Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New books out by University of Louisiana at Monroe faculty and graduates

Rickey E. Pittman, adjunct English instructor in the School of Humanities at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, recently released a multi-discipline children’s book titled “Rio Grande Valley ABC.” The book covers the English alphabet, and introduces readers to the history, social science and geography of Texas. The book is illustrated by Julie Dupré Buckner, an award-winning artist and illustrator whose portrait work is held in private collections throughout the United States. Pittman is an award winning author, storyteller and folksinger originally from Dallas. In addition to his writing — “Scottish Alphabet,” “Irish Alphabet,” “Jim Limber Davis” and many more, — he has also recorded musical albums including “Bard of the South” and “A Lover’s Ghost.”
Dr. Kenneth Clow, the ULM Biedenharn Endowed Chair in Business, and Dana-Nicoleta Lascu of the University of Richmond recently collaborated on a 15-chapter textbook designed for introductory courses in marketing. “Essentials of Marketing, 5th Edition” was published by Textbook Media and features international examples and illustrations as well as business-to-business concepts. Clow has created a blog to accompany the textbook that allows instructors using the text to keep up with recent events in the area of marketing. In addition to the “Essentials of Marketing” textbook, Clow has published books in advertising, marketing research, sports marketing and services marketing. He also has published more than 200 articles in academic journals and conference proceedings.
Michael Deschamp, a 2013 graduate of ULM, has published “One Egg or Two,” a collection of short stories that explores family, friendship and tragedy through a host of characters. The series ends on the streets of New Orleans where characters help to explain the mysterious death of a popular hairdresser.
Deschamp’s first novel, “An Education through Letters: A Memoir of My First Grade Teacher Mrs. Jacobson,” was published in 2006 and follows 15 years of correspondence between a young boy and his first grade teacher.
Deschamp earned a Master of Arts in English from ULM, and holds several degrees in liberal arts, philosophy, English and creative writing. He has also taught English for more than 25 years at both the high school and collegiate level.
Both of Deschamp’s novels can be found on Amazon.com.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Acadian House offers 'Southern Jesuit Biographies'

            Acadian House Publishing of Lafayette looks at the Jesuits who lived and worked in the New Orleans Mission and Province over the past three centuries in “Southern Jesuit Biographies: Pastors and Preachers, Builders and Teachers of the New Orleans Province.” The main author is the Rev. Jerome Neyrey, a Jesuit priest who lives in Grand Coteau, and many of the book’s 220 biographies of Jesuit priests and brothers were contributed by the late Rev. Thomas Clancy, also a Jesuit.
The biographies in the book are divided into three groups, three eras in which the men did the bulk of their work: the Mission Era (1700-1907), the Building and Expansion Era (1907-1968) and the Modern Era (1968-2014).
The 256-page volume contains 64 pages of photographs of Jesuit priests and brothers and a map of the 11-state province as well as a map of Ceylon/Sri Lanka, where Southern Jesuits did mission work from the mid-1930s through the 1960s. “Southern Jesuit Biographies” also contains a glossary of terms, an index and a timeline that details events and dates in the establishment of the Jesuits’ New Orleans mission and province.

The book is available through bookstores and gift shops and may be ordered at www.acadianhouse.com or by mail order from Acadian House Publishing, P.O. Box 52247, Lafayette, LA 70505, (800) 850-8851. It retails for $40 plus $4 for shipping.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The healthy side of flavor in 'Soul Food Love'

            Alice Randall is a multi-talented individual. She is a New York Times best-selling author — “The Wind Done Gone,” “Pushkin” and “Ada’s Rules” to name a few, — an expert on African American cookbooks and soul food, teaches at Vanderbilt University and writes country music, including Trisha Yearwood’s “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl).”
            Randall is also an advocate for healthy eating and determined to break the genetic cycle of obesity in her African American family, penning the op-ed feature in the New York Times titled “Black Women and Fat.”
“Today the kitchen that once saved us is killing us,” she writes in her latest book, “Soul Food Love: HealthyRecipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family.” “Foodways in much of black America are plain broke-down. Too many young black women have lower life expectancies than their mothers. And most don’t even know it.”
Randall admits it’s not just black America in the Sun Belt that’s dealing with an unhealthy lifestyle, but African Americans are “particularly hard hit” by these sobering statistics.
Her cookbook honors the generations who came before her, who found solace, community and sustenance in their cooking, in addition to fear and pain enslaved in terrible situations. The kitchen was also a place where Randall shared stories with her own daughter, a contributor to the book, Caroline Randall Williams, whose chapters is as heartfelt as her mother’s.
But soul food can be healthy, Alice Randall insists, offering recipes that may take out the calories and fat but leave in the flavors we all love. There’s sweet potato, kale and black-eyed pea soup and a pot of green without the ham hocks. There’s the poet pot pie that uses sweet potato mash to top a vegetable shepherd’s pie and a peanut chicken stew.
“My goal is to be the last fat black woman in my family,” Randall wrote in the New York Times.
Not an easy feat for anyone, but her cookbook makes it easier.
For instance, below is a recipe for fruit salad, which Randall calls a “soul food staple.” Instead of using commercial fruit cocktail — “an abomination that should never be served to anybody’s child,” Randall writes — use fresh fruit in this innovative style.
“As an added bonus, this salad is also something of a botany lesson,” she added. “Many people forget that avocados are fruits. Same with tomatoes. This recipe is a tasty reminder.”
Talk about the perfect summer salad.

New School “Fruit” Salad
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
2 pinches of pepper
1⁄4 medium watermelon, preferably seedless
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 avocados, diced
3⁄4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Direction: Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Remove the rind from the watermelon and chop the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine with the tomatoes and avocados in a serving bowl, and gently toss. Add the feta cheese and the dressing, and toss again.

And here’s an easy recipe for spicy pepper chicken.

Spicy Pepper Chicken
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1⁄3 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (3- to 4 pound) chicken
Directions: Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Mix the cayenne, olive oil, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
Remove the giblets, neck, and liver packet — anything stuffed in the interior of the chicken. Rinse the chicken inside and out, and pat dry. Put the chicken in a baking dish with low sides. Season it generously with salt and pepper inside and out. Starting at the neck of the chicken, and making sure to break no more of the skin than you have to, rub the oil mixture onto the chicken flesh, including the legs. The whole chicken should appear reddish.
Roast the chicken for 20 minutes to crisp the skin, then turn the heat down to 400 degrees. Continue to roast the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. The juices should run clear and colorless when you pierce a thigh. This can take another 25 to 40 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Local and international books to please young readers

            Last week I promised more children’s book review to keep kids occupied — and reading — this summer.
A great book to read to your children, followed up by a trip to the University Art Museum, is “Grandma in Blue with Red Hat” by Scott Menchin, illustrated by Harry Bliss. A young boy loves taking classes at the art museum and his teacher explains that art provokes many things — happiness, beauty, storytelling, uniqueness and much more. The boy realizes these are the same qualities as his grandmother, who ends up painting in the style of famous artists. He realizes that art, like his grandmother, are one of a kind pieces.
Joe writes his grandfather explaining what he’s learning this summer in “Ice Cream Summer” by Peter Sis. There’s plenty of math, reading, geography — even cartography, but it all contains an ice cream theme. Even Joe’s history lessons explain how ice cream was born in China 2,000 years ago. When grandpa arrives to take Joe on a special, the theme continues in this charming and innovative book that makes learning fun.
Journalist, teacher and performer Mel LeCompte Jr. of Opelousas has penned and illustrated a geography lesson of Louisiana in a rhyming story in which T-Boy loses his turtle and travels the state in search of him in “T-Boy and the Terrible Turtle.” The young boy searches several towns and cities, emphasizing their attributes, such as rice in Crowley and the Biedenharn Museum in Monroe. In the back is a handy map and list of the cities with more information. LeCompte is also author of the children’s book, “The Ice Cream Cow,” and “Sharpened Iron” The Tee Cotton Bowl Story.”
Home comes in many forms, which is why Carson Ellis, illustrator of “The Composer is Dead” by Lemony Snicket, showcases the many different homes of the world in “Home.” There’s French homes, bee homes, urban apartments, artistic dwellings and the home of a Norse god, among so many more.
Young children will also love “The Monkey and the Bee” by C.P. Bloom, illustrated by Peter Raymundo, a simple but vibrant tale of a monkey at first irritated by a bee when he lands on the monkey’s banana. When the monkey swats at the bee, he disturbs a lion who chases the monkey — until the bee threatens the lion with his stinger. In the end, the monkey appreciates having a friendship with the bee.
Don’t wait until summer’s end to get “Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School” by Richard Torrey, an adorable book about a young girl who loves dinosaurs and plays the part and how she reacts to the other kids on her first day of school. Although it’s difficult adjusting to the other kids at first, children who don’t necessarily roar at snack time, Ally discovers that other kids have vivid imaginations too. What makes this the perfect summer book is the children visit the library at book’s end and discover a variety of new worlds. After all, books inspire the imagination so don’t forget to visit the library for more.
Cap off the night with Cornell Landry’s latest, “Goodnight Cajun Land,” a beautifully illustrated (by Sean Gautreaux) and delightfully rhyming book that says goodnight to what makes Acadiana special, such as zydeco dancing, Evangeline Maid Bread, boudin and the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. Landry has written  Cornell P. Landry has written several New Orleans-centric books such as “Goodnight NOLA,” “Happy Mardi Gras” and “One Dat, Two Dat and Are You a Who Dat?” View his books at http://www.blackpotpublishing.com/.

Book events
David Atwood will be signing his latest book of poetry, “Catfish Bones and Cajun Ghosts,” from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 27, at 1921 Jackson Street Coffee House in Alexandria.
“Dollbaby” by Laura Lane McNeal is now in paperback and to celebrate the softcover release McNeal will sign copies from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.
The Historic New Orleans Collection’s latest exhibition, “Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808–1865,” will run through July 18, and several special events have been scheduled. Heather Andrea Williams will lead a book club session on “Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery” at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday, June 26-27, at the New Orleans museum. Admission is free.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.