Reading and recipes

Kim Brooks
Babbling Brooks Column
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     All year the Monticello Public Library has hosted events surrounding PBS’ The Great American Read. Thanks to a grant, the library was one of 50 public libraries throughout the country selected to showcase The Great American Read celebrations.

     The library hosted several book discussions around the themes: “Other Worlds,” “Who am I,” “Heroes, Villains, and Monsters,” and “What We Do for Love.” Then, throughout this year, PBS and readers across the country voted online for their favorite book out of the top 100 books chosen.

     On Oct. 23 PBS revealed the number-one book: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

     The top five books as voted on by readers were:

     • “To Kill a Mockingbird”

     • The “Outlander” series

     • The “Harry Potter” series

     • “Pride and Prejudice”

     • “Lord of the Rings”

     I was pleased to see two of my favorite books of all time, and on The Great American Read list make it into the top 11: “Little Women” at number eight and “Anne of Green Gables” at number 11.

     The library also hosted two guest speakers as part of The Great American Read program. “The Butterfly Effect” centered on the empathy people show for those following war, terrorism, and national disasters. “Nancy Drew: Iowa’s Heroine to the World” talked about the true author of the Nancy Drew series, Mildred Augustine of Ladora.

     Despite being on the Monticello library board, I would have taken part in the library’s Great American Read program anyway. I love reading. I love rediscovering books I read years ago. I love hearing from other readers about their favorite books and what genre they enjoy reading.

     If you’re like me, a book nerd, then you’ll be excited for the library’s book discussion program coming out in January.

     On another topic, we have a strong tradition in our family… We serve the ever-famous green bean casserole at most major family holidays: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Sometimes, we make it just for the heck of it!

     My sister and I grew up thinking our mom created the casserole. She knew how to make it without ever looking at a recipe, as if you knew it by heart. Then, as we got older, we started making it ourselves, needing to refer to a recipe of course.

     Well last week, the woman who actually did invent green bean casserole died at the age of 92. Dorcas Reilly was from New Jersey. She had Alzheimer’s disease.

     Green bean casserole was a staple recipe that drove the sales of Campbell Soup’s Cream of Mushroom soup, the essential ingredient in green bean casserole. (My sister and I weren’t fans of Cream of Mushroom soup growing up, anything involving mushrooms really. So our mom substituted Cream of Chicken soup instead in our green bean casserole. It tasted the same anyway.)

     In 2002, Reilly’s original green bean casserole recipe was donated to the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame. Last year, during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, Campbell Soup’s website received 2.7 million visits, likely from people looking up the recipe.

     Reilly invented the casserole in 1955 when she worked for Campbell as a kitchen supervisor. She worked for the company from the 1940s until 1988 when she retired.

     Her recipe will always bring families together around the holidays. It sure does for my family!



Subscriber Login