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July 26, 2012

Go nuts for pistachios

Daily Star

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Nuts are healthy for us and make perfect snacks and ingredients in many recipes. Did you know that pistachios can be documented as far back as 20,000 B.C.? Originally, pistachios were considered food for nobility. They were also thought to bring good luck to lovers. It wasn't until 1976 that the nuts began commercial production in the U.S. in California and they immediately became popular.

Pistachios are related to mango, poison oak and cashew trees. They grow as clusters covered with red husks that are inedible. After the husks are removed, the nuts split open when they are mature and the nuts' greenish color comes from chlorophyll, just as in the leaves of the tree.

Do you remember when pistachios were dyed bright red? U.S. producers dyed the nuts to mimic the color of the brined nuts found in the Middle East. When natural foods gained popularity, the red fell out of favor. It's fun to split them open and pop them in your mouth. What do you do with the ones that still tightly sealed? Hammers are good tools.

Summer Reading

If you're looking for some fun things to make this summer, take a look at these books:

"30-Minute bracelets" by Marthe Le Van contains 60 different quick projects. These can be fashioned from metal, leather, beads, ribbons and more. Step-by-step instructions, a materials list and diagrams will help you complete the projects in no time.

Jenny Doh has written "We Make Dolls!" Professional dollmakers share their tips on how to make many different kinds of dolls. Nearly two dozen dolls with traceable patterns include animals and children. There's something for everyone in this volume.

"Natural Wooden Toys" by Erin Freuchtel-Dearing contains 75 kid-safe designs made from natural materials. Even if you don't have any experience, you'll be able to make these toys, since the author started with no prior knowledge. Designs include themes from fairytales, forest, farm, ocean, and city.

Handmade gifts for baby and mom are featured in "Baby Times" by Abbey Lane Quilts. There are quilts, pillows, wall hangings, toys, clothing, diaper bags and much more. All are sewn; patterns and instructions included.

Children's Books

A little boy receives a snake for his birthday from his father and he was rather excited about it. This is no ordinary snake because when the little boy asks what he should name the snake, the snake curves his body into the name Blake. And that's just the beginning in "My Snake Blake" by Randy Siegel.

"Mom It's My First Day of Kindergarten" by Hyewon Yum features a little boy ready for his first day of school. But is mom ready? This story which features a role reversal, will find both children and adults ready to talk about what to expect when school starts.

Molly has always wanted a little sister and now she has Chloe. Molly always thought a little sister would be exactly like her. But Chloe is totally different. "Chloe, Instead" by Micha Player takes a humorous look at the two sisters and their differing personalities.

Revised Library Hours

Effective Wednesday, Huntington Memorial Library hours will change. The library will close at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Library Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.

Marie Bruni is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Thursday. Her columns can be found online at