Sukuma Wiki and Ugali

Photo from Allison Riley's Y'All Taste This (Miami, FL)


The July 22 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to include: tomatoes, curly kale, yellow onion, 1 jalapeno pepper, Greenstar lettuce mix, carrots, and lemon cucumbers. Here's a recipe for the kale, tomato, onions and jalapeno.

Eighteen months before Katrina hit, I made a trip down New Orleans to attend the Jazz and Heritage Festival Since it was the tenth anniversary of South Africa's independence, there were all sorts of musicians and crafts from that country.

I ended up in the food exhibits indoors when my SPF 30 sunscreen proved no remedy for the Southern sun. That's where I first got to eat this recipe for greens and maize (what we would call grits or polenta.)  The name I've given you is in Swahili from Kenya.  I couldn't find the South African name for the greens.  The maize there is called "stywe pap."


1.  Wash and drain in a colander two pounds of greens.  Since the kale is a bit tougher by summer, you can chiffonade it.  Cut out the center stalk and chop finely.  Then roll a few leaves at once and cut crosswise into fine shreds.  You can use kale only, but it's even more delicious if you mix the kale with collards and spinach, chard or beet greens.  Or, if you have trouble with the oxalic acid in the latter, you can use sweet potato greens, if you can find them. (or grow them?)

2.  Chop two or three tomatoes.  When they're not in season you can used canned unsalted diced tomatoes.

3.  Chop the yellow onion.

4..  Chop the jalapeno pepper (optional) discarding seeds and membrane and stem.  Be careful not to touch your eyes until you wash your hands really well, as the oil from the pepper stings badly.

5.  Juice one lemon (or you can use 3 TB lemon or lime juice)

6.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large pot with a steamer filled with the greens.  Cover and steam until greens are nearly tender.

7.  While greens are cooking, combine the lemon juice with a tablespoon of whole wheat flour in a small bowl or cup and stir well until mixture is smooth.  In a cast iron skilled lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, saute together the onions, tomatoes and jalapeno.

8.  Add the tomato/onion/pepper mixture to the pot.  Stir in lemon juice mixture. Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Cover and simmer until greens are tender and the mixture has thickened.  If you'd like you can add cooked leftover chicken or cooked beans.

9.  Serve over cooked grits, or another grain such as quinoa, millet or rice.



Open Letter to the Roanoke City Commonwealth's Attorney

Screenshot of Roanoke City Mayor David Bowers April 3, announcing Sheryl Crow as the headliner for the grand opening of the Elmwood Park amphitheater.  I originally published this post on 7/18/14 at 5:11 pm and updated it on 7/19/14 to include the Virginia Code on scalping and a response from the Roanoke City Manager.


The Sheryl Crow concert July 31 to celebrate the grand opening of amphitheater in Elmwood Park  went on sale from The Jefferson Center on April 17 for $15 each with a limit of six tickets per person.

Steve Buschor, of Parks and recreation said,
We're absolutely excited that our citizens will be able to experience Sheryl Crow’s amazing talents in this new state-of-the-art venue right in the heart of downtown Roanoke.
 Tickets sold out in two hours. Since then tickets have appeared on ebay for $115 each from Buchanan, when they cost $15. There are tickets right now on sale there for $57. I'm guessing this person in Georgia meant $200 by "two bills" for his or her auction of two tickets on Craigslist and also there you can find some for $150 and some for $200.

The City of Roanoke spent $75,000 of taxpayers funds and obtained sponsorships from the likes of Downtown Roanoke Inc., the Jefferson Center, Budweiser, WDBJ7, 94.9 Star Country, Q99, K92, the ViBE, and WFIR.

Was all this effort just to support scalpers? If it's not illegal, it should be. How can allowing private speculators to profit be in the public interest?  My understanding is that the Commonwealth of Virginia (unlike other states) leaves the laws regarding scalping up to its localities. Does Roanoke Virginia have a ticket scalping ordinance? If so, what is your office doing to enforce it. If not, why is there no such ordinance?

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.


UPDATE 7/19/14

Well more information from "Joe from Cheese TX"  (as John Dufrense calls him on his blog) who read this entry and sent me a site that enumerated state scalping laws, at least as of 2011.  It turns out that the Virginia law, which I just looked up does allow local ordinances, but exempts internet scalping.  Huh? That seems like a loophole large enough to drive a tour bus through.

§ 15.2-969. Ordinances prohibiting resale of tickets to certain public events; penalty.
Any locality may provide, by ordinance, that it is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to resell for profit any ticket for admission to any sporting event, theatrical production, lecture, motion picture or any other event open to the public for which tickets are ordinarily sold, except in the case of religious, charitable, or educational organizations where all or a portion of the admission price reverts to the sponsoring group and the resale for profit of such ticket is authorized by the sponsor of the event and the manager or owner of the facility in which the event is being held. Such ordinance may provide that violators thereof are guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. 
This section shall not apply to any resale of a ticket that occurs on the Internet.
(1970, c. 530, § 15.1-29.3; 1982, c. 279; 1995, c. 339; 1997, c. 587; 2009, cc. 321, 376.)
I haven't yet heard back from the Commonwealth's Attorney, but right after I heard from Joe, I heard back from Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill.  I checked with him and he gave me permission to print his response to this letter here

...While the cost for Sheryl Crowe [sic] was $75,000, the actual city contribution to the event should be much less after sponsorships and concession revenue. 
We could have charged more for the tickets but even had we set the price at $50 or $75 scalpers would still be asking for much more because there are only 4,500 seats for a very popular artist. 
We set the price at $15 so locals would at least have an opportunity to purchase tickets at an affordable price. All those who lined up at the Jefferson Center box office received tickets and I know many local folks got up early to purchase tickets on the Jefferson Center website. 
While VA law allows cities to make resale of tickets to public events a Class 3 misdemeanor (see statute below), it prohibits applying the code to internet sales. Since nearly all scalping is done on the internet, this does not really help us.
So, I'll repeat:   If [internet scalping is] not illegal, it should be. How can allowing private speculators to profit be in the public interest? 

Wonder what the chances are of  the General Assembly doing something about this, since the hands of local officials are pretty much tied.


Photographer Roger May: Broadening the View of Appalachia

Map from Appalachian Regional Commission via Roger May.

Roger May's new collaboration with other photographers and writers Looking at Appalachia: 50 Years After the War on Poverty.  His definition for the project is the area funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.  I might quibble with that, as it leaves out Roanoke and includes some areas that aren't exactly in our mountains and valleys.  As Rudy Abramson and my friend Jean Haskell write in their introduction to , the Encyclopedia of Appalachia,

At the beginning, as ever since, the federal map reflected the exigencies of congressional politics as much as economic need, geography, or culture. Many inhabitants of Pennsylvania and New York were surprised to learn that the government in Washington considered them Appalachians, and some were opposed to the very idea. Newly elected New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who had taken up a deep interest in the region during his brother’s 1960 presidential campaign, led the effort to make the southern tier counties of his adopted state part of the federal region. Similarly, Mississippi was included largely due to the influence of Representative Jamie Whitten, a powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee. On the other hand, a number of Virginia mountain counties that were Appalachian by any standard except political were left out because their representative, Richard H. Poff, was opposed to the 1965 bill.

But maybe Roger's geographical definition makes sense in that his reference point is the War on Poverty.  He writes in the overview,

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared unconditional war on poverty in the United States and nowhere was this war more photographed than Appalachia. A quick Google image search of “war on poverty” will yield several photographs of President Johnson on the porch of the Fletcher family home in Inez, Kentucky. Many of the War on Poverty photographs, whether intentional or not, became a visual definition of Appalachia. These images have often drawn from the poorest areas and people to gain support for the intended cause, but unjustly came to represent the entirety of the region while simultaneously perpetuating stereotypes. In an attempt to explore the diversity of Appalachia and establish a visual counter point, this project will look at Appalachia fifty years after the declaration of the War on Poverty. Drawing from a diverse population of photographers [and now writers] within the region, this new crowdsourced image archive will serve as a reference that is defined by its people as opposed to political legislation. 
Then again, "as defined by its people" is hardly as defined by ARC funding.

I'm happy to report that Roger has now added a written component:  Notes on Appalachia, to include us writers of prose and poetry, as well as storytellers.

...[W]e’re looking for your notes, thoughts, stories, hopes, dreams, interviews, and more about your section of Appalachia. Due to the incredible generosity of the folks at Field Notes, we have 13 sets of their “County Fair” edition notebooks that we’re itching to get into your hands! Your narratives will provide a rich context to the visual representations of Appalachia that have been submitted to the project. Here's the scoop – one notebook will be mailed to a point of contact in each of the project’s 13 states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. From there, that person will initiate sharing the memo book throughout the counties in their respective state. When it’s full, the memo books will be returned to Roger May...and new ones will be dispatched....The memo books will be scanned and shared on the project site... and will possibly be included in a print exhibition of the project photographs beginning next year. 

And for my fellow Virginians, here are the photograph from our state as of this evening:

Lauren Pound (of Athens, Ohio) Richlands, Tazewell County
Chris Jackson (of the Eastern Panhandle of WV), Covington, Alleghany County
Joseph Oliver Shay (location not listed) Buena Vista and Glasgow, Rockbridge County
Katie Currid (Staunton, VA) McDowell, Highland County
Jeremy M. Lange (Durham, NC) Patrick County
Pat Jarrett  (Shenandoah Valley of VA)  Lexington, Virginia

I know I'll be writing my state contact (Salvador Barajas) and I hope you will, too.  Here's the list of state contacts (or if one is not listed, consider filling the position.  If you have questions write Roger.  His email is also at that link.


Beth Macy's Factory Man

Today is the publishing date for Beth Macy's first book, Factory Man (Little, Brown and Company, 464 pp) about John D. Bassett III, who got run off from Bassett Furniture in a family feud and instead of leaving the industry,started the smaller Vaughan-Bassett in nearby Galax, Virginia where he now employs 700.

 Beth Macy told Dave Davies on Fresh Air on 7/14 (transcriptpodcast) that Bassett:

 ...has promised the town that they're going to be hiring more people. Just last year - maybe it was in '12 - they reopened a vacant plant next door and christened it Vaughan-Bassett II. And they're trying to get ready. The housing market still hasn't come back up from the recession. I mean, it's kind of been the last thing to come back. And, you know, he was telling me this week that he had just read something - that wasn't really going to come fully black till 2017.

Last year, he broke even. This year, I think he's a little bit behind, but as he points out, we have a ...[balance] sheet at the rock of Gibraltar. You know, he's been very frugal. He's - he calls it Bassett 101 - you know, the techniques he learned from his father and his grandfather, in terms of, you know, having a lot of money in the bank and being very careful with his investments. And he's just determined he's going to keep that factory going because when the economy does come back and housing starts to improve, he's going to be poised to be what he calls the last girl standing on the desert island. You know, he's going to out-wait everybody. He's going to be the last guy. And he's going to get the business because no matter how good-looking you are, it doesn't matter. If you're the last one standing, you are going to get the business.


Factory Man started out in 2011 as  "Picking Up the Pieces,"  a  series on the effects of globalization on the towns of that once hosted the textile and furniture industries in Virginia, which Beth  wrote while she was a reporter for the Roanoke Times. As she writes for Nieman Storyboard:

For the next three years, I spent most of my waking moments turning that three-part series into a 120,000-word book, Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town....

 Among the reporting challenges I faced were American CEOs who avoided the press, Chinese businessmen who claimed that speaking candidly to me could jeopardize their profits, and a painful early chapter on race that kept me awake at night struggling with The Big Questions: Does it matter? Is it fair? A decades-long family feud gave the story an undercurrent and a universal element, but it was also the single topic my brash main character didn’t want to discuss (in fact, he grew agitated every time I brought it up).

My goal had been to write a business book that did not read like a business book — something that my octogenarian mom could read in order to finally understand why so many of the once-thriving factory towns she grew up in, and near, now look like ghost towns, with soaring rates of disability, food insecurity and underemployment My goal had been to write a business book that did not read like a business book — something that my octogenarian mom could read in order to finally understand why so many of the once-thriving factory towns she grew up in, and near, now look like ghost towns, with soaring rates of disability, food insecurity and underemployment.

 Macy left the paper in May, in order to devote her time to writing books.  Her next one is scheduled to come out in 2016.  Her last piece  for the Roanoke Times, "After the shouting: Macy shares a final chapter" came out June 8, updating a 1993 piece "Pregnant and Proud." (interview with Beverly Amsler, WVTF.)

 In October 2013, Chris Roush published "Turning a business feature into a book" on his blog Talking Biz News. In December 2013, the Ochberg Society printed an interview on how how the book developed including how she dealt with reluctant sources: "‘People get that you’re in it for the long haul’: Beth Macy and Factory Man."  Madelyn Rosenberg has an interview here.

You can check out Beth's blog, Intrepid Paper Girl for links to Factory Man reviews. and events.  For videos on the book, check out the video channel of her husband Tom Landon of Lucky Dog Productions LLC.

And don't forget the IPA/Macy tie-in from Parkway Brewing Company.


Basil Pesto Hummus

Photo from Kristen Stevens, chef and owner of Vancouver's Endless Meal Supper Club.

The July 15 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to include tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, basil, fresh garlic and kale.

You can use this dip with whole wheat pita triangles, with veggies or make the pita bread into chips (directions below).  I plan to use it as a spread for fresh tomato and cuke sandwiches (with some more fresh  basil instead of lettuce.)


Makes 2 cups

For hummus:

1.  The night before, in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan, cover 1 cup of dried chickpeas with three cups of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover with lid and simmer on low for five minutes.  Let soak overnight.  Drain and rinse the chickpeas and repeat, but this time simmer until soft.  Drain and rinse a second time. (If you prefer, you can drain and rinse canned chickpeas, but they are not as fresh tasting, nor as economical.

2.  Heat a cast iron skillet lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil until a bead of water evaporates.  Cover bottom of skillet with raw sesame seeds and toast until they just pop.  Remove from heat and transfer to a small glass jar.  You will use a heaping TB for this recipe and can cool, cover and reserve any remaining for another use.

3.  Toast 1/2 cup of walnuts.

4.  Grate Parmesan, romano or asiago cheese or a combination enough to make 1/2 cup

5.  Peel 3-4 fresh garlic cloves

6.  In a heavy duty blender or food processor combine the cooked chickpea, toasted sesame seeds and nuts, grated cheese with:
1 large handful fresh basil leaves
A splash of lemon, lime or orange juice
A splash of extra virgin olive oil
A few pinches of sea salt

7.  Process until smooth. Transfer to a covered small bowl and refrigerate until right before serving.  Remove cover and garnish with a fresh basil leaf.


1.  Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

2.  Cut whole wheat pita bread into triangles and then splitting the triangles into two pieces (so that they are single not double).

3 . In a bowl combine 1 TB extra virgin olive oil with  a pinch or two of any of the following: oregano, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, salt.  Add pita triangles and lightly toss.

4.  Arrange the seasoned triangles in a layer on a baking sheet and toast until lightly brown (10-15 minutes, turning half way).


Roasted Beet and Quinoa Salad with Beet Greens, Red Onions, Cucumbers, Feta and Walnuts

Photo from Dani Spies.  I first published this post at 8:15 pm on 7/7/14 and updated it at 3:00 pm on 7/8/14 to include the actual farm share and links to additional recipes.

The July 8 farm share was slated to include lettuce mix, beets, cilantro, tomatoes, red bunch onions and cucumbers.  The actual share also included summer squash and the beets included the greens, as I had hoped.


Beets and chard are part of the same species (and, as is spinach in the Amaranth family), so the greens are very similar in taste. Make sure you remove the greens right away before storing so that they won't drain moisture from the roots.  You can used the greens  raw in a salad or steam or saute them.  Because the stalks take a little bit longer to cook, I cook them first, before adding the greens.  Besides tasting good, beet greens are packed with vitamins A and C and have a good amount of iron and calcium too.This recipe uses both the roots and the greens.

Serves 4-6

1.  Cook one cup of quinoa.

2.  Separate the beet roots from the greens.  Scrub the roots.  I roast the whole beet roots unpeeled for 20 minutes in a countertop convection oven, as it doesn't heat up the house so much in summer and saves electricity, too.  But if you don't have  one, you can roast the beets, wrapped in foil,  in a regular oven preheated to 400 degrees F for 50 minutes or until tender (small beets cook faster.)

3. Chop the beet stems, keeping separate and tear the greens into large pieces.

3.  Mince three whole cloves of garlic (or you can substitute 2 TB of garlic scape pesto, if you have some left.  

4.  Finely chop the red bunch onions and greens. Reserve 2 TB of onions for the beet roots.

5.  Lightly coat cast iron skillet with extra virgin olive oil and heat to medium.  Saute beet stems until tender and add  remainder of onions saute until translucent.  Stir in beat greens until just wilted. Set aside to cool.

6.  Peel the roasted beats and cut them into small bite site pieces and let cool.

7.  Chop 1/2 cup of cilantro.

8.  Chop 1 cucumber.

9.  In a large bowl combine  beets, beet greens, chopped cucumbers, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 TB balsamic vinegar, garlic, and pepper to taste. Toss with cooked quinoa.  Top with 1/4 c. walnuts, 1/4 # of crumbled feta and top with cilantro before serving.

Additional beet recipes:

Moroccan Stew:  Beets, Buttercup Squash and Radishes

I also like to make a cold beet borscht by boiling grated beets until soft with lemon juice and a bit of sugar, chilling and topping with Greek yogurt or tofu sour cream and cold diced boiled potatoes.


Kohlrabi Fritters with Tzatziki (Greek Cumber Yogurt Dill Sauce)

Photo from Blooming Glen Farm in Pennsylvania


The July 1 farm share from Glade Road Growing is expected to include kohlrabi, cabbage, summer squash, cucumbers, onion, and dill.

There's more information on the cabbage relative and a recipe for an apple and kohlrabi slaw at my post from last year.  This week I I thought I'd provide a recipe that combines it with the cucumbers, oninion and dill.  You can also eat kohlrabi raw, in soup, roasted, steamed or spicy in Indian recipes.


I'm not sure how many kohlrabi bulbs will be in the farm share.  While this fritter recipe calls for four, you can make up the difference by using the summer squash. Or if you'd like to use the squash for another recipe, you can use potatoes (and omit the oats or brown rice.) The kohlrabi greens, if they are included, will be edible. The greens, too, are edible. Take the smaller, newer leaves, trim them and cook as you would beet greens, until they are tender.

Serves 4 - 6

Start by making the Tzatziki sauce and put in the refrigerator to thicken.  You will only use a portion for this recipe and can use the rest as a salad dressing or dip during the rest of the week.

1.  Peel 4 kohlrabi bulbs and shred (or mix shredded kohlrabi and unpeeled shredded summer squash or potatoes to make 2 - 3 cups).  Place in colander and squeeze out excess moisture.

2.  In a bowl, combine:

2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup cooked oat groats or brown rice
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3. Add kohlrabi or kohlrabi-squash mixture by the spoonful and mix until coated.

4.  Form fritter mixture into two inch balls and lightly coat with whole wheat flour.

5.  Heat lightly oiled cast iron skillet until a bead of water evaporates.  Drop into skillet. Press gently with spatula to flatten. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.


Want a good recipe for the cabbage?  You can shred it and make it into a slaw using the recipe I've linked to or here's a recipe for my favorite cabbage borscht.