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Friday, November 29, 2013

Rixi e bixi or rice with pancetta and peas
Rixi e bixi (also known as risi e bisi) is a traditional Venetian dish. And it's so simple: rice with pancetta and peas. 

Who knew such a simple dish could be so delicious? 

Okay, so there's also cheese and you can add other things to make it your own like garlic, shallots, onions, etc. 

You have to love the Italians for combining two carbs in one dish. Yummy peas and rice? Yes please!

But what is pancetta?

Pancetta (Wikimedia Commons)
Basically it's an Italian bacon made of pork belly, salt cured and seasoned with pepper and other spices. 

You can find recipes here:

Rachel Ray  


Hungry yet?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gondolas and Gondoliers

The Grand Canal of Venice

In Italian the Grand Canal is called the Canal Grande. In Venetian it is Canalasso.  At one end of the canal is a lagoon, and at the other end is the Saint Mark Basin. The canal makes a large reverse S-shape through the central parts of Venice. Below is a picture of Venice taken from space in 2001.

Venice, 2001 (Wikimedia Commons)
There are more than 170 buildings lining the banks of the Grand Canal. Many date from the time of Marco Polo. Wealthy Venetian families liked showing off their prosperity through the palazzos they built. The bigger and fancier the design of the palazzo, the richer they were thought to be.

There are also churches along the canal including the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute:
Santa Maria della Salute (Wikimedia Commons)

Along the Canal, buildings combining the warehouse and the merchant's residence, were popular. These are called "fondaco" houses.

The Fondaco dei Tedeschi (Wikimedia Commons)
Fondaco dei Turchi (Wikimedia Commons)
The "porch" or "portico" covers the dock of the warehouse to keep the cargo from the weather. Storerooms are inside of the house and at the other side there is usually a courtyard. Or the courtyard can be in the middle. 

In Marco Polo's time, the only bridge that crossed the Grand Canal was the Rialto Bridge. But now there are three more bridges: the Ponte degli Scalzi:
Ponte degli Scalzi (Wikimedia Commons)
the Ponte dell'Accademia:

Ponte dell'Accademia (Wikimedia Commons)
and the Ponte della Costituzione, that connects the train station to Piazzale Roma, one of the few places in Venice where buses and cars can enter. In all other areas of Venice people must ride in a boat to get around!

Ponte della Costituzione (Wikimedia Commons)
In Marco Polo's time, there weren't as many buildings as there are today, so he could probably run along the edge of the canal in certain places. But as you can see by some of these pictures, he may not have been able to run along the edge at all without going onto the covered porch of a warehouse.

Grand Canal, Venice (Wikimedia Commons)

Grand Canal, Venice (Wikimedia Commons)

I think it would be fun to ride in a boat to get to the store or to church. How would you like to go everywhere in your town by boat?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ponte Rialto

The pictures above and below are what the Ponte Rialto bridge probably looked like when Marco Polo was alive. (Painted by Vittore Carpaccio in 1494.)

This is the Ponte Rialto today:

You can learn more about this beautiful bridge here: Ponte di Rialto

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sharing Culture and Heritage

In my book, O Canada, Her Story, the first chapter is about Haida Gwaii. Here is a video about how they are passing down their culture to children. Such a lovely people.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Irrefutable DNA evidence: Bigfoot exists

Throughout history, sightings of a large animal people dubbed Bigfoot, Sasquatch or Skunk Ape, have been reported. "Sasquatch" originated in Canada from Indian folklore. For centuries, 14-inch-long footprints with no arch have been located and memorialized in plaster castings and photographs.

The first sighting of Bigfoot occurred in 1811 by a man named David Thompson. In 1924 Albert Ostman claimed that he was held captive by Bigfoots for several days. But these claims have gone unproven.

Until now.

As of this writing, there is irrefutable evidence that Bigfoot is a real species. 

According to the Americans for Bigfoot Preservation, the DNA evidence found from the tissue samples of a toenail found in a Bigfoot impression in the Salamonie Forest in NE Indiana, has come back as being that of an unknown primate.

"It could be the missing link we've been waiting for all these years," said DNA expert, Stewart Steen. "And now we have it."

The problem is finding the creature who lost the toenail. Currently, DNR rangers have been ordered on 12-hour shifts to comb the forest for more evidence along with skilled volunteers.

"We know they're here. We just don't know how they're able to be so elusive. Aside from the caves, we know they build lean-to's. We've had quite a few wood knocks the past few nights, but still no sightings. It's as if they are toying with us." DNR Ranger, Matt Lott shared more information at the press conference near the Pavilion. "It's not just in the primitive camps, either. The upper camps are also experiencing such things as tents and campers being shaken."

Campers are admonished to keep all food locked away for their own safety.

Lott warned campers to use extra caution. "We don't know how dangerous these creatures are. I mean, we've lived with them now for thousands of years and we've yet to have anyone hurt by them. But we've never actively hunted them like this before, either, and they may feel threatened."

Bigfoots range from seven to nine feet tall and could weigh between 600 and 900 pounds. 

Anyone who sights a Bigfoot is asked to report their findings to the Indiana DNR. Any photos may become property of the State of Indiana, so be sure to make your own copies. 

And refer to this post's date when making your report.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Main characters of my next book have roots in history

Now that my book, Sacagawea is finished, I'm focusing on my next novel, River Moon Don't Cry. It is set in the early 1800s on the Mississippi River.

The main characters of my book are pictured above. The heroine, Flora Jean is the large picture on the upper left. Flora Jean is a Melungeon girl, who through unfortunate circumstances, ends up on the gambling steamboat owned by Mr. Jones (top right).  He is in the sex slave trade business in Louisianna. That is, he provides beautiful women for Quadroon Balls -- events where wealthy plantation owners purchase a woman of mixed heritage as lifetime mistresses. (These are pictures of what I think the characters look like. While the people above are real people of course, they are only representations of my characters. I do know that the Flora's picture is actually Marcia Pascal, supposedly a woman who was 1/2 Cherokee.)

According to literary traveler George William Featherstonhaugh,
When one of them [a quadroon] attracts the attention of an admirer, and he is desirous of forming a liaison with her, he makes a bargain with the mother, agrees to pay her a sum of money, perhaps 2000 dollars, or some sum in proportion to her merits, as a fund upon which she may retire when the liaison terminates. She is now called “une placĂ©e;” those of her caste who are her intimate friends give her fetes, and the lover prepares “un joli appartement meuble.”

Now, recently the truth of whether or not this was truly practiced by the local women of New Orleans has been challenged. But if I understand history correctly, they did take place for women outside of New Orleans brought there for that purpose, and this is the future that Mr. Jones has planned for Flora.

On the middle right  of the picture above is the Pilot of the Steamboat, Sam Duncan. He is running from his secret past in Minnesota. He is in love with Flora.

Flora, however, is falling in love with her captor, Mr. Jones (upper right), who has no warm feelings for her past preparing her for the money he will gain by her beauty and trained refinement. However, he does develop a narcissistic attraction to her.Young Flora falls prey to his overtures.

You'll have to read the book to learn how this all plays out.

The bottom right is Pepper Jack, who is in love with the girl in the picture at the middle bottom. Her name is Penny. They are slaves of Mr. Jones. So is Miss Pearl, far left, who is Penny's mother. Miss Pearl has a deep affection for Flora and advocates for her. In fact, all the staff have a deep affection for Flora including a little boy slave named George Washington.

The book includes such occurrences as river pirates, gambling and all kinds of delicious scandal. Stay tuned for the release date!