BOOKS!  Who doesn’t love ’em?  Is there anything better than holding a new (or gently used) book in your hands, flipping through, tasting a paragraph here, devouring an illustration there?  Much as I love bits and bytes, books will always win the race for my heart…

In 1957 the VNSA held their first book sale in Phoenix and raised $900 to benefit the Visiting Nurses (the VN of VNSA). The sale has been held every year since, though since the transfer of Visiting Nurses to a large hospital corporation, the VNSA now stands for Volunteer Nonprofit Service Association.  This year the sale benefited three Valley agencies: Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County, and Toby House, Inc, an agency that helps adults with severe mental illness.

The sale is held in a 50,000 square foot building on the Arizona State Fairgrounds for two days at the beginning of each February (some great pictures of the 2004 event are here).  People line up for entry to the sale hours ahead, some bringing flashlights to read through Friday night in order to be among the first to enter Saturday morning.  Fire regulations dictate how many hundreds may be in the exhibit hall at any one time, so sometimes the wait can be long.  We go on Sunday, when everything is half price and the crowds are somewhat diminished. This year there were over 600,000 items for sale (books, records, cd’s, dvd’s, maps, etc.) and the VNSA expected to raise in excess of $350,000; there was plenty left for us to buy on the second day of the sale.  Here’s what I bought with my $26.00:


Notice that book up at the top, Working a Duck?  What a find.  Written by Melicia Phillips and Sean O. McElroy (Doubleday, 1993, $25.00) it tells you everything you could EVER want to know about preparing and cooking any part of a duck.

The Captain was not thrilled with the Christmas arrival of two more cookbooks.  “Maybe we have enough cookbooks,” was his comment.   Damn, I thought, that leaves only golf for next year.  Oh well.  BUT – he was well pleased with the duck book, because it filled an empty space on the cookbook shelf (right between crabs and eggs).  In fact, can one ever have enough duck recipes?

Ever the culinary adventurer, the Captain dove right in and two nights later served up Fried Noodles with Duck, Ginger, Garlic and Scallions, a recipe with a definite Eastern accent (and I don’t mean Vermont). It takes a bit of preparation, but if you, too, are an adventurer you can find the recipe (slightly changed) here, or over on the right under Recipes.

Just in case the Duck book wasn’t a hit, you’ll notice in the photo above there is also a great big golf book.  One must cover all the bases…