to help you at any of our seven branches.

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