Thursday, May 30, 2013

Try Coke deep fried and you'll be sweet on Texas too!

            I’ve always been a little sweet on Texas, particularly the food. I can’t get enough Tex-Mex when I’m visiting the Lone Star State, but there’s also delectable pies in Houston and sophisticated desserts in Fredricksburg. 
            It was with pleasure to discover “Sweet on Texas: Lovable Confections from theLone Star State” by Denise Gee, with photographs by husband Robert M. Peacock. It’s a cookbook that celebrates favorite desserts from all over the state, with a handy list in back on places to purchase items.
            According to the authors, it’s food that unites the nation’s second largest state (but don’t say that too loud, they’re still sensitive over Alaska being tops), one that’s as diverse as much as it’s expansive.
            “And though there’s so much that differs,” the authors state, “there are two things that bring us together: a friendliness that is unmatched and our love of fellowship, made sweeter as we sit down and enjoy dessert together.”
            There are some fabulous recipes for upcoming patriotic holidays, such as the Righteous Red Velvet Cake (topped with blueberries), plus wonderful treats for summer, such as watermelon soup and frozen peach custard and margarita snow cones made with tequila. Well there goes my diet!
            Dee has written for Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens and is the author of “Southern Cocktails and Porch Parties.”

Deep-Fried Coke
3 eggs
2 cups Coke-Cola
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3-4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Powdered sugar
Pure cola syrup
Garnish: Whipped cream and maraschino cherries (optional)
            Directions: In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add the Coca-Cola and granulated sugar. Sift 2 cups of the flour, the baking powder, and salt and add to the Coca-Cola mixture. Mix while adding more flour, until the batter is smooth and not too thick. Heat the oil to 375 degrees in a deep fryer. Drop 1 1/2-inch dough balls into the fryer and cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle the fried Coca-Cola balls with powdered sugar while they are still hot, and douse with Coca-Cola syrup. Garnish with whipped cream and maraschino cherries, if desired, and serve.
            Note: The author prefers the Baar brand, available at many natural food markets and online at

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is coauthor of “Cooking in Cajun Country” with Karl Breaux and author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WWII Museum to host Robert Edsel

         The National World War II Museum in New Orleans will host a special lecture and book signing for writer and historian Robert M. Edsel at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 30, in the museum’s US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. A reception precedes the free event at 5 p.m. 
            The author will discuss the American effort at the end of World War II to save treasures from the Nazis — the subject of an upcoming major motion picture titled The Monuments Men,” starring George Clooney and Matt Damon.
            Edsel’s talk is called “Saving Italy: The Monuments Men, Nazis, and War” and is based on his book “Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis,” published by W.W. Norton on May 6. The book recounts the determined American drive, before the shooting ceased, to save priceless art looted by the Germans from great museums in Florence and Naples.
            “Robert Edsel weaves a suspenseful tale worthy of an Indiana Jones plot,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of The National WWII Museum. “He pulls you into a dangerous web of intrigue in which the Vatican, top German SS generals, American OSS operatives and Italian officials are entwined in top-secret negotiations to end the war. A must read for any WWII history enthusiast.”
            NBC TV journalist and historian Tom Brokaw echoed Mueller’s praise. “’Saving Italy’ is an astonishing account of a little known American effort to save Italy’s vast store of priceless monuments and art during World War II,” said the network anchorman. “While American warriors were fighting the length of the country, other Americans were courageously working alongside to preserve the irreplaceable best of Italy’s culture. Read it and be proud of those who were on their own front lines of a cruel war.”
            Edsel is the author of the non-fiction books “Rescuing Da Vinci” and “The Monuments
Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” as well as the forthcoming “Saving Italy.” He is also co-producer of the award-winning documentary film, “The Rape of Europa.” In addition, he is the founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, a nonprofit entity that received the National Humanities Medal.
            In addition to Academy Award winner Clooney and Damon, the upcoming film based on Edsel’s book stars Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin and Bill Murray. Clooney will direct and star in the film, which is now in production and has a release date of Dec. 18.
            This book lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Guests can register at the Museum’s website,, or by calling (877) 813-3229, Ext. 412, or by emailing

Lafayette Library Kickoff
            The summer reading program, with the theme “Dig Into Reading,” begins this month at Louisiana libraries. The Summer Kickoff Celebration of the Lafayette Library will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the South Regional Library.
            The day’s events includes schedule childrens author Johnette Downing presenting “Reading Rocks from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Zoo-Zoom: The Little Traveling Zoo on Wheels from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and The Northside High Drill SQUAD performances from noon to 12:25 p.m..
            This year’s Teen Summer Reading theme is “Beneath the Surface” and the Adult Summer Reading theme is “Groundbreaking Reads.” Adults and teens who register and log books online will have opportunities to win prizes in drawings throughout the summer.
            Programs for all ages will be held at the many branch libraries in June and July. For more information on all the reading programs and updates on events, visit or
Donald S. Frazier
Book events
            “Swamp Stop!, a family day with special guests Ouachita Parish Fire Department, Black Bayou Wildlife Refuge, and Armstrong Crickets, will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 30, at the West Ouachita Library. 
            The Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Speaker Series presents Donald S. Frazier who will speak on "Fort Burton at Butte la Rose: Confederate Key to the Atchafalaya" at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at Capitol Park Museum
in Baton Rouge. Frazier is professor of history at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, and the award-winning author of three books on the Civil War, including "Blood and Treasure," "Cottonclads" and "Fire in the Cane Field." His other work includes serving as co-author of Frontier Texas, Historic Abilene and The Texas You Expect: The story of Buffalo Gap Historic Village, as well as general editor of The United States and Mexico at War. For information, visit

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cookbook honors below-ground veggies

            I’m a root lover, a fan of beets and sweet potatoes, so you can imagine my delight when I found a cookbook specifically aimed at root vegetables. The amply titled “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes” by veteran cookbook author Diane Morgan features a host of root vegetables both common and little-known, from arrowhead to yucca — and everything in between. This gorgeous cookbook also brings up important facts about roots, such as below-ground vegetables provide more nutrition per unit of land utilized.
             Book photos are by Antonis Achilleos.
            To view a video of the cookbook, visit
Clay Pot-Caramelized Pork Belly and Arrowhead Stew
From “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes”
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 small Serrano chile, stemmed, halved lengthwise, seeded and diced
1 1/2 pound pork belly, thinly sliced across the grain, then cut into 3-inch lengths
1 1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, preferably Vietnamese nuoc mam
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
14 ounces arrowhead, ends trimmed, peeled and halved lengthwise
4 green onions, including green tops, cut into matchsticks for garnish.
            Directions: In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat and swirl to coat the pot bottom. Add the sugar and cook, stirring frequently until dissolved and golden brown, 3-4 minutes. (At first, the sugar will form a paste with the oil but it will eventually melt).
              Add the shallot, garlic and chile and sauté, stirring frequently, until the aromatics are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pork, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the pork is cooked through and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. (The edges of the pork will get brown first, with bits sticking to the pot bottom.) Add the water, fish sauce and pepper and bring to a boil. Nestle the arrowhead halves and the eggs in the liquid. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice until the pork and arrowhead halves are tender, about 30 minutes. (The pork should be slightly chewy but no longer rubbery and tough. Stirring helps to color the eggs on all sides.)
            Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish with the green onions just before serving.

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is coauthor of “Cooking in Cajun Country” with Karl Breaux and author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Author M.J. Rose uses little known Victor Hugo history for thrilling new novel

            The 19-year-old daughter of Victor Hugo tragically drowned in 1843, an event that sent the French novelist into despair and searching for answers. Like others of his time during the spiritualist movement, the “freethinker” delved into séances in the hope of making a connection with Didine, hearing from the likes of Shakespeare and Dante — even Jesus. 
             Author M.J. Rose uses this little-known history of Hugo as the basis for her compelling novel, “Seduction,” set on the island of Jersey where Hugo lived in exile after Napoleon III’s coup d’etat. Rose invents another spirit coming through to Hugo, a darker one who offers him a tantalizing deal, forming the basis of the novel.
            Mythologist Jac L’Etoile, recovering from her own grief and unusual psychic experiences, arrives on Jersey at the request of an old friend. Together, they piece together mysteries of the island’s Celtic roots that leads them to the lost papers of Hugo and the decision he was forced to make decades before.
            The book examines Carl Jung’s ideas on the collective consciousness, reincarnation and the ability to tap into both, all the while leading readers through a mystery that spans centuries. The ideas presented here were captivating, and the glimpse into Hugo’s life fascinating — he wrote “Les Miserables” on Jersey. The ending left me hanging, however, too many threads failing to connect in a concerted fashion, although the point Rose makes at its conclusion, that people are destined to repeat karma through lifetimes unless they resolve the issues, works.
            If this sounds like a complicated plotline, it is, and too much so. Regardless, “Seduction” makes for great reading, offering viewpoints on life worth contemplating.

New releases
            The spring edition of The Southern Review is out with a short story by James Lee Burke, 21 poets and fascinating photographed dioramas by artist Lori Nix, among much more. The literary journal is published four times a year on the campus of LSU and available online and in bookstores.
            Sam Irwin of Baton Rouge has published “The Ransom of Red Goat” (Kindle, Nook), a comic crime novel about the culture clash between pre-Katrina New Orleans wise guys, poor rednecks, greedy exotic dancers and uneducated Cajun pirates all bent on hitting a big payday. He’s also penned “Love and Death: Two Louisiana Stories” (Kindle, Nook) involving a Mississippi spinster who writes a note to an “Unknown Gentleman” and casts it into the Mississippi River and “An Ugly Day,” which explores the relationship of a young boy and his Cajun grandfather. 
            UL-Monroe senior Luke Holloway has published his debut novel with Publish America titled “Game of Morality,” available on The novel revolves around a journalist and a man suspected of hunting down and punishing ruthless poachers in the heart of urban Africa. “I believe in the subject matter of my book: the story is fresh and original, carries a strong anti-poaching message, as well as the classic and universal themes of friendship and an unconquerable will to survive through the greatest adversities,” Holloway wrote me.
            Home at Last: An Acadian Journey” (Inspiring Voices Publishing Company) by Ollie Porche Voelker is historical fiction suitable for middle graders through adults that tells the story of a young Acadian boy deported from Grand Pré, Acadie, with his family. The family lives in exile in Maryland for 11 years until they move to Louisiana and live along the Acadian Coast just north of New Orleans on the Mississippi River.
            Voelker is a retired teacher and educational diagnostician whose interest in genealogy led her to write the book. She is a descendant of several Acadian families who were deported from Nova Scotia. She was born in Houma and lived in Lafayette while her husband worked as a reporter for The Daily Advertiser. Voelkner is now retired and lives with her husband in Destrehan.
            “I began writing after I retired,” she wrote me. “Two of my nonfiction articles were published in Nature Friend Magazine. An interest in genealogy and an inability to find books of this kind led me to write ‘Home at Last.’
            “I am now working on another historical fiction manuscript about one of my ancestors, Pelagie Benoist, who was deported to France, lived there for 26 years, then came to Louisiana in 1785, a widow with five children,” she added. “I am a seventh generation Louisianan. I also have Thibodeaux and Giroir ancestors who were deported from Grand Pré.”

Book News
            The 10th Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, celebrating LGBT literature and publishers, will be Thursday through Sunday, May 23-26, at the Hotel Montelone and other venues in New Orleans. The Festival features panel discussions and master classes and special events such as literary walking tours. For more information, visit
            The Lafayette Public Library Foundation awarded the Foundation Award to Susan Hamilton at its April 19 luncheon with Pam Stroup receiving the President’s Award. A special recognition was given to Library Director and Essae M. Culver Award recipient Sona J. Dombourian. J.C. Chargois was also remembered as a past Foundation Award honoree. The LPLF also presented a check for $3,000 to the Lafayette Public Library System with the funds purchasing books.

Book events
            17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series presents Megan Kaminski and Jonathan Brown at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at the Gold Mine Saloon, 701 Dauphine St. in New Orleans. All shows are followed by an open mic. For information, visit
            Rosemary Smith will read from and sign copies of her children’s books at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 25, at Barnes & Noble Shreveport.
            The May 2013 Edition of the Lafayette Spoken Innovation Poetry Slam & Open Mic Poetry Reading will be from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 23, in the Acadiana Open Channel Community Media Multi-Purpose Room of the Rosa Parks Transportation Center, 101 Jefferson St., Suite 100, in downtown Lafayette. The event features the 2013 Lafayette National Poetry Slam Team. There is no charge (donations accepted) and the open mic poetry reading is open to all poets.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cookbook utilitzes plants for healthy humans and planet

            Whether you’re looking for better health, worried about the global food market’s impact on the environment or have issues about the welfare of animals, there’s a lovely new cookbook embracing the plant-based diet. “Crazy, Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution” by Kris Carr with Chef Chad Sarno (Hay House) and other guest chefs offers 150 nutrient-dense recipes, including using beans, whole grains, smoothies, vegetables and fruits.
            There’s lots of great advice here, from limited dairy, meats, wheat (glutin) and sugars to understanding the acid/alkaline balance in your body, eating more raw produce and getting enough protein.
            If you’re wondering about the title, “crazy” refers to forward thinking, “sexy” to being empowered and “kitchen” as the household pharmacy. Carr is also the author of “Crazy, Sexy Diet,” which “digs deep into the philosophy and science of my diet and lifestyle, with a sample recipe near the end.” She calls her latest book “the perfect sequel.”
            “These recipes will teach you how to turn your newfound knowledge, commitment and desires into a beautiful (and healthy) reality on your plate, meal after meal,” she writes in the “Crazy, Sexy Kitchen’s” introduction.
            By the way, the cookbook won the 2012 Books for a Better Life Award for Cookbooks.
            Here’s a Louisiana-style dish that’s made entirely by plants.

Heart of Pam Style Crab Cakes with Remoulade
From “Crazy, Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution”
By Guest Chef Tal Ronnen
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons minced capers
2 teaspoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoon minced red bell pepper
Crab Cakes
2 teaspoons nori flakes
½ cup canola oil, more if needed
Two 14-ounce cans hearts of palm
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
3 tablespoons Vegenaise or other vegan mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup panko bread crumbs
            Directions: Place all remoulade ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Set aside or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
            Toast nori sheet by holding it with tongs and fanning it over a low gas flame or electric burner. Be careful not to let it burn. Turn the sheet frequently so that it toasts evenly.
            Grind the nori using a spice grinder or a coffee grinder that you use exclusively for spices. Break the nori into pieces, place it in the grinder, and pulse until powdered. Alternatively, crumble it as finely as you can with your hands or pulverize it with a mortar and pestle.
            Drain the hearts of palm and press in a towel to dry them. In a food processor, pulse gently until it looks like the consistency of crabmeat. Place a small sauté pan on medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke. Sauté the onion and bell pepper until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
            In a large bowl, combine the hearts of palm, onion, bell pepper, Vegenaise, 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, nori flakes, nutritional yeast flakes, arrowroot or cornstarch, and salt and pepper. Mix until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
            Scoop with an ice cream scoop or a large tablespoon to portion into small cakes. Combine breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning. Coat the small cakes with breadcrumbs. Form and let sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm.
            To cook the crab cakes, place a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add some canola oil and heat for 2 minutes. Working in batches, sauté the cakes (make certain that the oil comes about halfway up the sides of the cakes) until browned on both sides and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the cakes to a baking shet lined with parchment paper and place in a warm oven until you finish all of the cakes. Place the cakes on a plate and garnish with remoulade.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Author sheds light on living with leprosy

            In the 20th century patients of leprosy, now referred to as Hansen’s Disease, were often admitted to the leprosarium in Carville, upriver from New Orleans along the River Road. One such patient was Edmond Gilbert Landry, who spent time at Carville from 1924 to 1932. Edmond was actually one of five children born in New Iberia who contracted the disease and who spent time at Carville.            
            Edmond’s granddaughter, Clare Manes of Lafayette, discovered his letters and those of his siblings and compiled a book to shed light on the disease and the experience of living at Carville in “Out of the Shadow of Leprosy:  the Carville Letters and Stories of the Landry Family,” published by the University of Mississippi Press. Not only is it a glimpse inside Carville from a patient’s point of view, but at the fear, isolation and loneliness that accompanied the disease at the beginning of the 20th century. Only until Clanes discovered the letters did she truly learn of her grandfather’s condition, for it was never spoken of.
            “Our family never spoke about my grandfather, Edmond Landry, and his siblings: Norbert, Marie, Albert, and Amelie, all of whom spent the last years of their lives in Carville at the United States Public Health Services Hospital #66,” she writes. “We absorbed the message initiated by Edmond’s wife, Claire, that questions about the family were taboo.”
            Manes is a retired English and speech teacher of Remington College. She will speak and sign copies of her books at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Barnes and Noble in Lafayette.

Bourque’s latest
            Former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque will speak and sign copies of his latest book of poetry, “Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie,” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ernest J. Gaines Center of UL’s Dupre Library in Lafayette. The book has been published by UL Press and copies will be available at the reception for purchase and signing. 

 Contest winners
            The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana has announced the 2013 winners in the annual Letters About Literature contest. This year, 498 fourth- through 10th-grade Louisiana students wrote personal letters to authors, living or dead, from any genre explaining how what they read changed the students’ way of thinking about the world or themselves.
            The Louisiana winners of the competition from throughout the state are listed below.
            In Level I (grades 4 – 6): first place, Alexis Laster, Crawford Elementary School, Arcadia; second place, Adrianna Hawkins, Creekside Junior High, Pearl River and third place, Brailyn King, Northwestern Middle School, Zachary.
            In Level II (grades 7 – 8): first place, Story Frantzen, Episcopal School of Acadiana, Broussard; second place, Mathilda Meyer, Lusher Charter Middle School, New Orleans; third place, Tresaundra Roberson, Lusher Charter Middle School, New Orleans.
             In Level III (grades 9 – 12): first place, Catherine Dunlap, Dunlap Academy, Walker; second place, Logan Buras, St. Paul’s School, Covington; third place, Michael Seenappa, St. Paul’s School, Covington.          
             State winners will be recognized at the Louisiana Book Festival on Nov. 2. Winners will be awarded $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place, made possible by a Library of Congress grant. Louisiana’s first place winners’ entries were submitted to the Library of Congress for the national competition.

Book events
            Mary Manhein will address the St. Francisville Rotary Club and talk about and sign her novel “Floating Souls: The Canal Murders” at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Magnusson Hotel. Manhein’s novel is based on her many years in forensic anthropology and as head of the FACES Lab at LSU.  
            There will be a Birthday Bash for poet Patrice Melnick, author of “Po-boy Contraband: From Diagnosis Back to Life” and founder of the annual Festival of Words at 7 p.m. Thursday at Casa Azul Gifts in Grand Coteau. Also, the Baton Rouge Slam Team will hold a “Friendraiser” with Desiree Dallagiacomo, Rodrick Minor, Donny Rose and Jocelyn Young.
            Mel Coyle, Quo Vadis Gex Breaux and Asali DeVan will read from their works at 7:30 p.m. Thursday as part of 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series at the Gold Mine Saloon in New Orleans, 701 Dauphine St in the French Quarter. All shows followed by an open mic. For information, visit
            Vermilion Parish Library will offer a Mother-Daughter Tea beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Abbeville Library. Registration is required; call (337) 893-2674.
            Children's picture book author/illustrator Rebecca Emberley will sign copies of her latest book, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” which she created with her Caldacott Medal-winning father Ed Emberley at 11 a.m. Saturday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tuxedo Jazz Band subject of new book; new releases and awards

            The longest continuously performing jazz band in New Orleans and the first jazz band to play the White House was The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band. The group organized during the early years of jazz with Oscar “Papa” Celestin and William “Bebe” Ridgley, among others.
            Sally Newhart, a transplant to New Orleans, follows the band from its inception until today in “The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band: More Than A Century of A New Orleans Icon,” published by The History Press. Curator Bruce Raeburn of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane writes the foreword.
            Reading the history of this long-standing jazz band is to understand the beginning and evolution of jazz in New Orleans. Celestin not only founded the band (shared for a time with Ridgley) but helped organize the local Federation of Musicians union in New Orleans, recorded some of the first jazz albums and introduced a young trumpeter to the world, Louis Armstrong. It was Armstrong, who saw Celestin as a father figure and who gave Celestin his nickname.
            “This book is the tale of a jazz band that has not only transcended the stereotypes but has also survived for more than a century (a feat that has never been equaled in jazz history), working its way from the black tenderloin into the homes and hearts of the city’s affluent, white social elite in less than a decade,” writes Raeburn.
            Later bandleaders included Bob French, who sadly passed away in 2012.

New releases
            Edward Kelsey Moore follows three women in mid-life as they grapple with a husband’s infidelities, a youthful love affair that has returned and a terrifying bout with cancer in “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat.” The Indiana threesome were nicknamed “The Supremes” as young women by the owner of the all-black diner, Big Earl McIntyre. They meet at the same booth reserved for them every Sunday after church, cherishing their friendship as well as being each other’s rock. The book alternates back and forth from real-time booth sitting to the women’s — and the town’s — colorful background. It’s a lovely read full of heart and soul that will leave you smiling.
             Mykisha Mac of New Orleans begins a sci-fi series with “Introducing Star IV,” which examines issues such as child abuse, foster care systems throughout the world, infant loss, miscarriage and bullying. For information, visit
            Charlaine Harris, author of the popular Sookie Stackhouse series, announced her latest will be her last book in the series; “Dead Ever After” is scheduled to hit bookstore shelves on Tuesday. I’m torn in my feelings, having loved the paranormal series set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, but found the latest books taking too long to catch readers up on all the plotlines. That’s not to say that I won’t be in line to purchase my book this week. The story, according to the blub I found online, is that “a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime. But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…”

            ForeWord Reviews has named Gerald Duff's novel “Dirty Rice: A Season in the Evangeline League” by the UL-Lafayette Press (2012) a finalist for its 2012 Best of the Year Award in the Adult Fiction category. “Dirty Rice” follows talented pitcher Gemar Batiste of Texas who is recruited in 1935 to play for the Rayne Rice Birds, a minor league team and part of the “Evangeline League.” He brings the team fame with his expertise but, because of his Alabama-Coushatta Indian heritage, is asked to play the stereotypical Indian, encouraged to cheat. Batiste must learn how to honor his heritage and uphold the integrity of the game.

Readers’ Choice
            More than 20,000 students throughout the state voted to choose the winners of the 2013 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award and Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Award. “Young Zeus” by G. Brian Karas was the top choice among third through fifth graders while “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier received the most votes among middle school students. The Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Award for students in grades nine through 12 goes to “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare.
            The Young Readers’ Choice program is one of the core missions of the State Library of Louisiana and its goal is to foster a love of reading.
            For information about the program including previous winners, this year’s second place finishers and the list of books nominated for next year’s awards, visit and click on Literacy and Reading, then on Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at

'Fresh Table' honors Louisiana produce

             It’s been an exciting spring for Louisiana books with summer titles right around the corner. My pile of great new books is growing by the day. Here’s a snippet to whet your appetite.
            Baton Rouge food writer and Advocate columnist Helana Brigman has published a cookbook with LSU Press honoring Louisiana’s produce in “The Fresh Table: Cooking in Louisiana All Year Round.” In addition to numerous recipes sorted by season that call for fresh Louisiana ingredients, Brigman includes advice on how to stock your pantry, a produce availability chart and a list of Louisiana farmers’ markets.
            C.M. Andrews, retired from the navy and attending school at Southern University in Shreveport, has published a collection of short stories titled “Bayou Charlie’s Tales, Myths And Legends, “an odyssey deep into a land steeped in myth and magic….” Characters include a virgin with a haunted past, a French duke with a jealous wife and vengeful ghosts. Andrews will follow this book with another by the end of summer, and finish the series as a trilogy. For information, visit
            New Orleans novelist O’Neil De Noux has released a new novel starring his NOPD homicide detective John Raven Beau. Titled “City of Secrets,” the book takes place two months “AK — After Karina” when the water has gone down but much of the city is coated in a gray, brown film of silt and dirt. Residents have not all returned but murder has and the killers collide with a man who hunts murderers, innate in one who has the blood of the great plains warriors in his veins.
The book is available in trade paperback or eBook at, or

            Wiley Cash, who obtained his Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and studied under Louisiana author Ernest Gaines, won an Adult Debut Honor Award from the American Booksellers Association’s 2013 Indies Choice Book Awards. The awards are voted on by independent booksellers nationwide. Cash’s debut novel, “A Land More Kind Than Home” has won numerous accolades.

Book news
            The French translation of Shane Bernard’s Cajun history book for kids, “Cajuns and Their Acadian Ancestors: A Young Reader’s History,” is now out by Faustine Hillard (the original English version was released in 2008).  The middle school and high school reader book is available at and Barnes & Noble.

            The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival is hosting its fourth annual Poetry Contest and accepting submissions from now until Aug. 15. The judge will be Robert Pinsky, the only poet to have been named three times the United States Poet Laureate. The top 10 finalists will receive a panel pass to attend the 2014 festival in New Orleans, and their names will be published on The winner will be announced by Jan. 15, 2014. For information, visit

Upcoming events
            Lafayette writer and artist Kody Chamberlain is offering an intensive workshop “How to Create Comic Books and Graphic Novels” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 18 at J&R Educational Supplies, 3123 1/2 Johnston St. in Lafayette. The six-hour “walkthrough of the creative process” will include professional level techniques. The price of the workshop is $80. For information, visit

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at