Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Potluck #51: Holidays and Cooking and Recipes - Oh My!

Mis En Place
Originally uploaded by rainvt
Cooking at the Holidays can be both a fun and stressful experience. To help keep your holiday cooking and baking more on the fun side, there are a number of websites out there that can help you find that perfect recipe, convert your stuffing recipe for four to one for 24, or find you a substitutions for the missing nutmeg. This potluck exercise is worth .5 training hours.

Did you just find out that you have to bring a side dish to Aunt Fanny's for Thanksgiving? Not sure what to make? While you can always do a Google search to find a recipe, a good place to start is one of the big cooking/recipe websites.
  • Are you a fan of Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, or Sandra Lee, then check out the Food Network website, which has an extensive recipe collection for all of the major personalities, plus many recipes from the Food Network kitchens.
  • If you prefer cooking magazines, most have recipe sections on their websites including Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Southern Living through MyRecipes.com.
  • Do you enjoy talking about food, or seeing what other people are cooking? Then try BakeSpace, a recipe swap and social network for food.
If you've never cooked a turkey (like me), you can find out how at several sites:
  • Butterball has tips on cooking the Turkey on their site as well as a toll-free number (1-800-Butterball) if you get stuck.
  • Turkey 101, from Kraft, takes you step by step from purchase to the table.

Originally uploaded by prettywar-stl

So now you know where to get recipes and turkey tips, what do you do when you find out you’ve been selected as the person to bring the cranberry relish to the staff Thanksgiving dinner and will need to prepare enough for 45 people. After you curse the “friend” who put your name in that pot, you dig out your recipe books only to find that they all make enough for 8. What to do? There are excellent web sites that will take your recipe and convert it to the number of servings that you want.

That's My Home Recipe Converter is one that is useful when converting family sized recipes to crowd sizes; although it just shows individual calculations. I really like this one because it does all the math for you, provides a spot for the recipe directions and prints it all up in one nice recipe; try: Recipe Ingredient Conversion Calculator.

Then you have the websites that convert individual measures. This site is easy to use in that it is set up by liquid, weight, temperature and length conversions: RecipeZaar Measurement Converter. Some convert international measures along with other less common measures, e.g. wineglass to cup: Recipe Calculator Converter. Here is one that converts “heirloom” measures (your Grandmother’s old recipes) for you, “pinch” or “saucer”, or moderately hot oven: Heirloom Weights & Measurements Conversion Chart.

Some other clever websites give you list of substitutions; for when you have started that Cranberry, Orange & Walnut recipe only to find that someone ate the oranges for snack. This web site is great for showing what you can use instead: Yields & Equivalencies. You may have started that cake and realize that you are out of baking powder, try one of these sites for a substitution: Ingredient Substitutions, Land O'Lakes Ingredient Substitutions, or Joy of Baking Substitutions.

Discovery Exercise:
1. Find a recipe using one of the websites listed above OR use your favorite recipe
2. Covert the recipe either up or down (make it for 20 people or for two)
3. Post the original recipe and the conversion to your blog (be sure to cite where you got the recipe).

HCPL Staff: Have you this exercise? Then Submit your Registration of Completion

This post brought to you by Grace Lillevig (ADM) & Christi Whittington (KW)

Potluck #50: Global Nation

Time to travel, whether just the next state over or across the globe, there are some great websites to help you on your way. Grab your passport, and let’s go! This potluck exercise is worth .5 training hours.

First stop – wait - don’t have a passport? I’m afraid that’s a requirement when you go out of the United States (and really, isn’t it just cool to say you have one?) Don’t worry, though, the government has actually made getting a passport easy. Several local post offices now are able to help you, and there is an informative website as well. Visit http://travel.state.gov/passport

Now you’ve gotten that taken care of, let’s visit some great trip planning and sharing sites.

Tripbase.com is guided by your interests. Use the slider bars to indicate how much you want to spend and your interests when you’re traveling (nature lover? Sightseer?), and then let the site suggest global and local destinations for you. Beware of the flight costs being a little sketchy. I know I can’t get from Houston to Fraser Island, Australia on $220. If I could, I wouldn’t be typing this up to you all. I’d be saying, “Bye, mates!” The reason for the error in cost? It was pulling up a flight to Tulsa, OK. The other information offers pretty decent indicators on your spending.
Tripwise.com incorporates some popular social networking sites and gives the overall atmosphere a travel guide feel. According to its About Us, page Tripwise.com is a “Travel 2.0 company with a great vision to create and build a community of travelers…”

IgoUgo.com is another social travel site allowing members to store up travel stories, blogs, and trip tips to share with others. Covering over 800,000 destinations around the globe, you should have plenty of stories to read and inspiration for a great vacation.

Need more of the cultural stops? Want to know the events going on locally? Here are sites that will steer you on the right path.

Simpatigo.com won’t tell you where to go, only tell you how to get there and what you’ll see on the way. The ultimate car trip guide, give it where you start and where you end, and it has a tourist’s cornucopia of sights to see. Like stop by the first J.C. Penny store, the Golden Rule Store, on your trip from Houston to Seattle. It’s in Kemmerer, WY.

– Ebookers Calendar is a downloadable program to help you see what events are going on around the world. It also has a web version that requires a sign up. As part of the Orbitz.com family of companies, ebookers.com being the European site, there is a lot of information in here, including early travel offer alerts.
For more great sites visit nileguide.com, 43places.com, or the European based sites venividiwiki.eu or Ving Trip Finder .

And always remember most cities and places of interest of a tourist board. Visit their websites to learn about the culture, what’s going on, and the places to stay and see.

Discovery Exercise:

Your exercise is to use one, or more, of these websites and plan your dream vacation. Post your destination and things you’ll be seeing or doing on your blog before you get carried away in your imaginings of sipping exotic beverages on a beach or climbing K2.

HCPL Staff: Have you this exercise? Then Submit your Registration of Completion

This post is brought to you by Beth Krippel (ATA) and Kathy Knox (ADM).

Potluck #49: L'amore di lingue - Love of Languages

potluck spread
Originally uploaded by foreverdigital
For November, rather than a module on one topic, we have several small topics including language, travel, and recipes. Each post is worth .5 training hours.

Struggling to find a class that will teach you a new language on your time and at your pace? Think such a thing doesn’t exist? The answer does not necessarily lie in handing over your credit card to buy a new instruction series. There are websites online that can help you along, and some even offer tutors – for free! This potluck exercise is worth .5 hours.

Talking in Languages
Originally uploaded by zinjixmaggir

So, before we start our linguistic trip around the world (the next module travel/culture) let’s brush up on our language learning. First stop – LiveMocha.

Livemocha.com – No, this isn’t the latest coffee growing technique. This website offers courses in several different languages, including some difficult ones to find such as Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. Flash cards, speaking, reading, listening, and writing exercises are provided as well as tutors and assistance from native speakers from all over the world. The website has a social networking feature, but doesn’t require participation in that to learn the language of your choice. Sign up is free and free is a good way to start your language exploration.

Mangolanguages.com – From coffee to fruit, it’s another language learning site, though this site’s free course is a bit limiting. However, there is also an enrollment side for a fee. It also offers downloadable MP3 courses. If you like a course that goes slowly, then this one is for you. (In my limited experience, I don’t need 22 slides to teach me how to say “Hello” in Mandarin.) It is great to take your learning on the go.

Wikibooks.org – the imperfectness of Wikipedia in textbooks of learning – including several languages. It does indicate the development of information on each language, Spanish being mature, that can assist you in your studies.

Discovery Exercise:

Explore these sites and others on learning languages. Write a blog post describing your experience. Which one fits your learning style? Is there a language you’re inspired to learn? How could you use this information at work?

HCPL Staff: Have you this exercise? Then Submit your Registration of Completion

This post is brought to you by Beth Krippel (ATA) and Kathy Knox (ADM).