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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cocoa Fudge

“Can you find me a recipe for dark chocolate cocoa fudge?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff thought this was a mouthwatering request, appropriate for the upcoming holidays. We began the search by looking through our many cookbooks.

The Bon Appétit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild had a very rich Classic bittersweet chocolate fudge recipe (p.731) which required bittersweet chocolate, marshmallow cream, unsweetened chocolate, condensed milk, whipping cream and butter, but no cocoa. Just looking at the cover of Candy Making Basics by Evelyn Howe Fryatt was tempting. There is an entire chapter of Fudge Delights (pp. 16- 28). Members of the staff decided to check this book out when the patron was done using it. Who could resist such treats as Caramel Fudge Fantasy, Piña Colada Fudge, Layered Cream Cheese Peppermint Fudge, and the very seasonal Spiced Pumpkin Fudge.

Having no success finding the correct recipe in the cookbooks we looked through, we began an online search using the terms: dark chocolate cocoa fudge. The first site that came up was Their recipe for Rich Cocoa Fudge included Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa and seemed to be exactly for what our patron was looking.

Rich Cocoa Fudge
3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Line 8-or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil.
2. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in heavy 4-quart saucepan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full rolling boil. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)
3. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool at room temperature to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. Quickly spread into prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.
About 36 pieces or 1-3/4 pounds. NOTE: For best results, do not double this recipe. This is one of our most requested recipes, but also one of our most difficult. The directions must be followed exactly. Beat too little and the fudge is too soft. Beat too long and it becomes hard and sugary.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to Contact the President of the United States, Senators, & Congressmen

Sometimes the Newton Falls Public Library staff members are asked similar questions by different individuals. The following queries were made in the last few days and could be answered by using one site. “What is the phone number for the White House?” “Where can I send a letter to the President?” “How can I have the White House send a letter of recognition for special events like a 50th wedding anniversary or a 100th birthday?” “I want to contact my senator and representative. Where can I find that information?” is a wonderful resource for such questions.

At you can find the following phone numbers - Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414 and FAX: 202-456-2461. At this site you are also able to contact President Obama and his staff electronically using the online form. For those preferring to contact them through the mail, the address is The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.

The Office of Presidential Correspondence handles letters of greeting to United States citizens. The website gives the following detailed instructions on how to ask for letters from the White House. Greetings can be requested for “a 50th, 60th, 70th or later wedding anniversary, birthday greetings for individuals turning 80 or older or veterans turning 70 or older, wedding (send your request after the event), baby's birth or adoption of a child, retirement after at least 30 years on the same job, Eagle Scout Award, Girl Scout Gold Award, or Bar/Bat Mitzvah or equivalent religious occasion. When you make a request, be sure to send it so that it is received at least six (6) weeks in advance of the event date. (Greetings are generally not sent after the event date, except for wedding congratulations and newborn acknowledgments.) Include the name and home address of honoree(s), form of address (Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., Miss, etc.) exact date of occasion (month, day, year), age (birthdays) or number of years of marriage, your (the requestor's) name and daytime phone number, any specific mailing instructions if other than to honoree's address,” and for a wedding include couple's married names and current or new address). Send the required information to the White House Greeting Office by mail or fax (address and fax number above). notes that the office is presently swamped with requests and it is currently taking several months for the request to reach the office and to be mailed out.

Besides information about the current administration, this site also includes facts about all the presidents and first ladies; the White House; the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government; and other links to resources such as the Senate, House of Representatives, CIA World Factbook, and

Friday, October 9, 2009

Steam Furnace H20 Low Fill

“I have a steam furnace to which I have to add water almost daily. Someone told me about something I can put on it that will automatically keep the boiler supplied with water. I think it was called a Watts and he also mentioned “H20 low fills”. Can you help me find more information about it?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff confesses to not knowing much about furnaces, but we often search for information on subjects about which we know nothing.

Our initial online search for “Watts steam furnace H20 low fills” wasn’t very informative, so some general information about furnaces was needed. Looking through our books, we could see that steam heating systems do not seem as popular as others, such as forced air. Heating and cooling by the editors of Time-Life Books and This Cold House: the simple science of energy efficiency by Colin Smith had information about steam heating systems. While both helped us understand this type of furnace a little more, neither gave the information about water low fills.

Now that we had a better idea how the system worked, we again looked online. The site has a variety of forums. Our patron examined the one dealing with Boilers - Steam and Hot Water System. She did not see anything in the discussion pertaining to her situation, but would consider asking a question of the group to see if anyone there had an idea. Continuing the search, we discovered a company named Watts[] with products for plumbing and heating. They have a division for water safety and control for hydronic and steam heating systems. This appears to be the company with the product she needs. At this point, we recommended she contacts a professional to learn more about what she needs to keep the furnace boiler automatically filled.