Poem: Lucy Lee Shirley's Skirt

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Back then, if they saw us trying to read or write they would take our hands, take our eyes, if they saw us keep doing it, take our lives, and here I was being awarded one of the top literary awards in the country, having come from that land...That’s our spirit – you can kill us, some of us will die and some of us will take the stories of our grandparents to the next generation. I am the living embodiment of that.   

      ~  Nikky Finney on the dedication of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, talking about one of the artifacts, a videotape of her acceptance speech for the National Book Award.


Six days after police shoot Keith Lamont Scott claiming he posed a threat,
Zianna Oliphant testifies before her hometown City Council:
It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are killed, and we 
can’t even see them anymore. It’s a shame
that we have to go to their graveyard and bury them.

Scott's wife has released a video she took
as she yelled at police:
He has no gun.

His sister tells reporters,
He sits in the shade, reads his book
and waits on his kid to get off the bus
He didn’t have no gun, 

he wasn’t messing with nobody.

In the museum on the Mall, hangs that little skirt  
someone carefully sewed
using a whip stitch and natural thread:
fabric linen/cotton blend
patterned with small flowers:
red, purple, tan and blue.
Style typical of the day,
trimmed with a pleated self-fabric ruffle,
piped in blue, gathered into a yellow waistband.

Worn often, Lucy's skirt shows its age
in stains and holes and worn patches
and later alterations.
Her granddaughter Cornelia 
has shared it with us.
A Polaroid shows
how once it had a long-sleeved
matching peplum top.

The curator says:
people's ability to continue to love 
is something that I can never quite get over.

Picture Lucy, seven or eight or nine
at dusk on a summer Sunday forty miles south in Loudon County
a century and a half earlier
whirling at the edge of a dirt track
fringed in wild asters.

Zianna, the same age, now, crying at a Charlotte podium.



Enchilada Spaghetti Squash Bake

Photo by Dara Michalski (aka the Cookin' Canuck).

Sally asked me to come up with a recipe for spaghetti squash for this week's farm share from Glade Road Growing.  Italian or greek is pretty obvious and I'd already done one for Pad Thai, so I thought I'd come up with something with Mexican flavors.  Unlike Michalski, I make my sauce and beans from scratch and use feta cheese (as we do on Masa Mondays at the farm), rather than Monterrey Jack.  She uses two small squash and I substituted one large one cut in fourths.


Serves 4


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons whole wheat flour (or corn starch, if you would like this to be gluten free)
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
4 teaspoons oregano
4 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 sprig epazote (optional, if you can't find it)
3/4 cups water or stock
1 cup tomato paste or 4 fresh tomatoes roasted and pureed
1/3 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup dried black beans, cooked, rinsed and drained
1 large spaghetti squash
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup corn kernels, fresh cut off cob or frozen and defrosted
⅔ c feta cheese crumbled (or vegan feta substitute, see below)  If you eat neither dairy, nor soy,
     substitute 2/3 cups of chopped pitted kalamata olives)

3 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Ingredients for vegan feta substitute:
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄2 balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dried basil
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lb firm tofu, crumbled

If you want to try an almond-based feta substitute (which requires more work, see this recipe.

1.  To cook the black beans, the night before, bring 1 cup of beans to a boil in 3 cups of cold water and simmer for five minutes.  Rinse.  Bring back to boil and soak overnight. The next morning rinse well and drain. Cover with colder water plus an inch and start to simmer. (Add water as necessary to keep the beans barely covered).

2.  If you are making the vegan feta subsitute, place everything but the tofu in the bowl and whisk together. Add the tofu, stir, and let sit for at least an hour.  You will need 2/3 of a cup for this recipe and can store the rest for another use in a lidded glass jar in the fridge.

3.  To make the sauce,  heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add flour or corn starch, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add spices and cook for 30 seconds. Add water or stock, tomato paste and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out. Add salt and adjust the seasonings, as desired.  If you'd like, you can scale up this recipe and use 1 3/4 cups of the sauce and freeze the remainder for another use.

4.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Using a large, sharp knife, cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  Scrape out the seeds. Place the squash cut edge down in a  baking dish and roast in oven for about 20 minutes, or until soft.  Before handling, let the squash stand for 10 minutes. Using a fork, twist out strands of the spaghetti squash flesh and place in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature. Save the shells of the squash for stuffing later.

5.  Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. 

5.  Stir in the spaghetti squash strands, black beans, corn and enchilada sauce, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.  If you eat neither milk nor soy, instead of feta or substitute, stir in the chopped kalamata olives.  Scoop the spaghetti squash mixture into the spaghetti squash shells and top with cheese or vegan feta substitute, if using.

6.  If you are using the tofu vegan feta substitute skip this step, as it will not melt.  If you have made the almond vegan substitute or are using feta cheese, proceed as follows.  Turn oven to broil.  Place the stuffed spaghetti squash onto a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Cook until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. 

7.  Sprinkle stuffed squash with cilantro.  Cut the halves in half again crosswise, so that you have 4 pieces, plate and serve.


Farm Fried Rice

by Julia Mueller of her  vegetable fried rice from her blog, The Roasted Root.

When Sally and JP told me that  farm share from  Glade Road Growing  this week was slated to include baby bok choy, carrots, sweet peppers, lettuce mix and garlic this week, I suggested that I come up with a recipe for fried rice (which will use everything except the lettuce.)  Mueller's  recipe, which she developed for the spring features broccoli, spinach and green onions and is a side dish, but her photograph was so beautiful and her blog so in line with the kinds of recipes I develop that I decided to feature it here.  Like hers, my fried rice is mostly veggies with some rice, rather than the reverse proportions that you will find in your typical Chinese restaurant.  Mine is more yellow, as I use turmeric and olive oil to flavor the rice.


Serves 4

2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric

1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 baby bok chok, sliced thin on the slant
2 cups shredded carrot
1  piece fresh ginger, finely chopped to make 1 to 2 tablespoons
8 cloves garlic, smashed peeled and finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped (or green onion, if you make this in the spring)
2 cups green peas (fresh if you make this in the spring, frozen this time of year)

8  duck or large chicken eggs, well beaten (you can substitute 1 cup of cooked chicken for 4 of the eggs, if you prefer.)

4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4  tablespoons miso, thinned with an equal amount of water
Chopped roasted peanuts


1. To cook the rice, in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom and a tight-fitting lid, combine the rice and water and bring to a boil.  Rinse.  Return to pot, add teaspoon sea salt, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil  and ground turmeric and bring again to a boil again.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave for 40 minutes until water is absorbed.

2. While rice is cooking, saute the vegetables. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet, wok, or saucepan and heat to medium-high. Add the bok choy, bell pepper and onions and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, cover, and continue cooking until the bok choy  is bright green and the peppers and onions have begun softening, about 3 to 5 minutes.

3.  Add the shredded carrot, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes. Continue cooking until garlic and ginger are very fragrant, about 3 minutes.

4.  Transfer the cooked rice to the skillet with the veggies and add the peas.  Stir everything together well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the rice mixture to sit.

5.  Scramble the the eggs in a separate skillet and add to the fried rice.  Turn off the heat and stir in the miso, toasted sesame oil and peanuts. 


Baingan Bharta AKA Northern Indian Eggplant Curry

Photo by Sabra Krock for the New York Times.


1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp gound cumin 
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
4 cloves smashed, peeled, finely chopped
1 green chili finely chopped, seeds removed (optional--for extra heat)
1 tomato, diced
2 cups cooked garbanzo or chicken (optional)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of cilantro or basil, finely chopped

1.  Prick the eggplant with a thin-blade knife. Grill over very high heat, turning as necessary until the skin is blackened and the eggplant collapses. Or broil, or roast on a heated cast-iron pan or in a counter-top convection oven at 450 degrees F.  It will take about 20 minutes.

2.  When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel (this will be easy) and trim away the hard stem. Chop or mash in a bowl, with lime juice.

3.  Toast spices in a dry skillet and set to the side.

4.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger  (and green chili, if you'd like) and cook for another minute. Add the tomato, toasted spices and salt. Cook until the tomato is soft, 5 minutes or so.

5.  If you would like for this to be a main dish, you can add two cups cooked garbanzo beans or  chopped cooked chicken. 

6. Stir in the eggplant purée and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and cilantro and turn off the heat. Serve hot with warm chapati bread or pita, or over cooked rice quinoa. 


Kale and (Of Course Avocado) Guacamole

Photo by Ian McSpadden for Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D. and Jennifer Iserloh.


Sally, JP and Jody will be on vacation, but Sally tells me that the  Glade Road Growing farm share for September 6 will include kale, sweet peppers, eggplant, head lettuce, basil, tomatoes and garlic. 

Inspired by Dr. Ramsey's suggestion, I decided to add kale to my guacamole recipe.  While I usually used cilantro, I decided to try basil, since that's what available.  (His recipe calls for red onions and jalapeños, while mine uses garlic, sweet peppers and cumin. I also use fewer avocados and add cooked beans to increase the protein and fiber and cut the fat.)


2 cups kale leaves
2 Hass ripe avocados, cut in half, pits removed
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1/2 cup of cooked white beans
3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup sweet red pepper,  stem and core removed and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic  smashed, root end cut off, peeled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

1.  Steam the kale over boiling water for a couple of minutes.  Rinse in a cold water bath, to maintain the bright green color, drain and chop finely.

2.   Scoop out the flesh out of the avocado and place in a large bowl, along with the cooked white beans and immediately coat in lime juice to keep the avocado from browning.   Add salt and mash with the back of a wooden spoon until it is still a bit chunky.it chunky.

3.  Stir in kale, tomatoes, red peppers, garlic, cumin and   basil.  Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 10 hours.

4.  Serve with whole grain tortilla chips, toasted whole wheat pita wedges, or toasted soft corn tortillas.