Don’t Miss Your Chance!

Hey Blog Readers! Don’t forget to comment on last Friday’s blog for a chance to win two free tickets to the Putnam Museum and IMAX Theater movie, Kilamanjaro: to the Roof of Africa. This breathtakingly beautiful movie will transport you to the exotic world of Africa as it follows a group of seven people who are climbing the largest free-standing mountain in the world. All that beauty and adventure can be yours – and you won’t even have to pack a bag or buy an airplane ticket!

To enter, simply tell us about your favorite local vacation spot – anyplace within a day’s drive (round trip) of the Quad Cities that is a favorite with you and your family. Maybe a mountain climbing excursion on a far continent isn’t in your budget, but a day’s getaway at a less exotic – but still fun – location could be just the ticket. (Also, less chance of getting eaten by a lion)

Be sure to leave your comment by midnight tonight. We’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, August 25.

Good luck!

The New African-American Kitchen by Angela Shelf Medearis

new-african-american-kitchenFocusing on the various cultural traditions that have influenced modern African-American cuisine, Angela Shelf Medearis’ The New African-American Kitchen will have you heading for the kitchen in no time. Known as “The Kitchen Diva” on her PBS cooking show, Medearis sprinkles historical information and quotes throughout the book, making it as entertaining to read as it is to cook from.

Recipes begin in Africa, then travel to the Caribbean and then to slave kitchens where the ingenuity and skill forged by the hardships and conditions of each situation have help create the unique dishes of modern African-American dishes.

Medearis also includes a chapter on healthy eating, aimed at providing delicious recipes for diabetics (more than 3 million African-Americans have some type of diabetes) and one with recipes for African-American holidays such as Juneteenth and Kwanzaa. Emphasis throughout is on healthy, organic ingredients, simple preparation techniques and the joy of sharing good food with family and friends.

Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan

re-one-of-themYou know what it’s like when you just can’t put a book down? Well, this widely acclaimed book was one I actually had to put down. I just needed to take a break from all the suffering and violence. Still, it’s a book I’m recommending. In fact, I really think that it should be required reading for most adult Americans. Why? Because how many of us are acutely aware of what is really happening in Africa? Sure, you may have heard it on the news, but this book will affect how you feel about those happenings.

The author, Uwem Akpan, is a Jesuit priest who was born in Nigeria and later educated in Michigan. He chooses to tell most of these short stories (a few quite long) through the eyes of children. This, in my view, makes them all the more tragic. For example, in the last story, “In my Parents’ Bedroom,” the young narrator, Monique, can’t understand why the ceiling is bleeding. For me, this was the most powerful story, reminding me of the movie Hotel Rwanda. Monique is the daughter of a Tutsi mother and a Hutu father and the title, Say You’re One of Them, is based upon the advice her mother gives her shortly before the machete-wielding mob arrives.

In the story, “An Ex-Mas Feast,” a 12- year old girl works as a prostitute in order to feed her starving family. And, in “Fattening for Gabon,” two children are sent to live with their slave-trading uncle as their parents die of AIDS. So, no, this is not a pleasant book, but it is an important one. For all those literally starving children in Africa, please at least give it a try.