Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Galloping Gourmet Gets His Hands Gritty

The Galloping Gourmet, the PBS gastronomic tease, Graham Kerr, turns over a new leaf with fresh and healthy concoctions. In his Growing at the Speed of Life, he charms us with his wit and gardening adventures. However, his gardening tips make gardening sound much more difficult than reality. The book’s strong point, as the reader would expect, rests with his cooking tips.

Learn how to prepare fresh nutritional gastronomic treats from the garden. I learned many things including how a microwave works and why it changes the textures of foods. I also learned some tips on boiling potatoes and steaming veggies. I was surprised to find out, I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. In the boiling section, he suggest slightly boiled peas with a few mint leafs, and a touch of sugar. I had to try it. Tasted great.

The recipes start on page 62 and run through 294. Kerr provides the reader with recipes for everything grown in the garden including vegetables, grains, fruits and spices. My mouth is salivating for some bumbleberry strudel.

The latest food craze involves eating lots of different fresh food items. They contain lots of micronutrients and antioxidants. According to Whole Foods, Bok Choy and Kale contain some of the highest cancer fighting micronutrients. Kerr’s devotes a section to each of these. The reader learns the growing conditions for each crop as well as pest complications. He gives us nutritional information, and three to four recipes for each.

These days I try to not eat processed or preserved foods. Markets provide just about every fruit and vegetable fresh year round. When items are in season, I try to buy local since they generally have a better flavor and nutritional value. If possible try to grow some of your own. I grow container tomatoes, much better flavor than the supermarket.

Tonight I will be dining using one of Kerr’s recipes, salmon with fresh cucumber sauce. As Kerr says, dine FABIS (fresh and best in season).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rosa Parks Bus

James F. Blake  bus driver's seat
Behold the infamous seat from which James F. Blake told Rosa Parks she needed to move to the back of the bus on December 1, 1955. While Montgomery City Code, chapter 6 section 11 gave Blake the right to tell her to move, her subsequent refusal sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and began the civil rights movement in the United States.

The Montgomery Improvement Association elected pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to president of their group and leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott movement. King’s success in Montgomery gave him the momentum to strive for more rights for African Americans.

Consider the situation, what if Blake had been easier going, and hadn’t enforced the rule. He may have lost his job, but the boycott may not have occurred, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may never have gotten involved in the civil rights movement.

Rear Seat of the Bus
Secondly, this was before cell phones. The event happened on a Friday afternoon, during rush hour. Imagine today, a bus driver pulling over with a full load of passengers to use a phone and wait for the police to arrive so they could arrest Rosa. Do you think, it would happen today?

It is simply amazing, how Rosa Parks’ refusal, and the subsequent actions worked together to result in one of the most important events in U.S. history. Rosa Parks was not the first rider to refuse to move. It had happened on other buses in Montgomery, but none had the same result. For some reason, Rosa Parks’ refusal galvanized the community to work together to end legal segregation.

After the incident Rosa Parks and her husband lost their jobs, and could not find employment in Montgomery. Today, people consider her a hero, but in 1955 many people in the United States considered her a troublemaker or worse. The Parks moved to Detroit, where she died at the age of 92 on October 24th, 2005.

It was on the Cleveland Avenue Bus, number 2857 that Rosa Parks and James F. Blake had their encounter that made history. The Henry Ford Museum paid $492,000 for the bus, and an additional $300,000 to restore the bus to its mint condition. The bus is now on display at the Henry Ford Museum.

(Pictures and text by Bruce G. Smith)

The Cleveland Ave Bus number 2857

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nevada Barr’s, Burn deals with a difficult subject, and one that generally makes people mad or at least uncomfortable – child molestation, kidnapping, and child prostitution. She digs into the pedophile trade. Who needs vampires, when you have pedophiles?

The story starts in Seattle and shifts to New Orleans. Anna Pigeon, Barr’s main protagonist and a National Park Ranger needs some well-deserved rest and relaxation. She rents a place from her friend, Geneva, a blind blues singer, who also works for the park service with the heritage musical program in the French Quarter.

Barr knows New Orleans, and she passes that knowledge along to the reader as they follow Anna through the shadier streets hunting for a pair of missing children.  The children have possibly become sex slaves.

This book is down and dirtier than Barr’s previous books. It’s a raw story, and she makes the reader feel uncomfortable. She forces the reader to experience the horror of children being forced into heinous acts and positions by the City’s powerful and elite.

This was a difficult book to read because of the content and the style. Barr used three voices in the beginning and the book did not flow. Once Anna and Jordan met the book flowed better, and the story progressed quickly. Burn’s content challenges the reader to take action on the issue of pedophilia, to scream out at the atrocities perpetrated against children in our society.

According to the Counter Pedophilia Investigative Unit, 67 percent of all victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies were under the age of 18, and 34 percent were under the age of 12. One in seven victims of sexual assault were under the age of 6 (www.cpiu.us). The CPIU site seems to have the most reliable statistics, I could not find reliable statistics regarding underage sex slaves.