Saturday, November 29, 2008

Use Those Leftovers

Whether you are a cooking enthusiast or a reluctant home cook, there is something daunting about being faced with a fridge full of leftovers. With the holiday season officially under way, it's time to mentally prepare ourselves for the full onslaught of extra food that needs to be revitalized or face the compost pile. Before you reach for the green bin, perhaps all you need is a little inspiration. Here at the Magazines and Newspapers Center, we have a number of titles that may help you see the potential in those yams from a few nights ago.

A longstanding favorite of foodies everywhere, Gourmet is equal parts gastronomical fantasy and practical tips. The magazine contains a blend of super close-up photos of world-class foods, features about the culture surrounding food, drool-inducing reviews of restaurants around the world, and, perhaps most importantly, practical how-to advice for home cooks. Come for a shot of inspiration and stay for the not-too-fancy and surprisingly manageable recipes.

If your tastes are more Kraft Single than Camembert, or if dinner is not the highlight of your day but rather a quick chore between soccer practice and piano lessons, then Every Day with Rachel Ray may be just the magazine for you. Ray, who has built a media empire based on cooking homemade meals on the cheap using a blend of fresh and prepared foods, has attached her name and her philosophy to a bimonthly magazine. Every Day with Rachel Ray is devoted to inspire those who may otherwise rely on takeout to try some quick and easy weekday recipes at home. Emphasis is placed on meals that take around half an hour to prepare and can be assembled inexpensively with ingredients regularly found at supermarkets.

If you appreciate a scientific approach to cooking, then maybe you'll find Cook's Illustrated appealing. The recipes, equipment reviews, and technique features are as precise as lab reports, which isn't surprising considering that the magazine comes out of the popular public television program America's Test Kitchen. Read a couple of issues of this title, and you may just have a bit more confidence approaching the contents of your fridge.

If none of these titles appeal to you, we have a couple dozen more that may be more to your taste. To get a full listing of cooking magazines at the San Francisco Public Library, follow these steps:
  1. Go to our home page.

  2. Click on "More" under the catalog search box.

  3. Choose subject from the drop-down menu.

  4. Type "cookery periodicals."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Family Reading

With Thanksgiving arriving just around the corner, the holidays are sure to sneak up on us without warning as we approach the end of 2008. Last year, we posted an entry about KidsInfo--an electronic resource for beginning researchers containing articles and reference content written specifically for children from kindergarten to 5th grade.

This year, we'll explore reading activities in which you and your children can explore through our NoveList K-8 database--a resource that provides book titles for elementary and middle-school aged children. To access this database:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “Articles & Databases.” You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to access the databases from outside the Library.

2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “Student Resources” then select, “NoveList K-8.” Once you've accessed the database, you should see a search screen that looks like this:

Notice that you can check off boxes underneath the search box to limit titles to a specific age group. Go ahead and check off "Younger Kids," enter "Thanksgiving" into the search box, and run the search. You should now see a list of book titles:

From the drop-down "Sort by" menu, you can re-order your list by author, date, popularity, and more. The left-hand "Narrow Results by" column allows you to explore other subject headings where you can refine your search. The tabs along the top lead to links on award-winning books, curricular materials, and other recommended books. You can click the "Check the San Francisco Public Library Catalog" link at the bottom to see whether or not the library actually owns the book for which you are searching.

Finally, if you want to indulge in some of your own personal reading interests, a while back, we highlighted the Novelist database in a separate post. So this Thanksgiving, sit back, enjoy a hearty meal with family and friends, and enjoy the pleasures of reading over the holiday.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cast On at the Magazines & Newspapers Center

Are you interested in showering your friends and family with homemade gifts? Does your love for scarves and mittens put a strain on your accessories budget? Do you long to do something with your hands?

There are as many resources for knitters as there are reasons to take up knitting. San Francisco Public Library has hundreds of books on the subject and even hosts the occasional knitting group here at the Main and in several branches. The Magazines and Newspapers Center, for our part, subscribes to some magazines for knitters of all levels, including these titles:

Knitter's is a huge, quarterly journal packed with detailed patterns and insightful and inspirational commentary. Look here for vivid instructions for projects of various levels of difficulty, each with color photos, color suggestions, and patterns. There's also an indispensable illustrated stitch glossary at the back of each issue if your purl technique is a little rusty. We have issues going back to 1984--enough ideas for a lifetime of knitting.

Interweave Knits
is another quarterly magazine that features, alongside some patterns and projects, plenty of features written to inspire. These ruminations may cause beginners' eyes to glaze over, but more seasoned knitters will appreciate articles that explore techniques rather than specific projects. That said, there is plenty of practical instruction to be found in this title -- tips about color, profiles of movers and shakers in the knitting world, book reviews and, of course, some instructions for specific projects. If you're ready to get really creative, this is the magazine for you.

If you thought knitting was all about fuzzy mittens and legwarmers (not that there's anything wrong with mittens and legwarmers), you may be surprised to learn that Vogue, the authority for all things high fashion, puts out three issues of Vogue Knitting International every year. You can expect the same standards here as you see in Vogue proper: edgy design, careful vetting of designs to match the trends of the season, and carefully composed photos. Instructions are included for all of the designs in this title. If it's cool to wear the latest fashions, it's twice as cool to make them!

If knitting's just not your thing, we have plenty of other titles to help you explore your creative side, and, as always, we at the Magazines and Newspapers Center are happy to help you match your interests to titles in our collection.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

After the SF Election 2008

In a previous post "Follow the Election 2008," we presented some periodicals that could help you make informed decisions on propositions, measures, elected officials, and other topics of political interest and intrigue. Now that the election polls have closed, commercials have gone off the air, flyers have stopped cramming your mailboxes, and the verbal mudslinging has ceased, you may have forgotten what you voted for.

Let's turn our attention to the San Francisco measures. Perhaps you forgot which propositions had recently passed and you already tossed out your voter booklet. Maybe you're curious about how many people voted for or against a San Francisco proposition. Or you just absolutely forgot what exactly the propositions were proposing. If any of these apply, check out the San Francisco Ballot Propositions Database.

If you remember the proposition title, number, or letter, enter in that information. If not, you can always enter a year and/or month to pull up a list of propositions for that time frame. (See below):

Let's try an example:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “SFPL-Created Research Tools.”

2. Under the “San Francisco Resources” category, select SF Ballot Propositions Database.”

3. Enter "2008" into the year box to pull up a list of recent San Francisco propositions.

You will see a table identifying the various propositions and their outcomes. Clicking on the ID number next to each proposition will retrieve more detailed information on the proposition summarizing the measure and its percentage of votes for and against the proposition.

Even better, if you want to access the original text of the proposition, click on "View the Voter Pamphlet" to pull up a PDF file.

The San Francisco Ballot Propositions Database, a repository of most (a few years are missing) ballot propositions dating back to 1907, contains complete proposition titles, summaries, vote counts, breakdown of vote counts (pass and fail), and more. The exact count of vote counts for the November 2008 election will be forthcoming once the results are finalized.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Want great bargains? Perfect gifts? Savings on practically everything? Then read ShopSmart!

Something new has landed on the Magazines & Newspapers Center shelf at the San Francisco Public Library. Its name is ShopSmart. A quick & easy unbiased guide published quarterly by Consumer Reports, strongly adhering to the motto, “No Hype + No Ads + Just Great Buys,” this magazine presents facts and advice based on expert research thoroughly tested by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

ShopSmart offer its readers news, list of dos & don’ts, new ideas, and the truth on all kinds of products and services that will help you make sound decisions and smart choices. Although geared primarily towards a female audience, males will also benefit from this easy-to-read, colorful descriptive buying guide, especially information on electronics, autos, home and yard products.

The magazine’s editor notes that “along with recommending what readers should buy, ShopSmart also suggests what they not buy,” which is unusual for most shopping magazines. You will learn the best companies to buy from and who really deserves your dollars. Hopefully in return, you will have acquired the “best for less.”

Special features include the following:

  • products and buying secrets

  • safety alerts

  • recalls and tips

  • causes & effects of purse-smart savvy regarding choosing the right charities for donations and contributions

  • gasoline savings

  • easy clutter solutions

  • great holiday shopping sites

  • and more
Readers will also appreciate buying guide recommendations on food takeouts, wine selection at a savings, traveling tips, back-to-school-buys for the family, and the inside scoop on health & fitness.

So ShopSmart readers, get ready to “Shop-till-you-drop!"