Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Who Writes Letters Anymore?

It's Lily of the Valley time!

I do. In my latest CLP Eleventh Stack blog post, I talk about the old-fashioned notion of writing letters.

"Even in (or perhaps despite?) this digital age I live in, I’ve always loved handwritten letters. There’s just something special about someone willing to take the time to craft a newsy letter and it’s even more fun to receive it in the mail; it’s a bonus if it’s handwritten on lovely paper." Read more here.

Do you write letters regularly anymore? Or do you just use email?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Music: Led Zeppelin on shuffle in iTunes

We are members of Pittsburgh's East End Food Co-op in Point Breeze, a wonderful store for the best produce in any market we've ever seen (except, of course, farmers' markets in summertime). In their newsletters and flyers, they often feature tasty recipes. Here is one I adapted today,  perfect on a chilly, misty kind of spring day.

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

1 tbsp oil (I used olive)
1 C onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I chopped)
2 tbsp pickled jalapeno peppers, minced (I didn't have so omitted)
1 tsp chili powder
2 15-oz cans black beans in liquid (I cooked my own from scratch and saved some of that liquid)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if available)--I used Pomi brand (which is NOT fire roasted)
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 large bay leaf (again, I omitted since I didn't have)
4 links (12-16 oz) vegan "sausage", chipotle flavored

In large stock pot, heat oil and add onion. Cook until transparent. Add garlic, jalapeno peppers (if using), and chili powder. Cook a few minutes more. Add tomatoes, beans, liquid smoke, bay leaf (if using); bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often. Gently mash the beans as they cook to thicken the stew.

Slice "sausage"into bite-sized chunks and lightly brown in a skillet with 1tsp oil. Add the cooked "sausage" to the stew just before serving.

We enjoyed it with some raw kale, tomatoes, pea sprouts, and onions.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rest in Peace, RMS Titanic

Today is the 100th anniversary of the night the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic. In memory of this day, remembering all those who lost their lives as well as loved ones in the disaster, I'm sharing another book review of a new book about the great ship written by my friend, James, as well as my latest blog post for CLP.

Source: Titanic Universe

What Really Sank the Titanic?  New Forensic Discoveries, by Jennifer Hooper McCarty and Tim Foecke.  Citadel Press, New York.  2008.

What really sank the Titanic?  But you know already.  Something about brittle steel.  Wrong!

For once, we have a book with an accurate subtitle.  This is a forensic study of the destruction of the transportation marvel of the early 20th century, investigated under the handicap of nearly a century of assumptions.  This is not a book for someone approaching the Titanic for the first time.  Any book dealing with finite element analysis, Charpy impact tests, and slag stringers sounds daunting if not downright boring, but this is not.  Written in a conversational, almost breezy manner, the authors are apt at any moment to explain a complex rule of physics with analogies to cheddar cheese or Silly Putty. 

I found this study to contain fascinating background materials on a multitude of aspects of the building of the ship:  the economic pressure on the builders to complete the project; the skilled and unskilled labor pushed toward greater loads of work; the types of metals used for various functions throughout the ship; and the analytical discussion of the eyewitness testimony from the sinking.  This brought several new views of things to my mind, such as the concept of the lookouts remaining in the crow's nest at their posts, perceiving the stopped ship slowly sinking, until relieved of their watch at midnight.

At the conclusion of the book, the authors address several other theories, such as whether a coal fire in a bunker weakened a watertight bulkhead wall, and how long the wreck may last on the sea floor.  At just over 200 pages, this is a quick and fascinating investigation into the most basic question concerning the Titanic:  Why did it sink?

If you're visiting the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Main Library in Oakland, be sure to stop in and see the Titanic memorial display on the second floor, just outside the Reference Room. It features a model of the ship, made by my boss, as well as the library's other primary sources on the tragedy.

"Even though I’m on hold for a copy of series one of the very popular Masterpiece Classic television show Downton Abbey, I downloaded the first episode free via iTunes to see if I would enjoy it.** The credits open on a grand English country house and an army of servants bustling about in preparation for a new spring day with ominous references to a newspaper headline; I knew right away what it was before the date was even displayed. When one character muttered, “impossible!” I knew it could only be the sinking of RMS Titanic." Read more here.

Finally, I'm very excited that the Titanic the Artifact Exhibition will be stopping in my hometown of Detroit this summer. I plan on seeing it in June.