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Fresh From Charlotte’s Farm by Katie Malich

Move over, Farmville. E. B. White’s award-winning book, Charlotte’s Web, has been the quintessential introduction to farm life for generations of American children and adults. Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the spider, Templeton the rat, and all the other inhabitants of Zuckerman’s Farm have made the trip to the silver screen not once, but twice. An animated version of the story was released 1973 and a live action version in 2006.

This coming Saturday, July 17, Culver City Friends of the Library is sponsoring a showing of the movie Charlotte’s Web. The fun starts at 5 pm at the Julian Dixon Culver City Library, 4950 Overland Avenue, Culver City. You can buy pizza, drinks, gently-used children’s books, raffle tickets and more. There will be games and fun for all. There’s definitely a casual dress-code: pajamas, pillows, and blankets are encouraged. The live action Charlotte’s Web, featuring Dakota Fanning and the voice of Julia Roberts, will be screened at 6:30 pm.

In the spirit of this special evening, From the Farmer’s Table features recipes from A Treasure Chest of Recipes, published by the Culver City Friends of the Library. You can order this book on-line through the Friends of the Library website, www.ccfl.org, or inquire at the Charlotte’s Web screening.

Charlotte’s Web is this year’s pick for Culver City City Reads, so you’ll have plenty of time to plan your celebratory Charlotte’s Web dinner. The Friends of the Library compilation features two wonderful macaroni-and-cheese recipes which will be a hit with young and old alike. Don’t forget to add Richard Corlin’s Caraway Coleslaw, the ever-popular carrot sticks with Ranch dressing, and boil up some freshly picked corn from the Tuesday afternoon Culver City Farmers Market. You’ll want to make sure everyone eats some veggies before desert: Charlotte-themed chocolate covered marshmallow spiders and spun sugar spider webs.

Laura Stuart’s Chicago Syle Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb. penne or other medium sized macaroni (Laura suggests using something other than elbow macaroni in this recipe)
1 lb. butter, slightly softened
1 – 1 1/2 lbs. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 c. milk
black pepper
1 pkg. saltines

If you want a creamier dish, use an 8 inch round, 3 inch deep Pyrex dish. If you enjoy a crispy top, use a 12 to 13 inch shallow baking pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the macaroni al dente (firm, not mushy). Grease the inside of the pan with butter. Layer the ingredients in layers: macaroni, grated cheese, 3-5 pats of butter, and pepper to taste. Repeat. You’ll have 3-4 layers in the round Pyrex dish, and 2-3 layers in the shallow pan. Crumble up the crackers and sprinkle on top of the last layer. Pour the milk over the crackers. Bake for 1 hour, or when the top is really, really crispy brown. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Dad’s Mac and Cheese (from Jessica Henderson)

1 lb. pkg. macaroni-and-cheese
1 c. small curd cottage cheese
spoonful grey poupon
cayene pepper
black pepper
2-3 T. grated onion
1 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c. milk
Cook macaroni until al dente. Drain. In large bowl, mix all ingredients. Cook at 350 for approximately 30 minutes or until it is hot inside. (In Wilbur’s honor, the suggested addition of b*c*n strips a few minutes before the dish is finished cooking has been omitted.)

Caraway Coleslaw (contributed by Dr. Richard Corlin)

1 sm. handful of caraway seeds
1 splash cider vinegar
a couple of shakes of ground white pepper
1 t. sugar
2 heaping T sour cream
5 heaping T mayonnaise
salt to taste
1 shredded head of cabbage

Using mortar or blender, process caraway seeds until partially ground. Blend caraway seeds, vinegar, white pepper, sugar, sour cream and mayonnaise on slow speed until completely mixed. Add salt to taste. Put shredded cabbage in a large bowl and thoroughly mix in the dressing. Cover and put in refrigerator to chill. Best when served within 4 hours or so after dressing.

The young and young-at-heart in your household will enjoy making these two Charlotte’s Web themed recipes provided by the Arapahoe County Library System on its website.

Marshmallow Spiders
30 large marshmallows
large package of chocolate chips
60 M & Ms
5-oz bag red string licorice

Poke eight small pieces (about 2 inches long) of string licorice into the large marshmallow for legs. Melt the chocolate chips. Dribble a large spoonful of melted chocolate over the marshmallow. Add two M & Ms for eyes while the chocolate is still sticky. Set aside to cool. (makes 30 spiders)

Candy Spider Webs
4 cups of light corn syrup
margarine
2 2/3 cups sugar
30 – 40 squares of aluminum foil (8 inches x 8 inches)
a few drops of flavoring (vanilla, peppermint, lemon extract)
candy thermometer

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cover over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Cover and cook slowly for about 10 more minutes. Uncover and cook without stirring until it reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and let stand a few minutes. Drizzle strings of syrup on buttered squares of aluminum foil to form spider webs. Let webs cool and harden. Remove webs from foil carefully. WARNING: The syrup mixture is very hot! (makes 30 – 40 webs)

Katie Malich has never seen a spider weaving a web spelling out “Splendid” or “Humble,” but she has seen a sow giving birth. Just don’t remind her about the young pig she saw at the 4-H display at the Santa Barbara County Fair. His name was “Breakfast.” (AND DON’T TELL WILBUR!)

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