Sunday, July 28, 2013

'Gallant Creoles' an impressive tome on little-known Civil War unit

            UL Press has just released a massive tome on the Donaldsonville Canonniers, a militia company comprised of Creoles and Cajuns citizens-soldiers that organized in Ascension Parish before the Civil War.
            “Gallant Creoles: A History of the Donaldsonville Canonniers” by Michael Marshall relates the early history of the group but focuses primarily on their role in the Civil War when they were known as the Donaldsonville Artillery, one of the conflict’s most active units. They served as part of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and participating in many important battles, including Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredricksburg and Gettysburg.
            Following the Civil War, the Canonniers reorganized in 1875 for federal service and served in the Spanish-American War before disbanding in 1898.
            In addition to detailed information about the unit — much of what has never been published before — the book includes detailed biographies on members, which will thrill Louisiana genealogists.
            Marshall is retired from the New Orleans Police Department and is a former history high school teacher and Marine. His ancestors served in the Canonniers. When he realized little was written on the unit, Marshall spent 27 years compiling information for this book. The result is impressive.
            “My ambition with this book is that the veterans of the Canonniers de Donaldson will no longer be forgotten,” he writes in the preface.           

More on the Civil War
            If you’re a Civil War buff or just want to catch up on Sesquicentennial
fever, National Geographic has a wonderful book that’s as much fascinating facts about American history as it is about the war. “Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War” includes 132 untold personal stories and Civil War tales by James Robertson, the great-grandson of a survivor of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. He’s an award-winning Civil War historian and executive director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.
            Robertson’s book offers insights into many unique aspects of the war, such as the dogs who accompanied soldiers, how the mail got through, what soldiers ate and drank and the unusual truce among Masons in St. Francisville, where today Union and Confederates are buried next to one another. Fascinating people include almost 7-foot soldier from Indiana, Confederate spy Belle Boyd, the “Siren of the Shenandoah” and Albert D.J. Cashier, who fought with the 95th Illinois but turned out to be a woman. There’s even a chamber pot used by New Orleans citizens with Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler’s photo at the bottom. 
            Also, the Smithsonian will publish a 384-page hardback “Smithsonian Civil War” that takes readers inside the museum storerooms and vaults to learn the untold stories behind the Smithsonian’s most significant pieces, including many previously unseen relics and artifacts. The book, which will be released in late September, contains more than 500 photographs and text from 49 curators. For those who preorder the book directly from Smithsonian, there is a bonus Q&A section with eight Smithsonian curators and historians. The experts cover all topics of the war including the personal stories and accounts from many perspectives. Visit

            The long list for the 2013 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize has been announced and two of the authors will be participating in this year’s Louisiana Book Festival Nov. 2 in Baton Rouge. They are Kent Wascom, author of “The Blood of Heaven" (Grove Press) and Rita Leganski, author of “The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow” (Harper Paperbacks). The short list will be announced in late August. 
            Anne Rice is one of the winners of the 2013 International Thrillers Awards, sponsored by International Thriller Writers. Rice won the Thrillermaster Award and  joined winners Brian Freeman for hardback novel “Spilled Blood;”
Sean Doolittle for paperback original “Lake Country;” Matthew Quirk for first novel “The 500;” C.J. Lyons for ebook original novel “Blind Faith;” Dan Krokos for YA novel “False Memory;” John Rector for his short story “Lost Things” and Steve Berry, who won the Silver Bullet Award.

            The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest is open for submissions from now until Aug 15. The judge is Robert Pinsky, the only poet to have been named three times the United States Poet Laureate. This contest is for writers who have yet to publish a book of poetry. The top ten finalists will receive a panel pass ($75 value) to attend next year’s festival in March, and their names will be published on The winner will be announced by Jan. 15, 2014. For more information, visit

Movie adaptations
            The story that inspired the movie, “The Butler,” will hit bookshelves Tuesday. “The Butler” by Will Haygood looks at the life of Eugene Allen, the butler who served presidents and witnessed milestones of history. Kirkus Reviews calls the book “poignant and powerful.” The film version was shot in Louisiana. Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s novels will be thrilled to learn that “Outlander” is being adapted for Starz network and Jamie Fraser has been cast for the lead.

Mark your calendar
            The Fall Book Sale by the Friends of the Lafayette Public Library will be Sept. 11 through 14 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center, 1373 S. College Road. The sale opens with a members-only preview sale on Sept. 11, followed by a three-day public sale. Book donations are being accepted at the warehouse at 211 Pinhook Road. To become a Friends member, find out drop-off hours and learn more about the fall sale, visit

Book events
            The Writers’ Guild of Acadiana meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble Lafayette. The speaker will be Dr. Philip Levin, president of the Gulf Coast Writers Association in Gulfport, Miss. Levin is the author of “Inheritance,” “Stories from Our Past” and “Doctor’s Dreams.” He is also a physician with 30 years experience in the emergency room and a photographer. He has also coauthored a children’s book, “Ndovu the Elephant – An African Tale.” The meeting is open to the public.             
            Erica Spindler signs her latest thriller, “Justice for Sara,” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble Mandeville. For information, visit
            Summer Voices Seasonal Reading Series continues with former Louisiana poet laureate Darrell Bourque reading from his new collection of poetry, “Megan's Guitar andOther Poems from Acadie,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Carpe Diem! Gelato & Espresso Bar, 812 Jefferson St. in Lafayette. The event is free and the public is invited.
            Sue Schleifer, author of “The Key to the Castle: Zen and Travel Stories of Trust,” will read from and sign her books from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Joie de Vivre Café in Breaux Bridge. She will be joining her husband, Mark DeWitt, author of “Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California.”
            Chuck Hustmyre will be signing copies of “The Axman of New Orleans” from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at the French Market shop A Tisket A Tasket, 910 Decatur St. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Garden District Book Shop in the Rink at 2727 Prytania St., both in New Orleans. On Sunday, Aug. 4, he will read from the book at the literary reading series in the patio of the Maple Leaf Bar, 8316 Oak St. in New Orleans.
            The Gulf Coast Writers Association present writing coach Kelly L. Stone leading the workshop “Free Your Creative Mind: Tips and Techniques for Using the power of Your Subconscious Mind” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Pass Christian Library, 111 Hiern Ave., Pass Christian, Miss. Stone is an author whose work has appeared in Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, Cat Fancy, The Toastmaster, and Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort anthologies. She has published four books, including a literary women’s fiction novel and the “Time to Write” series for aspiring authors. No reservations are required for this workshop and it’s free. 

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and the upcoming “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Two new books celebrate love of food

            If you love reading about food, in addition to cooking it up, there are two wonderful new — and local — books on the subject.
            Elizabeth M. Williams, founder and president of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, celebrates the city with an examination of its cuisine, relationship with the residents and individual restaurants and signature food dishes in “New Orleans: A Food Biography.” Williams discusses the unique history of the Crescent City, how immigration affected cuisine and traditions and how the environment created the foods we enjoy, in addition to much more.
            There’s information on the city’s grocery stores, companies that package products for the national markets, restaurants and their history, drinks and bars and food personalities, to name a few. If you ever wanted to learn of the city’s food history in an easy-to-decipher book, this one’s for you.
            Food writer Julia Reed, who lives in New Orleans, has traveled the world and enjoyed its food. She relates these experiences — along with personal stories — in “ButMama Always Put Vodka in her Sangria! Adventures in Eating, Drinking and MakingMerry.” Even though Reed takes readers to all corners of the world, her Southern roots show through, making this an enjoyable book that’s emphasizes our love affair with food no matter where we travel — and so much more.
            Every chapter has a theme and is followed by recipes. Here’s one from the chapter, “Summer on a Plate.” The following recipe by vegetarian chef Deborah Madison incorporates marinated mushrooms in a fresh summer salad. Reed insists that mushrooms should always be marinated first and equates raw mushrooms in a salad to tasting Styrofoam. Good thinking there.

Deborah Madison’s Fennel, Mushroom and Parmesan Salad
From “But Mama Always Put Vodka in her Sangria!”
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 strips of lemon peel, minced
1/8 teaspoon of fennel seeds, crushed under a spoon or in a mortar
4-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces large, firm white mushrooms, wiped clean
Freshly ground black pepper
1 fennel bulb
1 tablespoon fennel greens, chopped
3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved into paper-thin slices
            Directions: Pound the garlic and the salt in a mortar until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, lemon peel, fennel seeds and olive oil.
            Thinly slice the mushrooms. Dress them with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette, and season them with plenty of pepper. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly over them to keep them from browning and set aside for about an hour to marinate.
            Trim the fennel bulb and cut into quarters. Remove most of the core, then slice it lengthwise, very thinly, leaving the pieces joined together. Dress it with most of the remaining vinaigrette and half the herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the herbs to the mushrooms.
            Layer the mushrooms, cheese, and fennel on each plate and spoon the remaining vinaigrette over the top.

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana” and the upcoming “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana,” both by The History Press.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Orleans educator offers views of system in 'Flood of Conflict'

             Robert M. Ferris found education to be his passion when he left college and joined the Head Start program. Through the years and many experiences, from Mobile to Montana, Ferris learned early the best way to encourage children to learn.
            In 1971, he stated The New Orleans Free School with little money and a huge dose of enthusiasm.
            “We started a school without any corporate or governmental authority or support,” he writes in his book, “Flood of Conflict: The New Orleans Free School Story.” “We simply opened our doors and said we were a school.”
            In 1973, the school became a public school and part of the Orleans Parish bureaucracy. From fairly early on until Katrina closed the school for good, Ferris and The New Orleans Free School fought an ongoing battle with the parish school board and the powers that be.
            Ferris’s book details his life’s work in education, the history of the school and his thoughts on education in general. Naturally, Ferris is not a fan of bureaucracy dictating school policy, unless schools are run by smaller units of government. He’s also not a fan of high-stakes testing, but supports charter schools, “fair and equitable spending” and early childhood education.
            Ferris received his master of science in education from Indiana University in 1978 and his doctor of education in 1989 from Vanderbilt. He and his wife live in New Orleans.

New releases
            New Orleans journalist Ramon Antonio Vargas has published a book that looks at the 1945 Loyola New Orleans Wolf Pack, the city’s first basketball team to earn a national championship, in “Fight, Grin and Squarely Play the Game: The 1945Loyola New Orleans Basketball Championship and Legacy.”
            Margaret Media, Inc. has released “Singing to the Lions,” a war novel written by Vietnam veteran Robert A. Gisclair of Cut Off. Gisclair went to Vietnam in 1968 with the 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. On his return from Vietnam he spent three years in college, then worked 35 years in the oil fields and off shore platforms. He’s backpacked through Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East.
Book awards
            Acadian House Publishing’s “Eli’s Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power ofPrayer,” written by the boy’s father, Chad Judice of Lafayette, has been recognized as the Book of the Year by a Small Publisher in the U.S. by the Catholic Press Association. The book was released in the fall of 2012 and follows Eli Judice, age 4, who was born with spina bifida.
            “The story of Eli, his parents, and the ultimate unfolding of faith in the midst of harrowing challenges is exemplary.…The book is beautifully rendered in word and image,” the association stated in announcing the award.
             “Eli’s Reach” is the sequel to “Waiting for Eli: A Father’s Journey from Fear to Faith.” Both books are available through bookstores and gift shops nationwide, online at or by calling (800) 850-8851.

            Did you know that Louisiana Book News has a Pinterest page? I have a web site as well with a list of the state’s authors, but it’s so much easier posting local books to Pinterest. The Louisiana Book News Pinterest board is full of Louisiana books with links for more information. It’s growing so if you see a book that’s not there and should be, let me know!
            While updating my Pinterest boards I ran across photographer Joe Todd and learned that he has published a book that highlights the birds and animals at the Lake Martin Bird Sanctuary on the Cypress Island Preserve, titled “Lake Martin BirdSanctuary." Retired and living in Opelousas, Todd spends time in the great outdoors such as Lake Martin capturing wildlife with his camera. He also started a business called Photopinups in 1990, supplying photographic prints and novelties to gift shops and other retail outlets. For information, visit

Book events
            Matthew Guinn will offer a reading and signing at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 27, with Steve Yates at Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, Miss.
            Former Louisiana poet laureate Darrell Bourque will arrive by raft along bayous Teche and Fuselier to read from his latest book of poetry, “Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie,” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 26, at Bayou Warehouse, 149 Fuselier Road in Arnaudville (next to Little Big Cup).

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, July 18, 2013

Cookbook Thursday: Emeril's seasonal suggestions

            New Orleans restauranteur and TV cooking celebrity Emeril Lagasse advises using locally-grown and organically produced products in his cookbook, Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh (Harper Studio, $24.99), a collection of recipes perfect for this time of year.
             There’s a host of herb oils and teas, a type of corn fritter he calls “corn oysters,” homemade cheeses and mayonnaise, a cheesy Creole tomato pie, watermelon limade, pickled okra, green onion spoonbread and a host of recipes featuring fresh seafood, beef and vegetables of the season. Most are very easy to prepare after a quick trip to the farmer’s market or local produce stand.
            Here’s a recipe incorporating peaches which are fresh from the Ruston markets and should be oncoming until September. Lagasse suggests serving this dish with the book’s dandelion greens salad.

Carmelized Peaches
4 firm-ripe peaches
1 cup ruby port
1/2 cup sugar
4 whole cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches long)
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
      Directions: Cut the peaches in half, remove the stones and slice each half into quarters. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the port, sugar, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the mixture is somewhat syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add the peaches, stir to coat, and cook until they are golden and are nicely coated in the syrup, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the whole spices, and serve the peaches warm or cool. Makes 2 cups.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

'The Never List' a gripping first novel

             A car accident leaves teenagers Sarah and Jennifer shaken to the core, especially since Jennifer’s mother has died. They compile a “Never List,” a catalog of actions to be avoided, such as never walking through the dark areas of campus or never getting into cars with strangers. They bar their dorm windows, keep a ladder handy in case of a fire, and plan their outings carefully.
             In a perverse irony, they drink too much at a college party and call a service for a ride back to the dorms, only to be abducted. Their captor keeps them locked in a cellar for years, along with two other women, and subjects them to torture.
            The horrors of their experience is told in small increments and delicately (which I appreciated) in “The Never List” by Koethis Zan, with the bulk of the story revolving around Sarah years later. Sarah is plagued with phobias and trying to rebuild her life, but her captor is up for parole and sending her creepy letters. Most of all, she still doesn’t know what happened to Jennifer.
            Slowly, Sarah embarks on a cross-country tour, enlisting the help of her estranged cellmates, uncovering an underworld of secret cults and torture. As she travels to places like New Orleans, Alabama and the place of her abduction, Oregon, she slowly comes to grips with her phobias, but it’s a horrific road she must travel.
            “The Never List” is Zan’s debut novel, an admirable accomplishment that hits bookshelves this week. The novel’s non-stop suspense takes hold making it hard to put down, even though the story ignites base fears.

Une Belle Maison
            If you begin at the French Quarter and follow the river downstream to the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, you will be following what used to be a long line of riverside plantation homes. One of these was the Lombard Plantation house, referred to in an 1835 bill of sale as “une belle maison.” While the other plantations have been torn down or lost to the river, the Lombard home remains, an example of an early 19th century West Indian-style residence. 
             S. Frederick Starr offers detailed history on the Lombard home, plus fascinating information on neighboring homes and the Bywater neighborhood that grew up in place of the plantations in “Une Belle Maison: The Lombard Plantation House inNew Orleans’s Bywater,” published by University Press of Mississippi. Starr discusses the heyday of the plantations, their locations and history, the later deterioration of the neighborhood and the resurrection of both Lombard home and Bywater, plus gives detail accounts of daily life within the Lombard household.
            Architectural photographer Robert S. Brantley provides the illustrations, many of which are never before seen photos of the riverfront homes and old plans for the Lombard home. 

Gaines honored
            By the time this is published, President Barack Obama will have presented Louisiana author Ernest J. Gaines with the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government, the 2012 National Medal of Arts. Gaines was honored for his contributions as an author and teacher and joins other award recipients New Orleans music legend Allen Toussaint, Star Wars director George Lucas, musician Herb Alpert, comedienne, director and writer Elaine May and Lake Charles playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner. Gaines’ novels include “A Lesson Before Dying,” “The Autobiography of Miss JanePittman,” “A Gathering of Old Men,” “Of Love and Dust” and “Catherine Carmier.” Gaines is also the University of Louisiana at Lafayette writer-in-residence emeritus.

Book events
            Edward T. Haslam, author of “Dr. Mary’s Monkey” will host a symposium on the legal and medical implications of the 1964 murder of New Orleans physician Dr. Mary Sherman from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at Loyola University in New Orleans. The event, sponsored by The Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice and Trine Day Publishing, will be held in Room 114 of Loyola’s Miller Hall. Admission is $20. Visit or call (800) 556-2012.
            The Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge is hosting talks in July highlighting Louisiana's Acadian, Cajun and Creole heritage, and will offer one at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18. Guests are invited to arrive early to view the exhibits as the museum galleries will remain open until the program begins. Refreshments will be provided by the Louisiana State Museum Friends beginning at 6 p.m. This Thursday the talk will be “Preserving the Heritage: Bayou Pigeon, Louisiana-Spirit of the Atchafalaya” with Cliff LeGrange, Adam Landry, Geraldine Settoon, Jimmy Landry, Patricia Settoon and Stan Routh. The panel will present a special program that documents the unique traditions and folklife culture of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. Guests will view printed material and illustrations; hear historical facts and firsthand stories of the Cajun Culture of Bayou Pigeon; and enjoy a special Cajun music presentation by Calvin LeBlanc.

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

Sunday, July 7, 2013

New Orleans museum opens exhibit tied to historic publication of memoirs

            This past spring the Historic New Orleans Collection published an incredible find, the previously unpublished memoir of Marc-Antoine Caillot, an employee of the French Company of the Indies, titled, “A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies.” 
             The manuscript contained Caillot’s recollection of traveling to Louisiana and his experiences in the early French colony.
            The Historic New Orleans Collection has opened an exhibition titled “Pipe Dreams: Louisiana under the French Company of the Indies, 1717–1731,” that complements the books and offers a perspective of 18th century Louisiana life. The exhibit looks at Louisiana’s role in relation to the company’s other trade outposts, especially those in the Indian Ocean, and the establishment of New Orleans as the colony’s capital. It also examines the development of tobacco culture in America, Louisiana’s population during the company years and the war between the Natchez and the French and their Indian allies between 1729 and 1731.
            More than 100 items are on display, including manuscripts and engraved maps and plans; contemporary artworks and drawings; archaeological artifacts from Port Dauphin, Old Mobile, Natchez and New Orleans; manuscript and three-dimensional items related to John Law, the Company of the West, the collapse of Law’s Système, and the Company of the Indies; and trade items circulated throughout the company’s global networks.
            The exhibit continues until Sept. 15 at the French Quarter museum. For information, visit

New releases
            Stephanie Hepburn, an independent journalist based in New Orleans, has published “Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight” with Rita J. Simon. Hepburn first saw human trafficking in post-Katrina New Orleans, an experience that sparked global examination of trafficking in more than 23 nations. This study, with intimate accounts and interviews, points out those most vulnerable in each nation and the specific cultural, economic, environmental and geopolitical factors that contribute to each nation’s trafficking issues. Joanne Myers of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs said this about the book, “Stephanie personifies investigative journalism at its finest.” 
             Jerry DeWitt, a former pastor in DeRidder, questioned his Pentecostal faith when a member of his flock called seeking prayer for her brother who had been in a serious accident. As DeWitt searched for the right words to console her, he found that the faith which had once been the cornerstone of his life was gone. DeWitt was eventually outed as an atheist and shunned by much of DeRidder’s highly religious community, losing his job, his wife and nearly everything he’d known. His book, “Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism” with Ethan Brown tells the story of his passage from pastor with a deep Christian faith to a committed and considered atheism, one driven by humanism and what he calls “a happiness and self-confidence obtained by living free of fear.”
            New Orleanian author and artist Alex Beard is known for his highly imaginative children’s books “Monkey See, Monkey Draw” and “The Jungle Grapevine.” But I completely missed when his latest book came out, “Crocodile Tears.” The book follows Black Rhino and Tickbird wanting to know why Crocodile is crying. They search the African landscape for other animals who might know the answer. When Black Rhino finally asks Crocodile why he’s crying, he learns an interesting fact: Crocodile isn’t really crying; he’s wetting his eyes in the hot, dry sun like all crocodiles do. A share of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Shompole Community Trust, a land and animal reserve in Kenya.
            Acadian House Publishing of Lafayette has released “Leadership in the New Normal” by U.S Amry Lt. General Russel Honoré, a short course designed to help readers become more effective leaders. It describes modern leadership principles and techniques and illustrates them with stories from the author’s life experiences — including 37 years in the military and spearheading the post-Katrina search-and-rescue mission in New Orleans and restoring law and order to the hurricane-ravaged city. In “Leadership in the New Normal,” Honoré defines leadership as “the art and science of influencing others to willingly follow in order to accomplish a task or mission.”

New Poet Laureate
            Congrats to Ava Leavell Haymon for being chosen Louisiana’s new state poet laureate. The nationally recognized Baton Rouge poet and teacher will serve a two-year term. Haymon has organized the Artists-in-the-Schools program in Baton Rouge, the Junior Great Books program in several parishes and numerous classes at LSU.  She is the author of “The Strict Economy of Fire,” “Kitchen Heat” and “Why the House is Made of Gingerbread,” published by LSU Press. Jack Bedell of Southeastern and Laura Mullen of LSU were the other nominees. Haymon follows in the steps of previous poet laureates Brenda Marie Osbey, Darrell Bourque and Julie Kane.   

Book news
            “Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’” by Cory MacLauchlin is one of 50 books honored for its cover in the 2012 50 Books 50 Covers contest by Design Observer. The designer was Paul Sahre and the art director Jonathan Sainsbury. To view the entire list, visit,
            Ronlyn Domingue of Lafayette published her second novel this year, “The Mapmaker’s War,” with a sequel to follow. She reports that because the sequel “is a giant epic beast” her publisher decided to make the series a trilogy. The sequels to “The Mapmaker’s War” will be “The Chronicle of Secret Riven” in late spring, early summer 2014 and a third book in 2015. 

            The Berries, Bridges and Books Writers Conference will be Saturday at Woodland Park Baptist Church, 1909 J.W. Davis Drive in Hammond. Dr. Mary Manheim will be the keynote speaker. Authors Christa Allen, Dave Berwick, Sylvia Rochester, Rosemary Smith, Kathryn Martin, Lynette Vinet and Nancy Wagner, among others, will be in attendance. Marketing representative Mary Pirosko, publisher Mary Gehman and bookseller Ken Foster are also on the slate. For more information contact or
            The LexiCon Writers Conference will be July 12-14 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Denton, Texas. For information, visit

Edith Dupré Library
            A new exhibit at Edith Garland Dupré Library on the University of Louisiana-Lafayette campus in Lafayette reveals the impact of the Civil War on Louisiana 150 years ago, including Acadiana. “The Civil War in Louisiana, 1863” is the fourth in a series of seven exhibits about the war, is free and on display through July 31. The exhibit includes first-hand accounts, histories of military units, scholarly studies and artist’s sketches that were published in illustrated magazines. There are three Civil War diarists featured as well: Kate Stone, who lived near Vicksburg, Miss.; Sarah Morgan, a refugee from Baton Rouge who was staying near Port Hudson, La.; and Priscilla Bond, who became a refugee in Abbeville, after her Houma sugar plantation, Crescent Place, was burned by Union troops. One of the artifacts on display is the Sept. 26, 1863, edition of The Opelousas Courier newspaper, which was printed on wallpaper. The library is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays (except today due to the Fourth of July holiday).

Book events
            Thinking about writing? My creative writing classes begin Tuesday at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education, otherwise known as Potpourri. On July 20 I will offer a seminar titled “So You Want to Get Published,” looking at the many ways of getting a book finished and on the shelf or in the Kindle. For more information, visit
            Peter M. Wolf will sign copies of “My New Orleans, Gone Away: A Memoir of Loss and Renewal” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, at Octavia Books in New Orleans. Wolf is the founder of the Thomas Moran Trust, Chairman of the Godchaux-Reserve Plantation Fund and a trustee in East Hampton of Guild Hall and The Village Preservation Society. His research and writing have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the American Federation of Arts and a Fulbright Fellowship.
            The Capitol Park Museum is hosting two talks in July highlighting Louisiana's Acadian, Cajun and Creole heritage. The free programs will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, July 11 and 18. Guests are invited to arrive early to view the exhibits as the museum galleries will remain open until the program begins. Refreshments will be provided by the Louisiana State Museum Friends beginning at 6 p.m. The first talk this Thursday will be “The Creole Trail: Genealogical Ties Unite Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles, Rapides and Natchitoches Parishes” by Brian J. Costello of New Roads.
            The Vermilion Parish Library concludes its Summer Reading Program with a party at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, at the Abbeville Library and noon Wednesday at the Delcambre and Erath libraries, 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Gueydan Library and 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Maurice.

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, July 5, 2013

Bobby Flay's porterhouse recipe perfect for July Fourth weekend

            It’s July Fourth weekend and time to pull out the grill for some outdoor cooking. Here’s a lovely recipe for a porterhouse steak with balsamic-rosemary steak sauce and grilled Treviso from “Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction” by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson. Flay calls this cut of meat a “showstopper of a steak.”
             “Grilled on the bone and traditionally served rare, this cut gives you fantastic beefy flavor on the strip side as well as a tender fillet,” he writes in his new cookbook. “A rich blend of Tuscan ingredients such as fragrant rosemary and sweetly acidic balsamic vinegar blend into a mouthwatering steak sauce. Treviso is a mild variety of the Italian lettuce radicchio. Its long, deep red leaves have a crinkly texture and a slightly bitter, nutty flavor that mellows with the grill’s heat.”
            This recipe serves four to six.

Tuscan porterhouse with balsamic-rosemary steak sauce and grilled Treviso
From “Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction”
1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 (16-ounce) porterhouse steaks, each 11/2 inches thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic-Rosemary Steak Sauce (recipe follows)
2 heads Treviso
Balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
Fresh rosemary, for garnish
            Directions: Marinate the steaks: Whisk together the canola oil, garlic and chopped rosemary in a large baking dish. Add the steaks and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
            Soak 1 cup almond wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Heat your grill to high for direct grilling. Add the drained wood chips to the coals in a charcoal grill or put them in a smoker box of a gas grill. Close the cover and let smoke build for 10 minutes. Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry. Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
            Grill until charred on both sides and cooked to medium, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the grill and drizzle with a little of the steak sauce. Tent loosely with foil and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
            While the steaks are resting, drizzle the Treviso with canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until slightly charred and wilted, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute just to heat through. Put the Treviso on a platter, drizzle with a little balsamic and some olive oil, and add the Gorgonzola. Top with slices of the steak and drizzle with more steak sauce. Garnish with parsley and rosemary.

Balsamic-Rosemary Steak Sauce
2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large grilled or jarred roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons clover honey
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
            Direction: Combine the balsamic vinegar, garlic and rosemary in a small saucepan and boil over high heat until reduced by half. Remove the rosemary sprigs and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Put the roasted peppers, horseradish, honey, molasses and Worcestershire in a blender, add the cooled balsamic mixture, the olive oil and red wine vinegar and blend until smooth; season with the salt and black pepper.

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.”