Money pours in to Virginia State Senate Race in Southwest Virginia

Money has been pouring in.  My friend Katrina reminded me that you have until 7:00 to vote in the special election to replace Puckett (D) in the General Assembly in you live in District 38.

Puckett's resignation was controversial, and came with accusations of deal making to help the Republicans control the Senate, in addition to the House of Delegates in the Virginia General Assembly. You can see why the R's are hopeful, since they consistently draw about 2/3 of the vote according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

As my friend John reminded me, VPAP let out the 3 voters in Montgomery County in the above chart.  (See Mike Gangloff's "Montgomery County to hold election for three voters" in the July 16, 2014 Roanoke Times. The money shown as raised is through August 8.  Updates are here.  Live returns will be here.

In order for the Democrats to regain  control the Senate, via the tie-breaking vote of Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam., they would have to hold the Puckett seat today, and then hold the Richmond-area seat of former Sen. Henry L. Marsh III in a Nov. 4 special election.


Gingered Fennel, Peach, Tomato and Red Onion Salad

Photo by Jen Smallwood of Portsmouth, Virginia

The 8/19/ farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include:  lettuce mix, parsley, fennel bulb, potatoes, Rosa de Tropea onions, tomatoes, delicata and summer squash.  There are so many ways to combine these ingredients that I hardly knew where to start.  I thought, though, that since my recipes  last year's recipes featured roasted fennel (see below) I'd go with raw fennel while peaches and tomatoes are still in season.

Serves 4 to 6

The first step is to make a fennel frond and ginger pesto:

1.  Squeeze one lemon or lime (2 - 3 TB juice)
2.  Finely chop 1 TB fresh ginger and peel and chop one clove fresh garlic.
3.  Shear the fronds from the fennel bulb and chop roughly to make about 2 cups.
4.  Combine in a blender or food processor with a drizzle of 2 - 3 TB of extra virgin olive oil.  Scrape into a medium to large bowl.

Prepare the salad:

1.  Trim the fennel root and the tender portions of the stalk and slice thinly.
2.  Slice 2 medium peaches in half, remove pit and slice into wedges.
3.  Slice half of the onion into thin rings
4.   Remove the stem core from two tomatoes and cut each into 1/8ths.

Add to bowl and toss lightly. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste.  You can serve this over a bed of the lettuce mix, if you like.  If you'd like for this to be a main course, you can include goat cheese and walnuts or cooked white beans.

You can also chop the salad more finely and serve it as a salsa with black beans and yellow rice.

Here's are a couple of other fennel recipes:
*roasted fennel and white beans
*roasted chicken with fennel

and here's a recipe for the squash and tomatoes, combined with eggplant:
*Moroccan squash and egg plant stew


Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw with Cilantro and Lime

Caroline is going out of town this week, so I'm using this photo by Kathryne Taylor of Cookie and Kate. While Taylor's recipe is savory and uses radishes, my is sweet and savory, using candied pecans and dried cranberries.


The August 12 farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include heirloom tomatoes, red cabbage, garlic, summer squash, and jalapeno peppers. I love the combination of red cabbage and apples, whether braised, pickled or fresh in a salad.  Here's my recipe for a slaw without the usual mayonnaise.

Serves 6

1. Wash cabbage and remove outer leaves.  Thinly slice a half a large red cabbage or a whole small one.
2.  Wash and drain cilantro and pull the leaves off the stems.  You will use 1/2 to 1 cup for this recipe and can keep the rest for another recipe by storing the leaves in a covered invited mason jar at the front of your fridge.
3.  Juice two limes (4 TB)
4.  To make dressing combine lime juice with 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp honey, agave or maple syrup
5.  Thinly slice 2 granny smith apples and toss in dressing to keep from turning brown.
6.  In a large bowl, combine the apples and dressing with the cabbage.  Refrigerate until serving time.
7.  Toss with cilantro.  Garnish with spiced pecans and dried cranberries.

I've included a simple recipe recipe for the pecans which won't require you to turn on your oven.  And if you don't have time to make your own and don't want to buy this pricey topping, raw walnuts or pecans are also delish.  You can make this a main course by tossing in 3 cups of cooked white beans or chicken.

Spiced Candied Pecans

Preheat a dry skillet that's been lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add 2 cups of raw pecans halves, 1/3 cup of maple syrup and 1/8 tsp sea salt. 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until syrup is caramelized and nuts are toasted, about 3 minutes. Set out separately on a cookie sheet or plate lined with aluminum foil to cool for about 10 minutes. You can store any extra in a jar with a tight lid.


Cilantro Tabbouleh with Heirloom Veggies

My friend photographer Caroline Montgomery (portfolio), who is also a great friend of Glade Road Growing,  came by my apartment 8/4/2014  to shoot this recipe.  All of the photos are hers except the collage of ingredients at the bottom of the post, which I used for a placeholder until I received hers on 8/5/2014.  I first published this post at 7:59 pm on 8/4/2014 and updated it at 6:52 pm on 8/5/2014 after receiving Caroline's photographs.


The August 5 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to include tomatoes, beets, Rosa de Tropea onions (a red mild torpedo onion traditional to Tropea in Southern Italy), Greenstar lettuce mix, kale, and peppers.  Here's a tabbouleh recipe for the tomatoes, onions and peppers.    I'll post some of her photographs here as soon as I receive them, probably tomorrow.


Serves 6 for a main course or 12 for a mezze (small plates)

Tabbouleh is a dish found in countries including Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and other parts of the Middle East.  It's traditionally made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and sometimes garlic. Bulgur or coucous is often added.  My variation adds green peppers, cucumbers and garbanzo beans.  It substitutes cilantro for the parsley and mint and cooked soft white wheat berries for the bulgar or couscous.

1.  The night before, in a heavy bottomed stainless steel  saucepan,  cover 1 cup raw soft white wheat berries with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes and then soak until cool.  Rinse well and repeat leave overnight.  The next morning rinse one more time and simmer until soft and rinse and cool.

Treat 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans in the same manner.  This will yield three cups of each.

2.  Finely mince 2 TB of onions, 4 TB of green peppers, 2 medium tomatoes, 1 cup cilantro leaves, 1 cucumber and two cloves of garlic.

3.  In a large bowl combine the beans, wheat and vegetables. Add 1 tsp. cumin powder and toss.

4.  Cut lemon in half, reserving several thin slices for a garnish.  Squeeze lemon into salad. Add  1-2 TB of extra virgin olive oil, if desired and 1/2 tsp. sea salt.  You can also add freshly ground black pepper if you like.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.

5.  Garnish with more cilantro leaves and the lemon slices.  Serve.


Mustard Potato Salad with Pickled Red Onions, Tomatoes and Basil

I first published the post on 7/28/14 at 9:41 pm.  I updated it with some corrections on 7/29/14 at 12:30 pm.

Photo from The Food Network.

The July 29 farm share from Glade Road Growing is expected to include tomatoes, basil, red onions, new potatoes, beans, and summer squash.  Here's a recipe for a slightly different potato salad, inspired by one created by chef Bobby Flay

Serves 6

1. Let six eggs sit until at room temperature.  Place in saucepan and cover with cool water by 1 inch. Slowly bring water to a boil over medium heat; when the water has reached a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit 12 minutes.  Transfer eggs to a colander and run under cool running water to stop the cooking. Peel.   Chop coarsely and store in refrigerator until ready to add to recipe.  For the vegan version I like to substitute garbanzo beans.

2.  Half and thinly slice one red onion or two small red onions.  If you want to pickle all the red onions in the farm share and reserve some for a condiment later, that's fine.

3.  Combine in a saucepan:
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons honey (or 2 TB demerara sugar for vegan version)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 TB kosher salt

Bring  to a boil  cook until the sugar and salt dissolves, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the onions and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. Drain the onions through a strainer into a bowl and reserve the pickling liquid.  If you have extra onions you want to use later, save them in the pickling liquid (minus the few TB you will use in this recipe.

4. Slice 2 1/2 pounds of new potatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Steam over boiling water until just soft.  Transfer warm potatoes to a large bowl. Add the eggs, pickled onions.

While potatoes cook, finely chop one tomato and 1/4 cup of basil.

5.  For dressing, whisk together:
1 cup Greek yogurt (or tofu "sour cream" for vegan version)
4 tablespoons whole-grain mustard, Dijon mustard or a combination
Freshly ground black pepper
A few tablespoons of the pickling liquid

Add the dressing, the tomatoes and the basil to the warm potatoes and gently mix to combine. Garnish with a whole basil sprig.  Serve at room temperature or cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and serve chilled.

This can be a main course, rather than a side.  If you want an even heartier recipe you can add add two cups of cooked beans or 1 cup of cooked chicken.


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.