MTPR

Arts & Culture

Author interviews, food, natural history, poetry, and more from "The Write Question", "The Food Guys", "Field Notes", "Home Ground Radio", "Front Row Center", and "Reflections West".

Flickr user, Bradley Gordon. (CC-BY-2.0)

"In my youth, I was restless enough to have spent four years on the road searching for the Great American Bar," writes Livingston, MT teacher and author, Toby Thompson.  "I often visited thirty a day, learning in my travels that the mountain West– specifically Montana–held more saloons than any other region.

The Magic Of Miso

Dec 26, 2016
Flickr user, Christopher Paquette (CC-BY-2.0)

Miso's meaty umami quality comes from a multi-step process of fermentation, which serves two functions: large molecules get broken down into small, readily-digestable ones, and the fermentation develops a lot of flavor. When it comes to miso, think beyond soups. You can improve an otherwise bland gravy or marinade with it, too.

Murray Hotel in Livingston Montana
Flickr user Carol Vinzant (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

To Toby Thompson, the Christmas spirit is really just the warmth of community, something we can find any time of year.

Two volunteers at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Bonner, Montana roll out lefse dough.
Rachel Cramer

Food can be a powerful connection to the people and places of our past, and help define who we are today. We may not dress like our ancestors or speak the same language, but some food traditions remain strong, especially around the holidays. But why is this?

P.D.

"Ten years ago, my dad told me I would be inheriting his 30.06," writes Erika Fredrickson, arts editor at the Missoula Independent. "I nearly choked on my coffee. My grandfather, who died before I could meet him, had passed the gun to my dad, and my dad wanted to do the same. But I was a writer, not a hunter.

Botanical Field Trip Through Christmas Dinner

Dec 23, 2016
Flickr user, Andrea Pokrzywinski (CC-BY-2.0)

Going for a hike at this time of year just isn’t the same for a botanist. The flowers are dead and all the leaves have fallen. Not much material for a field note out there. But here in my kitchen there are lots of interesting and colorful members of the vegetable kingdom because I’m preparing my holiday dinner.

Misunderstood: Why the Humble Rat May Be Your Best Pet EVER
Farrar Straus Giroux

As much a moving memoir as it is an amusing pet manual, Misunderstood is a unique nonfiction book for teens and tweens about domesticated rats in general and a wonderful rat named Iris in particular.

Unknown

Emily Dickinson's Black Cake

Greg Patent writes:

The poet Emily Dickinson prided herself on her skill as a cook, and she was extremely proud of her black cake. This is a scaled-down version of her recipe, which was quadruple this one, and baked in a milk pail.

What Is Frankincense And Myrrh? Dr. Starbuck Explains

Dec 16, 2016
Harper

Hi!  I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician.  I’m here today to talk about two plants that I always think about during the Christmas season.

I bet most of you know about the Three Kings.  The Christmas story talks about them, three Wise Men who made a long journey riding through days and nights from the Far East to bring gifts to the baby Jesus in the manger.

Do you remember what the three gifts were?

They were gold, frankincense and myrrh.  

Recipe: Welsh Tea Bread

Dec 14, 2016
Flickr user, oatsy40. (CC-BY-2.0)

Food Guy Greg Patent recalls:

"While I was hunting for immigrant bakers for my cookbook, “A Baker’s Odyssey,” I asked my Welsh friend and fellow Missoulian, Tottie Parmeter, if she might have a recipe she’d like to contribute.  She said she’d be delighted to show me how to make it, so here it is.

The texture of this Welsh bread is quite amazing, being both dense and light at the same time. For best results, make Bara Brith a day ahead.  The resting time makes it easy to cut the bread into thin slices with a serrated knife.  Serve with lots of butter and steaming cups of tea."

"Montana first told me a secret on the banks of Rattlesnake Creek in Missoula," writes photographer and writer, Jessica Lowry Vizzutti. "I was visiting in summer with my boyfriend as we made a cross-country road trip from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Montana and ultimately Los Angeles.  It was July, the perfect month for a Southern woman to fall in love with a snowy state.

Western Montana's Winter Inversions Explained

Dec 12, 2016
View of inversion over Missoula from Snowbowl
FLICKR USER, EVAN LOVELY (CC-BY-2.0)


Since my recent move to Missoula from the sunny state of Florida, I had experienced many unfamiliar weather conditions. Montana residents might be well accustomed to snow, black ice, negative temperatures, and the season known as winter, but these were still novelties to me.  

Len Jenshel

Stephanie Land knew in fourth grade that she wanted to become a professional writer. She's written for the New York Times and the Washington Post about the obstacles thrown in her path by the challenges of single parenthood.

"For two decades I wrote horrible poems," Land writes. "I believed in soul mates. I devoured books. I drank too many jugs of wine. I sowed my wild oats.

Simon & Schuster

A wildlife biologist’s shocking death leads to chilling discoveries about a home for troubled teens in Christine Carbo’s haunting and compelling new crime novel, Mortal Fall, set in the wilds of Glacier National Park.

'Beer and Poetry'

Dec 6, 2016
Beer: Paul Downey

by Maddy Irwin

Poetry reminds me of beer. More specifically it reminds me of Cold Smoke, a favorite of Missoula brew enthusiasts. I always pick up the cold pint glass thinking this will be the time I finally gain appreciation for the dark ale that my friends consume generously on our nightly excursions. However, my response is found to be the same puckering of lips and slight crinkling of my nose in an unattractive grimace, immediately followed by a mouthful of my usual vodka-cran to wash down the taste of the dark ale.

http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/

by  Kristy Bixler

Ten minutes from my house in any direction I can climb a mountain, or catch a fish, play a round of folf, or cross country ski. I live in a world of adventure and life that I never want to leave. There is nothing better than living in a place that is so rich in its beauty, a natural theme park. I have been unbelievably fortunate with a good secure life in Missoula, Montana, that allows me to take part in all of my favorite activities.

However, another ten minutes from my house lay the ruin of the Mill. Not everyone in my town has been as lucky as my family. Even though I was fairly young when the mill shut its doors forever, I remember it vividly. It played out just the way it did in Melissa Mylchreest’s poem “Frenchtown.” All of a sudden the mill was gone. When I would drive to Frenchtown to swim in the pond or play a game of softball, everything seemed different, quieter, as though the life had gone out of the previously bustling little area.

Snuggles Oversees The Christmas Folk Show

Dec 5, 2016
Stan Howe

With the help of Snuggles, a teddy bear made from his mother's old coat, Stan Howe prepares for his annual Christmas edition of The Folk Show.

"Once a year," says Howe, "around his birthday, I get him out, set him on the 78 turntable and we do my Christmas show for MTPR, remembering the long ago days when my mother turned an old black jacket she didn't like into a teddy bear that has been loved ever since."

Rough-legged hawk
FLICKR USER, FRANK D. LOSPALLUTO (CC-BY-2.0)

As winter comes to the National Wildlife Refuges of the Mission Valley, we begin to see a whole different group of visitors. And I’m not just referring to the human kind. Strange as it my seem, the National Bison Range, Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge and Pablo National Wildlife Refuge, along with other lands in the Mission Valley, are where a number of birds choose to spend their winter.

Saffron: Aromatic, Exotic - And Expensive

Dec 4, 2016
Saffron Threads
FLICKR USER, IAN (CC-BY-2.0)

Saffron is an aromatic, colorful spice that flavors Spanish paella, Italian risotto, and numerous Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes. It is also the most expensive spice in the world. The delicate yellow-orange saffron threads (i.e., stigmas) must be handpicked from the eponymous crocus, ideally on the day the flower blooms. The threads are then dried and often crushed. Since a little can go a long way, it's worth adding saffron to your spice rack, but make sure you buy it from a reliable source.

'Learning the Name of a River is Just the Beginning'

Dec 1, 2016

by Noah Belanger

I moved to Missoula two years ago without a solid plan. I knew that, eventually, I would attend the University of Montana, but I couldn’t begin to tell you what I would study or when that would be. I wasn’t even sure this was the real reason I was here. What I did know is that when I drove over Lost Trail Pass and headed down the Bitterroot towards Missoula, when I saw impossibly hard and beautiful mountains butt up against soft green valley, I was in love.

Excerpt From STORIES FROM AFIELD, by Bruce Smith

Nov 30, 2016
Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press

Chapter 14:  The Circle

It’s a universal truth that much of what we see around us follows a circle. Considered the father of modern observational astronomy, Galileo had it right: our planet does not hover motionless at the center of the universe, it orbits the sun. Chris Columbus didn’t fall off the edge of the Earth when he set sail from Spain seeking a new trade route to the East Indies. Whether it be moon phases, tidal patterns, or the annual changing of the seasons, recurrence is the norm. Examples are endless. No clearer is this principle than in nature’s rhythm of renewal and continuance — the water and nitrogen cycles, the ten-year cycle of snowshoe hare abundance, and life’s circle of birth, death, decomposition, and rebirth.

It is alleged that the practice of gerrymandering — dividing election districts into units to favor a particular group — subverts democracy by making congressional districts “safe” for one party or the other. As a result, only those voting in primaries are in effect choosing our representatives. Are primary voters more extreme in their views, and therefore pulling Democrats to the left and Republicans to the right? Or is the impact of gerrymandering overblown? The debaters are Caroline Fredrickson, David Daley, and Chris Jankowski.

Toni Truesdale works with people suffering from dementia. In "Behind The Locked Door," her book of essays and poems about Alzheimer's, she writes about "sundowning," the symptoms of restlessness and confusion when, at around sunset each day, patients begin searching for home and bygone family.

"My sweet, eighty-two-year–old friend repeats a sentence for the third time: “Well, I guess it’s time to go home; Mother will be waiting” I look at the clock. It's 4:30 p.m. and the shadows outside are lengthening; the sun is going down. Her mother has been gone for over twenty-five years.

Illustration by Jesse Wells

"My wife and daughter left Montana for our new home in Ontario while I stayed to pack our things," writes journalist, editor and recent University of Montana MFA graduate, Brendan Fitzgerald. "I was glad they’d gone ahead. It was fire season, and smoke had lowered the ceiling of the world, dissolved the mountains and filtered color from the sunlight. On the radio, someone said that spending more than an hour outside was hazardous. I spent two in the parking lot of the post office, hauling books from my car and packing them into boxes.

Zaletti, Perfect With Coffee Or Any Occasion

Nov 27, 2016
Zaletti
FLICKR USER, JOELLEHELLENIQUE (CC-BY-2.0)

Zaletti, crisp Italian cookies made with polenta, are perfect for dipping into coffee — or any occasion for that matter. Greg tested a zaletti recipe for his friend Julia della Croce, cookbook author and Forktales food blogger. The recipe is below.

Snow Fleas
FLICKR USER, LINDSEY (CC-BY-2.0)

Every autumn I begin to wonder – where do all the bugs go? Unlike people, and other warm-blooded critters that can maintain a consistent internal temperature, insects cannot. So, you might wonder, what do insects do to survive the cold?

Jim Weber, machine shop teacher at Capital High School in Helena, wants to prepare students for the real world of modern manufacturing. His two-year welding and machining program includes cutting-edge equipment, field trips, internship opportunities and recruiting networks. But it also incorporates formalized curriculum intended to instill a strong work ethic.

On December 16, 2011, I was one of a couple hundred history-conscious Missoulians who walked onto a snow-covered bluff above the Milltown Dam abutment to see something you almost never get to see: a river tangibly restored. Below us, the Clark Fork began to spill down its reconstructed stream bed, joining the also-undamned Blackfoot River in free flow for the first time since the dam was built in 1908.

The Art Of The Sauce

Nov 23, 2016
Pasta Carbonara
FLICKR USER, YOUNG SOK YUN (CC-BY-2.0)

From Bolognese to carbonara, a rich variety of pasta sauces keeps adventurous cooks busy and their friends delighted. The Italians may start a meal with a pasta course, but the Food Guys say it may be hard to resist filling up before the meat course. They do recommend selecting a sauce to match the pasta shape. For example, light sauces evenly coat long, thin noodles whereas thick, creamy sauces are best with wide noodles or tube pasta that can catch the sauce.

'The Forbidden Library': Logan Reviews

Nov 22, 2016
Penguin Random House

The Forbidden Library, by Django Wexler, is the first book in The Forbidden Library series. It’s an excellent book and I enjoyed it immensely. The main character is Alice who finds out she is a type of person called a Reader, with a capital “r.” Readers like Alice can send themselves into books and capture the creatures inside of them. In order to capture the creatures, they have to defeat them first, then find a special mental thread they tug with their mind which makes the creatures just suddenly pop into existence. Some of the creatures she captures are Swarmers. They are little black fuzzball things that look cute, but have a penchant for blood. Kind of nasty unless you’ve tamed them.

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