Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 15th, 2019

Mediterranean Power Squash

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Taking a cue from Greger’s book, I am naming my recipes to make them tastier (see this post). This recipe followed my finding that if you pick vegetables you like and cook them together, you’ll also like the combination. I don’t know that there’s really anything particularly Mediterranean about this.

I also followed my usual course in cooking something by asking myself “What else would be good in this?”

UPDATE: I have revised and improved (IMO) the recipe and made it simpler to prepare. See this post for the new version. /update — update: and another version. /update

The starting point was a ginormous leek I had bought. What I made was excellent, and this version of the recipe has been revised in the light of my experience.

The day before

I had purchased a couple of small Italian eggplants after watching the third recipe in this video on Indian cooking, and I decided to include those. So the day before making the dish, I cooked the eggplant.

2 small Italian eggplant, pricked in various places with a fork and wrapped in foil

Put the eggplant in preheated 400ºF oven and roast for 90 minutes.. [BTW, something I learned only recently: do not refrigerate eggplant. If you do, the eggplant quickly spoils—and that is definitely true, based on my own experience.)

Remove the eggplant when done and refrigerate them in their foil until used.

The recipe proper

Put Field Company No. 12 cast-iron skillet in the oven, turn oven to 350ºF, and let the skillet heat. I had a fair amount to cook, and so I wanted a large cooking surface. That’s the No. 12.

While it heats, prep the vegetables:

8-10 cloves garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest 15 minutes
1 ginormous leek, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly — or you can use 2-3 bunches large scallions or 3 spring onions instead
2 largish yellow summer squash, cut into small (approximately 3 cm) chunks
1 fairly large zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into similar chunks

OPTIONAL: Also prepare:

1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Hungarian purple pepper, seeded and chopped (or Poblano pepper)
1 Hungarian pale green pepper, seeded and chopped (or another Anaheim or Poblano)
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 red (or orange) habanero, seeded and chopped /optional

Once the oven beeps and the skillet is hot (and leave  it in the oven for about 10 minutes after the oven comes to temperature: cast-iron has large heat capacity, and you want to to load it fully with heat), turn on the large burner and wait until it, too, is hot, then turn oven off and put the skillet on the burner and a handle glove on the handle. Add:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Then add the sliced leek (or scallions or spring onion)  and sauté it, stirring with a wooden spatula. Add:

1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
a good shaking of crushed red pepper (unless using the optional peppers)

After about 10 minutes, the leek or scallions or spring onions will be fairly cooked, so add the garlic, let that cook for a minute. Then add the squash and zucchini (and peppers if using).

Cook that, stirring frequently, for a fair amount of time, until the squash seems tender. It looked like this:

Chop the previously cooked eggplant fairly small (approximately 1 cm dice) and stir them into the squash, and cook all for a while. Add:

3-4 tablespoons drained capers (I used a small jar of capers, drained) — update: I’m dropping these from the recipe because they carry too much salt.

It looked like this:

Once It cools, mix in:

1-2 lemons: cut off the peel and cut the onion into slabs and then use a blender. (I use my immersion blender and the beaker that came with it.) With thin-skinned Meyer lemons just cut off the ends and blend the entire lemon.
1 bunch cilantro, chopped.

Put it into a Glasslock storage container (you’ll need a large one) and refrigerate.

Update the next day: Wow—it really is good. The crushed red pepper gives it a nice presence, and the leeks are almost candied. I just a had a bowl of it straight from the fridge, no heating. It’s a great summer vegetable (when a cold dish is often welcome). The lemon juice and cilantro were a great touch.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2019 at 3:53 pm

Where the Bodies Are Buried: A look at part of America’s racist heritage

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Michael Barajas reports in the Texas Observer:

A twisting, tree-lined road carried Constance Hollie-Jawaid and her family through the dense forest until they reached Slocum, a small unincorporated town dug into the Piney Woods of East Texas. A few miles southeast of the old high school, past two trickling creeks, the family pulled off the road near a small red farmhouse. A thick, leafy canopy shielded them from the cloudless midsummer heat as they exited their cars and began to quietly pace along the red fence.

It was July 29, 2018, a somber day for the Hollie family. Not far from where they stood, more than a century before, on July 29, 1910, white vigilantes attacked black communities surrounding Slocum. By most accounts, the violence lasted throughout the day and night as white men from across the region traveled to Slocum to join in the killing. Once the dust began to settle, the state’s major newspapers, including the Houston ChronicleDallas Morning News and Fort Worth Register, reported that white mobs had murdered as many as 50 black people during the massacre. The papers also described how victims were unceremoniously dumped into communal pits before the mobs scattered. Hollie-Jawaid believes some of the dead, including her ancestors, could be buried here beyond the fence line — and she intends to find their bodies.

“Piled upon one another in a mass grave, like dogs,” she said. “That is a history that needs to be acknowledged and remembered. For so long people denied that it even happened.”

The massacre in Slocum shocked people from Abilene to New York, who read about the killings in newspaper coverage in the days that followed the spasm of violence. Texas’ governor at the time, Thomas Campbell, who’d grown up near Slocum, was reportedly appalled that vigilante violence still ruled his home county. Authorities called the episode an embarrassing stain on the state and region and vowed justice.

The outrage was short-lived. Within a year, the criminal prosecutions of seven white men indicted for the killings had fizzled. Less than three years after the slaughter, a fire ate through the local courthouse, destroying records from the case. The story had all but disappeared from East Texas history by the time Hollie-Jawaid was a teenager and started to dig deeper into her family’s history. Black people from the region were reluctant to talk about the violent past, she says, while many white people denied the massacre even happened.

Hollie-Jawaid and her family started visiting this quiet patch of forest off Anderson County Road 1208 after reading letters from the local historical commission archives that said the land might contain bodies. But they are constrained to exploring the fenceline, as the landowner refuses to let them onto the property.

The great-great-granddaughter of a man forced to flee racial violence after already having survived slavery, Hollie-Jawaid has spent the past several years struggling to unearth the region’s dark past, as did her grandfather, father and uncle before her. Her family’s fight to correct Slocum’s whitewashed history dovetails with the recent push across the United States to grapple with the country’s racist past and the legacy of inequality created by racial terror. While some cities reassess Confederate monuments erected during the civil rights era, others have begun to confront the kind of racial violence that shaped the South after Reconstruction. Officials in Tulsa, Oklahoma, recently created a committee to oversee a search for mass graves connected to a 1921 racial massacre that was swept under the rug for generations.

The resistance the Hollie family has faced in East Texas also underscores the profound hurdles facing those who push communities to confront past racial violence. Five years ago, when Hollie-Jawaid applied for a historical marker honoring Slocum’s victims, local leaders called the idea “inappropriate,” “dishonorable” and “blackmail by shame.” After officials failed to block the plaque, they carefully negotiated its language to avoid offending white residents, and acknowledged only eight victims.

Since then, Hollie-Jawaid has searched for Slocum’s lost graves, both so that descendants can honor the dead and to prove what really happened in 1910. The bodies, she says, could force an undeniable reckoning with the region’s past and give families like hers their history back. So far, local law enforcement, historical commission officials, county leaders and landowners have refused to help. In January, the landowner of the property that she believes contains bodies sent her an official “notice of forbidden entry.”

“If these were Confederate soldiers, they would be exhumed already, given proper burials and a museum would have been erected,” Hollie-Jawaid said. “They’re not interested in these bodies. These bodies only matter to us. Apparently their lives only mattered to people like us.”

Some of the earliest newspaper accounts called what happened in Slocum a “race riot.” Hollie-Jawaid cringes at that description. She learned at an early age just how one-sided the violence was.

Some accounts traced the troubles back to a white man fighting with a black man who owed him money; others told of a white farmer infuriated by a black foreman who asked him to work on a road crew. That such an explosion of violence could follow these minor squabbles points to the rancor many white people felt toward their black neighbors. On July 30, 1910, the Houston Chronicle questioned whether whites had launched “an attempt to exterminate the negroes” in the area. The Fort Worth Register characterized the violence as “a culmination of smoldering hate between races in a community thickly populated by blacks.”

The day the violence began, men flocked to Slocum “to witness the trouble and aid the whites” in such great numbers that a local judge ordered the county’s saloons and gun stores to close. Officials later said that as many as 300 men joined the mobs. Texas Rangers and state militia arrived the following day to impose martial law and restore order, even in the county seat of Palestine, nearly 20 miles northwest of where the killings took place. Newspapers describe most of the mobs as attacking black communities nestled along Sadler and Ioni creeks, on a strip of land a few miles outside of Slocum in far southeast Anderson County. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, and it helps to explain why President Trump’s racism and racist remarks find a supportive audience.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2019 at 2:13 pm

Border Patrol Official Circulates Article That Deems ProPublica Reporting on Secret Facebook Group a Threat

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Ginger Thompson reports in ProPublica:

A senior Border Patrol official, who directs a key intelligence-gathering center, on Thursday circulated an inflammatory opinion article that blasted ProPublica’s reporting on a secret Facebook group for current and former agents and described the news organization as a threat to the agency and its members.

A link to the article, which specifically castigates ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson for his articles about the degrading posts in the group, was sent in an email to top intelligence officials at the agency’s headquarters in Washington and to field offices across the country. Sources said other supervisors then shared it widely with agents under their command.

The article was widely distributed by Michael E. Powell, director of the Customs and Border Protection’s Northern Border Coordination Center, and comes as the heads of the Department of Homeland Security, the CPB, which it oversees, and the Border Patrol have publicly condemned the Facebook posts and launched investigations into the group.

And the article raises questions about whether internally, agency officials may be having different reactions to the public exposure of anti-migrant and misogynistic posts by some of its agents. On Friday, The Intercept reported that Border Patrol head Carla Provost appeared to have once been a member of the group. She has not commented.

A Border Patrol spokesman responded angrily Friday to questions about the significance of a senior intelligence official circulating such an article.

“I’m not going to comment on a third party opinion piece simply because you disagree with it,” said Matthew Leas, a Border Patrol spokesman. “The author isn’t even a CBP employee. Last time I checked, agency responses typically come from the agency…”

Powell did not respond to questions about the email.

The article was published on a website called Law Enforcement Today, and was written by a woman named Dawn Perlmutter, who describes herself as an expert on “symbols, symbolic methodologies, atypical homicide and ritualistic crimes.”

It alleges that ProPublica’s reporting about the secret Facebook group, which was known as “I’m 10-15,” was part of an “anti-police information operation” that was “calculated to incite hatred against CBP, ICE and DHS officers, provide party-line propaganda for the media and ignite protests to further political agendas.” And it claimed that Thompson, who broke the story about the Facebook group, “essentially doxed CBP officers,” when he published the posts.

“Thompson’s byline says he covers hate crimes and racial extremism, when in fact, he perpetuates it,” the piece reads. “His irresponsible reporting incites police hatred and endangers officers’ lives under the guise of social justice.”

One agent who received the piece was troubled that an official in charge of an intelligence unit would send it out under his Border Patrol email, and worried that it could undermine trust in the unit’s work.

“We need effective intel units that have garnered the trust of agents, the community, and elected officials,” said the agent, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “Distributing partisan opinion pieces under the guise of intelligence, undermines the credibility of our intelligence department and raises doubt about the intelligence we distribute.”

“Revealing hateful posts circulated to 9,500 people on Facebook hardly constitutes doxing,” said Richard Tofel, the president of ProPublica. “ProPublica seeks to hold public officials to account, including making sure the Border Patrol lives up to the standards of decency that every American law enforcement agency pledges to live by.” . . .

Continue reading.

It’s worth noting that the opinion piece was written in bad faith, and the Border Patrol’s responses are made in bad faith. They are willfully not recognizing the problem they have.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2019 at 12:58 pm

Their Family Bought Land One Generation After Slavery. Licurtis Reels, left, and Melvin Davis. The Reels Brothers Spent Eight Years in Jail for Refusing to Leave It.

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Lizzie Presser reports in ProPublica:

IN THE SPRING OF 2011, the brothers Melvin Davis and Licurtis Reels were the talk of Carteret County, on the central coast of North Carolina. Some people said that the brothers were righteous; others thought that they had lost their minds. That March, Melvin and Licurtis stood in court and refused to leave the land that they had lived on all their lives, a portion of which had, without their knowledge or consent, been sold to developers years before. The brothers were among dozens of Reels family members who considered the land theirs, but Melvin and Licurtis had a particular stake in it. Melvin, who was 64, with loose black curls combed into a ponytail, ran a club there and lived in an apartment above it. He’d established a career shrimping in the river that bordered the land, and his sense of self was tied to the water. Licurtis, who was 53, had spent years building a house near the river’s edge, just steps from his mother’s.

Their great-grandfather had bought the land a hundred years earlier, when he was a generation removed from slavery. The property — 65 marshy acres that ran along Silver Dollar Road, from the woods to the river’s sandy shore — was racked by storms. Some called it the bottom, or the end of the world. Melvin and Licurtis’ grandfather Mitchell Reels was a deacon; he farmed watermelons, beets and peas, and raised chickens and hogs. Churches held tent revivals on the waterfront, and kids played in the river, a prime spot for catching red-tailed shrimp and crabs bigger than shoes. During the later years of racial-segregation laws, the land was home to the only beach in the county that welcomed black families. “It’s our own little black country club,” Melvin and Licurtis’ sister Mamie liked to say. In 1970, when Mitchell died, he had one final wish. “Whatever you do,” he told his family on the night that he passed away, “don’t let the white man have the land.”

Mitchell didn’t trust the courts, so he didn’t leave a will. Instead, he let the land become heirs’ property, a form of ownership in which descendants inherit an interest, like holding stock in a company. The practice began during Reconstruction, when many African Americans didn’t have access to the legal system, and it continued through the Jim Crow era, when black communities were suspicious of white Southern courts. In the United States today, 76% of African Americans do not have a will, more than twice the percentage of white Americans.

Many assume that not having a will keeps land in the family. In reality, it jeopardizes ownership. David Dietrich, a former co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Property Preservation Task Force, has called heirs’ property “the worst problem you never heard of.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recognized it as “the leading cause of Black involuntary land loss.” Heirs’ property is estimated to make up more than a third of Southern black-owned land — 3.5 million acres, worth more than $28 billion. These landowners are vulnerable to laws and loopholes that allow speculators and developers to acquire their property. Black families watch as their land is auctioned on courthouse steps or forced into a sale against their will.

Between 1910 and 1997, African Americans lost about 90% of their farmland. This problem is a major contributor to America’s racial wealth gap; the median wealth among black families is about a tenth that of white families. Now, as reparations have become a subject of national debate, the issue of black land loss is receiving renewed attention. A group of economists and statisticians recently calculated that, since 1910, black families have been stripped of hundreds of billions of dollars because of lost land. Nathan Rosenberg, a lawyer and a researcher in the group, told me, “If you want to understand wealth and inequality in this country, you have to understand black land loss.”

By the time of Melvin and Licurtis’ hearing in 2011, they had spent decades fighting to keep the waterfront on Silver Dollar Road. They’d been warned that they would go to jail if they didn’t comply with a court order to stay off the land, and they felt betrayed by the laws that had allowed it to be taken from them. They had been baptized in that water. “You going to go there, take my dreams from me like that?” Licurtis asked on the stand. “How about it was you?”

They expected to argue their case in court that day. Instead, the judge ordered them sent to jail, for civil contempt. Hearing the ruling, Melvin handed his 83-year-old mother, Gertrude, his flip phone and his gold watch. As the eldest son, he had promised relatives that he would assume responsibility for the family. “I can take it,” he said. Licurtis looked at the floor and shook his head. He had thought he’d be home by the afternoon; he’d even left his house unlocked. The bailiff, who had never booked anyone in civil superior court, had only one set of handcuffs. She put a cuff on each brother’s wrist, and led them out the back door. The brothers hadn’t been charged with a crime or given a jury trial. Still, they believed so strongly in their right to the property that they spent the next eight years fighting the case from jail, becoming two of the longest-serving inmates for civil contempt in U.S. history.

LAND WAS AN IDEOLOGICAL PRIORITY for black families after the Civil War, when nearly 4 million people were freed from slavery. On Jan. 12, 1865, just before emancipation, the Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman met with 20 black ministers in Savannah, Georgia, and asked them what they needed. “The way we can best take care of ourselves is to have land,” their spokesperson, the Rev. Garrison Frazier, told Sherman. Freedom, he said, was “placing us where we could reap the fruit of our own labor.” Sherman issued a special field order declaring that 400,000 acres formerly held by Confederates be given to African Americans — what came to be known as the promise of “40 acres and a mule.” The following year, Congress passed the Southern Homestead Act, opening up an additional 46 million acres of public land for Union supporters and freed people.

The promises never materialized. In 1876, near the end of Reconstruction, only about 5% of black families in the Deep South owned land. But a new group of black landowners soon established themselves. Many had experience in the fields, and they began buying farms, often in places with arid or swampy soil, especially along the coast. By 1920, African Americans, who made up 10% of the population, represented 14% of Southern farm owners.

A white-supremacist backlash spread across the South. At the end of the 19th century, members of a movement who called themselves Whitecaps, led by poor white farmers, accosted black landowners at night, beating them or threatening murder if they didn’t abandon their homes. In Lincoln County, Mississippi, Whitecaps killed a man named Henry List, and more than 50 African Americans fled the town in a single day. Over two months in 1912, violent white mobs in Forsyth County, Georgia, drove out almost the entire black population — more than a thousand people. Ray Winbush, the director of the Institute for Urban Research, at Morgan State University, told me, “There is this idea that most blacks were lynched because they did something untoward to a young woman. That’s not true. Most black men were lynched between 1890 and 1920 because whites wanted their land.”

By the second half of the 20th century, a new form of dispossession had emerged, officially sanctioned by the courts and targeting heirs’ property owners without clear titles. These landowners are exposed in a variety of ways. They don’t qualify for certain Department of Agriculture loans to purchase livestock or cover the cost of planting. Individual heirs can’t use their land as collateral with banks and other institutions, and so are denied private financing and federal home-improvement loans. They generally aren’t eligible for disaster relief. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina laid bare the extent of the problem in New Orleans, where 25,000 families who applied for rebuilding grants had heirs’ property. One Louisiana real-estate attorney estimated that up to $165 million of recovery funds were never claimed because of title issues.

Heirs are rarely aware of the tenuous nature of their ownership. Even when they are, clearing a title is often an unaffordable and complex process, which requires tracking down every living heir, and there are few lawyers who specialize in the field. Nonprofits often pick up the slack. The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, in South Carolina, has cleared more than 200 titles in the past decade, almost all of them for African-American families, protecting land valued at nearly $14 million. Josh Walden, the center’s chief operating officer, told me that it had mapped out a hundred thousand acres of heirs’ property in South Carolina. He said that investors hoping to build golf courses or hotels can target these plots. “We had to be really mindful that we didn’t share those maps with anyone, because otherwise they’d be a shopping catalogue,” he told me. “And it’s not as if it dries up. New heirs’ property is being created every day.”

Through interviews and courthouse records, I analyzed more than three dozen cases from recent years in which heirs’ property owners lost land — land that, for many of them, was not only their sole asset but also a critical part of their heritage and their sense of home. The problem has been especially acute in Carteret County. Beaufort, the county seat, was once the site of  . . .

Continue reading.

See also “How to Close Heirs’ Property Loopholes.”

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2019 at 12:51 pm

Poor Man’s Caviar

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Poor Man’s Caviar (Baklazhannaia Ikra)

To make about 3 cups

1 large eggplant (about two pounds)
1 cup finely chopped onions and scallions
6 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Added at end: 2-3 Tbs lemon juice

Serve with dark rye or pumpernickel bread or sesame seed crackers

Preheat oven to 425º. Bake the eggplant on a rack in the center of the oven for about an hour, turning it over once or twice until it is soft and ts skin is charred and blistered. It’s a good idea to prick the eggplant so it doesn’t explode, and so you may want to put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in case it leaks.

Meanwhile, cook the onions in 4 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat for 6 to 8 minutes until they are soft but not brown. Stir in the green pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer.

Remove the skin from the baked eggplant with a small, sharp knife, then chop the eggplant pulp finely, almost to a purée. Add it to the sauté pan with the onion mixture and stir in the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil to the sauté pan and cook over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then turn the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for an hour.

Remove the cover and cook an additional half hour, stirring from time to time, until all the moisture in the pan has evaporated and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon.

Stir in 2 Tbs of lemon juice and taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

Transfer to a bow and chill, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to serve.

This is from the Time-Life Foods of the World series of cookbooks, specifically Russian Cooking, by George and Helen Papashvily. He is the author of a wonderful memoir that I highly recommend: Anything Can Happen.

The recipe can also be found online.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2019 at 12:43 pm

The No. 1 Cuisine to Master if You’re a Vegetarian

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I really like this guy’s videos. This one was informative and gave me a push toward some new recipes:

If you like his videos, as I do, here is his series on vegan cooking: Live Like a Vegan King.

PS: Right now I’m roasting a couple of small eggplants to add to a dish I’m making. I used to roast eggplant years ago for Poor Man’s Caviar (see next post), but had forgotten about it.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2019 at 8:43 am

Sandalwood morning, with Stealth

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I do like my Art of Shaving Sandalwood soap, which I’m told is made by Valobra. The Wet Shaving Products Monarch made a very nice lather, and the Stealth again reminded me why it is one of my favorite slants: 3 passes, 0 problems, perfect result. A splash of Phoenix Artisan’s Sandalwood aftershave, and the week is underway.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2019 at 8:29 am

Posted in Shaving

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