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Friday, May 20, 2011

Support Your Local LIbrary

Last Saturday I went to the main library in downtown Los Angeles for the Culinary Historians of Southern California's monthly program.  The CHSC is an affiliate of the library and in addition to the monthly program they also hold dining events, create culinary celebrations, and contribute to the library's extensive culinary collection.  One way they do this is through their annual used cookbook sale which will be held this year on Sunday, August 21 starting at 8am at the Hollywood Farmers' Market.  Another reason for going to the library that day was because I was bringing 4 very large boxes of cookbooks that Cousin Roger was donating for the sale, but before I delivered the books I gave them a look-see and found one in particular with a lot of inspiring recipes (more on this later).

Saturday's program was "Battle Royal: The Baking Powder Wars" brilliantly presented by culinary historian Linda Civitello.  "From 1876-1928, baking powder companies waged a vicious, no-holds-barred war for control of the market".  There was congressional corruption and libelous and/or false claims for and against each combatant's product, with involvement from the FDA and even President Teddy R.  With interesting facts, humor, and historical slides to accompany her talk, Linda made baking powder fascinating, even to my friend Bonnie who would be the first one to tell you that she's all about making reservations and not at all about making baked goods. 

At the start of the program, on a giant screen in the center of the auditorium was an equally giant and beautiful shot of baking powder biscuits/shortcakes piled high with luscious fresh strawberries. I pointed at the screen and vowed to make something resembling that asap.  And as it happens, May is National Strawberry Month, so - hello - what could be more perfect?

Spoils of War Strawberry Shortcakes                                                    
1 cup white wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. cold Earth Balance margarine
2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup cold soy creamer
additional soy creamer for brushing

1.Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.                                                                             
2.Mix flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.
3.Cut the margarine into the flour mixture and pinch
together until the mix is crumbly. 
4.Add the creamer, stirring until combined into a nicely
 formed dough. 
5.Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and
gently roll out to 3/4" thick. 

 6.Cut the dough into 8 rounds, plus 1 really big one,                           
then place on the baking sheet, brush the tops with
soy creamer, and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly

So support your local library, because not only do they have an amazing amount of books, movies, documents, reference materials, exhibits, lectures, and programs, but it's FREE and you can order online at and have the item sent to the branch nearest you.  Plus, from time to time you'll be inspired to bake something delicious - winning!


  1. Very interesting story. I appreciate the libraries and visit as many of them that I can. A great place to check out cookbooks and learn about gardening. Plus reading mysteries is a fun thing to do whilst waiting for shortbreads to bake!

  2. These vegan biscuits sound great, with the white wheat flour. How did you like them and how long do they keep?
    I like the culinary historians. If you plan to go to another one of their events, I'll be glad to know and maybe I can meet you there.
    What was in the filling? Have you found a soy cream that you can whip?

  3. what a great event, sorry i missed it. i have eaten so many strawberries so far this season... but i'm not done yet!

  4. Faye, I still have a few shortcakes so I'm guessing they last as long as any baked good kept in a sealed container - 5-7 days? The filling was fresh strawberries with a little sugar, plus a little coconut cream. I'm not going to the June program and I think they take July-August off, so maybe we'll meet in September.

  5. Louise, don't you think that the strawberries right now are some of the best ever? I'll be you have some fun recipes for them.

  6. How does soy cream compare in taste to dairy cream?

  7. Julie, thanks for the question. I don't think there's enough of a taste difference, at least for me, and the fact that it's non-dairy, cholesterol free is a bonus.

  8. Super cool.

    Shannon S.