Colorful Locavore Cole Slaw #WeekendCooking

In the winter, I buy cabbages at the grocery story and I like an oil and vinegar dressing, preferably with some citrus. In the summer, I buy cabbages at the farmers’ market and I like a traditional creamy dressing. I lighten it up a bit by using equal parts mayonnaise and yogurt cheese for the creamy part. The rest of the ingredients are apple cider vinegar, sugar, and pepper — all added to make the texture and taste appealing.

Yesterday’s version turned out extra pretty with two purple carrots from the farmers’ market that I grated and some flat-leaf parsley from my garden that I chopped.

Colorful Creamy Coleslaw
A festive salad made with local cabbage, carrots, and parsley

I learned the secret of good cabbage salad from Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters — layer the sliced cabbage in a colander with salt and let it rest for an hour or so. That softens the texture to make it more pleasant for eating raw.

Purple Clematis
I like the fluffy seed head left behind after the petals fall away.

Here’s a bonus photo of one of my last remaining clematis flowers.

new Weekend Cooking logoThis is my post for Weekend Cooking. Check out Beth Fish Reads today for more culinary posts around the web.

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Amistad #FilmReview #BriFri

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, Heather shared her visit to the Pump Room (made famous by Jane Austen and countless Regency novelists), Sim gave us a fun list of how to know if you’re a Brit at Heart, and Becky reviewed a fantastic book set in London.

Amistad is a 1997 film directed by Steven Spielberg with spell-binding performances by Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Matthew McConaughey.

We somehow missed Spielberg’s 1997 film Amistad when it first came out. Amistad is the true story about a rebellion aboard a Spanish ship, La Amistad, in 1839 and the ensuing court battles after the ship and its African mutineers were captured by an American customs ship.

Great Britain played small but positive roles in the film Amistad.

A member of the Royal Navy testified to the likelihood that the men, women, and children on the Amistad were born in Africa, not the Americas. By this stage in history, the trans-Atlantic slave trade had been abolished by treaty between Great Britain, Spain and the US — although trade was still allowed in the Western Hemisphere. If the Amistad detainees were proven to be African, they could claim self-defense and not be returned to Spanish slave merchants or tried for murder.

The interpreter for the Africans, James Covey, was a member of the Royal Navy — which he joined after previously being rescued from an illegal slave ship.

I’m often impatient with Britain’s self-congratulatory stance about ending slavery in 1833 while not simultaneously acknowledging the British role in the development of slavery. I learned about how the harshest aspects of slavery began  in the British colony of Barbados from Sugar in the Blood by Andrea Stuart. In every bookstore I encountered during my trip to England, I searched in vain for a copy of Sugar in the Blood  — meanwhile, there were always at least two books about William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery in Great Britain.

Still, in this instance, both in the film and in history, the British deserve credit for the high road taken on behalf of the Africans of La Amistad.

The film is brutal, in spots, but given a current trend to promote a “happy slave” narrative, it’s a good reminder of what enforced servitude looks like. There are brighter, even humorous, moments in the film to balance the heaviness. We found it both informative and compelling — especially for such a complicated chain of events.

Have you seen Amistad? What did you think?

Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King #BookReview

Book: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King
Genre: History
Publisher: Harper
Publication date: 2012
Pages: 361

Source: Library

Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
Devil in the Grove won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 2013.

Summary: Pulitzer Prize-winning Devil in the Grove reports the history of an incident in Lake County, Florida, when four black men were accused of raping a white woman in 1949. The aftermath included white race riots, KKK-influence on government actions, violence by law enforcement, and multiple court cases.

The subtitle mentions the one case that is at the heart of the book but readers are given lots of context — the NAACP in the early 1950s, Harlem near the end of the Black Renaissance, Washington DC at the beginning of the Red Scare. Brown v Board of Education (the Supreme Court decision that ended school segregation) was still a few years in the future, but we get to see the last part of the decades-long process that led to that landmark decision. Thurgood Marshall had roles to play in all of these arenas.

Thoughts: I’m always surprised as I continue to read books for the Diversity Book Club at how much I still have to learn. This book gave me several new facts and thoughts.

KKK. The Ku Klux Klan was not just the fringe extremist group I like to think it is — their members were powerful government officials (Are they still? After all, the sons and grandsons and great-grandsons of the men in this book may have inherited their wealth and power).

Brown v BoE. The road between the 1896 Plessy v Ferguson decision (that allowed for “separate but equal” education) and  the the 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision was long. I didn’t know how carefully that journey was mapped and fought by generations of black men and women and their white allies. During the years described in Devil in the Grove, Thurgood Marshall took the mantle from his mentor Charles Hamilton Houston.

Southern white woman. White women suffered under the mid-20th century system, while supposedly being honored on a pedestal, as evidenced by a quote from journalist Richard Carter about Norma Padgett, the purported victim in the case:

You watch her on the witness stand. You listen to her story. You note the righteous ferocity with which the prosecution defends that story. You note the timidity with which the defense challenges it. You count the dead…Ernest Thomas…Sammy Shepherd…maybe Walter Irvin…and you realize that it’s perfectly all right to starve a Southern white woman and deprive her of education and make her old before her time, but by God, no damned outsider is going to dare question the sanctity of her private parts, the incontrovertibility of her spoken word. p. 300

Appeal: Devil in the Grove will appeal to history lovers. If you love legal thrillers, this book might also be an interesting choice. I know that I stayed up way too late one night while reading the scenes about the first trial.

Diversity on the Shelf 2015Challenges: Devil in the Grove is about Thurgood Marshall, his colleagues at the NAACP, and black residents in Florida with the difficult world they navigated. So, I’m counting it as book number 5 for Diversity on the Shelf.

Since Groveland is the name of a town in Florida, I’m going to call this my “city” for the What’s in a Name challenge.

Reviews: Rhapsody in Books described Devil in the Grove as a “horrifying, edge-of-your-seat tale.” Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness was surprised by the book: “Despite the description of the book as a ‘Southern Gothic tale,’ I wasn’t expecting The Devil in the Grove to be as emotionally engaging (and frankly, outrageous) as it turned out to be.” Amy at Amy Reads makes a point that I hadn’t thought about — there’s a problematic element to a book about a false accusation of rape when rape remains a crime that is under-reported and poorly handled in our society.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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June Wrap-Up #ReadersWorkouts

Readers' workouts
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Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

It’s the last day of June! I met my goal of 8 strength-training sessions this month. The eighth one was using the post driver to pound stakes in for my tomato plants — that’s a terrific upper-body workout!

If I exercise for 65 minutes and walk 8000 steps today, I’ll meet my other two goals, too — 1300 minutes of exercise and 21 8K-step days. That’s a challenge, but I’m feeling pretty determined since I’m so close to meeting all of my June goals!

How was your exercise in June? Are you making plans for workouts in July?

For Readers’ Workouts, talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.

Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs #BookReview

Book: River Marked, Frost Burned, and Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publication date: 2011, 2013, 2014

Source: Purchased as e-books

Night Broken
Book #8 in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

Summary: River Marked, Frost Burned, and Night Broken are books number 6, 7, and 8 in Patricia Briggs’ series featuring Mercy Thompson, auto mechanic and coyote shape-shifter. Mercy was raised by werewolves because her human mother didn’t know what to do with a coyote pup. Her world gets more interesting with each book in the series as she acquires friends and enemies among vampires, fae, and more other-worldly creatures.

Thoughts: Of these three, I liked River Marked best because it deepened our understanding of the mythology of this world. The next two books build on that new knowledge so I feel like these books took a leap forward in the complex world-building of this story.

Appeal: This is a terrific series for urban fantasy fans. I recommend beginning from the first book. Patricia Briggs’ website has a page of her books by series and in order.

What's in a Name Challenge 2015

Challenges: The title River Marked gives me another book for the 2015 What’s In a Name Challenge — a body of water.

Have you read any of the Mercy Thompson books? What did you think?

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Joining #Reviewathon

Write On Review-a-ThonThere’s a Review-a-thon going on over at The Book Vixen. I’ve got three reviews ready to be written with good notes in place:

  • The latest three novels in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series (done! and scheduled for June 29)
  • Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King (done! and scheduled for July 1)
  • Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

I’ve completed two other books but I don’t have good notes on them, so they are less likely to be completed in the next couple of days:

  • Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Blah Blah Blah by Dan Roam

Are reviewing books this weekend?

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Gosford Park #FilmReview

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Gosford Park film
A 2001 film written by Julian Fellowes, who later went on to create Downton Abbey.

We weren’t sure if we’d seen Gosford Park before, but eventually decided that this was our second viewing. I think a repeat watching helps with this film. It’s so fast-paced, especially in the beginning. The aim is to capture the frenzied activity, upstairs and (even more) downstairs, of a country house weekend party.

Gosford Park predates Downton Abbey by a few years, but carries many of the same themes — the changing world of the aristocracy and those who are employed in service. I suspect that I understood more of what was going on in Gosford Park, in part, because I’ve been more informed by Downton Abbey.

Gosford Park is presented as a murder mystery, but the murder doesn’t take place until quite late in the story and the investigation is inept (hilariously so, as the bumbling investigator is played by Stephen Fry) and incomplete by the end of the film. The real point of the film is the, apparently, ever-popular British class system, with both a wisp of nostalgia and an illustration of the abuses and inequities inherent in that scheme.

Have you seen Gosford Park? Is it a film that you would watch a second time?

NR Bates #AuthorInterview

At the Sharp End of Lightning by NR BatesWelcome to today’s tour stop for At the Sharp End of Lightning by NR Bates. Today, we have an interview with the author.

I’m fascinated by life transitions. How did you, as an active oceanographer, come to take on writing fiction, too?

The desire to write fiction has always been there since I was a teenager but I had to suppress this creative force while establishing a career in science. A few years ago, life circumstances propelled me to finally mull over ideas I’d had for novels and put the proverbial pen to paper. When I started to write, I had no idea if I could actually develop characters, story arcs and authentic places and events, never mind finishing a book. My wife insists I have a very strong will and this drive allowed me to complete the books. I’ve had to transcend the difficulties of disability since childhood and this inner resolve helped. When I was thirteen, I remember overhearing a physician say that I would not likely survive beyond sixteen years of age or so. Expletives asides, here I am now, despite someone else’s negative view.

How do you balance your working life in science with your writing life?

Frankly…it is a difficult balance! With family commitments and working fulltime in scientific research, finding time to think and write fiction is a complex tradeoff in life. I have an incredibly supportive wife who really encouraged me to start writing and continue to the present. Without her love and backing, I would not have written my books. We mull over living in the future in some small, modest villa in Andalucia where I could work on my craft and write fiction fulltime, look after our animals and tend to a small garden. Sounds idyllic!

As a librarian, I’m always interested in the research that authors do for their books. What research was required for At the Sharp End of Lightning and what were your best resources?

NR BatesMuch of the research for the ocean ecology aspects of the book I already knew from my own research. I had to remind myself of a few details and I used a few oceanographic references in my own library or went to scientific papers using library resources and Google Scholar. In the glossary of the book, I added a few citations to ocean ecology and also to a book on the Antarctic voyage of Nicholas Shackleton and his crew. I also used an encyclopaedia of Welsh history and the Arthurian Welsh tales that were written in the Mabinogion. I spent six months researching the novels before starting to write. Online resources were very helpful for me to check a fact, place or event when I need to.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Still Playing Catch Up #ReadersWorkouts

Readers' workouts
banner designed by Isi

Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

Last week, I reported that I’d need to average 50 minutes a day for the rest of the month to meet my goal of 1300 minutes. As of now, I need to average 53 minutes. So, I’m not really getting there. I’m dealing with the same issues — rain, heat, and meetings. It has helped that I haven’t skipped a day. I almost did last week, but the last day that I didn’t exercise at all was January 8. I don’t want to break a streak that long!

How is your exercise going in June?

For Readers’ Workouts, talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.

What can I do? #Charleston #Ferguson

logo for The Sunday SalonTime: // 12:12pm

The scene: // Brightening gray.

In Vasilly’s insightful post “On Recovery,” she gave me a shout-out for attending Black Lives Matter vigils, something she knows more from my Facebook page than my blog. So, I thought I’d share a few links today, in this space. I know that white people are asking themselves “What can I do?” Here’s what’s working for me.

Reading books. Here’s an easy one for book readers and it’s surprisingly common advice from black activists to white allies. I’ve been reading books with a group in my community since a shooting tragedy here. The end of this post on my book club rounds up some suggested reading with a few titles to help you get started.

Black Lives Matter Vigil
One of our vigils from last fall. That’s me on the right with the Christmasy-colored LOVE poster

Standing vigil. One of the people I stand vigil with wrote a lovely piece yesterday about our experience.

Witnessing Whiteness.  This is a program offered through the YWCA that studies the book of the same title by Shelly Tochluk. The study groups are multiplying here and elsewhere. We meet twice a month for ten sessions to explore what it means to develop a healthy white identity that can ground an anti-racist stance. My new aspiration: to facilitate a Witnessing Whiteness group in the future.

Attending meetings. I tell people who wonder what’s going on in St. Louis, after seeing scary images on TV, that mostly what is going on is meetings. Lots and lots of meetings. That’s how things get hashed out, explored, and planned before they can be implemented. I attended my first meeting of a Working Group of the Ferguson Commission last week and intend to participate in Monday’s meeting that will explore trauma and stress.  There’s a lot of well-deserved cynicism around commissions, but I can tell you that what I witnessed on Friday was nuanced, evidence-based, and steeped in history. There was no shirking from either complexity or controversy.

Starting now. I suggest approaching anti-racism with equal parts urgency and patience. It’s a long road and if you’re just beginning, it will take a little while to find the right vehicle for you. Try something — learn from it — try something else. I’ve been reading books for seven years, standing vigil for eight months, Witnessing Whiteness for three months (even though I’ve been aware of it for years), and attending Ferguson Commission meetings for three days (even though I’ve been aware of it for months). It’s an ever-deepening mix that is also ever-more satisfying. Jump in! Now is the time.

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a librarian writes about books