James and Vivian Leva at Monkey House in Blacksburg Sunday December 7 3:00 PM

Food and socializing starts at 3:00 pm at The Monkey House.  Concert at 3:30.  All money goes to James and Vivian Leva ($10-15 suggested.)

If you want a ticket contact Jim and Robyn or leave a note on fb.


Claudia Emerson

Scott Elmquist's photo of Claudia Emerson accompanied Peter Galuszka's February 11, 2014 story, The Power of Place, in Richmond's Style Weekly.


I was a great fan of poet Claudia Emerson ever since I started readying her body of work when she won the Pulitzer in 2006.  She was kind about letting me reprint her poems here and then I got to hear her read her poems at the 2008 Virginia Festival of the Book.  She returned in 2011, but I didn't make it that year.

So, I was sad to learn of her death today via facebook from her fellow UNC-G alumni Kathryn Stripling Byer.

I wrote about Claudia Emerson back in 2006 when she won the Pulitzer and created a Wikipedia article that I spent four hours today (starting at 3:22 p.m) restoring and updating.  (Someone saw fit to delete a bunch in September 2011, rather than take the time to update broken links.)  Which is unfortunate, because I DIDN'T get to add these links to new pieces or catch up on reading her new poems.  But there will be time for that.

Emerson had joined the VCU faculty in 2013 and there's an interview from the Spring 2014 issue of Poictesme by Hannah Morgan with an illustration by Megan Goldfarb, in addition to the one above by Peter Galuszka.   And then there's the  interview by Sarah Kennedy from the Winter 2006 of Shenandoah, reprinted on Poetry Daily.


#GivingTuesday: SAMPLER (Southern Appalachian Media Project for Literacy on Environmental Renewal)

Photo quilt I design from individual photos on SAMPLER entries 


What's Giving Tuesday?

Black Friday,
Cyber Monday...

After two days of shopping, December 2nd is a day to give back. It's #GivingTuesday.

In 2012, 92Y joined with the United Nations Foundation (“UNF”) to create an annual global day of giving that helps raise funds and awareness for important causes everywhere.

How can you help SAMPLER?

You can donate on Razoo and/or help spread the word....

Here's a post on facebook
Here's the tweet...

Our projecthe audience for of this project will be regional and national consumers of legacy, online and social media. The users will be citizens in South Central Appalachia and journalists. Our challenge is that our region is covered only occasionally by the national media, often when there is a mining disaster or a release of poverty statistics. The authors of this coverage often lack a feet-on-the-ground understanding of the complexity of local issues. Regional papers that provide balanced coverage tend to cover one state, although the problems are endemic. Citizens often don’t understand the difference between public relations, spin and good journalism.

We believe our crowd source approach to good journalism will build skills needed for users to raise awareness of the issues facing our region and provide citizens citizens with the information they need to meaningfully evaluate those issues and participate in the civic arena.

Our partners

We are partnering with the Appalachian Community Fund (ACF) to build an alliance of journalists and citizens working to strengthen in-depth reporting on a sustainable transition from coal's mono-economy in Southern Central Appalachia (West Virginia and the areas affected by coal mining in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.) We especially plan to cover the practice of mountaintop removal. Other topics include the proposed introduction to the region of other extractive carbon-based energy industries (fracking and natural gas pipelines) with an analysis of their their possible effects on climate, water, land and/or air quality.   On November 1, we submitted an application to the Knight Foundation's Prototype Fund to help develop the project.  OVEC serves fiscal sponsor and is accepting our crowd-sourced donations until we achieve own non-profit status.

Here's how I described the project to Knight:

SAMPLER will use a website, twitter, facebook and other social media to provide content to national media and teach citizens to critique our coverage and that of others.

We take our definition of reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists. Our goal is to help citizens gain the skills to create and publish stories, photos and videos of their communities and to help journalists cover topics they could not address as meaningfully alone. Our users will gain knowledge that they need for meaningful civic engagement to improve quality of life through a transition from poverty and environmental degradation to environmental justice and sustainable development.

The assumptions we will test if we get the grant:

*Citizens can build skills needed for users to raise awareness of the issues facing our region
*Journalists will use our content to deepen their own content

We will know if the project has worked or not by metrics such as:

*number of participants
*participant evaluations
*consumer evaluations
*number of blog posts
*number of articles on other media
*number of comments websites of other media linking to our posts
*number and variety of supporting organizations

What we've done so far:

*we've use this blog as a prototype to publish photographs (Paul Corbit Brown, Vivian Stockman, Roger May, Antrim Caskey); journalism (Rachel Parsons, Sarah Verkasi, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Ted Boettner, Mary Anne Hitt, Jon Foley)
*Sue Sturgis and Chris Kromm of Institute Southern Studies provides advice, offer to syndicate through Facing South
*Margo Miller of the Appalachian Community Foundation has offered to syndicate content in its regional blog
*established relationships with MIT Center for Civic Media, Looking at Appalachia Project, Cir.ca, Carnival of Journalism
*Darryl Fears, Washington Post environmental reporter wants background information to cover mountaintop removal
*Blacksburg Glade Road Growing syndicates posts on sustainable agriculture, cooking with local ingredients
*New Organizing Institute and Energy Justice Network underwrote social media training
*Newstrust added coal as news archives category
*Alliance for Appalachia provided a travel grant for me to attend the 2012 Knight Media Learning Seminar
*Washington and Lee provided scholarship for its Poverty Journalism Workshop
*developed logo
* provided description to local and regional foundations
*set up google alerts on related news topics
*set up data base on scientific research on mountaintop removal
*Newstrust will share material on how to think like a journalist in evaluating quality of journalism
*started data base of environmental, poverty and political reporters; civic groups


PD James: writing everything while remaining in the genre

Cropped version Murdo Macleod's photo of PD James before an 8/26/06 appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival accompanied  The Guardian's obituary by Stanley Reynolds.

I first published this post at 5:44pm on 11/30,14, as I wanted to get the word out and am in the process of adding to it. (In glancing over the program, I noticed others we have lost who appeared that year, including Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) and Harold Pinter (1930-2008).


From the obituary of PD James by Stanley Reynolds in The Guardian:

...Phyllis [Dorothy] James had not started writing until her 40s, and said she only wrote a whodunnit as practice for a serious novel. Later on, though, she never fretted about being locked into crime writing. She said she could write everything she wanted while remaining in the genre.

What I miss when I don't go online.  While I was celebrating Thanksgiving, PD James died at age 94, having published Death Comes to Pemberley (Jane Austen revisited through a murder mystery) in 2011 "which combined my two great enthusiams in life" (quote from video at the end of this post) and Talking about Detective Fiction in 2009.  Both (and many more) are at the Virginia Tech Library including her 1999 autobiography, A Time to be in Earnest, as well as a DVD of Children of Men, the 2006 film based on her book on the end of the world due to male infertility of the same name published in 1992 (with a first U.S. edition by Knopf in 1993.)

James talks about why she started with and maintained loyal to the detective novel in her Paris Review interview from 1994 by the late Shusha Guppy:
I don’t make a distinction between the so-called serious or literary novel and the crime novel. I suppose one could say mainstream novel. But I didn’t hesitate long before I decided to try to write a detective story, because I so much enjoyed reading them myself. And I thought I could probably do it successfully, and the detective story being a popular genre, it would have a better chance of being accepted for publication. I didn’t want to use the traumatic experiences of my own life in an autobiographical book, which would have been another option for a first attempt. But there were two other reasons. First, I like structured fiction, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I like a novel to have narrative drive, pace, resolution, which a detective novel has. Second, I was setting out at last on the path of becoming a writer, which I had longed for all my life, and I thought writing a detective story would be a wonderful apprenticeship for a “serious” novelist, because a detective story is very easy to write badly but difficult to write well. There is so much you have to fit into eighty or ninety-thousand words—not just creating a puzzle, but an atmosphere, a setting, characters . . . Then when the first one worked, I continued, and I came to believe that it is perfectly possible to remain within the constraints and conventions of the genre and be a serious writer, saying something true about men and women and their relationships and the society in which they live.

It's not as if James didn't want to be a writer earlier than at age 40.  As Marilyn Stasio noted 
in the NYT, James was fond of saying [as she did in the Paris Review],
When I first heard that Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall...I  immediately wondered: Did he fall — or was he pushed?
I didn't know that James opposed Scottish independence and marriage equality in the House of Lords until I read a bitter comment in The Guardian.  Evidently, activist Linda Semple has forgiven her for both, if not two of the books I mentioned above. (Semple "spent the 1980s and ’90s working in women’s and LGBTQ organizations, publishing, and journalism. She now works for the Scottish Government, heading up its work on health and social care efficiency.")

I love this send up James gave the BBC (tape), which she describes as being a:

large and unwieldy ship … with a crew that was somewhat discontented and a little mutinous, the ship sinking close to the Plimsoll line and the customers feeling they have paid too much for their journey and not quite sure where they are going or who is the captain.

But even more, this lovely interview with James by Australian journalist Jennifer Byrne which aired on ABC Book Talk on 5/14/2013:


52 Books in 52 Weeks: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs, Scribner, 416 pp, Septembe 23, 2014, ISBN 978-1476731902

Novelist Jebb Hobbs, spent over 300 hours of interviews trying to make sense of the murder of his Yales roommate, Robert Peace.  The 30-year-old African-American was an almost straight-A student in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, who also dealt marijuana, not so much for what he could buy himself, as for how he could support his family and friends..

Here is an NPR interview including Hobbs reading from the book and the NYT book review.


Celeriac! (and Butternut Curry)

Photo by Janet for her 2012 recipe for curry.  She has other celeriac recipes here.  I first published this post at 8:07pm on 11/24/14 and updated it for formatting  at 11:20am on 11/26.

The November 24 (and last 2014) farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to include celeriac, kale, lettuce mix, butternut squash and napa cabbage, oh my! (Sally and Jason will be at the Blacksburg Farmers Market in December on the 6th, 13th and 20th with root veggies, meats, some greens and winter squash. They'll be back there in April and the 2015 farm share sign up will probably open in December.)

Today's recipe features celeriac.  Who can resist something that roasts or pickles so well and tastes yummy raw, something like a cross between celery and parsley. 


By day, Janet is a physician in Toronto, after living for a year in Houston, Texas. By night, she's a food blogger and photographer at The Taste Space and also shares recipes with Kahakai Kitchen.

She made the above curry with pumpkin, but after all, that's just one type of winter squash and this week we'll be getting butternuts. It turns out she adapted her recipe from one by Sarah Breton, who used squash.  Here's my remake of her remake...


Serves 6

1. In a countertop convection or conventional oven (on a cookie sheet), roast veggies for 1/2 hour and let cool enough to prep:

1 large onion
1 carrot
1 lb celeriac
4 garlic cloves
1.5 lb pumpkin or butternut squash

2. While veggies are roasting, cover 1 cup of dried red lentils with water and bring to boil. Cover with lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse well , cover with fresh water plus 1 cup, cover with lid and  back to boil and and let sit.

3. In a separate pot, do the same for 2 cups of raw quinoa.

4. Peel veggies and cut into cubes. Finely chop two T fresh ginger root.

5. Chiffonade kale, keeping stems separate.

6. In the bottom of a steamer pot, combine veggies, ginger, lentils, and the following spices:
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
1 t tumeric
1/4 t dry mustard
1/2 t gound fenugreek seeds
1/4 t ground cinamon
1/8 t ground cloves
1/8 t ground cardomon

7. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and steam first the stems, and then the leaves of the kale until tender, but bright green.  Add kale to curry.

8. Serve over quinoa (or cooked yellow rice) and garnish with celery leaves or cilantro leaves.


If you're not going to make this recipe tomorrow, refrigerate the celery root in an unsealed plastic bag for up to 2 or 3 weeks. To prepare, trim the leaves (if present) and root end. Scrub well. You can roast it to make it easier to remove the skin and any brown bits. If you’re using it raw, peel quite thickly and place cut the pieces in water with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discoloration.


"British chef" (other than for all those exquisite cream and fruit pastries) may sound like an oxymoron, until you think about Nigella Lawson.  As of today, I'm adding Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I came upon his feature at The Guardian when I was looking for celeriac recipes. Just take a look at this  salad he composed.  Since we don't have endive in this week's farm share, think about a chiffonade of kale with cashews (or your favorite nut) and orange or apple slices.

Fearnley-Whittingstall has been "championing food integrity + consumption of local, seasonal produce since 1998" River Cottage on the Dorset/Devon border and he LOVES celeriac. He writes, as compared to a potato, it's
even more unprepossessing, with knobbly, knotted looks that only a mother could love – or a cook who has unearthed its inner beauty. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that celeriac might just be my favourite root of all time. It's nothing less than a winter wonder.


Want more celeriac recipes?  Here are some that look yummy:


BTW, did anyone make it to the farm November 21 for the final 2014 farm stand which included a meat show case? Besides the veggies, there was a fresh supply of goat and pork cuts, sausages, fresh chicken, duck eggs, and more, along with cooking tips.

If you didn't make it, you missed some good eating. I heard a lot of folks say they had no room for dinner after stopping in for samples. (My own black bean and rice dinner had to wait until the next day.)

Here's the scoop on this years samples, as best as I can remember (sorry I didn't take notes):
  • goat sausage congee and goat bone broth from Hoof Harted Farm
  • a variety of ham steaks (my fav was Lisa's lemon rosemary) from Ben's  pastured pig, plus his cracklings and Lisa's spinach and ground pork fritatta
  • hard boiled eggs and Lisa's squash or pumpkin curd  featuring Sally's ducks
  • gizzard stew, a brined roast  and a roast with fennel from Sally's Freedom Ranger chickens. 


Honeybeelujah! Reverand Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir take on Big Ag

Photo from Sarah Galo posted on twitter and used by permission.


"Lots of Bee-atitude, hard-working and sticky sweet. Honeybeelujah!"

Lucky freelance writer Sarah Galo snapped the above photo, while she was at  Joe's Pub at the Public in NYC watching Billy Talen  and his choir taking on "Big Ag," especially Monsanto, and the struggle it causes bees (which we need to pollinate our food) and thus the rest of us.

I got to watch Billy Talen  live online and even if you missed it, you can, too (starting at 2:10).

More later on these activist artists and how they've taken on mountaintop removal.  (I met Billy and his choir at Appalachia Rising where we both performed.)  For today, just let's talk about the performance.  (I'll write more on what's happening to the bees later, too.)

Billy appeared, as usual, in Swaggart-like finery and the choir dressed  as Pilgrims, in preparation for their Thanksgiving protest at the corporate headquarters of Monsanto on November 27.  Special surprise guest was Joan Baez, who had also appeared with Billy and the Choir at a fundraiser for Ferguson activists on November 21.

Here's Erik McGregor (aka Minister Erik R. McGregor) photo used with permission of  Joan Baez with Billy and the choir at Joe's Pub from his photo set.

Here's another (used with permission)  of Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, the latter in their incarnation as the "Honey Bees" taken in Boston from their IndieGoGo campaign to swarm corporate headquarters of Monsanto. 

In addition to covering Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, he document the actions of other NY-based activist groups including
* Sane Energy Project
* Food Not Fracking
* United For Action
* Food & Water Watch
* 350NYC
* Occupy Wall Street movement and the different affinity groups spawned from it.

Monsanto's world headquarters are in prosperous Creve Coeur (French for heart broken), a small city in St. Louis County, just 9.7 miles from Ferguson, where a jury is still deciding on the verdict--first slated for today--regarding the death of  Michael Brown.

Evidently the police chief there is prepared for the verdict:


The Ridgeliners at The London Underground, Black Twig Pickers at Cellar in Blacksburg Saturday November 22

Mike Gangloff just let me know about  The Ridgeliners will be playing the London Underground Wake Up Call gig this morning Saturday November 22 from 10-12 (with Mike on fiddle and  some or all of the following: Debby Freed on banjo; Becky Barlow on upright bass; Charlie Anderson on fiddle, washtub bass and step-a-tune, Kevin Roberts on guitar and maybe even Cara Gangloff on washboard?)  As Mike told a common friend of ours via facebook, "This is a rare occasion when an old-time band will assemble while the sun is still ascending...without necessarily have played through the entire night before."

One of Mike's other bands, the Black Twig Pickers plays The Cellar this evening

Doug Thompson caught the Ridgeliners (and Kim Kirkbride dancing with other members of the audience) for his video when they played The Friday Night Jamboree in Floyd, Virginia on August 22, 2014 (posted with his permission.)

The Ridgeliners from Doug Thompson on Vimeo.

You can also check them out playing "Big Fish" for Couch by Couchwest:

BTW, Matt Peyton, who is one of the coordinators for Couch by Couchwest  has some other sites online you might want to check out:
Feel Bad For You Monthly Mixtape – any song, any genre, any year
A Truer Sound - a southwest Virginia located music blog


Hatfield McCoy Recreation Authority fails to follow WV state purchasing, ethics and employee bonus laws

I've always thought that the name of the Hatfield McCoy Recreational Authority perpetuated stereotypes as did the Hatfield McCoy Mountains tourism region (as compared to say, the name of the Raleigh County Recreation Authority for Beckley or the names of the other regions: New River-Greenbrier Valley, Mountain Lakes, Metro Valley, Mountaineer Country, Eastern Panhandle, Potomac Highlands, Northern Panhandle and Mid-Ohio Valley.)

But I had questions beyond stereotyping after reading AP's WV statehouse reporter, Jonathan Matisse (AP archive, @jonathanmattise, jmattise@ap.org) account that "$1.3 million in leases, insurance policies, labor, catering and other contracts" have benefited board members, the executive director or family, according to a preliminary report by Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred:

- Liability insurance for about $386,300. A board member owns the insurance agency.
- $820,400 in labor. The executive director and another authority board member serve on the contractor's board.
- Industrial storage building lease from the Wyoming County Economic Development Board for about $34,800. One authority board member is a development board employee. The executive director and another board member are development board members.
- Others include: almost $5,900 to a catering company owned by the executive director's mother; $24,300 for vehicle maintenance through a company owned by a board member; $28,400 to a building maintenance company whose board includes the executive director; $23,300 in printing services from a company owned by the executive director's dad; and $36,700 from the state Division of Tourism, for which the executive director serves as a board member.
I wonder about the excuse that authority officials used with the WV leg members today, that it has "has wrongly operated like a nonprofit, not a state agency, for its entire 18-year existence." Such an explanation seems pretty thin, given that a non-profit's bylaws could (and I would say should) prohibit conflicts of interest and nepotism and that its fiscal policies should require competitive bidding and so forth.

Also I wonder what kind of oversight that WV is providing to its state grantees to get away with such for 18 years.

I tried to read up on the history of the trail authority, but  the authority denied me permission to read its blog. And maybe because of snow, the legislature's website (including the code section establishing the trail authority) was down on the evening of 11/18.  As recently as November 2, http://www.register-herald.com/news/mountain-state-s-atv-trail-system-is-the-new-tourism/article_f9f25926-a2b6-5269-b83f-772e00cbbff6.html

So here are my last questions.  Are there any other state-created authorities, and if so, how many other, if any, are behaving this way? Also does similar corporate behavior exist among "real" non-profits with state contracts.

I'd love to have some follow-up from Mr. Mattisse and the other WV statehouse reporters.


Purple Carrot Tarts

Photo  by JJ of the food blog 84th&3rd  accompanied her recipe for July 4, 2012.

The 11/18/14 farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include cabbage, kohlrabi, purple carrots, celery and tetsukabuto squash.


Although purple carrots are now more exotic than their orange counterparts, they were actually the norm originally cultivated around Afghanistan with its pigment based on anthocyanins also found in berries.  Since the pigment turns brown upon cooking, I thought I'd feature this recipe which unlike some others, preserves the original color. While JJ makes her version with a spelt crust and uses apple sauce and almond milk, mine uses an almond crust and whole almonds and apples in the filling.

To prepare the almonds:

Blanch 1/2 cup of almonds and remove skins.  Soak overnight.

to make the crust:

The night before you're going to bake the tarts, mix together 2 cups of blanched almond flour, 1/2 tsp sea salt. Cut in 2 TB extra virgin coconut oil, butter or extra virgin olive oil.  Stir in 1 beaten egg.  Divide into six balls and press into tart pans, starting at the center.  Refrigerate, which will allow the fat to congeal.

To make the filling:

1  Wash 1/2 pound of carrots and cut in half  vertically and then into 1  inch pieces.  Wash two apples and core and cut into eights.  Steam carrots and apples  approximately 10-15 minutes until very soft.

2.  Puree carrots, apples and almongs in blender with with 3/4 cups of water  until smooth.  You will use 4 cups of the mixture for this recipe.

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

4.  Lightly beat 3 large eggs and whisk together puree and the following:
1 tsp ginger
1/3 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 TB honey

Assemble and bake:

Fill tarts and put any extra in a greased shallow dish.  Bake tarts and side dish until center barely jiggles, about 30 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream or a bit of vanilla ice cream, gelato or sorbet..


52 Books in 52 Weeks: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

Jill Lepore, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Knopf, 432 pp, October 28, 2014, ISBN

Lepore, a Harvard professor, is also a staff writer for The New Yorker, where I've enjoyed her essays Much of Lepore's research, teaching, and writing "explores absences and asymmetries of evidence in the historical record."  This lively book tell of the creation of an Amazonian cartoon by a feminist polygamist and its connection to the various waves of the women's movement.


De Nile Ain't Just a River

Photo of Tommy Davis lost his son Cory along with a brother and nephew at Upper Big Branch by Chris Lawrence to accompany his 4/2/14 story, "Upper Big Branch families want Blankenship prosecuted."


Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship is  "a "tireless advocate for mine safety."

In what alternative universe would folks believe such a description by his attorney William W. Taylor IIIThe science fiction version of the coal industry arrived today in response to today's federal indictment regarding the Upper Big Branch (UBB) explosion that killed 29 miners back in 2010. Blankenship's  record is so egregious (and personality so defiant) that West Virginia native and national journalist and editor Michael Tomasky called him "the coal industry's most gleefully Dickensian figure" back in 2009 and Jeff Goodell described him after UBB as the "Dark Lord of Coal Country" and "the industry's dirtiest CEO."

Ever since the disaster, there have been calls to prosecute Blankenship including a demonstration by some of the family members on the courthouse steps back on April 2, 2014.  Those relatives got some manner of satisfaction today, when U.S. District Attorney Booth Goodwin issued a statement  that Blankenship faces up to 31 years in prison if convicted.

Back in 2010, Pam Napper told the story of her son Joshua's premonition that a disaster  would kill him, but still said the explosion was a "freak accident."  After all the investigations and today's indictment, she has changed her viewpoint about Blankenship.

I think it's about time...He was a big part of this. He knew what was going on in that mine and continued to let it go. I hope he gets what he deserves. I am so excited. They aren't sad tears today. They're happy tears.
Goodwin announced early on that he would not prosecute Alpha Natural Resources (the coal company which bought Massey), saying the corporation was "not a life, it's not a being, it can't go to jail." At the same time, he stressed that he would continue to pursue the evidence. My first thought today, When I received his statement via email was Goodwin has made good on his word.

The charges

Blankenship stands accused of four charges: two counts of conspiracy (to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards and to impede federal mine safety officials), one count of  making false statements to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission  and another of committing securities fraud, the latter two stemming from Massey's "willful violation of safety laws" at  UBB:

Blankenship knew that UBB was committing hundreds of safety-law violations every year and that he had the ability to prevent most of the violations that UBB was committing. Yet he fostered and participated in an understanding that perpetuated UBB’s practice of routine safety violations, in order to produce more coal, avoid the costs of following safety laws, and make more money.
The denials are nothing new, just creative lawyering

Taylor's responsed in a similar vein, when David Hughart, president of a Massey Energy subsidiary, admitted he had conspired with the chief executive officer when he pled guilty to two conspiracy counts before a federal judge in Beckley and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Blankenship "did not conspire with anybody to do anything illegal or improper....
To the contrary, Don took every step to make the mines under his responsibility safer....We are not concerned about Mr. Hughart's recollections. People often remember untrue things when they are attempting to reduce a possible prison sentence.
Hughart didn't mention Blankenship by name, but Massey only had one CEO and Taylor links to the news story that includes the denial at his website.

Taylor also    brags on that website that he is "well-known for his creative motions practice" and that he "[o]btained dismissal of all criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who was accused of sexual assault in a New York City hotel.

Blankenship would rewrite history

Taylor's denials are of  a piece with Blankenship's "documentary," Upper Big Branch, Never Again, claims UBB was caused by a "natural gas inundation," not his safety-law violations.  In July, Blankenship was complaining to Lee Fang about "reg-cecession...a recession caused by excessive regulation.”

As Ken Ward, Jr. pointed out back in 2011, it's hard enough to go after coal companies and their executives.  Can you imagine the pillage in the alternate universe where we do away with such regulations as exist?  I'd prefer a universe where the regulations are strengthened and enforced.  How about you?  Goodwin's prosecution of Blankenship is at least one step in that direction.



Photo is a screenshot from this video on the Food Network.

The November 11 farmshare from Glade Road Growing is slated to include  sweet potatoes, roasting radish, rutabaga, turnips, fennel, and napa cabbage.  Sally asked for something for folks who don't much like turnips.

I'm guessing some find the taste too sharp when they're raw; roasting will make them taste milder.  You can make them milder yet, if you cook them with veggies with more natural sugar, such as this week's sweet potatoes and/or carrots, onions and beets.  You can even add a bit of honey or sugar and/or dried fruit.

All this brings me to a recipe from the Jewish tradition, tsimmes, which is a sweetened combination of vegetables (or of meat and vegetables), which has been stewed, roasted  or baked.  Joan Nathan has a bunch of great recipes, which inspired mine for this week.


Serves 8

1.  Wash and halve, a sweet potato, roasting radish and  rutabaga.  Wash, and trim turnips and fennel of root end and any greens.  (Reserve the greens for another use.)

2.   Peel and halve 2 onions.  I also like to use 2 tart apples, 4 carrots,  and one beet.

3.  Roast (cut side up, if applicable) for half an hour at 450 degrees F in convection oven or or wrapped in aluminum foil on a cookie sheet in a conventional oven.

4.  Cool enough to handle and remove skin from sweet potatoes, radish, rutabaga and turnips.  Chop all the veggies and apples into large pieces.  Boil 2 cups of water with 2 TB honey or demerara sugar.  Add roasted veggies and apples and return to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Stir in 2 TB of orange juice concentrate and 1 TB of butter or extra virgin olive oil  and cook until softened and the flavors combine.

5.  Serve warm, topped with toasted walnuts.


Or if you like turnips just fine raw, you can make a nice shaved salad of the turnips, fennel, radish, carrots and nappa cabbage.


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Revival by Stephen King

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

Stephen King, Revival,  Scribner, 416 pages, November 11, 2014, ISBN 9781476770383.


6th Circuit Upholds Gay Marriage Bans, Reversing Federal Rulings for MI, OH, TN, and KY

Saul Loeb's  photo by accompanied Geoffrey Stone' s 8-3-14 essay in The Daily Beast,  "Justice Kennedy Opened the Door to Same-Sex Marriage, Will He Walk Through Next?: Twenty-nine consecutive judicial decisions in the past year have held bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional. This is nothing short of extraordinary."


Just a month ago, on October 6, the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions.  Now, on November 6, in a 2-1 decision in DeBoer v. Snyder, 6th Circuit Judges Jeffrey Sutton and Martha Cook (both Bush appointees) have upheld gay marriage bans in MI, OH, TN, and KY-- breaking ranks with many courts who have expanded rights since United States v. Windsor, when  the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The link for the opinion is thanks to my favorite SCOTUS journalist, Lyle Denniston, who writes here
Probably the only way that this ruling would not predictably lead to Supreme Court review, it appears, is if there is a request for en banc review in the Sixth Circuit, and that request is granted.

Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi distinguished service professor of law for The University of Chicago, believes that this "what Justice Kennedy has been waiting for," observing that Kennedy wrote the opinion, not only in Windsor, but two other  major Supreme Court decisions that opened the door for  gay marriage:
*Romer v. Evans (1996), which held as unconstitutional a Colorado constitutional provision that prohibited the enactment of any law protecting gays, lesbians, and bisexuals against discrimination
*Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which held as unconstitutional a Texas law prohibiting consensual, adult, homosexual intercourse

Sutton had upheld Obamacare, perhaps giving some supporters of equal rights cause for hope that he would support gay marriage.  Mark Joseph Stern, however, called it correctly on August 7, when he wrote for Slate after observing Sutton during the arguments the previous day.
Based on Wednesday’s arguments, marriage advocates have good reason to worry. Unlike Cook, who clearly viewed gay marriage prohibitions as a rational state policy, Sutton seemed to scowl at the prospect of excluding an entire class of people from marriage. But unlike Daughtrey—who fiercely questioned the state’s interest in discriminating against gays at every turn—Sutton appeared exceedingly hesitant to bring gay marriage to America through judicial fiat. 
Sutton's opinion concludes on page 42:
In just eleven years, nineteen States and a conspicuous District, accounting for nearly forty-five percent of the population, have exercised their sovereign powers to expand a definition of marriage that until recently was universally followed going back to the earliest days of human history. That is a difficult timeline to criticize as unworthy of further debate and voting. When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.
Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey (a Clinton appointee) dissents, starting off with a quotation from Benjamin Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process (1921) “The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men do not turn aside in their course to pass the judges by.”  Her introduction is scathing:
The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy. But as an appellate court decision, it wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional question in this appeal: whether a state’s constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage violates equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Instead, the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is “who should decide?”—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it. Because I reject the majority’s resolution of these questions based on its invocation of vox populi and its reverence for “proceeding with caution” (otherwise known as the “wait and see” approach), I dissent.


Broccoli with Roasted Tetsukabuto Squash in Coconut Sauce.

Photo from Betty Crocker.

The November 3 farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include tetsukabuto squash, broccoli, a baby haukarai turnip bunch, bok choy, and dill. 

This is a recipe for broccoli with roasted squash.  Since tetsukabuto is popular in Brazil, I've added a suggestion of that country's cuisine by including homemade coconut milk.  (BTW, broccoli is pricey in Brazil, so collards would be more traditional.)

Serves 6

1.  Cut squash in half.  Scoop out seeds (and reserve to toast).  Roast cut side up in convection or conventional oven at 450 degrees until tender.  Cool enough to peel and chop into cubes.  You will use two cups for this recipe.  If you don't have tetsukabuto, any type of winter squash or pumpkin can be substituted.

You can refrigerate any surplus and serve with steamed bok choy, tempeh and brown rice topped with toasted pecans; with roasted turnips, topped with a sauce made from Greek yogurt and chopped fresh dill;  or  pureed into a soup which includes steamed or roasted turnips, Yukon gold potatoes and celery.

2.  While the squash is roasting, blend together 1 cups of of hot water and 1/2 cup of  unsweetened shredded coconut to make milk.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  (If you want, you can make extra.  It will keep for 3-4 days.  The "cream" may separate on the top.  Just shake or stir before using.)  I use the milk as is, but some folks prefer it to be more like the commercial product, which requires that you pour it through a mesh strainer lined with  several thicknesses of cheesecloth to remove the  remaining bits of coconut.

3. Trim ends off broccoli.  If stems are tough, peel.  Chop stems and keep separate.  Break top into  florets.  Steam stems until just tender and then add florets and continue to steam for about a minute or more until bright green and tender/crisp.

4.  In a serving bowl, combine broccoli and squash and toss with the coconut milk.  Top with dried cranberries (or pomegranate seeds) and pecans.  If you'd like this to be a main dish, substitute 3 cups of cooked black beans and 3 cups of cooked brown rice for the fruit and nuts.  Toss with the broccoli squash and coconut milk and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Top instead with chopped cilantro.

BTW, tetsukabuto squash is a hybrid between Cucurbita maxima (which originated in South America from the wild C. maxima ssp. andreana over 4000 years ago) and Cucurbita moschata, whose cultivars (which include butternut and crookneck squash and pumpkins) are generally more tolerant of hot, humid weather and insects.  Tetsukabutos were developed in Japan and introduced to Brazil in 1960.  They are popular in the cuisine of both countries.


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Some Luck by Jane Smiley and Toughs by Edward Falco

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

Some Luck: A novel by Jane Smiley, Knopf, 416 pages, October 7, 2014 (ISBN 978-0307700315)

Edward Falco, Toughs, Unbridled Books, 480 pages, August 12, 2014, (ISBN 978-1-60953-111-9)


Galway Kinnell: Bearer of Witness

Photo accompanied Emilie Stigliani's story.

Glenn Russell of Burlington Free Press caught Vermont's poet laureate Galway Kinnell as he hugged his son Fergus at the end a celebration of Kinnell's work at the statehouse in Montpelier August 7, 2014. He died yesterday at his home in Sheffield at 87.

Kinnell bore witness through his poems and his actions, supporting the peace movement, freedom of expression, the environment and civil rights.


Spiced Roasted Winter Squash and Fennel

Photo by Lisa Hubbard for the October 2004 Bon Appetit

The October 28 farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include butternut squash, spinach, arugula, green peppers and fennel.

The following recipe can be served as a side with chicken  or turned into a main dish by the addition of  2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans.  It can be served on a bed of cooked rice or chilled and served on a bed of mixed greens such as the spinach and arugula.

Fennel is also delicious raw sliced thinly in a salad, such as this one from the summer, but substituting fall fruits such as pears and apples for the peaches and tomatoes


Serves 4

1.  Prepare veggies for roasting by cutting butternut squash in half lengthwise and brushing the  cut edge with extra virgin olive oil. Trim one fennel bulb, cut in half lengthwise and brush the cut edge ith extra virgin olive oil.  Peel one large onion and trim root end, but leave connected and cut lengthwise in half and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Smash and peel 4 or more cloves of fresh garlic.

 2.  Roast squash, fennel, onion and garlic in convection on a rack or conventional oven on a baking sheet at 450 degrees F until softened and fragrant about half an hour. Let cool enough to be able to handle. Peel squash and scoop out seeds and cut lengthwise into 3/4 inch-wide wedges.  Cut fennel lengthwise into 1-inch-wide wedges.  Cut onion into 1/2 inch wedges.

3. Combine squash, fennel, onion and garlic in bowl.  Add 2 TB extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat.

4.  In a small bowl blend the following spices:

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

5.  Sprinkle spice mixture over veggies and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Continue cooking in cast iron skillet or heavy saucepan on stove until veggies are tender, turning once, about 10 minutes. 

6.  Transfer to a shallow dish and serve.


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood and The Children's Act by Ian McEwan

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood, Nan A. Talese, 288 pages, September 16, 2014,
ISBN 978-0385539128

The Children Act by Ian McEwan,
Nan A. Talese, 240 pages, September 9, 2014, ISBN 978-0385539708


Quick Napa Kimchi

Photo accompanied Christine Gallary's recipe for kimchi when she was food editor in the test kitchen at Chow.  She is  now the Food and Cooking Editor at The Kitchn.


The 10/21/14 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to include napa cabbage, head lettuce, daikon or watermelon radish, hot and green sweet peppers,cilantro and carrots.  Sally asked if I could provide a kimchi recipe. Kimchi is a condiment of fermented vegetables seasoned with ginger, garlic, chile, and fresh or preserved seafood. Traditionally it was made in large quantities and buried to ferment for at least several months.

This  same-day version, even quicker than Gallary's, is adapted from Lilian Chou's recipe from when she was an editor at the late, great Gourmet.  Like Gallary, Chou uses fish sauce to deepen the flavor quickly. I like her recipe for her use sesame seeds, as well as grated Asian pear instead of sugar.  If you want a hotter version, instead of the pear you can follow Gallary's lead and use 1 1/2 teaspoons demerara sugar and 1/2 pound of the daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks. 

This recipe will make about 2 quarts.  You can keep your kimchi in the fridge in lidded mason jar(s) and  it will grow stronger as it ages. If you are going to age it for at least several days to a week, you can follow Gallary's lead and add 2 teaspoons Korean salted fish for a more authentic flavor.


1.  Quarter the napa cabbage lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-to 3-inch pieces. Toss it with 3 tablespoons sea salt in a large bowl and let it stand, tossing occasionally, for 2 hours.  Rinse well and drain.  Squeeze out excess water with your hands and transfer to a large bowl.

2.  Toast 3 TB of sesame seeds in a lightly oiled cast skillet until they start to pop and remove from heat.

3.  Chop one bunch of scallions enough to make one cup.

4.  Smash, peel and chop 6 cloves of fresh garlic or enough to make 2 TB.  Peel fresh ginger root and chop enough to make 1 TB (or more up to 1/4 c.)  Purée until smooth with 2 TB Asian fish sauce and 2 tsp of distilled white vinegar.  Pour over cabbage. Add sesame seeds, scallions and 2-3 TB coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes and toss.

5.  Cut one large Asian pear in half and remove stem, core and seeds.  Grate on large holes of a box grater, add to cabbage and toss.

6.  Marinate at least an hour.

There are many kinds of kimchi, as oulined in this brochure from a museum devoted to the condiment in Korea.    Here are some family recipes by Korean-born  Emily Kim who lives in Manhattan and posts under the moniker Maangchi — hammer in Korean — a name she used while playing the online game "City of Heroes."


If you'd like a milder recipe that uses the carrots, cabbage, cilantro and red peppers, you can make a slaw from the napa, inspired by either of these recipes from last year:
Or if you like Salvadorian food, the carrots and cabbage are delicious in curtido (pictured below), a pickled slaw served with pupusas.  You can find recipes for both here.


52 Books in 52 Weeks

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel, Henry Holt & Co., 256 pp (ISBN 978-1627792103, September 14, 2014)

Rachel Caron:  Witness for Nature by Linda Lear Henry Holt & Co., 634 pp (ISBN  978-0805034271, 1997)


Rustic Shallot, Mushroom and Cheese Tart

Photo of Carla Hall's Rustic Tart of Onions and Leeks, which I've adapted since the October 14 farm share from Glade Road Growing includes a first--at least since I've been doing the recipes--shallots!  (Also expect  spaghetti squash, cherry bell salad radishes, a sweet pepper and a green kohlrabi--plus lettuce for those of you who can eat it.) 

And, if you don't feel like baking, think what a nice salad you could make with raw, thinly sliced shallots,  radishes, sweet pepper, kohlrabi and some lightly steamed green beans in a Dijon vinegrette.


Shallots are in the genus Allium, along with the more common onions and garlic. The flavor is similar to an onion, but richer and more potent with a hint of garlic.  When shallots are called for in a recipe, but unavailable, you need to use twice as many onions and maybe a clove of garlic.

There are two types of traditional shallots featured in French cooking, gray (allium oschaninii) and red (allium cepa var. aggregatum), which are grown from bulbs. The original botanical name for red shallots, allium ascalonicum, points to their origins in the Middle East and refers to the Port of Ascalon, in Palestine, which is now known as the Ashkelon seaside resort in Israel.

Then there are Dutch shallots, which can be grown from seed (and despised as inferior by the French--although the botanical guide I looked at also classified them, as are the red shallots as allium cepa var. aggregatum.)  Here's a fascinating account of the shallot wars from the French gardening blog,  L'Atelier Vert.  

And just to make things even more confusing, there is a wild Persian shallot (allium hirtifolium Boiss.)


Serves 4

To make crust:

Cut 2 sticks of unsalted butter into 1/2 inch dice.  In a medium bowl, combine  2 1/4 cups of white whole wheat flour, 1 TB sugar and 1/2 tsp sea salt and stir with a rubber spatula or a fork to combine. Add the butter to the bowl. Rub the cold chunks of butter between your fingertips, smearing the butter into the flour to create small (roughly 1/4-inch) flakes of fat. Form into a ball and flatten into a disk and refrigerate until very cold.

Let the chilled dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly—it should be cold and firm but not rock hard. Depending on how long the dough was chilled, this could take 5 to 20 minutes. When ready to roll, lightly flour parchment paper on a counter and position the rolling pin in the center of the dough disk. Roll away from you toward 12 o’clock, easing the pressure as you near the edge to keep the edge from becoming too thin. Return to the center and roll toward 6 o’clock. Repeat toward 3 and then 9 o’clock, always easing the pressure at the edges and picking up the pin rather than rolling it back to the center until you have a 12-inch round. Slide the parchment paper with the dough on it onto a half sheet pan, cover lightly and put back into fridge.

To prepare shallots and mushrooms:

Peel shallots, cut off root end and cut in half lengthwise.  Drizzle with 1 TB of extra virgin olive oil and roast at 400 degrees F until softened and golden about 30 minutes.   (It will take less time, if you are using a convection oven)

While the shallots are roasting, slice 3/4 pounds of mushrooms to make about 4 cups.  Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushroom juices release and evaporate and the mushrooms start to brown, about five minutes.  Add 1/4 cup dry white wine, bring to a boil and simmer until it evaporates.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper  and remove to plate.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

To make cheese mixture:

In a large bowl, stir together until mixed well:
3/4 cup of ricotta or cottage cheese,
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, at room temp
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigano-Reggiano cheese
3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble tart:

Take the round of dough out of the fridge and spread the cheese mixture evenly over it, leaving a 2-inch border. Spoon the mushrooms in an even layer over the cheese and top with shallots arranged cut side up.  While it will be a round tart as at the top, the shallots will be arranged more like this:

Fold the border of the dough over the mushrooms, pleating the dough every two inches. Immediately transfer to the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown - about 25 minutes.  Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.


Here are additional shallot recipes (each of which serves 4) which  I've translated (best as I could) from the official site, Echalote Traditionnelle.

Shallot Vinaigrette
Finely chop 1 or 2 shallots and add them 6 1/2 oz. of wine vinegar in a covered jar and refrigerate overnight.

Shallot Confit 
Melt 2 oz. unsalted butter and 2 oz. salted butter in a heavy pan. Peel 16 Shallots and cut in half lengthwise and saute over low heat with two branches of thyme until shallots are dark golden in color and very soft.  Remove the thyme.  (You can use the butter again, which will be flavored by the shallots and thyme by pouring it through a sieve to remove any debris, then allowing it to cool, pouring it into a covered jar and storing it in the fridge.

This is especially good added to baked chicken [or roasted potatoes] which have been cooked halfway and then coated before finishing  in a sauce made from toasted black sesame seeds cooled and combined with 1.5 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, ½ tablespoon soy sauce and 5 1/2 TB extra virgin olive oil.

Cream of shallot and mushroom soup

Slice 15 shallots and 1  pound of mushrooms into strips and saute in butter or olive oil  over low heat, for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper.  In a saucepan, heat 7 cups of stock.  Add the shallots and mushrooms and 1 cup of cream and blend.  The original recipe called for garnishing with smoked duck and croutons, but you can pick a garnish of your choice or none. 


Wondering what to do with kohlrabi? Here are two previous recipes:


52 Books in 52 Weeks: Linda Parson Marion's Motherland

Cover art by Rachel Travis for  Linda Parson Marion's Motherland (Iris Press, 2008, 96 pp).  I first published this post on 10/12/14 at 11:00 PM.  I last updated it on 7:05 PM on 10/18/14.

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

This week I read Linda Parson Marion's Motherland, her narrative poems about leaving at the age of 11 from the home of her bi-polar mother (not to be diagnosed until age 73) to join her father and her young stepmother (who had married her father at age 20) and of subsequent visits back and forth. 

The images (and the story) are riveting.

UPDATE:  I reconnect with Linda on Facebook on 10/18, having last seen her (and met her) at a reading at  Radford University in June 2011.  I had just found this piece from last month (with additional artwork by Travis, who, it turns out is her daughter).  I wrote to let Marion know that I'd be doing a real review once I caught up, but that I wanted to let her know about this post and that her book was "a real lesson in how to write about hard things." 

This was her response, which she gave me permission to reprint here, since I think it gives insight in the writing process:

I like that, Beth, a lesson in how to write about hard things. The challenge is always to craft the raw emotion and memory into a semblance of art, to distance yourself enough from the pain or horror, yet not lose the truth and depth of the experience so that it becomes as much universal as personal.