Now one of the most popular retirement area for Americans and Canadians, the Lake Chapala Region, nestled in a valley almost a mile high in Mexico’s Volcanic Axis, has long been a draw for ex-pats and vacationers, lured by its almost perfect climate and beauty.
He met his wife, Gwen Chan Burton who was a teacher of the deaf and then director at the Lakeside School for the Deaf in Jocotepec, one of the three main towns lining the shores of Lake Chapala. Though they now reside on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the Burtons continue to revisit Mexico regularly and he is currently editor-in-chief of MexConnect, Mexico’s top English-language online magazine.
The other two towns, each with its own distinctive vibe, are Ajijic and Chapala, native villages resettled by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s. “This book looks at how Chapala, a small nondescript fishing village in Jalisco, suddenly shot to international prominence at the end of the nineteenth century as one of North America’s earliest tourist resorts,” writes Burton. “Within twenty years, Chapala, tucked up against the hills embracing the northern shore of Mexico’s largest natural lake, was attracting the cream of Mexican and foreign society. Thus began Lake Chapala’s astonishing transformation into the vibrant international community it is now, so beloved of authors, artists and retirees.”
The book, organized as a walking tour, covers not only existing buildings but also pinpoints the spots where significant early buildings no longer stand but their histories still weave a story of the town. It’s only a partial guide, explains Burton, noting that an inventory prepared by the National Institute of Anthropology and History identified more than eighty such buildings in Chapala including many not easily visible from the road but hidden behind high walls and better viewed from the lake.
Among the famous people who lived in Chapala at some point in their careers was author D.H. Lawrence, probably best remembered for his risqué (at the time) novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
In 1923, Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, rented Casa de las Cuentas (House of Rosary Beads), a house that dates back to the 1800s. At the time, a one-story abode with a half-moon entrance and heavy wooden gates, it was located at 307 Calle Zaragoza, a street formerly known as Calle de la Pesquería (“Fishing street”) so named as it was where the local fishermen repaired their nets and hung them out to dry. It was while living on Calle Zaragoza that Lawrence wrote the first draft of The Plumed Serpent, published in 1926. The novel is described as “the story of a European woman’s self-annihilating plunge into the intrigues, passions, and pagan rituals of Mexico.”
Over the decades, after the Lawrences moved out, subsequent changes were made to Casa de las Cuentas including the addition of a swimming pool in the mid-1950s when artist Roy MacNicol and his wife, Mary, owned the home.
While Lawrence’s writings were considered by some as scandalous, MacNicol’s life had its scandals as well. Burton describes him as “colorful” in that he was married multiple times and was involved in many escapades as well as lawsuits.
It wasn’t the work of a dilettante as reviews of her book such as this one on Amazon shows.
“Flower Cookery is recipes, but far more than recipes,” writes one reviewer. “The book is organized by the popular name of the flower in question. Each section is introduced with quotations from literature, philosophy, and poetry that feature the blossom. This is followed by the recipes, interwoven with mythology, stories, and aphorisms about the flower, the plant from which it grows, its symbolism, and the culture or society in which humans discovered the value of the plant or blossom. The recipes include original favorites as well as recipes collected from historical sources and contemporary sources around the world. Here is just the tiniest sampling of the riches in the book.”
Burton shares her Christmas Cheer recipe from when she lived at Casa de las Cuentas.
10-12 squash blossoms with stems removed
2 eggs, beaten
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Flour, enough to thicken mixture about one tablespoon
Salt and pepper
1 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed, canola, or safflower
Wash and dry squash blossoms on paper towels, making sure to remove all the water. Mix remaining ingredients except oil to make a smooth batter. Place oil in a large, heavy skillet to 350-375°F. Dip blossoms in batter and fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.
As for the house, it was renovated again in the early 1980s and is now Quinta Quetzalcoatl, a lovely boutique hotel.
The above maps, both copyrighted, show Chapala 1915 [lower map] and 1951 [upper map].
In all, he’s planning on adding several more to what he currently calls the Lake Chapala Quartet, these focusing on the writers and artists associated with the area. I asked him to describe the region so readers who have never been there can get an idea of what it is like, but it turns out the Burton is NOT a traveler who meticulously plots every moment of a trip before he arrives. Instead, he tells me that part of the fun when traveling is to not know in advance what places are like and instead to see and experience them for yourself.
“That said,” he continues, “the various villages and towns on the shores of Lake Chapala are all quite different in character. The town of Chapala, specifically, is a pretty large and bustling town. It is growing quite rapidly and has added several small high end boutique hotels in recent years, as well as some fine dining options to complement the more traditional shoreline ‘fish’ restaurants. The many old–100 years plus–buildings in Chapala give the town a historic ‘air’ where it is relatively easy to conjure up images of what it was like decades ago. By comparison, Ajijic, now the center of the foreign community on Lake Chapala, has virtually no old buildings and more of a village and artsy feel to it, though it also has very high quality accommodations and more fine restaurants than you can count.”
Other structures still standing include the Villa Tlalocan, completed in 1896 and described by a contemporary journalist as “the largest, costliest and most complete in Chapala… a happy minglement of the Swiss chalet, the Southern verandahed house of a prosperous planter and withal having an Italian suggestion. It is tastefully planned and is set amid grounds cultivated and adorned with flowers so easily grown in this paradisiacal climate where Frost touches not with his withering finger…”
Also still part of the landscape is Villa Niza. One of many buildings designed by Guillermo de Alba, the house, according to Burton, was built in 1919 and looks more American than European in style. Located at Hidalgo 250, it takes advantage of its setting on Lake Chapala and has a mirador (look out) atop the central tower of the structure, which affords sweeping panoramic views over the gardens and lake. De Alba’s strong geometric design boasts only minimal exterior ornamentation.
Burton, who specializes in non-fiction about Mexico, related to geography, history, travel, economics, ecology and natural history, has written several fascinating books about the history of the Lake Chapala region.
In If Walls Could Talk, Burton invites you to walk with him through time as you explore the city.
“for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.”
In mortal danger for his beliefs, Hamed Allahyari and his pregnant girlfriend fled their homeland of Iran, first spending two months in Indonesia and then, after grueling hours long by truck over badly paved back roads and then days crammed aboard a boat another five months on Christmas Island before being granted asylum by the Australian government. Once there, life remained extremely difficult for the young couple who were now parents of two young children, and though Allahyari had been a chef and restauranteur in Iran, no one was interested—or so it seemed—in Persian cuisine.
Unable to find work Allahyari began volunteering at the Resource Center, an organization that provides support, legal advice, and other assistance including meals to refugees and people seeking asylum.
“Every day they feed 250 people a free lunch,” Allahyari writes in the introduction to his cookbook Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Iran to the Other Side of the World. “I started cooking there two days a week, making Persian food for people from all over the world: Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Miramar, Sierra Leone, all kinds of places, and most of them had never tried Persian food before. But when they tried it, they liked it. They talked to me about it, asked me about it, and it made me happy.”
At the recommendation of others, Allahyari also began teaching cooking classes, demonstrating how to make such dishes as Zeytoon Parvadrah (Olive and Walnuts Chunky Dip), Yogurt and Cucumber soup, Sabzi Pofow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf) Sabzi Pofow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf), and Persian Love Cake. Over the years, Allahyari taught more than 2500 people how to make Persian food. Now, he caters and is chef/owner of SalamiTea, a restaurant located in Sunshine, an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Melbourne. The name is a play on “salamati,” the Persian word meaning both “health” and “cheers.”
Salamati is more than just a cookbook, it’s also a memoir and homage to the country he had to flee. The introduction to the featured recipes in his book might offer a personal connection to the dish, a description of a unique ingredient that helps define it and bring out its best flavors—though he also offers a substitute for such items as Persian dried limes, which might be difficult to locate outside of a major city, and/or puts the food in context with the scenes to Iran.
“This dish is traditionally served in Iranian shisha shops, the cafes where older men gather to smoke water pipes, drink tea and solve the problems of the world,” he writes about Ghahve Khunee Omelette (Street-Food Tomato Omelette). “Shisha shops don’t really serve food but inevitably people get hungry while they’re hanging around, so it’s become traditional for staff to whip up a quick tomato omelette for customers and serve it with bread, raw red onion, herbs and lemon. If you want one, all you ask for is ‘omelette.’ There’s no menu as such.”
Not all the recipes are easy but for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, there are enough simple ones to get started. Full-color photos of each recipe show what the finished product will look like. And for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.
Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state and about 40 of those are rumored to be haunted by the spirits of former keepers, mariners and others with ties to these historic beacons.
Inside the pages of Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses, long-time researcher, writer and promoter of all things Michigan, Dianna Stampfler, shares stories of those who dedicated their lives — and afterlives — to protecting the Great Lakes’ shoreline. Her second book, Death & Lighthouse on the Great Lakes, Stampfler delves into the historic true crime cold case files that have baffled lighthouse lovers for as many as two centuries.
Throughout the fall season, Stampfler will be speaking at libraries around the state, sharing her lively and upbeat presentation about these lights. Copies of her books will be available for purchase and signing at every program.
For the complete schedule of upcoming events (including other topics beyond lighthouses), visit the Promote Michigan Speaker’s Bureau online.
About Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses
Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, with more than 120 dotting its expansive Great Lakes shoreline. Many of these lighthouses lay claim to haunted happenings. Former keepers like the cigar-smoking Captain Townshend at Seul Choix Point and prankster John Herman at Waugoshance Shoal near Mackinaw City maintain their watch long after death ended their duties. At White River Light Station in Whitehall, Sarah Robinson still keeps a clean and tidy house, and a mysterious young girl at the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse seeks out other children and female companions. Countless spirits remain between Whitefish Point and Point Iroquois in an area well known for its many tragic shipwrecks.
About Death & Lighthouses on the Great Lakes
Losing one’s life while tending to a Great Lakes lighthouse — or any navigational beacon anywhere in the world for that matter — sadly wasn’t such an unusual occurrence. The likelihood of drowning while at sea or becoming injured while on the job ultimately leading to death were somewhat common back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Death by murder, suicide or other unnatural and tragic causes, while rare, are not unheard of. In fact, more than dozen lighthouse keepers around the Great Lakes met their maker at the hands of others – by fire, poisoning, bludgeoning and other unknown means. A handful of these keepers, either because of depression or sheer loneliness, took their own lives. A few we may never know the true story, as the deaths now 100 or more years ago, weren’t subjected to the forensic scrutiny that such crimes are given today.
FULL PROGRAM SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED FOR PRINTERS ROW LIT FEST, THE MIDWEST’S LARGEST LITERARY CELEBRATION, SEPTEMBER 10 & 11
Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey joins over 100 authors including national bestsellers Jamie Ford, Marie Myung-OK Lee, and Danyel Smith in a jam-packed weekend of free programming
This year’s festival highlights Chicago stories and offers fun for all ages, with a poetry tent organized by The Poetry Foundation; a rare presentation from satire writers at The Onion; interactive programs for youth and families; and more
The 37th annual Printers Row Lit Fest, presented by the Near South Planning Board, is pleased to announce the full schedule ofparticipating authors and programs. Printers Row Lit Fest is one of the three largest and oldest literary festivals in the U.S. and stretches across five blocks, along South Dearborn Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Polk Street and on Polk Street from State to Clark, in Chicago’s historic Printers Row neighborhood. The outdoor event is accessible via public transportation and takes place rain or shine from Saturday – Sunday, September 10 – 11, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Printers Row Lit Fest’s dynamic lineup offers fun for book lovers of all kinds, from poetry and romance to satire and spoken word. Highlights of this year’s festival include a conversation with Danyel Smith, the first Black editor of Billboard magazine, on her recent book Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop; Jamie Ford discussing his current New York Times bestseller The Many Daughters of Afong May; and celebrated author of The Evening Hero,Marie Myung-OK Lee.
New to this year’s festival is a dedicated poetry tent curated by The Poetry Foundation with a lineup of award-winning and emerging poets. Also new to the festival is the laugh-out-loud Literary Death Match, whichpits four local authors against each other in front of a panel of all-star judges, and the Chicago-based, national satirical news site The Onion will present a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the article production process of “America’s Finest News Source” with a post-apocalyptic twist. Visitors can participate in a spoken word workshop and open mic led by EmceeSkool, and The Moth will showcase recent winners from their popular StorySLAM live storytelling competition.
The Printers Row Lit Fest will present powerful voices in social and environmental justice and activism with a series of panels hosted by reporters from Chicago Sun-Times and personalities from WBEZ. The fest includes a timely discussion reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic with a conversation between Dr. David Ansell, author of The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills, and Dr. Thomas Fisher, author of The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago E.R. In addition, the Chicago Public Library will host Voices for Justice: Natalie Moore’s “The Billboard” including a staged reading of excerpts from the award-winning play.
This year marks the return of children and family-focused programming at Printers Row Lit Fest. Programs include Theatre on the Hill’s Choose Your Own Once Upon a Time, an opportunity for children to decide the fates of their favorite fairy tale characters in a live, interactive theatrical event, and Carlos Theatre Productions which will present a Latin American puppet show for children in Spanish and English. Parents can hear Dr. Dana Suskind in conversation with former Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens about her recent book Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise.
Programs are organized by Printers Row Lit Fest Program Director Amy Danzer, assistant director of graduate programs at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies and Board President of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
IncludingSandmeyer’s Booksand The Book Cellar, Printers Row Lit Fest hosts over 100 booksellers in airy outdoor tents, inviting visitors to peacefully peruse everything from the rare to ‘hot off the press,’ newly published works. All programming, includingfeature presentations by myriad authors, spoken word artists, journalists, comedians, and poets,is100% free of charge.
Printers Row Lit Fest 2022 Schedule
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
Center Stage – Children’s Programming – Theatre on the Hill Presents Choose Your Own Once Upon A Time
Poetry Foundation – Children’s Programming – A bilingual reading of Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions, Selections/Libro de Preguntas, Selecciones (Enchanted Lion Books, 2022) by translator, Sara Lissa Paulson.
Main Stage – Welcome by Near South Planning Board Chairman Steven Smutny, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Chris Brown, and First Lady Amy Eshleman. Program to follow featuring Natasha Trethewey, Harold Washington Literary Award Winner in conversation with Donna Seaman, Booklist. Program introduced by Natalie Moore, Harold Washington Literary Award Selection Committee Chair.
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – The Deep Creativity of Translation: A Reading and Discussion with Izidora Angel, Mary Hawley, and Alta L. Price. Moderated by Irina Ruvinsky. Presented by Another Chicago Magazine and the Third Coast Translators Collective.
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Big Shoulders Press Presents Virus City: Chicago 2020-2021. Reading and Discussion featuring Amy Do, Robin Hoecker, Emily Richards, Oscar Sanchez, and Frank Tempone. Moderated by Rebecca Johns Trissler.
Grace Place (1st Floor) – Children’s Programming -10:15am – Doors. 10:30am – Miss Friendship Ambassador 2022 Susan Liu to tell the story of the Moon Festival Presented by the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. 10:45am – Moon Festival Parade to depart Grace Place.
Center Stage – Welcome by Alderman King One Book One Chicago – Thomas Dyja, The Third Coast and Eric Charles May, Bedrock Faith with Judy Rivera-Van Schage
Poetry Foundation – Children’s Programming – Reading by Julian Randall, Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa. Emceed by Stefania Gomez.
Main Stage – (11:30 a.m.) WBEZ Presents Adriana Herrera, A Caribbean Heiress in Paris, and Sarah MacLean, Heartbreaker: A Hell’s Belles Novel in conversation with WBEZ’s Greta Johnsen, host of Nerdette
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Ray Long, The House That Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois’ Velvet Hammer in conversation with Joan Esposito
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Unlocking Memories and Uncovering Stories: Bindy Bitterman, Skiddly Diddly Skat (children’s book) and Sharon Kramer, Time for Bubbe (children’s book) in conversation with Chicago author Beth Finke
Grace Place (1st Floor) – Patricia Carlos Dominguez Presents Yo Luchadora (bilingual children’s book) followed by a workshop
Center Stage – Erika L. Sanchez, Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir in conversation with Juan Martinez
Poetry Foundation – – The Chicago Poetry Center – Readings by Mayda del Valle, Aricka Foreman, Tim Stafford, Natasha Mijares, C. Russell Price, and Viola Lee. Emceed by Marty McConnell.
Main Stage – (12:30 p.m) WBEZ Presents Danyel Smith, Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop in Conversation with WBEZ’s Natalie Moore
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Deborah Cohen, Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took On a World at War in conversation with Peter Slevin
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Crises: The All Ages Show – Dan Chaon, Sleepwalk and Jean Thompson, The Poet’s House in conversation with Eileen Favorite
Grace Place (1st Floor) – Writing Overwhelming Realities – Readings by Julia Fine, Dionne Irving, Ananda Lima, Jami Nakamura Lin, and Jeffrey Wolf. Emceed by Ananda Lima.
Center Stage – Debut Fiction: Jessamine Chan, The School for Good Mothers and Shelby Van Pelt, Remarkably Bright Creatures in conversation with Rebecca Makkai
Main Stage – (1:30 p.m.) Chicago Sun-Times Presents The Environmental Justice Exchange: A tribute to Hazel Johnson, the Mother of Environmental Justice. Host: Brett Chase. Guests: Cheryl Johnson, Hazel’s daughter and executive director of People for Community Recovery; Tarnynon Onumonu, poet and author of “Greetings from the Moon, the Sacrificial Side”; Luis Carranza, poet and author of “Viva la Resistencia”.
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – M. Chris Fabricant, Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System in conversation with Rob Warden
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Sourcebooks Presents – How Books Are Made: Authors Discuss the Publishing Process. Julie Clark, The Last Flight and The Lies I Tell; Ann Dávila Cardinal, The Storyteller’s Death; Iman Hariri-Kia, A Hundred Other Girls. Moderated by Kate Roddy, Associate Editor at Sourcebooks.
Center Stage – Title IX, 50 years later: Women writers, women’s sports – Corin Adams, Tiny Setbacks, Major Comebacks, Julie DiCaro, Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America, and Melissa Isaacson, State: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation in conversation with Jeanie Chung
Poetry Foundation – Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, Wherever I’m At: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry – Readings by Daniel Bortzutzky, Ugochi Nwaogwugwu, Elise Paschen, and Sara Salgado. Emceed by Carlo Rotella.
Main Stage – Chicago Sun-Times Presents Social Justice in Chicago: The Mexican community’s fight to stay in the city. Host: Elvia Malagon. Guest: Mike Amezcua, author of Making Mexican Chicago: From Postwar Settlement to the Age of Gentrification
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Dr. David Ansell, The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills and Dr. Thomas Fisher, The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER with Katherine Davis, Crain’s
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Elizabeth Crane, This Story Will Change: After the Happily Ever After with Kim Brooks
Grace Place (1st Floor) – The Onion: America’s Finest News Source In The Post-Apocalypse featuring Skyler Higley and Sammi Skolmosk
Center Stage – PHENOM & EmceeSkool (Open Mic)
Main Stage – (3:30 p.m. ) Joe Meno, Book of Extraordinary Tragedies with Gint Aras
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Beth Macy, Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis with Alex McLevy
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Leslie Bow, Racist Love: Asian Abstraction and the Pleasures of Fantasy with Michelle Huang.
Grace Place (1st Floor) – Rebuilding a Life – Ann McGlinn, Ride On, See You; Alex Poppe, Jinwar and Other Stories; Lynn Sloan, Midstream with Rachel Swearingen
Center Stage – The Chicago Public Library and16th Street Theatre Present The Billboard by Natalie Moore – Staged Reading featuring Ti Nicole Danridge and Felisha McNeal followed by conversation between Natalie Moore, The BillBoard and Kathy Hey, Third Coast Review
Poetry Foundation – RHINO Poetry – Readings by April Gibson, Kathleen Rooney, Jessica Walsh, E. Hughes, Faisal Mohyuddin, Kenyatta Rogers, Jacob Saenz, Maja Teref & Steven Teref. Emceed by Naoko Fujimoto and Elizabeth O-Connell Thompson.
Main Stage – (4:30 p.m.) – Literary Death Match – Presented by StoryStudio Chicago and Near South Planning Board. All-star judges: David Cerda, Julia Morales, and Luis Urrea. Readers: Shannon Cason, Elizabeth Gomez, Mikki Kendall, and Diana Slickman. Emceed by Adrian Todd Zuniga.
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Resistance, Resilience and Surviving the Sex Trade: – Brenda Myers-Powell, Leaving Breezy Street: A Memoir and Hannah Sward, Strip in conversation with Anne Ream, The Voices and Faces Project
Center Stage – The Guild Complex Presents Exhibit B – Reading by CM Burroughs, Ruth Margraff, and Nami Mun. Emceed by James Stewart III
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Ramzi Fawaz, Queer Forms in conersation with Chicago LGBT Hall of Famer Owen Keehnen
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Center Stage – Representation in Children’s Books: Reading and Conversation featuring Sam Kirk, The Meaning of Pride; Mrs. Yuka Layme, Co-Producer of Drag Queen Story Hour; Katie Schenkel, Cardboard Kingdom with Barbara Egel
Poetry Foundation – A Poetry Reading featuring Jennifer Steele, 826 Chiand Chris Aldana, Luya Poetry
Main Stage – Pirates, Ghosts, and Loss – Sara Connell, Ghost House and Michael Zapata, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau with Paula Carter
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Kori Rumore and Marianne Mather (authors of), and Rick Kogan (prelude to) He Had It Coming: Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories with Mary Wisniewski
Center Stage – Chicago Graphic Novelists – Markisan Naso, By the Horns and Michael Moreci, Wasted Space in conversation with Terry Gant, Third Coast Comics
Poetry Foundation – Chris Abani, Smoking the Bible – Reading followed by conversation with Parneshia Jones
Main Stage – Jamie Ford, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy in conversation with Carey Cranston, President of the American Writers Museum
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Victor Ray, On Critical Race Theory: Why It Matters & Why You Should Care with Cassandra West, Crain’s
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – – Rev. Amity Carrubba in conversation with Tom Montgomery Fate, The Long Way Home: Detours and Discoveries
Center Stage – NU Press Reading, Growing Up Chicago – Second to None: Chicago Stories – Readings by Anne Calcagno, Shelley Conner, and Jessie Ann Foley. Emceed by David Schaafsma
Poetry Foundation – Roger Reeves, Best Barbarian – Reading followed by conversation with Simone Muench. Musical accompaniment, Mai Sugimoto.
Main Stage – Girlhood in Chicago – Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson, More Than Meat and Raiment and Debut Novelist Toya Wolfe, Last Summer on State Street in conversation with Amina Gautier
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Dana Suskind, Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise in conversation with Heidi Stevens
Center Stage – City in a Garden of Books: Literary Fellowship Among Independent Publishers and Booksellers – Parneshia Jones, NU Press; Dr. Haki Madhubuti, Third World Press Foundation; Doug Seibold, Agate Publishing with Jeff Deutsch, In Praise of Good Bookstore
Main Stage – Secrets – Bradeigh Godfrey, Imposter and Marie Myung-Ok Lee, The Evening Hero with Kate Wisel
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Kevin Boyle, The Shattering: America in the 1960s in conversation with Elizabeth Taylor
Center Stage – Adam Levin, Mount Chicago in conversation with Jarrett Neal
Poetry Foundation – Young Chicago Authors – Reading featuring The Roots Crew, hosted by E’mon Lauren
Main Stage – The Moth: 25 Years of Live Storytelling featuring Grace Topinka, Melissa Earley, Archy Jamjun, and Jacoby Cochran
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Neil Steinberg, Every Goddamn Day: A Highly Selective, Definitely Opinionated, and Alternatingly Humorous and Heartbreaking Historical Tour of Chicago in conversation with Shermann Dilla Thomas (“6figga_dilla”)
Center Stage – Reading and Conversation featuring Ana Castillo, My Book of the Dead: New Poems with Yolanda Nieves
Main Stage – Romance Panel: Legacy and Love – Ali Brady, The Beach Trap and Natalie Caña, A Proposal They Can’t Refuse with Tanya Lane
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – The Insidiousness of Hatred – Adam Langer, Cyclorama and Jerry Stahl, Nein, Nein, Nein!: One Man’s Tale of Depression, Psychic Torment, and a Bus Tour of the Holocaust in conversation with Ben Tanzer
Center Stage – The Crisis in American Democracy – Dick Simpson, Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago and Michael Dorf, Clear It with Sid!: Sidney R. Yates and Fifty Years of Presidents, Pragmatism, and Public Service with Gerry Plecki, President of The Society of Midland Authors
Poetry Foundation – Reading and Conversation featuring Tara Betts, Refuse to Disappear and Keli Stewart, Small Altars. Moderated by Rachel Jamison Webster
Main Stage – Chloé Cooper Jones, Easy Beauty: A Memoir with Gina Frangello
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Sarah Kendzior, They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent – with Rick Perlstein, Crain’s
Center Stage – Blue Heron Press, Open Heart Chicago: An Anthology of Chicago Writing – Readings by Dorothy Frey, Lorena Ornelas, Joe Peterson, and Sandi Wisenberg. Emceed by Editor Vincent Francone.
Main Stage – Debut YA Fiction – Giano Cromley, The Prince of Infinite Space and Skyler Schrempp, Three Strike Summer with Michelle Falkof
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – A Visual Read of the City – Lee Bey, Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic; Blair Kamin, former Chicago Tribune architect critic; Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s with Gerald Butters\
Chef/owner Deborah VanTrece takes the flavors and foods of her heritage and her travels to create the dishes served at her award winning restaurant and now shares them in her cookbook, The Twisted Soul Cookbook.
“My cuisine has always been at the intersection of food and culture,” said Chef Deborah VanTrece, owner of the Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours in Atlanta, Georgia. “Having traveled the world as a flight attendant, I experienced how different cultures have their own versions of what we would call ‘soul food.’ My approach to cooking revolves around taking a modern, global approach to soul food, combined with the food I grew up eating with my family. THE TWISTED SOUL COOKBOOK will take you on a journey around the world right from your kitchen.”
Across chapters filled with vibrant photography, her book offers 100 recipes for dishes ranging from fresh salads and sides, generous entrees, exciting seafood, rich desserts, and brilliant as well as practical pantry staples to amplifying everyday cooking, including dressings, relishes, preserves, and sauces. An engaging teacher and storyteller, VanTrece shows home cooks the way to use techniques both simple and sophisticated to ensure a delicious outcome every time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Chef Deborah VanTrece opened the acclaimed Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours in 2014, and since then, the award-winning soul food restaurant has appeared on numerous Best Of lists, including features in the New York Times, Bon Appetit, NPR, Eater, Essence, Thrillist, Buzzfeed, Kitchn, and Food & Wine, winning acclaim for her mastery of imported cooking techniques and delicious globally informed cuisine.
She is included in 2020’s Tasty Pride: Recipes and Stories from the Queer Food Community; this is her first cookbook.
Grandma Lue’s Spinach Rice
3 cups cooked white rice, chilled
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup red bell pepper
1 cup chopped red onion
4 lbs fresh baby spinach, washed and trimmed
1 cup chopped marinated artichokes
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sour cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously grease a deep casserole or 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the cold rice and beaten eggs.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the celery, peppers, onions and spinach and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the spinach is wilted.
Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan and garlic. Cool for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cream cheese has melted and all of the ingredients are well combined.
Add the spinach-cheese mixture to the rice. With a wooden spoon, stir in the black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and salt.
Spoon into prepared baking dish, and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Bacon-Praline Macaroni and Cheese
6 cups elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
1 tbsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1 tbsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
3 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups milk, warmed
6 oz cream cheese, diced
12 oz. American cheese, diced
3 large eggs
8 oz applewood-smoked bacon (8 to 10 slices), cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or pecan pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Transfer the cooked macaroni to a large bowl.
In a small bowl, stir together the seasoned salt, white pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Sprinkle half of this seasoning mixture and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese over the macaroni and toss to combine.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for 3 to 5 minutes, until it makes a light roux. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the milk. Once all the milk is incorporated, cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the sauce reaches a simmer. Add the diced cream cheese and American cheese in batches, stirring until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the remaining shredded cheddar cheese and turn off the heat. Add the remaining seasoning mixture and stir well. Quickly whisk in the eggs until they are incorporated.
Country Captain Chicken Stew
This classic dish shows the influence of the Indian spice trade throughout the ports of the old South,’ says VanTrece about her recipe for a dish that dates back centuries.
1 (2 1/2- to 3-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp duck fat or unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes (3 to 4 medium)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp curry powder
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup chicken broth
1 (13.5-oz can coconut milk
1/2 cup raisins
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peanut rice noodles:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 (8.8-oz package rice noodles, cooked according to package directions, tossed in a little vegetable oil to prevent clumping, and chilled for 30 minutes
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup toasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In a large bowl, sprinkle the chicken pieces with the seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder and white pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours to marinate.
In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, melt the duck fat. When hot, add the chicken pieces and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer to a platter and set aside.
Spring Pea, Bacon, and Radish Salad
“This dressing is so universally loved, it doesn’t need an explanation,” write VanTrece in the recipe’s introduction. “The extra herbs just add a notch to the flavor factor. It’s not only great for salads, you can use it atop salmon, fried green tomatoes, or as a dip for chicken wings.”
3 cups fresh or frozen peas (thawed, if frozen), blanched and drained, then chilled
6 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus additional leaves for garnish
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and ground white pepper
In a large bowl, combine the peas, bacon, radishes, red onion, chopped fresh mint, and lemon zest, toss gently with the mayonnaise and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with whole mint leaves. Serves 6.
Per serving: Per serving: 195 calories (percent of calories from fat, 54), 8 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 12 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 19 milligrams cholesterol, 324 milligrams sodium.
“This dressing is so universally loved, it doesn’t need an explanation,” writes VanTrece. “The extra herbs just add a notch to the flavor factor. It’s not only great for salads, you can use it atop salmon, fried green tomatoes, or as a dip for chicken wings.”
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and pepper and process until smooth. Pulse in the fresh parsley, oregano, thyme, and chives until just combined. The dressing should be creamy but with a pleasing texture from the herbs.
Makes about 4 cups.
Per serving: Per tablespoon: 23 calories (percent of calories from fat, 70), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 75 milligrams sodium.
Aunt Lucille’s 7UP Pound Cake
About this recipe, VanTrece writes, “This is a pound cake, and the only cake I can ever remember my Aunt Lucille ever making. For me, it will always carry cherished memories of celebrations and good times. This is the kind of recipe that reminds you how good old-fashioned cakes were (and can be). Definitely use 7UP for this recipe because it has a high level of carbonation that helps the cake to rise, and gives it a brighter, fresher lemon-lime flavor than other sodas.”
For the pound cake:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour, sifted, divided
3/4 cup 7UP, divided
For the 7UP glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons 7UP
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Spray a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan with nonstick cooking spray (see note above).
In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar for 5 to 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour one-third at a time and mix on low speed, alternating with 1/4-cup portions of the 7UP, mixing well after each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 30 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and lift the pan off of the cake. Let the cake cool on the rack.
While the cake cools, make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, 7UP, and lime zest until smooth.
Using a 6-inch wooden skewer or toothpick, poke holes in the top of the cooled cake. Slowly spoon the glaze over the cake, letting it run into the holes and over the surface.
Set the cake aside for 10 minutes before serving to let the glaze absorb into the cake and give it a lightly lacquered finish.
The cake can be made well in advance, wrapped tightly in plastic, and frozen for up to 4 months. It will keep moist and can be pulled out to thaw several hours before serving. It’s great served alone or with ice cream or fresh fruit compote. Serves 12 to 16.
Per serving: Per serving, based on 12: 598 calories (percent of calories from fat, 38), 6 grams protein, 89 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 25 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 138 milligrams cholesterol, 36 milligrams sodium.
A compelling look at three talented women and their youthful time, separately, in Paris and the great city’s influence on their lives.
It reads like the plot of a novel – three women from different backgrounds spend time in the early 20s in Paris, returning to the U.S. transformed. One, raised in an upper crust East Coast society family and named “Deb of the Year,” would become the very polished and popular wife of a handsome president doomed to be assassinated. The middle class girl from a North Hollywood family became, after her Paris sojourn, a well-respected writer. The third, though she was raised as an African American in the segregated south, came from an upper middle class family and spent time in Manhattan studying at a private school. She eventually would be acquitted of murder as a member of a radical fringe group.
“If you reduce them to identity labels, they are the soul of diversity: a Catholic debutante, a Jewish intellectual, an African-American revolutionary, from the East Coast, the West Coast, and the South,” writes Alice Kaplan, a Sterling Professor of French and Director of the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University in her book, “Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis” (University of Chicago Press 2013; $26). “They have often been reduced to their images: a sheath dress and a double strand of pearls, a mane of black hair with a white streak, an afro and a raised fist.”
Kaplan explores the time each spent in Paris and how those experiences shaped them, making all three cultural icons and bringing all both fame – for Kennedy and Sontag and controversy – for Davis.
“I wanted to find that existential threshold where you start to see what you can do with what you’ve been given,” Kaplan of this examination of a period in each woman’s life. And, Kaplan points out, while the men who spent time in France and came back in some ways different – think Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer, women like Kennedy, Sontag and Davis “have not had a place in the great American tradition of expatriate literature.”
Does the current state of the world seem overwhelming? Do our leaders often seem to be all about themselves and not about us? Is it easier to turn on a sitcom rerun than to sit through the news because we feel so helpless to change what’s going on?
You’re not alone. Brian Klaas, a columnist for the Washington Post Assistant Professor of Global Politics at University College London, and author of the new book “Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us” (Scribner 2021; $28), has taken on the task of interviewing more than 500 world leaders from the best to the worst– to answer questions like the following. Does power corrupt or is it that corrupt people are drawn to power? What personality types are drawn to power? Why are so many dictators sociopaths and narcissists? And why do even good people, once in a position of power, become authoritarian?
Here is a brutal fact that will make you reach for remote and flip to an episode of “Green Acres” where the biggest problem of the day is whether Arnold the Talking Pig can take that trip to Hawaii he won.
Democracies are dying with more and more countries sliding towards authoritarian rule says Klaas who writes that there are no countervailing forces.
Indeed, Klaas who created and hosts the award-winning Power Corrupts podcast, says “There’s nothing that rewards being a sober moderate who believes in democracy and tries to govern by consensus.”
Describing democracy as being like a sandcastle, one that can be easily wiped out by a big wave or successive small hits, Klaas gives Turkey as an example.
“Initial coverage of Erdogan’s 2002 election was positive, showing him to be someone was a populist who would shake things up, go up against the elite and status quo, and bring democracy to Turkey,” says Klaas who looked back through New York Times archives to highlight how that country has changed for the worse. “For 19 years now, he’s chipped away at democracy instead.”
Though the book’s subject matter might seem dull, it’s not. Klaas is a strong writer with a sense of humor and he is very capable of delivering telling anecdotes that reflect the changes a democracy can encounter and how quickly that can happen in a compelling way.
“If you lose the battle for democracy, you don’t get to battle for taxes, infrastructure, healthcare, or any of the policies that change lives,” says Klaas, who earned a MPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford (New College) and an MPhil in Comparative Government from the University of Oxford (St. Anthony’s). “In the places that I’ve studied where democracy has died, it’s still dead pretty much everywhere.”
How to fix it?
Klaas suggests becoming active. Call your congressperson or senator, run for local office, become politically active, and in general, participate in making changes to bring about change.
“That’s the type of activity that ultimately can transform the political system at the national level,” he says.
But there’s no time to delay.
“If we don’t fix it in the next two to four years,” he says, “it probably won’t get fixed.”