Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category


What-are-you-reading-Wednesday: Best Food Lit of 2009

January 6, 2010

For this week’s What-are-you-reading-Wednesday, we invite you to check out Amazon’s list of the best Food Lit from 2009 (composed of editor picks and bestsellers) here. Which ones have you read? Which ones are you planning to read for 2010?

Coming in at Number 1 is Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman

Here’s the rest of the best:

Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater byFrank Bruni

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen by David Sax

Sex, Death and Oysters: A Half-Shell Lover’s World Tour by Robb Walsh

Far Flung and Well Fed: The Food Writing of R.W. Apple, Jr. by R. W. Apple

In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules by Stacy Perman

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell

Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York by William Grimes

Gourmet Rhapsody byMuriel Barbery


Green thumbs (and not so green) welcome at the Resource Connection

August 24, 2009

Before the warm days draw to a close, why not drop by the Resource Connection and check out all of the great gardening resources we have to offer?

Learn what gardening was like 500 years ago when Christopher Columbus arrived in America with the Seeds of Change online exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution.

Don’t have a green thumb? Why not help the kids create a Japanese Rock Garden with these resource provided by the East Asian Studies Center?


Food for Thought: Indiana’s Food Culture

August 18, 2009

If you stopped by our booth at the Indiana State Fair during Hoosier Heritage Day and added your hometown’s food treasures to our map of Indiana–thanks! We’ve compiled some of the data into a map of Indiana’s food culture and identified things like food festivals and agribusinesses, as well as livestock and agricultural hot spots. Take a look, here.

Then, add your feedback below. We couldn’t fit everything on the map–and for that, we apologize. But, please continue to help us out by identifying what’s missing in your neck of the woods.


Indiana State Fair and the Resource Connection

July 28, 2009

One of the great pleasures of late summer in Indiana is getting to visit the Indiana State Fair, which takes place from August 7-23.

Whether you are taking the family for elephant ears and corn dogs or planning a night out for a great concert, there is so much to see and do during the weeks of this yearly event. The Indiana Humanities Council will even have a booth this year for Hoosier Heritage Day on Aug. 13, so make sure you stop by for a visit. And, check out the model barn, debuting on the 13th, thanks in part to a Humanities Initiative Grant from the Council.

If you look up the Indiana State Fair in the Resource Connection, you get some interesting results, including the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library’s Kid’s Info Page on the fair, an 1887 Sandborn Map of the fairgrounds, and several items from Traditional Arts of Indiana, including the Profiles of 2006 State Fair Masters. Check it out for yourself and do a little research before you visit the fair this year; it might make your experience even better!


How does your garden grow?

June 23, 2009
We have one, little, purple pepper sprouting!

A tiny, purple pepper from the Indiana Humanities Council's victory garden.

It’s amazing how much better fresh vegetables taste when you’ve grown them in your own backyard.  You understand the work that went into planting and tending them; you’ve tracked their growth and development like you would a small child, counting down the days until you can pluck them from the Earth and place them in a salad bowl.

I haven’t always felt that way. When I was younger, I was my dad’s designated garden helper. I loved working outside, but not in the weedy, hot, buggy garden. I despised weeding around bean plants and hated breaking them and taking the ends off even more. I convinced myself not to like green beans so that I wouldn’t have to pick them. It didn’t work. But I still went through childhood hating plenty of veggies.

Then, in my twenties, something radical happened. I started to try vegetables I gave up on years ago, and—walla!—I actually liked them. It turned out that I loved spinach, I could tolerate broccoli, and, yes, I even found out how to enjoy steamed green beans.

I became a gardener at home (by my own free will), and this year, a gardener at work (check out pictures of our garden, here), which exposed me to an even larger assortment of vegetables. I had gone 26 years without eating a fresh radish and I spent 26 years removing radishes from salads and avoiding them on assorted vegetable trays. I had never eaten kale, or swiss chard; never picked snap peas off a plant and ate them while standing in the garden. And in one month, I’ve know done them all.

Gardening has provided me with delicious and healthy food, but also a way to connect with my dad, my co-workers, and my fellow gardeners at the Mayor’s Garden Plots. It spurs conversation, reduces my reliance on commercialized vegetables and makes me feel better about myself and my community.

How does your garden contribute to your own personal growth?


Hoosier Cabinets “freed the housewife”

June 11, 2009

 By Molly Armstrong Head, producer and development director of Hoosier History Live!

Hoosier Cabinet

An example of a Hoosier Cabinet. Photo courtest of Wikipedia.

I never knew people could get in such a tizzy about Hoosier Cabinets. After I heard Nancy Hiller, author of The Hoosier Cabinet in Kitchen History (IU Press) and a Bloomington cabinetmaker, talk about the social history of the Hoosier Cabinet with Nelson Price on Hoosier History Live! radio show this week, I called my friend Glynis, who has a “Sellers” in her 1920s era kitchen. Her kitchen is so crammed with stuff that you can hardly realize that there is a valuable antique in there. Glynis had listened to the show sticking her radio out the back window; she lives in the country about 50 miles from WICR’s radio tower. (Modern humans can hear the show online anywhere it airs, but Glynis is no-tech.)

As I learned on the show, these marvelous inventions were marketed in the early part of the 20th century as “a boon to women.” And they sold like hot cakes. They had spice racks, storage bins, a built-in flour sifter, a pull-out counter. And you could sit down in front of them to do your work. They centralized the food storage and preparation area, saving many steps.

More than two million Hoosier cabinets had been sold by 1920, meaning that they could be found in one in ten American homes. One old ad exclaimed, “Lincoln had freed the slaves, and now the Hoosier has freed the housewife from unnecessary drudgery!” 

Now, I reflect that, for the last fifteen years or so, designer kitchens, food prep, gardening, kitchen gadgets, and haute cuisine seem to be absolutely the yuppie, upscale thing. 

Although the Hoosier kitchen sure has changed, I think our society will always believe that having all the right stuff in your kitchen tells people that you have “arrived.” (Where, exactly, I’m not quite sure.)  

Next week (June 13), join Hoosier History Live! at 11:30 a.m. on WICR FM (88.7) to hear 90-year-old P.E. MacAllister reflect on civic history.


I’m Back and Welcoming a New Hoosierati Blogger

November 4, 2008

Well, after two weeks out of state and then two more weeks out of my mind I’m finally settling back into the routine and hope to be back over here blogging more regularly. The election being over sometime tonight/early tomorrow morning will be a huge help. It would be a horrible understatement to say that I’ve been “distracted” by the events culminating today.

But enough about me; I have great Hoosierati/IHC news.

It is my hope for this blog, among other things, that we can get some actual humanists in here blogging in addition to me. Not that I am not a humanist of some degree but actual practitioners–people out there doing the work of the public humanities. That’s the kind of information I think the IHC should be in the business of spreading around because I think that’s the kind of information I think you want to read.

Which is why I am delighted to say that two local radio shows coming off WICR (on the campus of the University of Indianapolis) will be popping up here occassionally to share some things with us. One of the two shows is Hoosier History Live, hosted by historian Nelson Price (also an author and “connoisseur of all things Hoosier”).

The other show is Too Many Cooks, “a whimsical yet informative public radio program about cooking, cuisine, and entertainment featuring the Midwest’s consummate food journalist Patti Denton, and the international Gala Award winning special events designer Gary Bravard.”

So there you have it, not only is the IHC now officially a “group blog” and all that entails, but its on the verge of going multimedia! You have been warned.These are indeed, my friends, exciting times.


Is It Corn Yet?

July 31, 2008

I consider myself an expert on corn. No pun intended — I mean corn, the crop.

For example, I know it should be knee-high by the 4th of July. I look to see how it’s doing when I drive around Indiana, nice and green or too brown. I know it needs to be detasseled and that kids and teens often do that as a summer job. I even found out, finally, what a combine is–a combination harvester and thresher (thanks to Richard Rhodes’ book Farm: a Year in the Life of an American Farmer).

My late mother loved to tell a story from her visit to Iowa when I lived there in the 1970s. As we drove along the country highway, she asked me to stop and get some corn for dinner, to which I replied disdainfully, “That’s field corn. You can’t eat it.” I don’t know why she thought that was so hilarious. To me, it was just something you know if you know corn, the way you know that local home-grown corn isn’t ready before August.

This has been an stressful year for corn. Thanks to the ethanol craze, corn prices doubled and farmers planted more to meet the demand. Sadly, floods in the Midwest devastated many potentially lucrative fields.

I will continue to keep an eye on the corn as I drive around this summer. As a Hoosier, I consider it part of my job.

This entry was posted by: Nancy

Perennials–Short and Tall

June 16, 2008

If one were to look over to the right hand column they would notice that one of the permanent pages on this blog is titled About… ….Hoosierati. On that page, yours truly freely admits that he is a lazy gardener. A perfectly accurate descriptor to which I will also add “stubborn” and also thanks to this year also, “failed.”

But I’m running fatally close to total blog derailment.

What I wanted to say is that someone should buy me this book. Perennials aren’t often as showy and vibrant as the annuals but I loathe the idea of planting a bunch of flowers just to pull them up and toss them on the compost pile at the end of their season. Moreso, I hate the idea of planting and then ripping up various flowers one after the other all spring, summer, and fall long just so it can look like I care about my lawn.

I know it seems that I’m a gardener that doesn’t love gardening. That’s not totally true. I just don’t love gardening all the time. I want my garden to be able to run on cruise control when I get busy at work or on an unrelated side project. For that, I have always turned to perennials.